A Guide to Shamanism on Jeju Island, Post One: The House Gods

Let’s start with the home. Most lectures on the deities that reside within the Jeju Island home, start out with an illustration that looks something like this: It’s a typical Jeju floor plan (in the spirit of not being too formal—I’m going to be doing many of my illustrations on napkins) and here below are…

The Shamanic Spiritual Life of Jeju Island, South Korea’s Traditional Women Free Divers. Short Documentary: The Youngdeung Gods Visit Jeju Island

Every year the Youngdeung Gods visit Jeju Island, South Korea bringing with them strong spring winds. These deities replenish the sea life as they travel their coarse from village to village along the coast. In Hamdeok Village, the shaman Young Cheol Kim presides over the ceremony, a ritualized banquet at which Jeju Island’s famed women divers…

Jeju Island’s Haenyo: A User’s Manual, bil-le, bil-le, beach of death

“Back then, many people had been killed by the national government’s forces,” the woman informed me. “Many of the bodies from neighboring villages washed up on Pyeol-ro-Neo-man-ri’s shore. The bille was strewn with bodies. The women of our village were offered a deal. If they cleaned up the corpses, then they’d have the rights to the neighboring village’s territory.”

And clean up the bodies they did. The women of Pyeol-ro-Neo-man-ri, many in their twenties and thirties at the time, some much younger, scoured the jagged bille, combing over each and every surface for the remains of the neighboring village’s dead.

Field Notes #2: Saewa Village’s Shamanic Shrines Were Burnt to the Ground

During the Anti-Superstition Movement of the 1970s, over one hundred of Jeju Island’s shamanic shrines were burnt, along with many holy relics. President Park Chung Hee’s government had implemented the misin-tapa as part of the movement for the modernization of South Korea. The aim of the misin-tapa was to eradicate traditional religion from rural communities, replacing it…

Field Notes #1: “Solstice.” (Video)

My documentary on Jeju Island’s shamanic culture (Sprits: The Story of Jeju Island’s Shamanic Shrines) will debut this September. I’ll be sharing plenty of extras on my youtube channel . I’ve been researching and filming the project for five years, so there is plenty to come. This clip is from a series I’m calling ‘Field Notes’. In…

Year Ender

  A brief post on some accomplishments of the last year and future plans for the blog and upcoming projects. THIS YEAR’S HIGHLIGHTS -Sulsaemit Shrine: One of this year’s highlights for sure, helping break the news about former Jukseong Village’s desecrated Sulsaemit Shrine. I helped form a group with the mission to restore the shrine…

Jeju Island’s Deities #5: Who is the Highest Goddess in the Land? Myoungjinguk Grandmother Goddess, Giver of Life.

“Who is Myoungjinguk Grandmother?” Great Shaman Im looked at me like I was dense. “Myoungjinguk Grandmother,” she said, incredulous, “is the grandmother goddess who came from the sky, the highest grandmother there is. She’s the grandmother who is above everyone on Jeju Island, in Korea, America–she’s the highest in all the world.” I actually hadn’t…

Jeju’s Deities 3: The Door God

Visitors to Jeju, having read their guidebooks or perhaps having been indoctrinated by local English-language tourist pamphlets, may come to island with the misconception that the people of Jeju worship the famed goddess of Halla Mountain, Seulmundae Grandmother, as a central deity. The legend of Seulmundae is certainly a beautiful and comic one (comedy and…