(Mago Essay 1) Toward the Primordial Knowing of Mago, the Great Goddess by Helen Hye-Sook Hwang

Introduction: Why Inaugurate the Great Goddess Consciousness?

The Great Goddess is known by many names around the world. “Mago” is one known by East Asians from time immemorial. As such, the term “Mago” is a common noun referring to the Great Goddess rather than the name of a particular goddess. According to my assessment of a large volume of primary sources that I have documented, Mago’s divine nature is characterized as the progenitor, creator, and ultimate sovereign. In short, Mago is supreme as the Creatrix. That does not mean that there is nothing before or even after Her. In fact, according to the Budoji (Epic of the Emblem City), principal text of Magoism, Mago was born into the cosmic era prior to our cosmic era by the music/vibration/movement of the universe. Being the Creatrix, She is the beginning and the end. She is the Origin of humankind. She will be with us insofar as humanity continues to exist on its cosmic journey. She is the Great Ancestor of all humans as well as goddesses and gods. Furthermore, She is “the Cosmic Great Mother” from whom everything is derived. “Mago” is eponymous of  human civilization.

603px-Serpiente_alquimica 1478
Drawing by Theodoros Pelecanos, in the alchemical tract Synosius (1478).

With regard to the world, She is immanent and transcendent at once. Standing at the threshold of the world, She embodies the world. She is the Channel that connects humanity with nature and the universe. She is the Lens through which we humans perceive Ultimate Reality. To be precise, She is the Cause for human consciousness. Through Her, we enter the world. She is self-sustained, as symbolized in the ouroboros. The beginning and the end for the world relies on Her. While holding the key to eternity, She shares the rise and fall with humankind. Here is Her intimacy with humanity: We are part of Her and She is in our DNA.

My reconstruction of Mago and Magoism did not begin with a teleological scheme. No pre-measured outcome was there to motivate my undertaking of the research project. On the contrary, the topic was a serendipitous yet timely encounter, which I had never consciously expected. Nonetheless, I was not in a vacuum. As a self-identified radical feminist, I sought a new mode of knowing within my own cultural roots that can remedy Eurocentric, nationalist, colonialist, racist, and ethnocentric knowledge. The years of my graduate studies were spent in exploring such possibilities. Only after furthering my research of Mago and Magoism for over a decade, I began to grasp something at which my intellectual/spiritual voyage is destined to arrive. It was this phrase, in fact a very old mandate that ancient Magoists self-identified with, “Return to the Origin of Mago (Mago Bokbon, 麻姑複本),” that surfaced over the horizon with clarity.

Hyeonmu-do (Turtle and Snake mural painting), Sasin-chong (Sasin Tomb), Goguryeo
Hyeonmu-do (Turtle and Snake mural painting), Sasin-chong (Sasin Tomb), Goguryeo Korea, late 6th century

How do we return to Mago’s Origin? Do we return to Her Realm or invoke Her Reality to our time? Time is one seamless measurement. No need to go there or bring it here. The fact that “Mago” refers to the Great Goddess rather than an individual goddess intimates an implication at the level of consciousness. Talk of Mago invokes the Great Goddess consciousness, primordial unity/oneness. A “new” mode of knowing is re-birthed once and time and time again. Individuals are placed in unity with the whole. Each shares with the subject position, WE. After all, everyone is progeny of the Great Goddess! We are re-stored within the scheme of old knowing that the whole (universality) comprises parts (particularities) and that they are organically interconnected. Complexity and precision of the way microcosmic entities work in harmony with the cosmos are beyond the human grasp. However, we know that an assault on a part affects the whole. And vice versa.

This is why I study Mago and Magoism: Reenacting the Great Goddess consciousness is the ultimate antidote to the patriarchal consciousness. WE learn how to see things beyond the isolated position of an “I,” the notion of the self molded to stand against its environments (the other) by the patriarchal mastermind. The separated “I,” implanted in one’s psyche from birth through patriarchal institutions such as the state, religion, family, and heterosexuality, conjoins the new awareness of WE. The Mago consciousness is the original, pristine perspective prior to the split of the patriarchal consciousness. It is an undifferentiated state of mind that underlies patriarchal socialization. Ancient cultures had an understanding of the mysterious working of Mago. With Mago, WE Re-Turn to the Origin! The Female is epistemically invincible, nullifying the assaults of the patriarchal “I.” The power of the Mago consciousness is well depicted in the icon of Durga defeating the patriarchal demon.

Maa Durga
Maa Durga

One should not be mistaken that the Mago consciousness is just another form of patriarchal thinking with reversed gender. It fundamentally differs in nature from the latter. Suffice it to say that “the Almighty God,” unlike the Great Goddess, does not share the same DNA with humans. In fact, He has no DNA! The monotheistic god rules over and against the world in protection of himself. He is needy. He isn’t even transcendent but disconnected from primordial unity. He can’t be “He” but only he of She. He can’t be the representative of the world because he is biased against the female principle. Ultimately, he is incapable of embracing everyone, unlike the Great Goddess. To hide the fact that the monotheistic god leads only to the abyss of self-destruction, patriarchal religions have created dogmas to indoctrinate people. The Great Goddess consciousness exposes the patriarchal deception.

As patriarchy developed over the course of history, Mago was made unintelligible. People lost the Original Knowing! The Paradise was gone not only in a physical manner but also epistemically! That may as well be a corollary in that patriarchy precludes the concept of the Great Goddess by definition. It is not patriarchy if a society upholds the female as supreme. Nonetheless, patriarchy could not get rid of the manifestation of Mago in history, culture, and the collective consciousness of people. In fact, the ancient cultures, histories, myths, topographies, religions, and memories of all peoples around the world testify to the Great Goddess. She is indelible even in the natural world. World mythologies testify that She is embodied in everything and everywhere. The sun, air, wind, sky, heaven, earth, mountain, rock, and water in the physical world emanate Her. Humans are not an exception. We are Her primary memory holders.

What patriarchy did consequently was render the meaning of the word “Mago” to the name of a particular goddess. Like many individual goddesses of the world, however, Mago as a particular goddess partly represents the feature of the Great Goddess in disguise. For example, folklore tells of many women named Mago who lived in different times and places. While they were Magoist priestesses, shamans, and/or rulers, they were simply remembered as Mago by people. Most characteristically, Mago is referred to as the goddess of immortality, sometimes subservient to Xiwangmu (Queen Mother of the West), in Daoism. In that case, the Great Goddess is compartmentalized as Xiwangmu and Mago (Magu in Chinese). Knowing the Great Goddess is interrupted. As can be expected, an array of countless Mago icons in paintings, ceramics, sculptures, prints, and embroideries as well as legends has been dismissed as non-data for serious study by scholars. Magu’s origin has become esoteric among the Chinese and the Japanese. In the case of Korea, Mago manifests as the Great Goddess with a minimum degree of erosion.

The forthcoming sequels will explore the ways that Mago and Magoism have manifested in East Asia and elsewhere. Not surprisingly, making the case for Mago as the Great Goddess is faced with difficulty in all directions. The task is daunting and complex. A comprehensive documentation of data has been made for the first time in modern history. Needless to say, the topic has not been seriously studied by scholars in its own right. Sinocentric and modern historiographies have in consequence conspired in the deicide of the Great Goddess. I maintain that a large volume of primary materials itself, differently characterized but connected through thematic patterns in Korea, China, and Japan, is evidence of Mago as the Great Goddess. Reconstructing the mytho-history of Magoism, primarily based on the apocryphal texts of ancient Korea, has allowed me to chart seemingly unrelated and divergent materials into an overall scheme of Magoism.

Immortal Magu, Qing dynastty China
Immortal Magu, Qing dynasty China (1644-1911)

(To be continued, Read Part II.)

(Meet Mago Contributor) Helen Hye-Sook Hwang.


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4 Comments on "(Mago Essay 1) Toward the Primordial Knowing of Mago, the Great Goddess by Helen Hye-Sook Hwang"

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Donna Snyder
Donna Snyder

Thank You, Dr. Hwang.

Trista Hendren
Trista Hendren

There is no end to how much I LOVE this essay! Thank you!


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