A Guide to Shamanism on Jeju Island, Part Two: Post One: The Shrine Gods

Let’s depart from the familial home and move out into the village.

Now, we’ll look at the deities residing within shrines, the gods who make themselves available for healing, to receive prayer and issue blessings in each of Jeju’s villages.

The history of each shamanic shrine is detailed. Each village has its own myths. Furthermore, there are oral histories of miracles and historic episodes related to shrines. The shrines and their myths all fit into the larger system of shamanism. Shamans across Jeju are familiar with the entire pantheon of deities, including those deities found in individual village shrines. Still, these days there are less and less traditional shamans who possess such knowledge.

The vast majority of shrine-goers are elders in their 60s, 70s and 80s. Thus, much of the knowledge around shrines, the portion of it that hasn’t been collected and conveyed in books, will soon be gone. Luckily, we do have a sizable body of work amassed by researchers, some of whom spent a lifetime exploring the topic. We’ll discuss the major collections of Jeju shrine lore, as well as the major researchers, in later posts.

For now, I will outline the essential shrine cosmology.

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