Solgaji, or pine branch, is used in Korean folk religion to chase away impurities and to cleanse a given space, enlivening it with vitality.
Pine trees were believed to be sacred and auspicious, providing humans with protection and other benefits, and were used in important functions and occasions that required high devotion, including seasonal customs, initiation rites, and folk rituals, as a means of keeping out evil forces and praying for good fortune.
On Seol, the first day of the first lunar month, a pine branch was hung or left standing by the gate of a home as a means to keep out unclean forces. On Dongji (Winter Solstice), pine branches are also used to sprinkle red bean porridge (patjuk) around the house to chase away bad fortunes.
When a baby is initiated into this world through birth, a taboo rope (geumjul) is hung over the gate for 21 days, with pine branches and other sacred objects tied to the straw garland for protection. In traditional weddings, the ritual table includes a set of vases with pine and bamboo branches, symbolizing nuptial bliss.
In shamanism, the symbolic significance of the pine tree is integrated into the history of the house guardian god Seongju, represented as the origin of the house and of its guardian deity.
In folk rituals, pine branches are used to chase away impurities and to cleanse the ritual venue. At the beginning of a ritual, incense is burned to invite the spirits that have ascended to the heavens (hon), and wine is poured into a bowl of sand (mosagi) to invite the spirits that have descended underground (baek), and a pine branch is inserted in the bowl of sand to cleanse the ritual venue.
In preparing for the village tutelary festival dongje, taboo ropes (geumjul) are hung and red clay (hwangto) is scattered at the village shrine, the homes of ritual officials, the venues where sacrificial foods are prepared, the common well, and the village entrance. The straw garland used as taboo rope includes folded sheets of white ritual paper (baekji) and pine branches, believed to keep out evil spirits with its sharp needles.