A Guide to Shamanism on Jeju Island, Post Two: Sacred Island

The house is sacred. The yard is sacred. The lanes are sacred. The village is sacred. The fields and wooded regions surrounding the village are sacred. The mountain is sacred. The sky and earth below are sacred. The sea is sacred. This world is sacred—populated with divine beings—gods and ancestor spirits. Halla Mountain, and the…

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

Let’s start with the home. Most lectures (as given by the handful of experts on the shamanism of Jeju Island) 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…

Jeju Island’s Most Beloved Shamanic Shrine Tree has Perished due to Typhoon Winds and Careless Behavior from ‘tourists’. The Island is Mourning the Loss of the 400-Year-Old Tree.

This past Saturday, October 6th, perhaps what is Jeju Island’s best known and beloved shamanic shrine tree fell due to high winds. I found myself tearing up throughout the day Sunday when I first heard of the incident, as I have been visiting the shrine for almost a decade now. I wasn’t the only one…

Jeju Island’s Haenyo: A User’s Manual, the diver who tried to die at sea

The traditional free diver, Ok-sun Lee, was born in the very waters in which she planned to carry out her own drowning some 85 years later. Her life-long friend and fellow diver, Man-bok Kim, seeing the practicality of her choice, aided her in the attempt. The two women survived much together—over seventy years of work at sea, the…

The Traditional Village Shamans of Jeju Island, South Korea: PHOTO ESSAY

The book is out! Order Jeju Island’s Haenyeo, A User’s Manual for kindle and other devices. Interviews with three generations of Jeju Island’s sea women. Ever since Jeju Island forged its way onto the international tourism scene, its women free divers, called haenyeo, have taken center stage as both cultural symbol and tourist attraction. The…

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…

Pagans We Are does TEDx (video inside)

  This past November, I gave a TEDx talk on Jeju Island, where I’ve been documenting shamanic shrine culture for the past five years, as you well know if you follow my blog. I talk about my video and photography work and the importance of preserving sacred spaces, many of which are in danger on…

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.

* visiting Jeju w/ daniel paul marshall

Originally posted on The Friday Influence:
photo by Joey Rositano This week’s post features a poem by Daniel Paul Marshall. Marshall writes about the Haenyeo, female divers from the Korean province of Jeju. The Hangul for the word, (해녀)roughly translates to sea women, and serves as the title for this poem. When I informed Marshall I…

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…