(Book review) The Mago Way by Helen Hye-Sook Hwang reviewed by Judy Foster

(For more info on The Mago Way, see here.)

cover front final rdcdHelen Hye-Sook Hwang’s intriguing study, The Mago Way: Re-discovering Mago, the Great Goddess from East Asia (Volume 1), presents her discovery of the Great Goddess of East Asia and researches the spiritual aspects, cultural rituals and practices, prehistories, histories, mythologies and oral stories, tracing the goddess/goddesses through literary and other sources, of this huge region (pp.66,67). There are interesting illustrations and photographs to further assist in our understanding of the subject.

Although at times the book introduces some unfamiliar and complex ideas and symbolism I found it generally easy to read, and was left desiring to know much more about the mysterious Great Goddess of Korea and East Asia, the story of Her origins, rituals, and especially her place within prehistory and history.

She begins with her own personal story of her discovery of Mago, the primordial Goddess of Korean and East Asian myths and history, which has inspired her to research more deeply into the ‘mytho-history of Old Korea’ (p.71), thus leading the way to the more modern East Asian understanding of Magoism.  For example, she has collected over 300 East Asian folk tales, myths and oral histories, and continues to study these and numerous other important resources in her quest to reveal the ancient Goddess to modern East Asians: The paramount significance of Magoism lies in the fact that it redefines the female principle and proffers a gynocentric utopian vision to the modern audience.” (p.100)

In her final chapter, Helen explains the importance of the ancient Budoji, Principal Text of Magoism and the Budoji cosmogonic myth with its description of ‘the beginning’, the story of creation, how and why it came about, a concept somewhat similar to the Christian Biblical Book of Genesis creation myth.  She explores the origins of the East Asian Great Goddess Mago while investigating the complexities of Her symbolism through the Nine Goddesses (and related myths) and “the primordial drama of Mago’s beginning – – – a yet-to-be-heard story of the beginning of the Great Goddess, the taboo story in patriarchy” (p.172).

In the West we seem to have somehow largely ignored the incredible cultures of East Asia, yet they are as old as, or older than Western cultures. So it’s high time we Westerners began to explore more about the peoples and societies of the other half of the world. In this, the first of three books, Helen Hye-Sook Hwang begins to show to us a whole new world of literature, mythology, prehistory and history relating to the living world of Mago, which is especially meaningful for those of us who live in Australia and other Southern Hemisphere Pacific countries. A truly wonderful vision!

Read Meet Mago Contributor Judy Foster.

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