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Observations placeholder

Korean mystic shamanism – Methods – Chanting, mantra and prayer



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Korean Shamanist Ritual - Symbols and Dramas of Transformation - Daniel Kister

The cathartic and ideational effect of a Pyolshin-kut depends ultimately on its fusion of the comic and the sublime, but the comic spirit dominates. For their part, kut for the dead likewise include comic moments; but in these rites, it is the spatial poetry that dominates.

The beginning of an East Coast Ogwi-kur for one who has drowned at sea provides an example of an utterly simple, yet powerful symbolic rite that offers purificatory release from sorrow and pain through the power of the sublime. We saw this in the rite held at the seashore on a clear winter morning for Mr. Kim, the widow's eldest son who was swept out to sea on his first day out as a fisherman [see spiritual experiences of mudang].

To the rhythm of the waves and beat of a gong, the mudang calls on the gods to send Kim's soul to shore in a slow, mournful chant of deepest longing for the lost son in which the very waves themselves seem to join.

The chant has the "incantational, truly magical sense" that Artaud seeks in vital theater; it construes words "for their shape and their sensuous emanations, not only for their meaning" (1958:125). From a fusion of chant, gestures, and the never-ending rhythm of the waves, the mudang distills a “poetry in space" that heals grief and han by giving theatrical form to searing feelings of loss and longing and enriches the whole kut community by transforming death into a unifying, hierophanic event.

The source of the experience

Korean mystic shamanism

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps