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Shamanism is the oldest human religious phenomenon and practice. Korean shamanism, called Muism, goes back to prehistoric times, and archeological evidence suggests that it was part of Bronze age culture. During the Three Kingdoms period, the role of the shaman was integrated into the position of kings and other political officials.

Korean shamanism evolved from a male-centered practice where the role was heavily politicized to primarily being performed by women in much more informal settings during modern times. There has been a systematic suppression and persecution of shamans, called either Mudang or Manshin, throughout Korean history by different social movements and religious groups. In modern-day Korea, shamanism is thriving although there is still a social stigma and distrust of mudang, who serve as the intermediaries between the human and divine realms.

Helena spoke about her process of becoming a mudang. As a Korean American woman who was not brought up in the culture and spiritual milieu of shamanism, she spoke to the individual experiences that correspond to the collective phenomenon of mudang in Korea. There are two types of shamans in Korea: Gangsinmu, those who become possessed by spirits, and Seseupmu, hereditary shamans who are born into a family of priestly technicians. As the Gangsinmu type, Helena experienced Shinbyeong (spirit illness) and subsequently traveled to S. Korea to receive a Naerim Gut (shamanic initiation) in 2018. Having not known much about Korean shamanism, her extraordinary experiences of the spirit world highlight the reality of shamanism in Korean society and history. As a social scientist and a practitioner of shamanism, Helena has observed and examined her own narrative within the Western and Eastern perspectives as well as from a phenomenological standpoint, leaving important questions about the role of magico-religious events in human experience.

Helena performed a Korean shamanic ritual, called Gut after the lecture. She demonstrated a shamanic state of consciousness which is usually achieved through dance and music. She offered a blessing to the group and delivered spiritual guidance.