(Budoji Essay 2) The Magoist Cosmogony by Helen Hye-Sook Hwang

Allegory of Chastity by Hans Memling, 15th C. Source.

Allegory of Chastity by Hans Memling, 15th C. Source

“Mago, the eponymous Goddess, is the head, ruler, and guardian of Mago-seong. She represents the eco-community of the Earth in the intergalactic universe.”

[Author’s Note: This and subsequent essays are part of the forthcoming book tentatively entitled, The Magoist Cosmogony from the Budoji (Epic of the Emblem City), Translation and Interpretation, Volume 1, that I am currently writing. I am indebted to Harriet Ann Ellenberger, who has given me her prompt feedback and editorial advice in a most supportive manner. I am thankful to Dr. Glenys Livingstone, who has inspired me to write this book sooner than later. I am also grateful for Rosemary Mattingley, who has provided copy-editing of my essays in Return to Mago Webzine.]

Chapter One (Translation)

Mago-seong was the grand castle located in the highest place on earth.
Revering the Heavenly Emblem (Cheon-bu),
it succeeded the Former Heaven (Seon-cheon).

There were four Heavenly Persons[i] at the four corners of the castle.
They built pillars and sounded music.[ii]

The eldest was named Hwang-gung (Yellow Gung),[iii]
the second Cheong-gung (Blue Gung),
the third Baek-so (White So),
and the last Heuk-so (Black So).

Mother of two Gungs was Gung-hui (Goddess Gung)[iv]
and mother of two Sos was So-hui (Goddess So).
Gung-hui and So-hui were the daughters of Mago.

Mago was born in Jim-se (My/Our/This World).[v]
Mago had no [human] emotion of pleasure and resentment.
Taking the Former Heaven male
and the Latter Heaven female,
Mago bore two Hui Goddesses without mate.

Like Mago, two Goddesses,
without mate but by the emotion [of the cosmic periods],
each bore two Heavenly Persons and two Heavenly Women. 
They were four Heavenly Persons and four Heavenly 
Goddesses in all.

[i] Here “in” in Cheon-in 天人 is transliterated as a gender-neutral term, “beings.” It means “a person” but often transliterated as “a man.”

[ii] The whole sentence can also be translated as “They made tubes and composed music.”

[iii] “Ssi” in Hwang-gung-ssi 黃穹氏 intimates both a leader by name of Hwang-gung and the clan led by Hwang-gung. Other terms of “Cheong-gung-ssi,” “Baek-so-ssi,” and “Heuk-so-ssi” are used in the same way.

[iv] Literally “hui” in Gung-hui 穹姬 and So-hui 巢姬 means a woman. Since it refers to Mago’s two daughters, I translated it “Goddess.”

[v] “Jim” in Jim-se 朕世 can be transliterated as “my,” “our,” or “this.”


Mago-seong (Mago Castle) was the grand castle located on the highest place on the Earth.

Mago-seong, located on the highest mountain, is the primordial home of Mago, the Primordial Goddess, and Her descendants, human ancestors. Mago-seong also refers to the Earth itself (see Chapter 2). Mago, the eponymous Goddess, is the head, ruler, and guardian of Mago-seong. She represents the eco-community of the Earth in the intergalactic universe. Mago-seong’s location on the highest mountain symbolizes Mago-seong’s supremacy as the prototype of a Magoist state that will follow the cosmogonic event. Mago-seong’s location also indicates its proximity to the extraterrestrial cosmos, in particular to the Sun, the direct cause of the auto-genesis of all things on Earth.

Rock of Mago Halmi, Mt. Baekbyeong, Gangwon Province, S. Korea

Rock of Mago Halmi, Mt. Baekbyeong, Gangwon Province, S. Korea

Mago-seong: Paradisiacal home of Mago and Her descendants, human ancestors. The axis mundi (world axis, center of the world) of the Magoist cosmogony.

Translating “seong” as “castle” is misleading. Nonetheless, I have followed the convention for lack of a better word. The character “seong” is used in many East Asian languages today, and its meaning is multivalent: it can refer to a fort, hill, mountain, structure surrounded by a moat or walls, defensive wall, borough, municipality, state, city, citadel, or castle.[vi] “Seong” has taken on a variety of topological, architectural, and conceptual meanings over the course of time in East Asia.

Mago-seong is not just a mythological place that lacks historicity. Its place-name is still extant in Korea and China. Mago-seong (Magu-cheng in Chinese) located in Chuangzhou 愴州, Hubei Province, China, is known to have been visited by Wudi of the Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE). The relevant text reads, “Mago-seong. Located in Chuangzhou and bordered with former Qingchixuan 淸池縣. During the period of Han Wudi, [King] travelled east and arrived here. He offered a rite to Mago. Thus was originated the name.”[vii] Mago-seong on Mt. Jiri, South Korea, is known among the initiated for its enduring history and culture of Magoism.[viii]

Korean historians also see the “castle town state (seong-eup state, 城邑國家)” as a socio-political unit of ancient Korean states.[ix] Many place-names such as “Ma-seong” and “Go-seong” are found in Korea. In addition to their names being evocative of “Mago-seong,” Mago folk stories are often told with regard to these place-names. The fact that “seong” in Korean place-names most often appears as “san-seong (mountain castle)” also suggests its origin in the Magoist cosmogony.

Not only the semantic and linguistic variations of “seong” but also its architectural diversity suggests the trans-national influence of the Magoist cosmogony in East Asia. These variations also accord with the etiological narrative of the Magoist cosmogony (see later chapters of the Budoji).

“Seong” is only one small example that corroborates the reliability of the Budoji’s account as a whole. The Budoji aimed at the public re-membering of the glorious mytho-history of Magoism at a time when Magoist traditionalists were losing political influence, in the early 5th century of Silla (57 BCE-935 CE). Ample evidence suggests that the Masgoist cosmogony, which tells of the common origin of all peoples in Mago (the Great Goddess), was widely known among the ancients across cultures and geographies from the remote past.

Highest Place on the Earth: The locating of Mago-seong on the highest mountain implies two things. First, it endows Mago-seong with authority or supremacy. Second, it shifts the focus to the extraterrestrial cosmos, especially in relation to the Sun, the direct cause of the auto-genesis of all things on the Earth in the Magoist cosmogony.

From ancient times in East Asia, high mountains are revered. Their names are directly or covertly associated with Mago. Mago-san (Mt. Mago), Goya-san (Mt. Goddess Empress), Cheontae-san (Mt. Grand Heaven), Cheonseong-san (Mt. Heavenly Castle), and Cheon-san (Mt. Heaven) are directly associated with Mago or Magoism.[x] The number of place-names associated with Mago likely increases when we consider that Mago is called Cheon-sin (Heavenly Deity) and that Cheon (Heaven) is equated with Mago. Samsin-san (Mt. Triad Deity) and Samsin-bong (Peak of the Triad Deity) also directly concern Mago, as She is most favorably referred to as Samsin (Triad Deity). Ancient Korean polities take mountains as the capital or center of settlement. In particular, such names as Taebaek-san (Mt. Great Illumination) and Baekdu-san (Mt. Prime Illumination) reflect the veneration of solar and starry radiation. In this regard, it is not uncommon to find that renowned mountains are ancient centers of East Asian religions.

A sacred mountain is often referred to as axis mundi in world religions. While Mt. Meru (or Sumeru) is the center of the world for Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist cosmologies, Mt. Kunlun (Gonryun) is the center of the world for Daoism.

Mountains are seen as the Goddess enthroned on the Earth. Barbara Mor and Monica Sjoo write:

All the great mountains were seen as the Goddess “sitting” on the earth. The mountain was the original throne-womb; it combines the symbols of earth, cave, bulk, height, and immortality. In the towering mountain overlooking the land is embodied the enormous strength of the Goddess.[xi]


[i] Here “in” in Cheon-in 天人 is translated as a gender-neutral term, “beings.” It means “a person” but has often been translated as “a man.”

[ii] The whole sentence can also be translated as “They made tubes and composed music.”

[iii] “Ssi” in Hwang-gung-ssi 黃穹氏 intimates both a leader by the name of Hwang-gung and the clan led by Hwang-gung. “Cheong-gung-ssi,” “Baek-so-ssi,” and “Heuk-so-ssi” are used in the same way.

[iv] Literally, “hui” in Gung-hui 穹姬 and So-hui 巢姬 means a woman. Since Gung-hui and So-hui are Mago’s two daughters, I translated “hui” as “Goddess.”

[v] “Jim” in Jim-se 朕世 can be translated as “my,” “our,” or “this.”

[vi] The character “seong 城” varies and overlaps in meaning in East Asian languages. [http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E5%9F%8E (12/06/2013)]

[vii] See the Daimingyitongdi (大明一統地 Topography of the Great Ming), 1461, Vol. 3.

[viii] I encountered Mr. Minju Gang (Seonsa Hanpul), community leader of Mago-seong on Mt. Jiri, during the 2013 Mago Pilgrimage to Korea. The history of Mago-seong, also known as Cheonghak-dong (Village of the Blue Crane), extends back in time more than threemillennia. It is not open to the public; however, according to Mr. Gang, a tomb of Mago, a large number of grottos (some are pristine while the majority are being restored after their destruction during the Korean War in the early 1950s), and Samsin-bong (Peak of the Triad Deity, that is, Mago) are all located within the compound. The 2014 Mago Pilgrimage to Korea plans to visit Mago-seong and pay homage.

[ix] Seong-eup state. Historians, including Gwanu Cheon and Gibaek Yi, began to use it in the 1970s in place of “clan state.” See Minjok Munwha Daebaekgwa Sajon (Encyclopedia of Korean National Culture).

[x] The character “cheon (天, heaven)” refers to Mago. Thus, the names of Cheontae-san, Cheonseong-san, and Cheon-san can be respectively translated as Great Mt. of Mago, Mt. Mago Castle, and Mt. Mago. When one considers that Mago is referred to by other names such as Cheon-sin (Heavenly Deity), Sam-sin (Triad Deity), Il-sin (One God), and Daejo-sin (Progenitor God), the number of mountains that are associated with Mago would increase.

[xi] Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor, The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991), 73.

To be continued. Read Part 1 and Part 3.

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

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