Sulsaemit Shrine First Victory/ Surprising Advice from Great Shaman

Sulsaemit Shrine, the shamanic shrine that was deliberately desecrated last year on Jeju Island, South Korea is now clean thanks to the efforts of the some seventeen participants. It’s been just over a week since the call to action to restore the shrine to its prior condition and we can already celebrate an initial victory.

Mid-way through the clean-up last Wednesday. As I was framing this photo I realized there was yet another felled tree behind the altar we had missed. Another lay out of view in the shot.
The altar of the shrine before the clean-up.
Sulsaemit Shrine’s altar after the clean-up
Sulsaemit Shrine’s altar

Yesterday we held our second event with the aim raising money for supporting the rebuilding effort. Many locals and expats came out in support. We received some surprising protocol from Seo Sun Shil, the leader of Jeju’s Keun Gut Society on how to proceed with the fundraising. Some photos from the second fundraising event:

Locals and expats gathered at Cafe Wave in Jeju City to make bracelets to support the rebuilding effort

IMG_7756IMG_7759IMG_7769 We decided it was time to consult with one of Jeju’s most well-known shamans, Seo Sun Shil, on how to proceed following proper tradition to show respect to the gods. Seo Sun Shil is the leader of the Keun Gut Preservation Society, a group of Jeju’s traditional shamans whose aim is to keep Jeju Island’s precious oral myths and ceremonies intact for generations to come. Seo is responsible for leading ceremonies at the shrines in Kimyoung Village. A short clip with Seo about the importance of protecting Jeju’s epic myths which are the heart of Jeju’s muism- shamanism practiced on Jeju Island.

The shrines in the region of Juksung Shrine no longer have village shamans or Great Shamans that lead rituals. In these mid-mountain shrines, including Sulsaemit, worshippers attend the shrine on their own to pray and make offerings or visit with local ‘bosal‘ or mainland style consulting shamans. To learn more about the relationship between a village’s Great Shaman, the village shrine and the shrine worshippers check out this video interview with Wuljung Village’s great shaman, Kim Dol San. (approx. 20 minutes)

Great Shaman Seo Sun Shil’s Recommendation IMG_7783We had a lengthy conversation with Seo Sun Shil about how to proceed according to Jeju shamanic tradition. Shin mok or wood from a shrine tree is considered a potent substance that can even cause ill if not treated properly.  Great Shaman Seo decided the best way to deal with the bracelets will be to return them to the shrine on the ritual day this coming wednesday and offer them to the gods of Sulsaemit, Go Grandmother Goddess, Kim Grandfather God and the Mountain God.  Great Shaman Seo also suggested that we continue our effort through active participation in lieu of collecting donations. With around twenty people showing up to help at all three of the events so far I think relying on people’s goodwill and strong feelings about the desecration of one of Jeju Island’s treasures will be more than viable. The bracelets are stowed and ready to carry to the shrine.

We will make the bracelets from the holy trees offerings to the gods of Sulsaemit Shrine
The bracelets and two pieces of holy tree from the shrine

There is a ways to go to the complete restoration of Sulsaemit Shrine. A quick initial victory has certainly inspired the community. Today the workshop yesterday is the lead story in one of Jeju’s most popular daily papers and other press has been in contact. Now word of the shrine’s destruction and the Senjari Ranger’s efforts to stop such offensive attacks on Jeju’s native culture has reached mainstream media on the island and thus the general public. I will be updating with news about the shrine including the ceremony on Wednesday morning. If you’d like to know more about the shrines of Jeju Island, South Korea feel free to browse my Facebook page or follow this site. 10675617_10153075054942878_2293191637226270231_n 11002651_10153075055717878_3071630585639328190_n

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