Momjusin is the spirit that has descended upon the possessed, the principal agent of the spiritual powers acquired in a state of possession.
Unlike other gods and spirits that descend during a ritual and channel words through the shaman, the possessing spirit maintains a continuing relationship with the possessed shaman, worshipped for life in the shaman’s personal shrine.
Momjusin can be categorized into spirits connected with the shaman by blood ties and those that are not. The former are spirits of the kin of the possessed, including grandparents and parents, who have died tragic deaths or by accident or away from home. The latter are historical figures many of whom have died tragic deaths or are known to have had spiritual or bizarre experiences in their lifetime, including Queen Seondeok, General Nam Yi, General Choe Yeong, Empress Myeongseong, and even U.S.
General Douglas MacArthur, from contemporary times. Some shamans also worship Sansin (Mountain God), dongja (boy monk), seonnyeo (fairy), and the legendary Chinese general Guanshengdijun (Saintly Emperor Guan), as their personal deities.
Shamans recognize their possessing spirits upon encountering them in dreams. The possessing deities are worshipped in personal shamanic shrines, and the shaman’s rituals are dedicated to them as well. Personal shrines are decorated with objects that symbolize the possessing spirit, for instance rattles or candies when the worshipped spirit is that of a child. When the spirit has descended on the shaman, the possessed shaman identifies with the spirit by speaking and acting like the possessing spirit. A shaman possessed by a child’s spirit, for example, will act like a child, speaking informally without honorifics to everyone attending the ritual.