(Essay 2) Why Reenact the Nine-Mago Movement? by Helen Hye-Sook Hwang

Ursa Major, Wikimedia Commons

[Author’s Note: The sequel of this essay is released in preparation for 2015 Nine-Day Solstice Celebration Project.]


Part 2 Goddess Goma, the Magoist Shaman Ruler, and Her Nona-Mago Tradition



Not until the autumn of 2012 did the pervasive manifestation of the number nine symbolism in Magoism surface in my consciousness. The information that the shrine of Gaeyang Halmi (Gaeyang Grandmother/Goddess), the Sea Goddess of Korea, was once called the Temple of Gurang (Nine Goddesses 九嫏祠) awakened a deep memory in me. It was a revelation to me and I began to connect the dots! That summer, I had joined the field research team of Konkuk University’s Korean Oral Literature graduate program. With them I visited the Shrine of the Sea Saint (Suseong-dang 水聖堂) in Buan, North Jeolla, S. Korea to collect folklore from the locals. Only when I was processing the data that the team gathered to write a report, did I come across the original name of the shrine, the Temple of the Nine Goddesses. And the Nine Goddesses refer to Gaeyang Halmi and her eight daughters. It is unknown how and when it was replaced by the current name, the Shrine of the Sea Saint. It is evident, however, that a linguistic femicide took place; the female-connoted term, the Nine Goddesses, was replaced by the sex/gender neutral term, the Sea Saint.


Lore remembers her as Gaeyang Halmi. The story goes that Gaeyang Halmi had eight daughters and sent them off to neighboring islands and that the eight daughters became the shaman progenitors in those regions. Given that this story is more frequently told for Mago Halmi in other parts of Korea, “Gaeyang Halmi” is deemed as a variation of “Mago Halmi.” In fact, the story is a folk version of the cosmogonic myth of Mago recounted in the Budoji, the principal text of Magoism. The original pantheon of “Gurang (Nine Goddesses)” is attributed to the primordial household of the Great Goddess, Mago and HER eight (grand)daughters.[1]


With the original name, Gurang, the story of Gaeyang Halmi begins to shed a new light. “Gurang (Nine Goddesses)” leads to another yet-to-be-re-discovered door to enter the ancient knowing of the Great Goddess, Mago, made possible by Goddess Goma (Bear Sovereign). That door is what I call the nona-Mago tradition. It is Goddess Goma who invented the nona-Mago tradition. Then, I learned that Gaeyang Halmi is not just another manifestation of Mago Halmi. She is another name for Goddess Goma who realized on Earth the cosmogonic drama of Mago and her eight daughters (Nine Magos).


I was finally able to lay my focus on Goma also known as Hanung (Great Bear Sovereign).[2] In the mytho-history of Magoism, Goma is commemorated as the Magoist shaman ruler who laid the foundation for the pre-patriarchal gynocentric civilization called Sinsi (Divine Emporium) and transmitted it worldwide. Her rule marks the golden age of Old Magoism during which gynocracy reached its zenith one more time in East Asia. Ancient cultures and philosophies that we know today originate from her civilization.


To be precise, Goma’s rule is characterized by the aforementioned story that Mago had eight daughters and dispatched them to neighboring islands and that these daughters became the shaman progenitors of those regions. She brought on Earth the Reign of Mago by founding the confederacy of nine-states, which I call Dan-guk (檀國, State of the Divine Birch). Put differently, Goma’s rule was another enactment of the cosmogonic drama of Mago. She religiously and politically embodied the Gurang Mago myth in the nine-state confederacy of Danguk (ca. 3898 BCE-ca. 2333 BCE), better known as Baedal-guk (Baedal State) or Cheonggu-guk (Blue Hill State) among Koreans.[3]


The modifier “Dan” in “Danguk” is derived from the mythic drama of Goma that took place under the Divine Birch Tree (神壇樹). Goma, the Shaman Queen of Danguk, and her fellow women went out to the forest of birches to dwell in tents while praying for a parthenogenetic impregnation at the divine birch altar. She was successful and gave birth to a child without a male mate. That was deemed as the manifestation of the Great Goddess, Mago, by the public. She was enthroned as a Magoist ruler, Hanung, after her predecessor, Hanin. Together with Hanin and Dangun, her successor, she makes the Three Sages of Old Korea (Hanin, Hanung, and Dangun) in Korean folk tradition. The tree pole was made to commemorate her divine act at the birch tree altar by her contemporaries and descendants. In short, Goma was the early fourth millennium manifestation of Mago.


She, among other Neolithic inventions, innovated shipbuilding technology and nautical prowess and traveled far by sea to (re-)establish gynocentric unity among peoples of the world. She was the builder and transmitter of the Sinsi civilization across the continents.


Goma manifests in worldwide myths with regard to the themes of the nona-symbol, the Sea Goddess, and the Bear Goddess. She was known as the Sea Goddess in East Asia and the Mermaid Goddess in other ancient myths of the world. She was localized as such ancient Goddesses as Xiwangmu, Amaterasu, Guan-yin, and Matzu in East Asia.


(To be continued in Part 3. Read Part 1.)



[1] According to the Budoji, the principal text of Magoism, the Great Goddess gave birth to two daughters, Goddess Gung and Goddess So, parthenogenetically. Thus comes the Primordial Triad Mother. The two daughters each gave birth to four daughters parthenogenetically. The eight daughters formed the third generation in Mago’s genealogy.

[2] Hanung is conventionally noted as a male hero who married Goma in the foundation myth of Korea. I reinterpret the myth from the perspective of Goma and identify her as Hanung herself.

[3] According to the Mago Myth recounted in the Budoji, the court custom of dispatching Magoist princesses/princes to distant polities characterizes the Magoist mandate of restoring the Origin of the Great Goddess.


Read Meet Mago Contributor, Helen Hye-Sook Hwang.

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