Possessed Shaman(降神巫)

Possessed Shaman

Headword

강신무 ( 降神巫 , Gangsinmu )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Beliefs > Shamanism > Concept

Writer KimSiduk(金時德)

Gangsinmu is a possessed shaman capable of trance channeling, who has been initiated into the calling through a possession ritual (naerimgut) after experiencing spirit sickness.

The term is an academic categorization of shamans according to their initiation process, used in contrast to seseummu, or hereditary shaman. The former directly channels the language of the gods through his or her body, while the latter acts as an agent that delivers the gods’ words.

Possessed shamans are defined by three elements: the experience of spiritual sickness (sinbyeong); maintenance of a personal shrine for worshipping the deity that possessed them; and their role as officiant in a shamanic ritual. Their calling is not inherited and they possess a strong sense of spirituality and of the presence of the gods.

Prevalent in the regions north of the Han River, possessed shamans in Korea dress in elaborate ritual garb and enter a state of trance through frantic dancing accompanied by percussion music, at which stage they become capable of channeling the words of the gods. Korea’s possessed shamans are categorized as part of the Northern tradition shamanism. While Northern tradition shamans experience talhon (ecstacy), a process of the shaman’s soul ascending from the body toward the world of the gods, what Korean shamans experience is defined as bingui (possession), the descent of spirit onto the shaman’s body.

Since gangsinmu embody the descended spirit of the gods, every act they perform in a ritual is perceived as an act of the gods. Compared to rituals officiated by hereditary shamans, those by possessed shamans are therefore more intense and directly reflect the will of the gods. The categorization of gangsinmu and seseummu also serves as a criterion for defining the geographical divide between the regions north and south of the Han River, the former more prevalent in the north and the latter in the south. The spiritual sickness that possessed shamans experience is also called mubyeong, a form of psychiatric illness that can be healed only through a possession ritual (naerimgut).

Possessed Shaman

Possessed Shaman
Headword

강신무 ( 降神巫 , Gangsinmu )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Beliefs > Shamanism > Concept

Writer KimSiduk(金時德)

Gangsinmu is a possessed shaman capable of trance channeling, who has been initiated into the calling through a possession ritual (naerimgut) after experiencing spirit sickness.

The term is an academic categorization of shamans according to their initiation process, used in contrast to seseummu, or hereditary shaman. The former directly channels the language of the gods through his or her body, while the latter acts as an agent that delivers the gods’ words.

Possessed shamans are defined by three elements: the experience of spiritual sickness (sinbyeong); maintenance of a personal shrine for worshipping the deity that possessed them; and their role as officiant in a shamanic ritual. Their calling is not inherited and they possess a strong sense of spirituality and of the presence of the gods.

Prevalent in the regions north of the Han River, possessed shamans in Korea dress in elaborate ritual garb and enter a state of trance through frantic dancing accompanied by percussion music, at which stage they become capable of channeling the words of the gods. Korea’s possessed shamans are categorized as part of the Northern tradition shamanism. While Northern tradition shamans experience talhon (ecstacy), a process of the shaman’s soul ascending from the body toward the world of the gods, what Korean shamans experience is defined as bingui (possession), the descent of spirit onto the shaman’s body.

Since gangsinmu embody the descended spirit of the gods, every act they perform in a ritual is perceived as an act of the gods. Compared to rituals officiated by hereditary shamans, those by possessed shamans are therefore more intense and directly reflect the will of the gods. The categorization of gangsinmu and seseummu also serves as a criterion for defining the geographical divide between the regions north and south of the Han River, the former more prevalent in the north and the latter in the south. The spiritual sickness that possessed shamans experience is also called mubyeong, a form of psychiatric illness that can be healed only through a possession ritual (naerimgut).