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Observations placeholder

Sacred geography - Korean mystic shamanism – Sacred grove



Type of Spiritual Experience


The Seonghwangrim-dangak [Spiritual-Guardian-Forest Altar-Shrine] of Shillim-ri Village

A description of the experience


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

In the key rite of the kut, ….. villagers gather at the shrine of the Village Spirit by the sea or in a grove of trees to summon the god. With anxious expectancy, they look for a sign of the god's caring presence in the shaking of the tall bamboo "spirit pole."

While a strong villager holds the pole firm, the mudang asks the advice of the god regarding the village's present state and interprets oracular responses manifested in the shaking of the pole. Believers take the shaking as a miraculous sign of the god's presence and are caught up in respectful wonder.


When villagers welcome the Village Spirit in the spring or fall in the "spirit pole" of a Pyolshin-kut at a shrine located in a grove of trees, they implicitly affirm the season and the grove as sacred.

When they gather in the midst of nature, anxiously awaiting a sign of the Village Spirit in the shaking of the bamboo spirit pole as it points toward the heaven, religious sentiment fuses in the imagination with nature in accord with the traditional Taoistic fusion of feeling and natural scene that is found in Asian painting and poetry (Wong 1978:130).

At the same time, worship of the local Village Spirit fuses with worship of the God of Heaven (Kim T. 1983:99-105); and, as Eliade has said of all such rites, the worshipers' world becomes a god-centered cosmos (1959:21, 29).

Similarly, when Chejudo believers imaginatively and magically send out evil to the sea in little straw boats in the spring, they give dramatic life to the hierophanic potential of both the sea and the season.


The source of the experience

Korean mystic shamanism

Concepts, symbols and science items



Activities and commonsteps