(Mago Stronghold Essay 3) The Forgotten Primordial Paradise by Helen Hye-Sook Hwang, Ph.D.

Part 3: Indelible Old Magoism Encrypted in China’s “Mago Stronghold”

Atlas of Heavenly Harbor Government (天津府總圖, Tianjinfuzongtu) published in 1805, Courtesy of Hyanggodo and Junhui Song. 

The Mago word “Mago Stronghold” has narrowly survived patriarchal linguistic censorships. Sometimes it is preferably or deliberately employed as a euphemism. Other times, it is replaced with random words. But it has never been completely wiped out from written and oral texts. The Mago term, constituting the very foundation of patriarchy, is indestructible. Having survived, the term “Mago Stronghold” debunks the plot intent to magna-matricide. It unearths the buried and re-members the severed.


Extant Mago Strongholds in Korea and in China differ not only in number but also in implication. Just like Magoist data in general, Korea surpasses China by a large number of extant Mago Strongholds. It is a corollary that China does not have much to do with Mago words in that ancient China “entered the stage of the patriarchal society around 5,000 years ago”.[1] Magoist materials are systematically dismissed as dubious or apocryphal data, as pre-Chinese Old Magoist Korea remains uncharted in Sinocentric East Asian historiography. Readers are reminded of the meaning of Old Magoist Korea, the socio-political-religious conglomeration of the People of the Great Goddess originated from pre-Chinese times. It is by definition non-ethnocentric and pre-nationalist.[2] Magoism substantiates the derivative nature of ancient Chinese history from Old Magoist Korea. It unveils that Old Korea was there long before the establishment of the Chinese patriarchal rule. The Mago Stronghold talk debunks the fantasy of ancient China as the forerunner rule.


Mago Stronghold
Records of the United Great Ming (Damingyitongzhi 大明一統志), Courtesy of Hyanggodo and Junhui Song

It is unknown how many Mago Stronghold places may have existed before or survived today in present China. One I found is located in Canzhou, Hebei Province, according to the Atlas of Heavenly Harbor Government (天津府總圖, Tianjinfuzongtu) published in 1805. The historical accuracy of this place is backed by an earlier account in the Records of the United Great Ming (Damingyitongzhi 大明一統志), a fifteenth century geography book from the Ming dynasty. Its brief record concerns the visit of Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE) to Mago Stronghold, as it reads:


Mago Stronghold is located in Canzhou on the border of old Qingchi-xian (Clear Lake County). Emperor Wu of Han took an administrative tour to this place and offered rites. Thus came the place-name, Mago Stronghold.[3]

The Canzhou Mago Stronghold, noted for the second century BCE anecdote, makes its history two millennia old at the least. When Magoism is made invisible, however, the long history or the royal association of Mago Stronghold is systematically censored as non-data in official historiography of China, which is the norm for East Asian historiographies. Given that Emperor Wu (141-87 BCE) of Han is known as one of the most accomplished rulers in Chinese history, it may appear odd that he is associated with the Mago term, “Mago Stronghold.” Indeed, the account may seem to mismatch Emperor Wu of ancient China with Mago Stronghold. And Chinese scribes would not have fabricated the anecdote. It is indeed a rare case that the Mago term has survived in Chinese official documents.


That said, we want to ask if the two terms, Emperor Wu of Han and Mago Stronghold, are irreconcilable per se? My answer is no. They appear to be at odds only to the modern Sinocentric mind. In fact, the above anecdote is highly evocative of the concept of Heaven (天 Tian) worshipped by ancient Chinese rulers. Emperor Wu’s visitation and officiation at Mago Stronghold, which may have been known as Heavenly Stronghold (天城 Tiancheng),[4] account for the ancient ruler’s worship of Heaven. It is of utmost importance for Chinese rulers to observe rites and customs that venerate Heaven, for it is deemed that Heaven selects rulers and endows them with the right to rule. Accordingly, ancient Chinese rulers are known to have taken the title of “the Son of Heaven 天子” and ruled with “the Mandate of Heaven 天命.”


Nonetheless, the problem with the Chinese thought of Heaven lies in the fact that Heaven is equated with the supreme god (上帝, Supreme Emperor) or an impersonal quality of the divine. That Heaven is a euphemism for “Mago” was known to the populace. In various sources, Mago is referred to as “Heavenly Deity.”[5] S/HE and Magoism are sometimes equated with the impersonal term, “Heaven.” For example, Mago Lake (Maguji in Chinese) is also called Heavenly Lake (天池 Tianchi in Chinese) in oral tradition.[6] The fact that, according to the Budoji, Heavenly Mountain is known as the residence of the Hwanggung, the eldest clan community in the post-paradise world, is no accident. When its semantic tie to “Mago” is lost, “Heaven” is stripped of the Magoist implication. The surviving term, “Mago Stronghold,” however, debunks magna-matricide in the modern mind. It is inferred that Emperor Wu officiated the Magoist rite at Mago Stronghold as the Son of Heaven according to the Mandate of Heaven.


The scheme of Old Magoism puts the above anecdote into a context: Emperor Wu emulated the royal tradition of ancient Magoist shaman queens, the representative of the Great Goddess who is the ultimate sovereign of the Earth, Mago Stronghold. Emperor Wu and Mago Stronghold were not at odds with each other in an earlier time of ancient Chinese history. Written together, they indicate that Magoism was acknowledged by Emperor Wu of Han. Put differently, magna-matricide was not committed or completed in the second century BCE China.


Were ancient Chinese rulers including Emperor Wu of Han Magoist? This question is difficult to answer, for each ruler of ancient China may have taken an ambivalent attitude toward Magoism to a varying degree. Some may have been pseudo-Magoists. Ancient Chinese rulers, representing the establishment of Chinese monarchy, which marked the onset of patriarchal history in East Asia, are distinguished from traditional Magoist shaman queens who defended the Magoist confederal system of Old Korea. Nonetheless, they needed the Oracle of the Great Goddess to legitimize themselves as rulers. In pre-patriarchal East Asia, Old Magoist Korea was the source of power, technology, and civilization for any ruler to draw from. Evidence shows that early Chinese rulers accommodated rather than repudiated the socio-political-religious system of Old Magoism. The Mandate of Heaven is a Chinese (read patriarchal) rendition of the Oracle of the Great Goddess given to Magoist shaman queens in pre- and proto-Chinese Magoism.


Let’s turn to a standard account on ancient China concerning the Mandate of Heaven. Known as the hallmark of advanced ancient Chinese philosophy, the Mandate of Heaven was used as a moral law or an ideology to legitimize the revolt against the current ruler or dynasty. In other words, the Mandate of Heaven taken as the cause of one’s political action for or against the ruler. Attributed to the Zhou dynasty (1046-226 BCE) for its establishment and later propagated by Confucian political philosophers, the Mandate of Heaven functioned as authority to legitimize the uprising to overthrow the rule.


Around the year 1046 BCE, King Wu, of the province of Zhou, rebelled against King Zhou of Shang and defeated his forces at the Battle of Muye, establishing the Zhou Dynasty (c. 1046-226 BCE). 1046-771 BCE marks the Western Zhou Period while 771-226 BCE marks the Eastern Zhou. The Mandate of Heaven was invoked by the Duke of Zhou, King Wu’s younger brother, to legitimize the revolt as he felt the Shang were no longer acting in the interests of the people. The Mandate of Heaven was thus defined as the gods’ blessing on a just ruler and rule by divine mandate. When the government no longer served the will of the gods, that government would be overthrown. Further, it was stipulated that there could be only one legitimate ruler of China and that his rule should be legitimized by his proper conduct as a steward of the lands entrusted him by heaven. Rule could be passed from father to son but only if the child possessed the necessary virtue to rule. This mandate would later be often manipulated by various rulers entrusting succession to unworthy progeny.[7]


In the above, palpable is the understanding that the Mandate of Heaven is, on the one hand, deemed as a divine will to legitimize the ruler. On the other hand, it is used to legitimize the revolt against the ruler. Apparently, the Mandate of Heaven served a moral law to overthrow the old rule and establish a new rule. With the Mandate of Heaven, ancient Chinese rulers were caught in an ever-unsettling political climate that could bring down the ruler under certain circumstances.


The anecdote of Emperor Wu’s Mago Stronghold visitation and officiation suggests the Magoist origin of the Mandate of Heaven. It conveys that he was not outside the influence of Old Magoism. The ancient Chinese adoption of the Mandate of Heaven can be fully illumined under the light of the mytho-history of Old Magoist Korea.


The worship of Heaven continued among Chinese rulers and beyond. Titles of East Asian rulers often reflect their status as the Son of Heaven or Heavenly Emperor.[8] It is known that the Emperor of Japan during the Asuka period (538-710 CE) adopted the ancient Han Chinese imperial title of “the Son of God.”[9] The title for Japanese monarchs, Tenno (Heavenly Emperor), reflects the emperor’s connection to Heaven.[10] The fact that the Japanese emperor rules as a descendant of the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu, a variation of Mago (the Great Goddess), is exactly in line with the legacy of Magoist Shaman Queen rulers.


Pre-established information of ancient China has to be brought back in light of the mytho-history of Old Magoist Korea, which remains uncharted in modern scholarship. What is assumed but undiscussed is that ancient China was the forerunner of patriarchal rule in East Asia. Ancient Chinese patriarchs were never the originator of East Asian civilizations. They were pseudo-Magoists who borrowed the old custom of the Oracle of the Great Goddess from Magoist Korean ancestors. The problem with Sinocentric historiography lies in the fact that it normalizes ancient East Asian history as patriarchal, foreclosing the possibility that ancient China was an offshoot of Old Magoist Korea.


(To be continued. Read Part 2.)

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


[1] “Formation of Chinese Civilization,”  http://www.china.org.cn/e-gudai/index-1.htm (8/18/2016)

[2] On the discussion of Old Magoist Korea, see Helen Hye-Sook Hwang (2015), 71-2.

[3] Damingyitongzhi (大明一統志), Volume 3 (1461). Also see Zhongguo de baike quanshu  中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), 141.

[4] In fact, we have place-names called Mt. Heavenly Stronghold (天城山) in Korea (Yangsan, South Gyeongsang in South Korea and Suncheon, South Pyeongyang in North Korea) and Japan (Mt. Amagi in Shizuoka Prefecture). In the case of Korean place-names, different characters are used: 天聖山 for the North Korean location and 千聖山 or 天城山 for the South Korean location. The characters for Mt. Heavenly Stronghold in South Gyeongsang are verified in Jang Hyeongwang (1554-1637) in his essay collection. In South Pyeongyang’s location, written as 天聖山 (Mt. Heavenly Sages), two Buddhist temples, Temple of Heavenly Sages and Temple of Gwaneum, are located. See “A Study on Wooden Bodhisattva Statue built in 1502 at Gwanumsa temple in Chunseongsan” by Jeong, Eun-Woo in Seokdang non-chong, Volume 48 (2010, 53-87), 74.

[5] I have discussed in detail how the supreme deity is referred to as Heavenly Deity in Hangdan Gogi, the second primary text of Magoism. See Helen Hye-Sook Hwang, Seeking Mago, the Great Goddess: A Mytho-historic-thealogical Reconstruction of Magoism, an Archaically Originated Gynocentric Tradition of East Asia, Ph.D. dissertation (Claremont Graduate University 2005), 119-123.

[6] I have discussed the place-name Heavenly Lake with regard to Shangqing Daoism. It is known that there is, next to the alleged Shangqing Daoist temple, a lake called Heavenly Lake also called Mago Lake (Maguji in Chinese) whose story tells that Magu collected water for her alchemical practice. Ibid., 344.

[7] “Ancient China” in Ancient History Encyclopedia. http://www.ancient.eu/china/ (8/18/2016)

[8] Denis Twitchett & H. J. Van Derven, ed. Warfare in Chinese History. (BRILL, 2000), 124.

[9] James Huffman, Japan in World History (Oxford University Press, 2010), 15.

[10] Herman Ooms, Imperial Politics and Symbolics in Ancient Japan: The Tenmu Dynasty, 650–800 (University of Hawaii Press, 2009), 154-156.


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