2006 Lunar-Gaecheon-jeol Ceremony at
Taebaek-san's Dan-gun Seongjeon
The Dan-gun Seong-jeon [Altar-King Sage-Hall] at the head of Dang-gol [Shrine Valley] at 6:00am on November 23rd, 2006
-- 3rd day of the 10th Moon, Lunar
Gaecheon-jeol [Heaven-Opening Day] of Dan-gi [Korean Year] 4339 [2006].
the ritual portrait of Korea's Mythical Founding King
inside the shrine (see pages 132-38 in my book)
Seen from the shrine, the front gate and shrine-owner's house and slopes, at dawn on that chilly morning
the gold-painted statue of Dan-gun
Wanggeom backed by pure silver
Offerings made by my companions Dr. Yang Jong-seung
(Senior Curator of Korea's National Folklore Museum)
and Mr. Kim Ho-dong (Former Managing Director of the
National Museum of Korea, now Director of the Sports
Policy Department at the Ministry of Culture & Tourism).
Watching me make my wine-offering and bow on the left of this shot is Dr. Sylvia Seligson,
a Senior Researcher and Curator of East Asian Cultures for the National Museum of
Mexico, here for a few months investigating Korean Shamanism.   Mr. Kim brought along
a bottle of Andong Soju, a high-quality distilled liquor, for us to make these offerings with.
Signs in the Shrine:  the Cheonbu-gyeong
[Celestial Amulet Sutra] (left)
, the history of and
donors for the shrine's construction
and directives for proper behavior and offerings
The altar set with formal offerings for the "official" 11am ceremony, the first one they had ever officially held on
the Lunar Gaecheon-jeol, as opposed to the modern solar-calendar one (October 3rd).  The leaders very
kindly allowed me to fully participate, becoming perhaps the first foreigner who has ever done so here.
The 3 name-tablets on the altar represent Hwan-in (center), his son Hwan-eung (left) and grandson Dan-gun (right).
I was the only member of our group to be a participant in this Shamanic-Confucian
ritual (left), as the others went hiking to the peak, and so only took this one photo
on the left.  In its upper center with hands raised, praying in a trance, is Mrs. Jang
Seon-hwa, daughter-in-law of the man who bought this land and built this shrine in
the 1980s;  since his passing, she has served as its Manager and Chief Officiant.
Manggyeong-sa Temple in that day's foggy blizzard  
(all these peak shots are by the very brave Kim Ho-dong, Sylvia Seligson and John Choi)
Cheonje-dan all in icy silver, as it remains from November well into April every year
Shamans performing prayer-rituals for Korea's "Heavenly Founders", in Arctic conditions!
Above:  a news-photo from Taebaek-san
in the Korea Herald the very next day.

Right:  safe & warm at the end, we raise cups of
deodeok-ju over a great sanchae-jeongshik [wild
mountain-vegetables] meal in a nearby
. [mountain-homestay-inn].  Front-right is our
final companion on this adventure, Michael Choi, a
PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology at Harvard.
Bowing to the National Ancestors.   In the light blue jacket at the
rear is our companion Mr. Song Won-seog, a leader of the Visitor
Service Team at the Ministry of Culture & Tourism.
(right).  The very first one is "Turn off your handphone" --
probably not of ancient origin).  The title-line says "This
is the place that enshrines our National Ancestor Dan-gun; please read the following items
and keep to them."  and the subsequent rules are:   
2.  Shamanist practices, clothing and implements are
not allowed in this shrine.   
3. Do not burn red incense inside this shrine, because
the smell is too strong; do it outside.   
4. Do not sit on the middle (yellow) floor-cushions or
move them; this is basic etiquette.
5. Don’t touch our Grandfather's
cheongsu plate or jeju
glass on the altar; if you want to make liquid offerings,
use other water-bottles or pots.
6.   When you move around in this shrine, please do so
quietly without disturbing others.
7. After you place the offerings you brought on the altar,
do not touch them again. If you want to get them back,
do not offer them at all; the items that you offer on the
altar are for Grandfather Dan-gun.
8. Please put the candles you brought under the altar.
(we light the candles in order of receiving) -- do not
change the candles or light a new one.