About Dr. Helen Hye-Sook Hwang.
Personally, founding Mago Academy is a natural outgrowth of my life’s (re)search and endeavor crystallized in the knowing of Mago, the Great Goddess, known to East Asians. It is a vision to be materialized, one meant to be birthed in due time.
After graduating with a Ph.D. degree in religion with the emphasis in feminism from Claremont Graduate University in 2005, I trod in another unfamiliar land for several years with the hope to get hired for an academic full-time teaching position. To become a full-fledged academic professor seemed desirable for a brief period of time, when I did not know how a university works in capitalist patriarchal society. Nonetheless, the desire died hard for two reasons. I did not prepare myself for something else. And I could not leave the field of ongoing studying and researching. I loved intellectual challenges. In order to remain in school, I even chose to get another Master’s degree in East Asian Studies at UCLA in 2008, an area of study unavailable in Claremont during the years of my graduate studies that I wanted to study so much.
Only after then, I gradually grasped that I was a misfit to a traditional academic tenure-track position in the first place. I wanted it but perhaps not badly enough to go against the integrity of myself as a feminist intellectual. My feminist consciousness was always too real to be disguised or negotiated. It was my feminist consciousness that was the guiding light for my life. My choice of the topic of Mago for my doctoral dissertation was never accidental. It was a corollary to my ardent quest to know myself as a socio-cultural-historical female being who came from my mother land, Old Korea. It had not occurred to me during the years of my graduate studies that I could study something other than Mago in order to get hired for an academic job. In fact, I was so displeased with the advice given by my senior acquaintances that I needed to change the topic of my dissertation. When it comes to the study of Mago, I was unshakable.
Nothing could threaten me to live my life to get a job. I worked at a sandwich shop, when I landed no teaching job as a fresh post-doctorate in 2006. I always thought of life as bigger than making a comfortable living. I had been a member of Maryknoll Sisters, a U.S.-based Catholic Missionary Organization. I wanted to find out the greatest goal worth of committing my life to in my twenties. I soon began to see the predicament forced upon women in patriarchal societies and became a feminist. The experience of living in the U.S. showed me my own Otherness as a non-white woman to the Western world. It was Myself who, I realized, needed to be embraced and loved the most. I discovered myself as a post-patriarchal radical feminist and benefited greatly from the work of Mary Daly, radical feminist thinker. To be short, what sustained me throughout those years was, I realized later, the East Asian legacy of the Way (道, Do or Dao). Throughout the years of my graduate studies, I was gradually awakened to the realization that the Way that I was seeking even as a devoted Catholic was the Reality of the Great Goddess, Mago. What I was faithful to was the Way of Mago, which I named Magoism. It is not the Daoist goal, per se, I learned. Studying Mago meant to bring myself Home or become Myself. There is a lot more in that: Her Home is for everyone! And in Her Home, we find the kinship of all beings, the consciousness of WE.
I envision Mago Academy as a gynocentric hub wherein people explore ways to stay connected with the gynocentric consciousness of WE through the resources that we can pool to make available for each other. One may teach a workshop, while another takes that workshop. What we offer is not just knowledge or skills of various kinds but a way of recognizing our kinship to other species, the world, and, most of all, to each other. We offer our programs as a way of reaching out to people and helping all of us know that we are not alone. Our activities are meant to help one restore the severed bond with oneself, another human being, non-human companions, the nature, and the universe. That is to realize the ancient Magoist mandate of Mago bokbon (麻姑復本, Return to Mago’s Origin). Our activities are the building blocks of restoring the consciousness of WE in the Great Goddess, Mago.
For certain, Mago Academy is an experimental organization that tests out the possibility of our ability, as peace-makers, feminists, and/or Goddessians/Magoists, to survive and thrive through sharing our resources in a positive, constructive, and effective manner for all of us and the whole. I hope we can turn not only our talents, skills, spirituality, creativity, thought, passion, and vision but also our isolation, hurt, jealousy, and pain into something useful and good for oneself and the world through the programs and activities that Mago Academy offers. Yes, we are here for that! In that sense, Mago Academy is a divine cauldron that forges jewels. That is not the matter of a choice but a duty to heal and to be healed ourselves and the earthly community. Our physical time is limited. So are our resources. Let’s share and make use of them, while our light is still burning bright in our bodies!
Mago Academy is meant to be the venue for the praxis of self-sharing economy. I must admit that Genevieve Vaughan’s advocacy for Gift Economy inspired me to think about an alternative mode of doing economic activities, which are so essential to moderns anyway. (By that said, I do NOT mean that Mago Academy does away with fees and donations. It is NOT a charity organization. I am asking us to RE-MEMBER the gynocentric underpinning of our economic activities in Mago Academy.) Our language is so contaminated by the capitalist mindset that it forecloses the thought of something foundational in our living, the free given economy for the symbiotic living (co-inhabiting). Our very existence is a free given with the expectation of being harmonious with other species on earth and ultimately with the cosmic music, according to the Magoist cosmogony. Symbiotic self-giving is the way of our nature’s doing. It is the Way of the Great Goddess, Mago. She has invested in us humans and all earthlings on the planet Earth to enhance the harmony of co-existing. We can call that Our Primordial Mother’s wealth for the symbiotic living. If one, whether human or non-human, is self-sharing, s/he represents the symbiotically giving nature of the Great Goddess. It is ultimately a gifting of oneself for all out of the consciousness of WE.
Mago Academy embodies the gynocentric or matriarchal mode of economic activities, the symbiotic self-giving, the forgotten or suppressed perspective of Reality. As a modern expression of Magoism, the Way of WE in S/HE, Mago Academy takes the task of making possible the symbiotically sharing ways of doing economic activities. Here, we want to acknowledge that one shares out of one’s awareness that s/he is intrinsically connected to the one whom she gives her gift to. No one is solely giving and no one is solely receiving. For example, a participant’s taking a class allows the means for the teacher and the teacher’s facilitation will guide the participant in a palpable way. We are meant to engender the feeling of love, care, connection, and joy among us. It is a place wherein we get to experience the Way of the Great Mother. The inner experience of touching and being touched is indispensable in our interactions. I am deeply grateful for the ones who have freely shared their love, support, and help that I needed to come this far in my life’s voyage. I am constantly touched by the unfolding of the Mago Work!
I reiterate a brief background of Mago Academy:
The Mago Web, a collection of different projects created to serve the mandate of Mago Bokbon (Return to Mago’s Origin), began to spin its first nexus as a result of my interview with Jayne DeMente and Anniitra W. MaKafia Ravenmoon, co-hosts of Creatrix Media Live, March 23, 2011.
Mago Circle, Facebook Group, was created shortly after the above interview, May 23, 2011. Founding members included Dr. Mary Ann Ghaffurian, Dr. Rosemary Wright, Deirdre Cruickshank, MaryAnn Columbia, Leslene della Madre, and Anne Wilkerson Allen.
Return to Mago, Magoism the Way of We in S/HE officially began August 15, 2012. Co-editors included Rosemary Mattingly, Anne Wilkerson Allen, and Helen Hwang. Rosemary Mattingley took the responsibility of Editor-in-chief in July, 2013 and other co-editors, Donna Snyder, and Mary Saracino joined the Editorial Board in 2013. It changed to a full-fledged Webzine with a new URL (magoism.net) on February 3, 2014. As of now, Mary Saracino, Donna Snyder, and Rosemary Mattingley (Editor-in-chief) are on the editorial board.
Mago Academy began to operate in fall 2012.
Mago Books began to publish in June Solstice, 2015.
“Korean Historical Dramas” co-facilitated by Helen Hye-Sook Hwang and Anna Tzanova, beginning Feb. 2016
“Emerging Interpretations of Inanna’s Descent” facilitated by Hearth Moon Rising
“Gaia and Mago: Rekindling Old Gynocentric Unity,” co-facilitated by Dr. Glenys Livingstone and Dr. Helen Hye-Sook Hwang, Feb. 15-July 19, 2014.
Mago Pilgrimage to Korea
“2016 Mago Pilgrimage to Korea” June 2016.
“2015 Virtual Mago Pilgrimage to Korea” October 2015
“2014 Mago Pilgrimage to Korea,” October 2014
“2013 Mago Pilgrimage to Korea,” June 2013.
Mago Pool Circle was founded April 2016.
Mago Academy produced and aired 2015 Nine-Day Solistice Celebration, Dec. 1-22, 2016.
Mago Academy began to function with a new website (http://magoacademy.org) on Jan. 26, 2015.
Explore Hanguk/Korea, Google + Community, was launched November 1, 2015.
The Mago Pod Newsletter began to be sent via email on October 3, 2015.
Mago Books began to support the Mago Work/the Mago Pod on Feb. 14, 2015.
Mago Place, Google + Community, was launched on Jan. 12, 2015.
Mago Networks, Linkedin Group, was launched on Feb. 21, 2014.
Welcome aboard everyone! Please consider joining Mago Academy with your possible resources that will benefit widely! Lastly, I share my Mago blessings to all in WE!
Dr. Helen Hye-Sook Hwang
Founding Director of Mago Academy
- (2015 Mago Pilgrimage Essay 2) Neuk-do (Serpent Island)
I wanted to go to Neuk-do because of the Mago story told in the region. Its name Neuk-do, which means the Serpent Island (구렁이섬), whispers a deep memory of the […]
- (Pilgrimage Report 2) The First 2013 Mago Pilgrimage to Korea
[Author’s note: The first Mago Pilgrimage to Korea took place June 6-19, 2013. We visited Ganghwa Island, Seoul, Wonju, Mt. Jiri, Yeong Island (Busan), and Jeju Island.] Part 2 Traditional […]
- (Essay) On the 2015 Virtual Mago Pilgrimage to Korea
A Goddess Pilgrimage is not a one-time event but an ever unfolding process that takes place before, during, and after the actual/virtual travel. Things work in a profound, complex, and […]
- (Pilgrimage Report 1) The First 2013 Mago Pilgrimage to Korea
[Author’s note: First Mago Pilgrimage to Korea took place in June 6-19, 2013. We visited Ganghwa Island, Seoul, Wonju, Mt. Jiri, Yeong Island (Busan), and Jeju Island.] Part 1 Magoist […]
- (2015 Mago Pilgrimage Report 1) Triad Shrines in Gangmun
Our visit as well as my lecture in the northeastern coastal region of South Korea was arranged by Ms. Eungyeong Kim. Ms. Kim, lecturer at Gangneung Wonju University, had contacted […]