(Essay) Reviving and Celebrating the Nine-Goddess Symbolism by Helen Hye-Sook Hwang

The Creatrix represented by the three-color rays of light, patterned in nine corners.

In my ongoing research on the Great Goddess known as Mago, I have discovered the number nine gynocentric symbolism as the most prominent current that constitutes Magoism and named it the Nona (Number Nine) Mago religion/civilization/mythology.

Like other civilizational inventions such as the calendar and musicology, numerology is an intellectual system of knowing the Way of Nature/Universe/Creatrix. And the number nine is no arbitrary number but is the numeric code of the Creatrix or the Primordial Mother. It codifies the cosmogonic beginning of the Primordial Mother, that is, the Primordial Mago Household. It refers to the primordial principle of the solar/terrestrial beginning.

The merit of the Nine-Mago tradition, among others, lies in the fact that it offers an etiological explanation of the cross-cultural manifestations of the nine-Goddess or female symbolism. In the Magoist cosmogony, the working of numbers parallels the evolution of the Mago Household. The number nine is equated with the nine primordial Magos, that is, Mago and Her eight (grand)daughters at the time of the solar beginning. It is not surprising to note that the Nona-Mago tradition was revived during the period of Danguk (ca. 3898 BCE-ca. 2333 BCE), the nine-state confederacy of Old Magoism (Magoism in pre- and proto-patriarchal times), headed by Goddess Goma (Bear/Queen Sovereign).[i] The leitmotif of Mago folktales has it only too plainly. It is told that Mago had eight daughters and dispatched them to different islands. Mago’s daughters became the shaman progenitors in those places.

The nona female symbolism has been widely revered by peoples of the world throughout history. The number nine female symbolism, pre-patriarchal in origin, manifests cross-culturally in the pantheon of the Nine Goddesses/Magos.[ii] They represent Nine Goddesses known as Nine Magos (Gurang), Nine Muses, Nine Matrikas, Nine Durgas (Nava Durga), Nine Gallicians (Gallizenaes), and Nine Gwyllions, to name a few. Although its female association is sometimes eroded or superseded by male counterparts, the number nine symbolism has continued to live on.

The nona symbolism is not limited to persons in East Asia. It is profusely imbued in cultures and topographies. As a Mago researcher, I have noted a transnational manifestation of the nona symbolism including the nine Koreans (Guhan), the nine archer peoples (Gui), the nine dragons, the nine states, the nine mountains, the nine heavens, the nine waterfalls, the nine-tailed fox, the nine-story pagoda, and the nine-nipple bell. To be noted is that East Asian patriarchal religions such as Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism as well as seemingly secular traditional cultures have adopted the gynocentric nona symbolism.

The numerology of eighty-one also supports the significance of ancient symbolism of nine. That the Dao-de-jing (Tao-te-ching), the Chinese classical text foundational to Daoism and other East Asian schools, comprises eighty-one chapters is not random. More prominently, it may be said that the Cheon-bu-gyeong (Scripture of the Heavenly Emblem) is an embodiment of the Nona-Mago tradition. Written in eighty-one characters, it speaks of the Magoist cosmology through its numerological language.

Symbolically, the triad is associated with the Primordial Mother, as is the Mago Triad (Samsin). Three embodies the principle of cosmic creativity that self-generates without end. One divided by three repeats .333… infinitely. As seen in many patterns of triquetra or triskelion from around the world, the triad symbol has never disappeared from the consciousness of people to this day.

One of the salient meanings of the Nona-Mago tradition for moderns can be this: The gynocentric unity shown through the female symbolism of the number nine in ancient cultures betrays that unity (One) and diversity (many or parts) are NOT two contradictory concepts. It is unfortunate that modern patriarchal languages set up the two as antithetical. Unity and diversity co-work seamlessly. In fact, diversity (parts) is the hallmark of the female principle of unity. In HER, individuals/parts are given unique identities, which make the whole all the more complex and ever-growing. Furthermore, the united front of nines, as shown in the historical model of the nine-state confederacy of Danguk, represents the invincible power of the Great Goddess.

I propose to us that we revive the nine gynocentric symbolism today. By reviving the nine female symbolism, we rejoin our ancestors in the Life-affirming reality of the Great Goddess. We can open the door to the sacred realm of the Primordial Mother. The knowing of the whole is metamorphic, it transforms individuals and communities collectively. HER power is contagious and builds us up beyond any force of distraction and destruction. The Nine Goddesses are the very initial program of the Primordial Mother from whom we, the terrestrial beings, are derived. It will reprogram the whole to the original plan. It can offer a leverage for us, modern Goddessians, to reach the common goal of cultivating the consciousness of WE across times, cultures, and geographies.

The Nine-Mago Movement is not just about examining the multi-faceted meaning of the number nine steeped in cultures, religions, philosophies, and mathematics from around the world. It is about how to reread about human civilization as inherently gynocentric and to bring back the lost consciousness of WE among moderns.

The number nine embodies the highest capacity for three-circles to grow and to become. It represents the Universe, both micro- and macro-world, that is fully evolving and growing. Nine that is united in One symbolizes an organic and cosmic way of Becoming. Each triad unit of the nine-circles, a nexus, is the center and part of the whole simultaneously. It is an egalitarian model of being the whole with multi-centers and infinite possibilities. Everyone in nine-circles is a micro creatrix manifesting the power of the triune.

When it comes to the nine-female symbolism, the ancient world knew far more than we moderns. Reenacting the nona-Goddess symbolism has a mytho-historical root. In my assessment, the female symbolism of the number nine is profuse and cross-cultural in ancient cultures across the world. I maintain that “the Nine-Mago Movement” was in practice throughout the world from pre-patriarchal times and onward.

To revive the Nona-Mago tradition would be a reenactment of old gynocentric unity through which pre- and proto-patriarchal worlds maintained the consciousness of WE (All are connected and kindred). Peace, harmony, justice, and love are fruition of the consciousness of WE. The Nine-Mago Movement is a traditional gynocentric or matriarchal advocacy of organizing ourselves as Goddess/Mago People. By acknowledging it, each of us begins to re-claim ancient gynocentric power collectively. We are joining our ancestors in the mandate of Re-Turn to Mago’s Origin (Mago bokbon, 麻姑複本), the Womb Time/Space of the Great Goddess!

Through the Nine-Mago Movement, we re-own the power of naming ourselves. This means that we re-define the nature of human history and civilization as gynocentric, meaning primordially female-principled. We re-join the dream of our ancestors who envisioned the universe as Womb, the Creatrix. We know where we came from. We humans are directly born of the First Mother, Primordial Goddess. As the scions of Mago, we are endowed with the lens of the Great Goddess. We are entrusted with the task of managing the sonic balance of all earthlings in harmony with the cosmic music. We are the delegate of Her Clan Community and S/HE speaks through us. We are the “shamans” of the Great Goddess by birth. We as human species are entrusted to connect our earthly sisters to Her. And Mago connects us to the universe.

How do we revive the Nine-Goddess symbolism? Let us unearth and retell the myths and stories of the Nine-Goddess from around the world. We can organize people and things as the united front of nines. Here are some examples that I have done. Together with Kaalii Cargill and Trista Hendren, I planned and conducted the Nine-Day Solstice Celebration program in 2015. Nine hosts produced their video meetings on various topics, which were aired by Mago Academy.[iii] Another example is the collective writing series of She Rises. As you may have noticed in the Table of Contents of She Rises Volume 1 and Volume 2, the She Rises series follows the convention of structuring nine chapters and calls them Nine Sisters, which come under the three parts called Three Mothers. Both books have reached beyond the double nine-circles of 81 contributors. Let’s remember that the Nine-Sister Circles represent the Creatrix, the Origin and the Source of all beings! The Nine Sisters are immortal and invincible!

[Author’s note: This essay is included in She Rises Volume 2, forthcoming by Mago Books in 2016.]

See She Rises: Why Goddess Feminism, Activism, and Spirituality? Volume 1

See She Rises: How Goddess Feminism, Activism, and Spirituality? Volume 2

See Mago Contributor Helen Hye-Sook Hwang, Ph.D.



[i] This is a summary of the mytho-history of Magoism from the cosmogonic beginning to the period of Danguk. See Chapters 4, 6, 7, and 8 of my book, The Mago Way: Re-discovering Mago, the Great Goddess from East Asia (Mago Books, 2015).

[ii] Helen Hye-Sook Hwang, “Magos, Muses, and Matrikas: The Magoist Cosmogony and Gynocentric Unity” in The Mago Way: Re-discovering Mago, the Great Goddess from East Asia (Mago Books, 2015), pp.149-170.

[iii] http://magoacademy.org/2015/07/26/2015-nine-day-solstice-celebration-call-for-videoaudio-presentation/ (July 26, 2015)


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