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Observations placeholder

Korean mystic shamanism – Methods – Music, ritual, chanting and dance as healing methods



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience


Shamanism, music and the soul – Keith Howard

Shamanism in Siberia and elsewhere, is a holistic system for cathartic healing. Shaman rituals address - often simultaneously – personal afflictions, malaise within the spirit realm, and communal disharmony, utilizing oracles, narration, secret systems of knowledge, altered states of consciousness, music, and dance. The ritual gestalt does not readily allow any single component to be separated out, but music, to extend David Riches' description of shamanism itself, is 'fundamental in the social'.

In Korea, to which, as the culture with which I am most familiar, I will frequently return, a shaman still narrates in recitative the exploits of admirable ancestors. She - for in contrast to Siberia, the majority of Korean shamans are female - sings melodiously to entertain the spirits she invokes. She chants invocations and prayers. She dances to percussion music. She constantly reacts to comments from her instrumental accompanists. Whenever she pauses, her accompanists take over, improvising around folksong melodies, or singing settings of well-known folk stories. No Korean ritual can take place without music, and I have observed occasions where a single musician played both the gong and the oboe, one with each hand, complaining to me in an aside that nobody could these days afford to pay enough musicians to provide 'proper' rituals.


The source of the experience

Korean mystic shamanism

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Psychosomatic medicine

Activities and commonsteps