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Observations placeholder

Korean mystic shamanism – Methods – Rhythmic drumming as an essential trance inducing method



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Shamanism, music and the soul – Keith Howard

In Korea pounding  rhythmic regularity characterizes shaman activity: a neophyte in her initiation ritual is told to dance 'like a metronome', and wanting to tap and dance to the drum is considered to make one vulnerable to attention from the spirits.


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

The rite welcoming the god in the spirit pole draws worshipers into a sense of contact with the realm of the gods, not only by its aesthetically moving visual symbolism, but by the power of its vibrant musical rhythms.

What is said to be the most ancient recorded Korean shamanic rite, the Puyo rite worshiping Heaven, was called ”Welcoming the Drum" (Chen 1985:III.841); and rhythmic drumming is basic to kut worship. Differences in rhythmic beat highlight shifts in the ritual movement; and, as in other forms of Shamanism, drumming might very well provide reinforcement to the mudang when she enters a trance.

In the Pyolshin-kut, no one is in an ecstatic trance except, perhaps, the villager holding the spirit pole.

Performed by well-trained musicians from a hereditary East Coast shaman family, however, the subtle rhythmic interplay of drum, shrill pipe, clamorous gong, and high pitched chant throughout the Pyolshin-kut draws all worshipers musically out of the world of daily routine into a sacred realm of Dionysian celebration of life resonating with the excitement of contact with the world of the gods.

In accord with the root meaning of the word as borrowed from Greek, all worshipers are in "ecstasy"; all momentarily "venture out" (ek stasis) from themselves and their routine daily life and enter the radiant realm of the gods.

The source of the experience

Korean mystic shamanism

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps