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The Necessity of Spiritual Cleansing & Ritual with Ji Hae (@neomudang) | Voices of Witchtok

Sometimes the call to a spiritual path is a matter of life and death.

Witchtok, Korea, Korean Shamanism, Mudang, Magic, Witchcraft, Protection Spell, Purification Spell, Blog, Christianity, Christian Witchcraft, Christian Magic, New Age

Discovering Christian Witchcraft now available for pre-order on Amazon & my site!

Updates:

  • Introduction expanded

  • Chapter 2 (Biblical breakdown): 50% drafted

  • Chapter 3 (Magic in the time period/reclamation of 'witch'): 15% drafted

  • Chapter 6 (Understanding how to combine ancestry with practice): 25% drafted

Progress continues, though as other projects & needs arise, it's been a slower March than we'd like. Nonetheless, things are chugging along smoothly, and the meat of this book is shaping up to be quite a mouthful right out the gate, which is always encouraging. Plenty more to get done throughout the month of March!


Now, onto today's blog!

 

When you open up Tiktok on an average day, and you hop into your favorite community, #witchtok, it might not take long to run into some familiar aesthetics:

  • homemade curses that the creator says is guaranteed to ruin somebody's life

  • homemade wards that the creator says are guaranteed to nullify all curses (and a lot of reminders to renew your protections)

  • chest puffing about how one's gods would never let anything hurt them (#divinelyprotected) and that they don't even need to cast wards in the first place

but something that can get overlooked in a lot of these #witchy spaces is the sheer necessity of spiritual cleansing. Maybe there's some ick to the words "purification" or "cleansing" that people have that makes them avoid the subject. Maybe it reminds the many ex-Christians on Witchtok a little too much of Christian echoes of penitence and sin-talk, or the never-ending focus on spiritual "dirtiness" that comes out of purity culture so often.


Or maybe people just hate the idea of cleaning their windows and dusting their surfaces. (I'm certainly no angel there myself.)


But there's a reason so much folk magic stems around keeping one's space clean, and why so many deities (like Germanic goddesses Frau Berchta and Frau Holle) have such a heavy focus on upkeep of the house and one's daily duties: energy gathers just like the dust you hate to wipe off the top of your dresser.


In the case of Korean folk magic, dust itself can even invite hungry ghosts and lonely spirits. Ji Hae, or @neomudang on Tiktok, knows this well. Raised Presbyterian by her parents—her father being the minister of her church—she grew up with a solid grasp of the traditions of the Christian religion, once even being excited to be able to exercise voting power as a confirmed member of the congregation. However, that excitement was soon spoiled for her when her first topic to vote on was whether or not her father should continue being the church's minister.


"That really disillusioned me from the church community I was in," Ji Hae admits. "It showed me a different side of the people I spent each Sunday with, and it alienated me from the religion. It just wasn't for me, I'd found out. I'll be the first to say it: I don't have Christian trauma; I have trauma from Christians."


Now, as a graduate student in the University of Illinois' Religious Studies program, specializing in Buddhism and East Asian religions, and a trained mudang, or shaman of traditional Korean religion, Ji Hae's practice involves regular cleansings of both her space, her tools, and herself.


""Once a month, I do a self-exorcism," says Ji Hae. "It's almost like a spicy simmer pot; it's a steam cleanse of the space and the self with specific ingredients. You can't do it too often, but it is important to keep your spiritual health in check."


In fact, the way Ji Hae began her journey into becoming a mudang was because of a sudden and inexplicable sickness that came over her virtually overnight: one hundred tumors all across her lungs. The doctors could find no reason why this happened, nor could they get an accurate read of the tumors to find the source of the mystery after taking samples for biopsy. It was a time full of more questions than answers for Ji Hae and her family, and after all medical avenues of understanding the problem came up as dead ends, Ji Hae discovered another place to turn to: the traditional religion of her ancestors.


"You have to get diagnosed by a mudang to verify that what you have is a spiritual sickness," Ji Hae notes. "But once I did get it confirmed, and then get another verification that I was being called into becoming a mudang (because you can't separate a hereditary tradition like shamanism from its roots and its culture; it's not something just anybody can do), it sort of forced my hand. I started learning all the different techniques to deal with spiritual sickness, both things the average layman can do and the heavy-hitting techniques only a mudang can do."


After such an experience, and her commitment in studying the practices of her station as a mudang, she's come to understand just how important it is for people to keep track not only of their overall physical and mental health, but their spiritual health and hygiene, too. There's no wonder that people begin to feel sluggish and out of sorts when their space becomes cluttered or hasn't been properly cleansed in a while, and with the folklore that dust attracts and harbors hungry ghosts and lonely spirits—which can be the spirits of those without anyone to mourn them, or whose bodies weren't recovered quickly enough after a tragic passing—it's easy to see how dust mites can become the least of one's problems. Ji Hae, who specializes in exorcism, has seen the effects of such haunts and issues first hand.


"There's a good bit of ego and aesthetics that take up a lot of what we see #witchtok" Ji Hae observes. "And yeah, there's nothing wrong with aesthetics—I'm definitely no better than anyone because I'm a shaman; it's not some glamorous thing—but if you're doing all these fancy spells in a messy apartment, with wrappers and things all over the place cluttering up your space and energy, what's the point?"


It's a fair question—especially as that sluggishness, that dreary energy, and the anxiety and blues that can spring up with a space left neglected, can feel just as bad as any hex people spend so much time creating wards against. And that's just the house itself! When you consider the ways that stagnant energy and cluttered mindset can wreak havoc on one's spiritual health as much as their physical, mental, and emotional health, it's important not to skip the cleansing rituals—be they purifying the self of old energy or purifying your kitchen counters of last night's meal prep. So if you're sitting there on a Sunday afternoon, wondering if your floors really need a once-over with the Swiffer, take it from Ji Hae: a clean space is a workable space.


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