First Seoul International Consultation:
Christianity and Shamanism

Chapter 3

Considerations regarding Relationships between Orthodoxy and Shamanism in Korea

S.A. Mousalimas

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Table of Contents

Considerations regarding Relationships between Orthodoxy and Shamanism in Korea

  1. Guidelines.
  2. Definitions.
  3. Level of Analysis:
    1. Participation with Ancestors:
      1. in Korea.
      2. among Orthodox Christians.
      3. affinities.
    2. Household Shrines.
    3. Iconic Relationships.
    4. Physical Nature imbued with Spiritual Presence.
    5. Shamans' Propensity.
  4. Conclusion.


Preliminary Guidelines

We may obtain guidelines for our enquiry through some fine practical examples that exist through history. A vivid one, among many others, is the fine practical example in the ministry of St Innokentii (Veniaminov), who was so affirmative in the histories of the peoples of Yakutia, the Russian Far East and Alaska. As the bicentennial of his birth gave rise to our present consultation, let us concentrate on some aspects of his work.

At the bicentennial conference in Yakutsk in 1997, three levels of activity were analyzed in Veniaminov's affirmative pastoral work:1

Level 1
The incorporation of Orthodox texts, rituals and theology.
Level 2
A level of discernment in which particular areas of the peoples' pre-Christian cultures are recognized as compatible or neutral in relation to Orthodox Christianity.
Level 3
A further level of discernment, now recognizing specific areas of incompatibility.

Let us briefly review these three levels:

Level 1:
At the initial level we find the incorporation of theology, liturgy and holy scripture into the cultures of peoples of Northeast Asia and the Arctic with steadfast fidelity to the prototypes, in continuity through Orthodox Christian history, and in real unity throughout the Orthodox ecumene (world).
Level 2:
At the next level, we discern whole areas within the ancestral cultures that are entirely compatible with, or neutral with regard to, the Christian faith and practices. These whole areas are maintained, transformed and even strengthened as the incorporation of Orthodoxy takes place.
Level 3:
At the final level, we distinguish specific elements that are incompatible; but these are specific elements within the greater context that we perceive at the level above: the discernment about them is precise, and the process about them may involve their re-orientation more so than their wholesale suppression.

The following conclusion was drawn from this analysis in Yakutsk:2

Throughout these three levels, within Veniaminov's single integrated ministry, we find a mainly affirmative and tolerant attitude without it being naive; and we find a very strongly dedicated activity without it becoming fanatic.
As a result, we recognize the possibility, and indeed we see the reality, of a continuity and transformation of the ancestral cultures. As a result, the nations remain integral and distinct while unified through their essential participation in the shared faith and practices.
Continuity and transformation are healthy qualities within national development just as they are healthy within personal development. We do not find wholesale displacement, disjunction, or rupture occurring through the example we obtain from Veniaminov. On the contrary through this example, we find an integration and continuity, a transformation and strengthening: resulting in a strong growth upwards and outwards from deep roots in rich soil; and, as this opens up further for us, we may discover the ever-greater heights of potentiality in the inheritance from him.

With these guidelines in mind ~ guidelines given to us from the fine practical example in the affirmative work of St Innokentii ~ permit me to attempt to apply these three levels to Korea with regard to our theme and with respect for our host country.

Application with respect towards Korea

The application with respect towards Korea is theoretical, because this writer does not presuppose an extensive first-hand knowledge of the Korean context. My purpose here is to apply insights that are available to me, to consider theoretically some of the relationships between Christianity and shamanism in Korea. While theory is brought forward thusly, its validity should be ascertained by experts who do have extensive experience of these dynamics in the traditional Korean context.

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Preliminary Definitions

At the outset, we must define what we mean by the terms Christianity and shamanism. In this study, references to Christianity will mainly be references to cultural dynamics that are typical within the Greek Orthodox ecumene (world), as well as some formal liturgical practices and some theological principles that are standard.

As for shamanism, this term has two meanings in academic discourse in general. It can signify the activities of shamans. This is the narrower meaning of the term. This is similar in meaning to the word musok in the Korean language. The term shamanism has a wider meaning also. According to the wider meaning, the term is applied to describe whole cultures in northeast Asia and the Arctic. This wider meaning developed during the last decades of the twentieth century; it is recent; it has become influential, as it is often found in popular discourse as well as academic discourse today.

While both meanings of the term require attention (the narrower meaning and the wider meaning), I shall be concentrating on the wider meaning for the most part through the sections of this study. I shall consider the narrower meaning specifically in the penultimate section.

The areas of folk culture in Korea that I shall describe and compare have been referred to as shamanistic in studies by foreign and Korean academics alike, the latter writing in the English language. All of these areas of folk culture that I shall describe have been subsumed into the category shamanism, according to the wider meaning of that term, in academic discourse. Therefore, my consideration of their relationships with Christianity is a consideration of the relationships between Korean shamanism (in the wider meaning of this term) and Christianity, particularly Orthodoxy. In effect, I shall be considering relationships between Korean folk culture and Orthodoxy.

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The Level of Analysis

I shall concentrate especially on the second level that was identified in the analysis during the Veniaminov bicentennial. This is the level that recognizes areas of compatibility. (Areas of compatibility may also be referred to as areas of correspondence.) While these are numerous to my mind, I shall bring forward a few examples as follows:

  1. participation with ancestors.
  2. household shrines.
  3. iconic relationships, or symbolic relationships.
  4. sacred places, nature imbued with spiritual presence.

Into this list of indicative examples, I shall include another one: v. the propensity for spiritual union in the vocation of the shamans.

Through these areas of the study, the third level in the analysis will be indicated occasionally: it is the level that perceives some areas of incompatibility. The first level in the analysis ~ at which we observe the incorporation of Christian ritual, theology and scripture with steadfast fidelity to the prototypes ~ will be mentioned again in the Conclusion.

As I concentrate especially on the second level, recognizing areas of compatibility (correspondence), I shall use descriptions that are available to me from Korean and other qualified sources with regard to aspects of traditional Korean folk culture and shamanism; and I will do this with respect towards our host country while I invite response from experts in the Korean context.

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Participation with Ancestors


Traditions in Korea in general

In Korea, as in other Far East Asian nations, emphatic respect is shown to elder generations, including the deceased generations. The latter, while deceased, are not necessarily perceived as having ceased entirely from involvement with the immediately visible generations on earth.

Concepts about the participation with previous generations may or may not be particularly defined. In some circumstances they may be less defined, in other circumstances more defined; and distinctions could be made in this regard between the folk culture on the one hand, and Confucianism on the other hand. However, I shall not separate the two, because the two have influenced each other. Elements of Confucianism have blended into Korean folk culture; and, vice-versa, elements of folk culture have blended into schools of Confucianism (or so I have been given to believe).

Despite variation, certain perceptions or sentiments exist throughout Korean culture regarding ancestors who remain somehow normally present and active among descendants. One, therefore, has an obligation to demonstrate respect towards one's ancestors. Just as one should demonstrate respect towards elder members of one's immediately visible household and immediately visible community, so likewise one has an obligation to demonstrate respect towards deceased members of one's household and community.

This can be understood as a matter of social propriety. One bows to the elders in one's immediately visible household and community, thus giving manifest respect to them: so likewise, one bows towards one's ancestors, or rather towards mementos of ancestors, thus giving manifest respect to them. Even if this custom happened to be an attempt to seek good fortune by securing the benevolent attitude of ancestors who have been properly honored: even then, the custom can be understood as an act of social propriety. Just as one might seek to secure the favor of elders in one's immediately visible household or immediately visible community, in order to obtain their good-will for one's own prosperity and well-being: so likewise, one does virtually the same with regard to one's ancestors who are perceived to be somehow here still present and somehow here still active.

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(3.i, continued)

Participation with Ancestors


Traditions among Orthodox Christians
Formal and Informal Customs

Now, let us consider the normal customs that can be readily observed among the Orthodox peoples. Formal memorials for ancestors are held as a normal part of their Christian lives. This occurs periodically: at forty-days, one year and three years after the death, sometimes also at six months, five years, ten years, or however frequently the family so chooses.

In church, the formal rituals includes prayers that are offered for the deceased. A distribution of symbolic food in memory of the deceased follows usually. The symbolic food, specially prepared, is known as kolyvion, or kolyva. Before its distribution, it is placed on a memorial table during the church service.

Informal customs take place at home. As families gather for meals at the times of the memorials for their deceased relative(s), the family members will usually honor their ancestors by offering words or other acts of respect for them. In some households, a place of food will be set on the table symbolically aside for the ancestors (or for "the house").

Similar customs may take place when family members visit gravesites, where they may drop bits of the specially prepared memorial food (kolyvion, kolyva) onto the grave. In some instances, according to some local customs, the living members of a family might share a meal among themselves at the gravesite.

Family members may bow and offer prayers for the ancestor(s) at the gravesite. They will usually bow while offering prayers for the ancestor(s) during church services. The depth, or mode, of bowing varies according to cultural context: yet bowing this is, nevertheless.

The memorials for ancestors are not limited to the anniversaries. One may offer prayers for departed ancestors and friends at home whenever anyone is moved to do this. Furthermore, a family's ancestors may be honored by words and by symbolic gestures whenever the family gathers for main events such weddings, baptisms, name-days, and feast-days.

In addition to the anniversary memorial days especially for a family's own ancestors, the liturgical year (the church calendar) is punctuated by various days ~ such as the "Saturdays for the Souls", and many other days ~ when any and all of the people may remember their deceased relatives and friends by bringing the names, written on paper, into the church for formal prayers, and then afterwards by visiting the gravesites.

During the Divine Liturgy

Anyone of the faithful may bring names of the deceased, written on paper, to the church whenever the Divine Liturgy is celebrated. These names are delivered to the priest who will add them into the prayers for the dead that comprise a basic, typical part of the ritual of the Divine Liturgy.

He will take the paper, with the names written on it, to the "preparation table": this is a smaller table to the left-hand side of the altar in the sanctuary of the church. At this table, the priest prepares the gifts for the Eucharist. The preparation is known in the original Greek language as the proskimidion. It precedes the Divine Liturgy.

During the proskimidion, the priest takes pieces from a loaf of bread that has been especially made for the sacrament. The loaf will have been made at home by a pious parishioner, usually a pious woman, who has customarily prayed while mixing the ingredients and kneading the loaf. It will become the community's gift to God in the offering of the Eucharist during the Divine Liturgy in church.

Before baking it at home, she will press a mould of traditional symbols into the top of the dough. Some of these symbols represent the faithful departed in general. From these symbols commemorating them (and also from other symbols that represent the living faithful), the priest takes small pieces of the loaf and places the pieces in a sacred utensil of precious metal that will hold this gift of the bread that will be offered during the Eucharist and consecrated.

With each piece that he takes, the priest offers a formal prayer. These prayers follow in descending order as small piece after small piece is taken from the leavened loaf. They begin with honor for the Theotokos (Bogorodhitsa, the Mother of Christ-God), who is supreme among the departed; and they descend in formal order with honor and prayers for saints, patriarchs and finally the deceased family members.

Each family member, each direct ancestor or friend, is mentioned by name as the priest reads from the paper, which has been brought to him, and as he lifts each piece of bread from the loaf and places it in the sacred utensil to prepare for the Eucharist.

It does not stop here. The Divine Liturgy commences, and evolves in sacred anticipation during the sacrament. At a key point in time, about midway through the rite, the priest, now robed in bright liturgical garments, exits from the sanctuary through the side door in procession with his assistants. The procession comes into the nave, so that the priest now stands among the people. In his hands, he holds the sacred utensils that carry the gifts of the bread and wine. In a moment, he will re-enter through the center gates of the sanctuary to place these gifts on the altar for the consecration. He is offering these gifts on behalf of the people.

Indeed, these gifts do come from the people, the work the peoples' own hands, their own labor. Offered humbly to God, and received by God, they will be transformed: the gifts will be returned, in reciprocation, by God as something much more than the people themselves could ever produce on their own. Hence, the priest stands now among people, holding the gifts on behalf of the people. Before re-entering the sanctuary to place these gifts of the Eucharist on the altar table, he intones traditional prayers aloud for the living and for the dead. Now, again, the names that have been written are heard one by one.

for the Ancestors

Why should so much attention be given to ancestors? Death is understood as something more than a final separation. The separation is real, and the separation is painful: but it does not totally severe us from the departed.

Instead, a continuum exists between those in this world and the departed; and along this continuum, the responsibility for one's family members' well-being continues.

It is remarkable that Greek Orthodox patristic theology, along with the Gospels and the Epistles, do not presume to define exactly where the deceased go. This is mentioned by analogy only. One of the major formal prayers, for example, describes it as a place where there is no sickness nor sorrow nor sighing but life ever-lasting.

Who could possibly describe it further than by analogy? No-one among the living in this world has ever seen it yet. We have not experienced it ourselves yet. We have experienced the reality of the Resurrection of Christ who is risen from the dead (this is basis of the historical Christian experience); and from this experience, we anticipate the fulfillment of the promise given by Christ as we await the general resurrection. Accordingly, we await along with our deceased ancestors: they in their situation (whatever that may be), and we in our situation.

In hopeful expectation, we continue to maintain our responsibilities and to care for each other despite the horrid and tragic separation. How they care for us is not defined either. Again, we cannot know much about it as we have not seen it or experienced it yet ourselves; but we do know what our own responsibilities are, and so these responsibilities are fulfilled here, in this world.

The formal memorial prayers are offered, invariably, for one's own immediate ancestors: for their repose, their well-being. Formal memorial prayers are not addressed to these ancestors. Sometimes, however, someone might address one's own ancestor directly, but then not so much by formal ritual as through the spontaneity of personal agony and of intense grief, or through the spontaneity of personal joy or intense affection. This is a vital distinction.

This distinction in particular should not be taken as absolute, because prayers are offered by orthodox, formal ritual to the great saints who are in effect the ancestors of one's community. Notice this difference carefully: the great saints are the focus of attention in this paragraph and the next two paragraphs, instead of one's own immediate relatives (and friends).

One will approach the great saints directly through formal prayers to seek their assistance, their blessings, just as one will approach gifted individuals in one's community on this earth for assistance; and one will hopefully expect the assistance. Just as we respond to each others' needs in this world, each of us responding and giving directly in our own way according to our own abilities and talents; so likewise, we hopefully expect that the great saints will assist us directly according to their abilities and talents, which death cannot destroy.

This dynamic ~ the direct supplication to the great saints, and the hopeful expectation of direct assistance from the great saints ~ is a logical result of the perception that death does not severe the bonds between us, while it does separate us somewhat physically from each other. The sanctification and dynamism of the great saints is perceived to be so very thorough that even the tragedy of the separation of death cannot extinguish it.

This dynamic with regard to the great saints, while important and significant, is not the focus of this study, however. One's own immediate family ancestors (and friends) are.

So, I shall repeat: The formal memorial prayers are offered for one's own immediate ancestors. Formal memorial prayers are not addressed to these ancestors. The distinction is vital.

Worship or Veneration: a distinction

We know these Orthodox Christian customs and attitudes directed towards one's immediate ancestors are not "ancestor worship" because of the vital distinction that does exist. Prayers are offered to God for these ancestors, not to these ancestors themselves. Furthermore, we know these customs and attitudes directed towards one's ancestors ~ be they one's own immediate ancestors for whom one prays, or be they now the great saints (who are, in effect, the ancestors of one's community) to whom one may pray ~ are not ancestor worship, because of yet another vital distinction: We hold to a distinction between worship (latreia as it is known in biblical and patristic Greek) on the one hand and veneration (proskeinesis) on the other hand.

Veneration means profound respect, reverence: while worship is a quality that comes from the direct experience of the one, true, life-giving God. This distinction is clear conceptually. It is given to us with conceptual depth and clarity in Orthodox patristic theology with regard to the veneration of saints as well as the veneration of icons. The distinction is also clear experientially. The worship of God comes from one's experience of the real presence. It is known to be so distinct that its very uniqueness precludes confusion. When the experience of the worship of God is profound, it cannot be confused experientially with the veneration of saints, the veneration of ancestors, or the veneration of icons, etc.

Thus, the distinction exists experientially between veneration and worship through direct experience. Even without a profound direct experience, the distinction also exists conceptually.

With these vital distinctions, and with these dynamic traditions, one is equipped to respond affirmatively and respectfully to attitudes and customs regarding ancestors within the cultures of the Far East.

I am aware of the controversy of the early nineteenth century when Catholic Christians, or rather a sort of Catholics, refused to be involved in Confucian obligations towards ancestors in Korea. The refusal led to sporadic persecutions of Christians in Korea between 1801 and the 1860s; and I am somewhat aware of the significance of those who were put to death. They are sometimes described as martyrs for the Christian faith. Their refusal unto death is sometimes described as a Christian rejection of ancestor worship. This requires attention.

While I do not presume much expertise in the history, I do hold some knowledge, and this knowledge makes me hesitant about the story and about its implications. So, I shall question it with reference to the complexities of Confucian and Neo-Confucian teachings and obligations during the Yi Dynasty in Korean history. I shall question it also with reference to the complexities of Catholicism at that time.

The prohibition was issued from the Vatican amid intense differences of opinion in the Catholic Church. The prohibition was issued categorically and unequivocally by papal decrees, without differentiating between types of schools of Confucian thought or between types of obligations and customs in the Yi Dynasty in Korea and in the Ch'ing Dynasty in China. Eventually, the prohibition was overturned by Vatican authorities in the twentieth century. Forceful those prohibitions may have been at that time. Influential they may have been at the time. They are not credible, however.

My statement is not fanciful. Knowledge about the complexities and contradictions within the Catholic Church in this regard is established knowledge. Nor is my statement meant to demean the courageous witness of those Christian believers in Korea at that time. It is meant to show that the categorical prohibition issued by the Vatican in the nineteenth century with regard to ancestor worship is not credible or authoritative. In our studies, we need not repeat such set-formulas about ancestor worship in Korea as if that were the Christian attitude towards all customs honoring ancestors categorically.

Nor yet is my statement innovative; to the contrary, I have already indicated the fact that debates, not a unanimous opinion, existed in the Catholic Church during the nineteenth century and the fact that the Vatican itself over-turned the categorical prohibition during the twentieth century. Furthermore, pastors and theologians of the Protestant Churches in Korea have conducted in-depth discussions with regard to Korean traditional customs that honor ancestors, and the distinction between veneration and worship has been applied to some extent by them in these discussions.3

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(3.i, continued)

Participation with Ancestors



Once we differentiate between veneration and worship, wherever the differentiation is appropriate, then we may perceive and may appreciate some similarities: affinities. Some vital customs and attitudes that are normal, mainstream and consistent through the unbroken history of the Christian Church are similar to some vital traditional Korean customs regarding ancestors. They may not be identical: yet they correspond. Affinities exist. A categorical difference does not exist in this regard. This is the point.

I do not mean to imply that instances of ancestor worship do not exist in Korea. I cannot myself know whether they exist or not. Perhaps they do. My point is that the profound respect given ritually with regard to ancestors is not necessarily ancestor worship; and that profound affinities exist in this regard between mainstream, unbroken, historical Christianity and shamanism in Korea: profound affinities, and not any categorical opposition in this important regard.

I can properly carry the thought even further for emphasis by suggesting that someone who has been cultivated spiritually and intellectually by Orthodox Christian traditions as well as theology would probably find one's self more astonished when encountering other cultures that ignore ancestors and that leave the graves untended, than bothered by any aspects of a culture that manifests profound respect towards ancestors and maintains the bonds of responsibility, obligation and care for the ancestors, be this whatever it may be: whether (misplaced) worship or actual veneration.

I might even be allowed to press the thought further, now more boldly, by suggesting that greater affinities exist in this regard between Orthodox Christianity and the traditional cultures of northeast Asia, such as the Korean on the one hand, than any affinities that exist between Orthodoxy Christianity and the dualistic cultures on the other hand. The latter strictly divide the spiritual realm away from the physical realm, heaven away from earth, and strictly separate the so-called living from the so-called dead. Such dualistic cultures deny or radically diminish the continuum between our ancestors and ourselves. It appears to me that Orthodoxy has comparatively much less affinity with that sort, while a remarkably greater affinity with a culture such as the traditional Korean. I shall dare to emphasize this perception again later.

With regard to our participation with ancestors, we may recognize the fact that remarkable affinities do exist on many levels between mainstream, unbroken, historical Christianity and Korean shamanism. This is the point. Affinities exist. A correspondence does exist.

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Household Shrines

Let us turn our attention now to the keeping of household shrines. By formal tradition in Orthodox households, there are corners or other spaces containing icons of Christ and of the saints. Who are the saints? They are our communal ancestors, are they not? The saints differ from our own immediate family ancestors only insofar as the saints are thoroughly sanctified people, whose sanctified presence and activity among us is more vivid.

In some households, icons of saints are interspersed with photographs and/or other mementos of the family's own relatives, living and deceased. This is done sometimes with spatial distinction, which is a matter of propriety: when the icon of Christ and/or the icon of the Theotokos (Bogoroditsa: the Mother of God with the Christ Child) are placed at a higher position or in some other place of prominence.

Christ and the saints are felt to be part of the extended family. The household icons heighten this affect. Placing a photograph next to an icon therefore appears natural and proper. Furthermore, the placing of a photograph next to the religious icons, or among the religious icons, serves as visual representation, a reminder, that the family member or members have been placed among the sanctified and the eternal. This is like a physical manifestation of a prayer: a prayer that the family member(s) should be sustained and protected in such a host.

Photographs are fundamentally no different from the written names of relatives. So, we should expect that in Orthodox households in Korea, likewise, people might retain various mementos of their ancestors among the household icons. We may even perhaps expect these mementos to be quite extensive, where the veneration of ancestors is traditionally so exalted and where the memory of preceding generations exists traditionally to such a greater extent of depth in time. All of this fits.

There is direct similarity, a correspondence, between ancient ancestral Korean ways and unbroken, mainstream, historical Christian ways in this regard; and so, there is a potential for an essential engagement. The ancient customs of keeping household shrines in Korea correspond directly to mainstream historical Christian customs of keeping household icons.

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Iconic Relationships, Symbolic Relationships

Now, let us also recognize a correspondence that exists between iconic or symbolic relationships. The representations in traditional Korean shrines make the presence of spirits more visible to the human eye, more perceptible to human senses. Orthodox Christian icons do much the same. The representations open the human senses, intellect and memory to the presence of the spirits in the household, in the community, in the countryside, and ultimately in the cosmos as a whole.

Archetypes and prototypes may sometimes differ between Christian types on the one hand and shamanistic types on the other hand. The differences can be important. The pre-Christian or non-Christian shrines in Korea contain some sorts of images of pagan gods (rather like the pre-Christian Greek, Roman, Celtic, Slavic, Armenian, Abyssinian, Syriac, Egyptian shrines once did). While the differences between the types of gods and other spirits, which are depicted, are significant differences: they are not as important as the similarities in the dynamics of iconic relationships for the purpose of this study, however.

Correspondence exists with regard to the perceptions of iconic relationships. Therefore, in our considerations, we may expect that changes through conversion to Christianity would involve changes in some archetypes and prototypes that are depicted in the representations. While some changes would occur thus in spiritual orientation, the fundamental underlying way of perception, this ability to perceive iconic relationships, would predictably remain actively and essentially in place. It would remain in place properly in relation to icons. It would remain in place properly in relation to rituals. It may remain in place ultimately in relation to the cosmos as a whole as we shall see next.

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Physical Nature imbued with Spiritual Presence

  1. Cosmology.
  2. Orthodox Patristic Sources.
  3. Comparison: the Kut of the Fishermen's Village, for example.

Physical Nature imbued with Spiritual Presence



Just as physical objects in the shrines can manifest spiritual presence and divine qualities (divine energies, operations), so likewise can physical phenomena of the cosmos. The cosmos is richly imbued in this way in traditional Korean cosmology, is it not? Cosmology is described in this way in studies of Korean (so-called) shamanistic folk culture with regard to sacred places or sacred contours: mountains and rocks; waterfalls, streams and seashores; etc. It is also described with regard to flora and fauna in Korean folk ritual as well as folklore.

Distinctions given in some analytical studies are important for our consideration. For instance, in a series of studies by Korean academics published in English for international distribution, the following summary description is given. Accordingly, in the ancestral worldview in Korean folk culture, cosmic phenomena tend to remain rather distinct and unconfused while inter-related: 4

A continuum exists with everything in nature. All the parts of man's environment are necessary for his survival, and man shares his existence with nature as an inseparable part of his being. This close feeling for nature, however, has not caused the shamanistic man to anthropomorphize other life forms or natural objects. His perspective towards them has been akin to companionship or solidarity nurtured by membership and participation in a common existential venture ~ that is, life.

Thus, we may understand that cosmic phenomena are not necessarily seen as equivalent to gods, nor are they necessarily seen as equivalent to humans, in the traditional Korean worldview. They are not necessarily defied or anthropomorphized, while they are perceived to be imbued with spiritual qualities.

Now with regard to this cosmology, we may recognize affinities, a compatibility, with Orthodox Christianity to a significant extent. Descriptions of such dynamics in Christianity are not so readily available in publication, however. Analytical descriptions have been written in this field, but their publication and distribution is still too limited. Therefore, some indication may be needed along these lines; and I shall concentrate on them next, instead of concentrating on the so-called shamanistic aspects, which are more widely known.

These dynamics in Orthodox Christianity are manifested in numerous formal traditions and informal customs. Sacred spaces are perceived at seashores and at stream-heads, in the forest depths and on the mountaintops. Shrines are set there. Some of these sacred places exist in direct continuity from antiquity. They are dedicated to saints now. Holy water is collected from shrines at holy springs and holy wells. At the feastday of the Prophet Elias and at the feastday of the Transfiguration, rites take place at mountaintops, in churches or chapels, as both these feastdays commemorate biblical events that took place atop mountains. The water of running rivers and seas is blessed seasonally by formal ritual, especially during the yearly feastday of the Theophany.

The annual liturgical cycle of feasts and fasts, observed by liturgies in the church and by customs in the home, re-capitulate the annual seasons of the year. Even the movements of night into day are re-capitulated in the daily cycles of formal prayer. Some of these prayers are comprised of psalms and other texts that include references to the rest of creation ~ the stars, the sun, the moon, the earth, the many creatures of the earth, her seas and her skies. These prayers are established by formal tradition for recitation through the daily hours and also through the seasonal cycles of Orthodox prayer.

Cuttings of symbolic plants are blessed seasonally during church rituals, hence they are sacred plants. They are brought home and grown in households. Special foods, symbolic, are prepared seasonally for meals. Tillage, the fields and the livestock are blessed by formal ritual among the traditionally agrarian Christian folk. The hunt, its implements and animals are blessed among the traditionally hunter-and-gatherer Christian folk.

These and many more traditions and customs recapitulate the seasons and the works of the Creator. They express a fundamental perception regarding physical nature imbued with spiritual presence. To understand this, one must escape from the dualism of Western (so-called) Judeo-Christianity and from the inaccurate generalization that associates mainstream Christianity with that sort of dualism.

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(3.iv, continued)

Physical Nature imbued with Spiritual Presence


Orthodox Patristic Sources

One must return to the orthodox patristic sources of Christianity, which do not posit a strict ontological division between phenomena that are spiritual and things that are physical. The orthodox patristic sources vividly perceive the divine presence in the cosmos: the divine energies that imbue and sustain the cosmos and that vivify all animate being. Three examples will be given. Mentioned merely briefly, they may be sufficient to indicate the point:

If a reader finds the following parts of this study to be too specialized in the field of theology, then the reader may skip them and proceed directly to the next part in this section: (c) The Kut of the Fishermen's Village.

The Gospel according to John

The opening verses (Jn 1) tell us that (i) the Logos is pre-eternal: in the beginning was the Logos; (ii) the Logos is fully divine; (iii) all things have been created through the Logos; and (iv) in the Logos there is life. The pre-eternal divine Logos creates all things, and sustains life.

Problems of interpretation occur when translations do not convey the key term Logos in its dynamic cosmic dimensions, as when Logos is translated as the Word. Let us, therefore, heed the wider meanings of the key term Logos. Wider indeed, these meanings span more than five columns in Liddel and Scott's A Greek-English Lexicon. A standard for classical Greek studies, this lexicon provides definitions that preceded the Gospel and were contemporaneous with the Gospel through the history of the Greek language.

We find that the term logos can have relatively static meanings, such as account and reckoning, as well as more dynamic meanings such as promise, proportion, and relationship. The meanings go further yet, becoming more dynamic, as logos can also mean reason and cause in the sense of dynamic cause, and principle in the sense of a dynamic principle.

The more dynamic meanings tend to convey the uses of the term logos in some of the Greek philosophical concepts that were historically contemporary with the Gospel. The occurrence of this term in the Gospel tends to refer to these then-contemporary Greek philosophical concepts. The Gospel differs radically from them as the Gospel proclaims the sustaining and vivifying Logos to be fully divine, not an emanation; and as the Gospel proclaims the Logos to be personal, not an impersonal principle ~ and, furthermore and most radically, as the Gospel announces that the Logos has become flesh, a human being who has dwelt among us.

The Gospel makes this announcement (verse xiv) ~ that the Logos has taken on flesh, becoming incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ ~ only after emphasizing that the Logos is pre-eternal, fully divine, creating, animating, vivifying, illuminating.

When the Logos is translated as the Word, its dynamism is lessened, and it tends to reinforce a dualistic cosmology instead. The Incarnation of God in Christ tends to be interpreted as mainly or only a moral or ethical union of God with man, as if only God's will (God's word) has been realized perfectly in the person of Christ. As important as this aspect may be, it does not encompass the dynamic existential cosmic dimensions that are also expressed in the Gospel.

When the more dynamic meanings of the key term Logos are understood, a perception of the Incarnation unfolds in its cosmic dimensions. The Incarnation is seen as a reasoned dynamic result of God's own divine presence within the cosmos. The divine fullness (God's own fullness) is present, creating, vivifying and animating the cosmos: and this divine fullness becomes even more specific for us in the Person of Jesus Christ, the Savior.

This perception, expressed vividly in the Gospel, is conveyed through the Creed and in orthodox patristic theology.

The Nicaean-Constantinopolitan Creed

We find this perception expressed succinctly in the Nicaean-Constantinopolitan Creed, which is the main profession of the faith of historical Christianity from the first centuries, recited throughout the generations during every celebration of the Eucharist, from then until now.

The first part of the Creed was composed in the First Ecumenical Council, held in Nicaea in Asia Minor in the year 324 AD. It professes Jesus Christ to be fully divine, and the principle through whom all things have been created:

Light of Light, True God of True God, begotten not made, One in essence with the Father, through whom all things were made.

This is to say that divinity in fullness creates.

The second part of the Creed was composed in the Second Ecumenical Council, held in Constantinople in the year 381 A.D. It professes the Holy Spirit to be fully divine as the giver of life. This is to say that divinity in fullness sustains life. We find this expressed in formal Orthodox prayers describing the Holy Spirit as everywhere present and filling all things.

Divinity, in fullness, undiminished, is present everywhere and fills everything. Divinity, in fullness, creates and sustains, animates and vivifies the cosmos.

The Writings of St Athanasius of Alexandria

We find this explained about the Logos by St Athanasius of Alexandria in the early fourth century A.D., for instance. Describing Christ as the very fullness of the divine Logos Incarnate, the treatise by St Athanasius titled On the Incarnation is organized into two main sections, which may be significant for our study.5

The initial section addresses the Jews. It concentrates on the Judaic scriptures that foretell the coming of the Messiah. That approach was meant to communicate to people who are fixed to Judaic scriptures as their primary reference as they seek a living relationship with the divine.

The ultimate section of the treatise is the more useful for us here. This section addresses the Greeks. Who were these Greeks? They were the people of the pre-Christian Roman Empire who had inherited Greek ways of thought and modes of perceptions, and they shared the Greek language as their common language (koine) for their trans-national, or trans-ethnic, philosophical and literary discourse.

The worldviews of these Greeks involved perceptions of the cosmos imbued and animated by various divine activities: be it the principle known as logos among philosophers such as the Stoics, or be it divine emanations among the Platonists, or be it simply the workings of spirit-gods among the folk.

Without equating Christianity with such perceptions, St Athanasius communicated to the Greek mind by emphasizing the reality of the divine operations (or energies as we would say today) that imbue and vivify the cosmos. These dynamics allowed him to explain how the divine presence in the cosmos could become specific in the Incarnation of the Logos in Jesus Christ.

He did not concoct a theory for the expedience of rhetoric for this purpose. These cosmic dimensions had already been brought forward vividly in the Gospel. They are expressed in the Creed. They are expressed in prayers. His explanation is one of the great intellectual expressions of the Orthodox Christian faith, along with other patristic theological writings (and they, likewise, perceive the divine energies that imbue, sustain and animate the cosmos). The treatise is held as authoritative for Orthodoxy.

Therefore, when I indicate these affinities with regard to traditional Korean culture, I am not being innovative or trendy. It appears to me that I am drawing from a deep well of historical experience and patristic theological thought.

Before proceeding further along this line of enquiry, permit me to indicate three characteristics that can be recognized in the pre-Christian Greek world and to suggest their parallels in the Korean world (and not only the Korean but the Japanese also):

  1. Stoic and Platonic, or Neo-Platonic, principles about time and space, about immanent divinity, and also about transcendent union with the ultimate, which is similar to the Buddhist;
  2. the overlay of Aristotelian rationalism, similar to the overlay of Confucianism; and
  3. the folk substrata of various gods and spirits animating cosmic phenomena, similar to the shamanistic.

Parallels exist. Affinities exist. Insights that have been applied to the Greek world can be applied to the Korean world (and not only to the Korean).

We know retrospectively with regard to the Greek world that significant differences existed between Greek Orthodox theology and customs on the one hand and the pre-Christian Greek philosophies and folk religions on the other hand ~ and St Athanasius articulated these differences unflinchingly ~ still, we should recognize that certain affinities in perceptions about divine operations in the cosmos also existed, and he emphasized them as he was intent on building a bridge for the Greeks to Christ.

The affirmation that was expressed by him can be applied by us with regard to the cosmos imbued with dynamic spiritual presence. Important differences also exist between the Christian worldview and the pre-Christian or non-Christian worldviews; but the affinities with regard to the divine presence that vivifies the cosmos are the more relevant for us at this point in this study. Physical nature is imbued with spiritual presence.

Instead of diminishing the cosmic dynamics that exist in traditional worldviews such as the Korean and the Greek, orthodox patristic theology including the Gospel fulfills them and opens them further: yes, fulfills them and opens them further by showing that the divine presence in the cosmos is the very fullness of divinity, undiminished, the very fullness of the true God creating and sustaining, vivifying and animating.

Now, let us proceed from the generality of cosmology to a specific instance among Korean folk customs that expresses a perception about the divine operations, or activities, in physical nature. Through this example, I hope to indicate a potential in this area of study.

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(3.iv, continued)

Physical Nature imbued with Spiritual Presence


Comparison: The Kut of the Fishermen's Village, for example

Let us consider a type of kut that is performed traditionally in Korean fishing villages. It is a public ceremonial festivity that reflects the type of cosmology that has been described in this study, just above.

The Korean term kut carries differing meanings in various social contexts, evidently. The term kut is rendered in English translation as a shaman ceremony.6 The type of kut depends on the type of shaman, however. We must, therefore, consider some generalized types of (so-called) shamans in order to approach an understanding of this kut in particular.

Four generalized types of shamans have been analyzed in Korea by Professor Kim Tae-gon through his extensive studies in the field of Korean folk culture:7

  • mudang (female term; the male term is paksu)
  • tan'gol
  • simbang
  • myõngdu.

He has identified the regional distribution for each type; however, it is not the regional distribution that is so important for us here. The main difference between them, according to Professor Kim Tae-gon, occurs with regard as to whether a type is charismatic (kangsin) or hereditary. This is the significant difference for us at this point in this study.

The mudang (paksu) and myõngdu types are charismatic, according to his analysis. The charismatic types, he has explained, believe in the existence of gods: they divine the future and perform ceremonies with the spiritual power of the gods by whom they are possessed. (As for the simbang type, found on Cheju Island, he has indicated that it contains both charismatic and hereditary attributes.)

In contrast, he has identified the tan'gol type as hereditary. The hereditary type is created when one receives the authority (sajegwõn) to officiate at rituals, which is passed socially from generation to generation. These hereditary roles and ceremonies do not necessarily involve any manifestations of gods, and do not necessarily involve any paraphernalia imbued with the power of gods, he explains. The forthcoming example tends to exist among this sort of ceremony: the hereditary, in contrast to the charismatic.

The kut of the fishermen's village involves the hereditary type. It is a public festivity that is meant to maintain, and celebrate, a relationship between the village and the fish-of-the-sea, upon which the village livelihood traditionally depends.

This kut is evidently predicated on customs of reciprocity, and it reflects a worldview that perceives the cosmic phenomena to be imbued by spiritual presence, or animated by spiritual operations, activities. Reciprocity is shown by humans in this instance to the fish-of-the-sea and the sea or to the spirit (power, dynamism) that animates the fish and the sea.

The reciprocity could be studied analytically with comparisons to the various patterns of gift-giving and various levels of respect that exist between social classes of human beings in Korean traditional society. Reciprocal gift-giving and other manifestations of mutual respect are developed among humans in Korean traditional society; so, likewise, customs of gift-gifting and manifestations of respect are directed even to the fish-of-the-sea during this hereditary kut, or to the spirit that animates the fish and the sea.

Just as it is possible to study the differing patterns of gift-giving, and differing levels of respect, that tend to apply among human beings in traditional Korean society; so, likewise, it may be possible to analyze the dynamics in this kut along similar lines of perception. However fascinating such an analysis may be, it is not necessary for our purpose here.

The key factor for us is the reciprocation itself, quite apart from the distinctive patterns and levels that may apply in differing circumstances. The living fish are seen as active participants in the catch. They are not seen as passive prey but as active participants who are given, or who give themselves, as gifts to the fishermen. Therefore, a gift is returned by the fishermen with respect and honor during this ceremonial festivity: the kut of the fishermen's village.

Because the fish are believed to have been given by their animating spirit, or to have given themselves, as gifts to the village for the well-being of the human community; therefore, seasonally or otherwise periodically, the village reciprocates by giving a gift to the fish and to the sea, or to the spirit of fish and of the sea.

Now, let us ask whether the basic attitude in this traditional kut of the fishermen's village is categorically opposed to Christianity. Surely, it is not. A basic Christian attitude is one that prompts thanksgiving for the abundance of the earth, and prompts supplication that the abundance may abide, or in time of dearth that abundance may return. This attitude is manifested regularly through formal ritual prayers in the churches. It is manifested through the spontaneity of personal prayers.

If the basic attitude is not categorically different, then might the activities in this type of kut be categorically opposed to Christianity? Here, we should distinguish between the propensity for seasonal community celebration on the one hand and the specific acts of reciprocity on the other hand.

Surely, the propensity for community celebrations, or festivities, is embraced by mainstream Christianity. Only the puritanical strain does not; and most of us would disallow that strain. A sense of sheer enjoyment, fun, is a vital part of the human experience; and the orthodox faith in Christ is meant to affirm and increase, direct and transform, not suppress, the human experience, is it not? To oppose community celebrations is to suppress a vital expression and need of the human being.

If the basic attitude in this type of kut is not categorically opposed to Christianity, and if the propensity for seasonal community celebration, festivities, is not necessarily opposed either; then what might be?

Could it be the specific acts of reciprocity? It could be, but not necessarily in this instance. Inasmuch as Kim Tae-gon's analysis is accurate, this hereditary type of kut does not necessarily involve any manifestations of gods or any paraphernalia imbued with the power of gods.

Here again, now with regard to this particular example, we may anticipate significant affinities, not a categorical opposition. The perception regarding cosmic phenomena being animated by spiritual presence is not a perception that is contrary to profoundly orthodox theological perspectives. As we have already seen, orthodox patristic theology affirms the operations, energies, of the divine presence that animates, vivifies, the cosmos. Therefore, acts of reciprocity with expressions of gratitude and supplication should be expected and respected ~ yes, even with regard to the fish-of-the-sea, upon which the very sustenance of a village traditionally depends. The Christian attitude also prompts thanksgiving and reciprocity with vivid awareness that the fish have come to the village as a gift, given by the spirit that animates them.

Perceptions correspond. These perceptions might not be identical while they do correspond. Physical nature is known to be imbued with spiritual presence. Spirit is known to animate the cosmos, Spirit that gives even the fish-of-the-sea as gifts for the well-being of the village. The human community reciprocates by returning gifts to the Spirit that animates the living creatures.

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The Shamans' Propensity for Spiritual Union

The next and final example will be the propensity for spiritual union in the vocation of the charismatic shamans, particularly the mudang (paksu). Whereas the example that has just been provided, above, involved a kut of the hereditary (tan'gol) type: the next and final example will involve charismatic types.

The charismatic type involves manifestations of spirit-gods and uses paraphernalia that are imbued with the power of spirit-gods. The mudang divines the future and performs ceremonies with the spiritual power of the gods by whom they are possessed, according to the analytical description provided by Kim Tae-gon.

Differences in this area are important for a comparison between Christianity and shamanism, inasmuch as the spirit-gods might differ and inasmuch as the methods of approach to the spirit-gods or union with them might differ. The differences are relevant. Christians have been advised to be aware of the differences, and to beware of involvement in such manifestations, since the beginnings of Christianity over two millennia ago. This is the same, whether it be the sibyl of the oracle of Delphi in ancient Greece or the mudang of the kut in Korea today. Reasons exist. These reasons could comprise a very interesting subject for comparative studies; and the reasons ought to be explained.

However, my intent in this study is to concentrate on areas of correspondence. A particular affinity also exists ~ and I suggest that the affinity might be more vital for us today.

The true shamans' quest ~ not the trickery of magicians, not the opportunism of fortune tellers, but the true shamans' quest that is often held as an ideal type in interpretive studies today ~ was a spiritual quest for union with transcendent realities, a quest for union and also for power.

The quest could be no more than one for earthly power (exousia as it is known in the patristic Greek language); and then, from a Christian standpoint, the quest would be morally undesirable. However, when the quest is one for a higher energy and dynamism (energeia and dynameis) along with enlightenment through spiritual union: then, let us ask ourselves: Is there not something for us to consider affirmatively in relation to Christianity? Does this not correspond, without being equivalent, to the Orthodox Christian ascent to heaven and descent into the heart?

To consider the question, let us begin by heeding a graphic symbol in some ancestral Siberian and Alaskan cultures during their pre-Christian eras. In these cultures, the person who would become a shaman was set apart from other people through extraordinary experiences, which the prospective shaman did not necessarily seek but could not avoid. Relinquishing himself or herself to these experiences, the prospective shaman would be initiated into the vocation by the spirits that had taken possession of the person. The initiation by the spirits was intense and severe. Emerging from it, the new shaman obtained insights into the other worlds of the spirits, and obtained power to fulfill the shaman's roles, including that of healer and foreteller.

The experience of initiation was sometimes typically depicted through a metaphor of skeleton-ization. While being initiated into spiritual experiences, the prospective shaman was skeleton-ized: reduced metaphorically to bare bones, a skeleton, then to be re-formed, to emerge with new insights and new abilities.

With this metaphor in mind, let us also consider the symbol that we find on the stole worn by Orthodox monastics of an advanced rank known as megaloschema. The rank of megaloschema is one that requires the more rigorous ascetic disciplines of the Orthodox monastic life. Monastics, male and female exactly alike, will be advanced to this rank only with caution and only after having shown themselves capable of the rigors of its discipline. They are advanced, thusly, by their hegoumenoi (abbots or abbesses) who are themselves advanced along this way of discipline.

Over their outer cassocks, the monastics of the megaloschema wear a stole that is distinctive. The stole is a strip of material that hangs from the back of the neck and descends along the length of the front of the body to just above or below the knees.

This stole of the megaloschema is embroidered with representations of the human skeleton. It reminds one of the necessity to be, metaphorically, reduced to nothing, to die to this world, in order to be born anew to higher and deeper realities.

Next, let us heed the songs of a Nanay shaman in the Russian Far East, not far from Korea.8 As the night turns into day, she heralds the coming of sunlight with her songs. She beats a drum rhythmically while she sings. She sways, and little shaman-bells ring from the fringes of her costume.

With this in mind, let us hear the deep resonance of the Orthodox monastic symmetron. (A symmetron is a plank of wood or strip of metal that is beaten rhythmically with a mallet.) Let us hear the Orthodox church bells that are so immensely deep in their resonance.

Let us see the candle-light that is distributed, while the bells resound and the symmetron sounds, during the liturgical celebration of the Resurrection when these words are chanted by the liturgists:9 Come, Receive the Light from the Never Waning Light.

Hearing these mighty words ~ and listening to the deep resonance of the symmetron and the deep resonance of the church bells while these mighty words are intoned ~ we may recognize a fulfillment of ancient human yearnings. Are these yearnings and struggles not those of the Nanay shaman who rings her little bells and who beats her drum while singing to welcome the coming of the daylight after the night?

Then, let us ask ourselves: Which is the better way for us, to respect those ancestral ways of the Nanay shaman or to demean them? To recognize the affinities, or to reject them?

Is it a Christian imperative to suppress and destroy them? I believe that it is not.

What harm is worked by the Nanay shaman as she receives the coming of the sunlight with her songs and sounds? What harm is worked by Christians who conspire to destroy these symbols, and these ancient human yearnings and human struggles? I suggest that the forces that would conspire to destroy them are the same forces that would diminish Christianity to something shallow.

What harm is done by the Nanay shaman as she sings her song to welcome the sunlight? What damage is done by a Christian who conspires to destroy the song?

In Korea, the bright colors of the mudang's silk dress glisten. The brighter colors of translucent ribbons of silk billow in the air as she spreads these ribbons and waves them during her performance. The music is rhythmic. Her dance is rhythmic. She sings or intones some words that can bring consolation to her clients.

Some poor people who have suffered too much through their own personal histories find relief in the performance of her kut. I am not referring to other sorts of people who run to a mudang simply to try to increase their luck. I am referring to those who find relief from human suffering through the performance of the kut; and I am trying to indicate that wholesale suppression might not only be unnecessary, it would surely be cruel against some of these poor people who have suffered enough in their lives already.

Through their own sufferings, some of the mudangs have given much. The kut of the mudang is recognized as a source for the historical development of Korean folk theatre, a national treasure, is it not? (I believe that we shall be able to view and enjoy the performance of a mudang's kut in the National Theater of Seoul during the time of our consultation.)

As theater, the performance of the mudang can take place without any real manifestation of spirit-gods. If the mudang happens to be "possessed" by the character that she represents in order to accomplish a kut as a theatrical performance, then so are the finest actors and the finest dancers likewise "possessed" by the characters they represent on the European stage.

Critics tend to focus selectively on the spirit-gods that manifest themselves in the rites of some sorts of shamans. While this consideration is important, there is a time, a place, and a way to explain the problem constructively, not destructively. We should also recognize that the rites of a traditional Korean mudang have wider social significance and symbolic meanings.

The traditional kut of the mudang can become pure theater, becoming no less than a national treasure as theater. It can serve as a source of alleviation for some people who have already suffered much in their lives. Furthermore, it sometimes contains a yearning that corresponds with the deepest yearnings of Orthodoxy for real union with the divine.

I repeat: To suppress this is to suppress these ancient yearnings and deep symbols; to suppress this is to cause increased sufferings against some poor people who have suffered enough already; and to suppress this can sometimes be no more than to prohibit entertainment, theatrics, fun. Is that what Christianity intends? Is that why Christ came into this world?

The traditional rites of the mudang have depth in the Korean experience that extends through history into pre-history in the Korean peninsula. These rites have sustained, not only some individuals, but also an honorable nation through the vicissitudes of the horrors of history. Anyone coming into this nation should approach such vitality with humility.

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With respect for our host country, I have attempted to describe some areas of correspondence between Christianity and shamanism. Correspondence does not mean equivalence. It means similarity in some significant ways.

I have brought forward a few examples of such correspondence:

  1. participation with ancestors.
  2. household shrines.
  3. iconic relationships, or symbolic relationships.
  4. sacred places, nature imbued with spiritual presence.
  5. the propensity for spiritual union in the vocation of the shamans.

I hope that these examples may indicate certain possibilities ~ and may emphasize the imperative of our task, which is to perceive relationships and levels of relationships.

Three levels of analysis have been brought forward into this consultation in Seoul (in the year 2000) from the Veniaminov bicentennial conference in Yakutsk (in the year 1997):

Level 1:
the incorporation of Orthodox theology, liturgy and holy scripture with steadfast fidelity to the prototypes.
Level 2:
whole areas within the ancestral cultures that are entirely compatible with, or neutral with regard to, the Orthodox Christian faith and practices.
Level 3:
specific elements that are incompatible.

The third level has been indicated in this presentation. Those elements of incompatibility are important and should be explained.

The second level has been emphasized here. The areas of correspondence and compatibility appear to me to be the greater in scope and magnitude with regard to a culture such as the Korean (as well as other cultures of northeast Asia and those of the Arctic). Notice that I am not asserting a global generality; to the contrary, I do not believe that a global generality can be made as some other cultures involve a strict dualism in their cosmologies, instead. I am being specific in my reference.

For the sake of the conclusion, the first level in the analysis merits attention. At this level of analysis, we observe the incorporation of Christian ritual, theology and scripture with steadfast fidelity to the prototypes. I shall take the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom as an example.

The Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom is standard in all of the Orthodox Christian churches worldwide. It assumes some national characteristics. In Korea, the Korean language is used. The music eventually becomes modes that reflect a nation's own preferences. Yet, within the national context, the content has been translated with fidelity to the prototype.

The structure of the liturgy had become established as a venerable tradition by the time of the bishop, pastor, preacher and theologian St John Chrysostom in the fourth century A.D. (born 345, reposed 407 A.D.).

The basic form of the liturgical service derived from even earlier centuries in Christian history. Changes occurred through the subsequent course of time. Changes have occurred through some elaboration in some nations, or through some modifications in some other nations, depending on the national character and depending on the circumstances of the historical generations: but these changes are a slighter consideration in comparison to the continuity through history.

Therefore, the Divine Liturgy that is celebrated in Korea is a time-honored Orthodox Christian tradition, sanctified by generation after generation in continuity from the very first centuries of the Christian era. The result is a national embodiment of the continuous and unbroken Christian tradition.

This result is not syncretism: it is an actual incorporation, or assimilation, of these aspects of Christianity into the national context.

At the same time, whole areas of traditional culture can embraced as they correspond at the second level of analysis; and they are many. The results in these wider dimensions, therefore, do not involve a disjunction from the ancestral past in a nation such as this one.

A nation such as this one, we may well anticipate, would remain integral and distinct while unified through an essential participation in the shared Christian faith and practices. Continuity and transformation should be anticipated. Continuity and transformation are healthy qualities within national development just as they are healthy within personal development. Wholesale displacement, wholesale disjunction, or rupture, would be unhealthy.

This continuity and transformation can result in the Christianization of the religion of the ancestors.

The phrase comes from Mircea Eliade. He remains a scholarly authority in the studies of shamanism: therefore, a final reference to his insights are appropriate in this study.

Regarding the customs of the folk of southeastern Europe, including his own native Romania, he recognized the fact that these folk had preserved qualities directly from their proto-historic and pre-historic ancestral past. The result, as he himself said, is not a new form of paganism or a pagan-Christian syncretism:10

It is a Christian spirit ~ not a pagan spirit ~ that impregnates all of these folklore creations.

With this insight in mind, let us anticipate the potential that exists in a nation such as the Korean ~ particularly the Korean nation ~ where so many affinities exist, so many vital areas of compatibility and correspondence.

We may conclude by saying that Christianity on the one hand, and Korean folk culture, referred to as "shamanism", on the other hand, are not always categorically opposed in every aspect. Differences exist. The differences are important. Yet, the areas of correspondence and compatibility are remarkable; and their reality should be respected and nurtured, should it not?

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Note 1:
Mousalimas, S.A. Three Levels (& Modes of Discernment) in the Ministry of St Innokentii Veniaminov and their Relevance Today. Paper read in the International Conference to commemorate the Bicentennial of the Birth of St Innokentii Veniaminov, convened in Yakutsk, Sakha Republic (Yakutia), 11-16 September 1997; Part 1 published in Russian translation, Nauka i Obrazovanie, ed. N.G. Solomonov, vol. 11, no. 3 (1998), pp. 35-42, Humanities Institute of the Sakha Republic Academy of Sciences.

[Text at #1]

Note 2:

[Text at #2]

Note 3:
I am grateful to the Revd Dr S.W. Hong (Ph.D., Oxford), Eunjin Presbyterian Church, Seoul, Korea, for this insight, which he expressed during discussions that followed the reading of my paper during the consultation.

[Text at #3]

Note 4:
Hahm Pyong-choon. Shamanism and the Korean World-view, Shamanism: the Spirit World of Korea, ed. W.I. Guisso and Chai-shin Yu, Asian Humanities Press, Berkeley, CA (1988), pp. 72-73.

[Text at #4]

Note 5:
Athanasius (St). On the Incarnation, translated by a Religious of C.S.M.V., St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, Crestwood, NY (1953). Other translations are also available.

[Text at #5]

Note 6:
See, for instance, Glossary in Shamanism: the Spirit World of Korea, ed. W.I. Guisso and Chai-shin Yu, Asian Humanities Press, Berkeley, CA (1988), p. 183.

[Text at #6]

Note 7:
Kim Tae-gon. The Realities of Korean Shamanism, Shamanism: Past and Present, Part 2, ed. Mihàly Hoppàl and Otto von Sadovszky, Ethnographic Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, and ISTOR, Los Angeles (1989), pp. 271-282. Also, see: id., Regional Characteristics of Korean Shamanism, Shamanism: the Spirit World of Korea, ed. W.I. Guisso and Chai-shin Yu, Asian Humanities Press, Berkeley, CA (1988), pp.119-130.

[Textat #7]

Note 8:
Listen to: Song of the Tungeses: Nanay Shaman, Inédit 7: Musique de la Toundra et de la Taïga, Maison des Cultures du Monde, Ministère de la Culture de la Communication Alliance Française, Paris (1987), face B, track 4.

[Text at #8]

Note 9:
Listen to: Distribution of Tapers, and the Procession, Easter on Mount Athos: Ostern auf dem Berg Athos: Pâques au Mont Athos, vol. 1: The Celebration of the Night before Easter: Die Feier der Osternacht: La Célébration de la Nuit Pascale, Archiv Produktion (1979).

[Text at #9]

Note 10:
Eliade, Mircea. Survivals and Camouflages of Myth, Symbolism, the Sacred, and the Arts, ed. D. Apostolos-Cappadona, NYC (1988), p. 38; reprinted from Myth and Reality, NYC (1963).

[Text at #10]

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