Folktale Week 2020 Day 1: Birth
Samshin - goddess of birth
Once upon a time in Korean peninsula, there wasn’t anyone in the human world to look after the affairs of giving birth and raising children. So the god of high heaven summoned a young unmarried woman who was known to be dutiful to her parents and family, saw that she was a bright young woman and appointed her the goddess of birth - Sam(birth)shin(god).
Descending to the human world, Samshin met a young woman weeping under a willow tree. She said she was an exiled daughter of dragon king from the East Sea and had come to the human world to become the goddess of birth. But because she never had a chance to learn how the babies are born, she was just after letting a woman in labour die. “But I am the goddess of birth appointed by the high god of heaven,” Samshin said. Unable to accept this, the daughter of dragon king grabbed Samshin’s hair and hit her very hard!
“Let’s ask the god of heaven to make the judgement,” Samshin suggested. The god gave them each a seed to sow in a desert in the Western Land. Daughter of the dragon king managed to grow a plant that had one root, one stalk and one leaf. But from the seed that Samshin looked after grew a plant with 45600 branches and 33 flowers on each branch. The angry daughter of dragon king pledged to give babies nasty diseases, and this is why people made offerings to her after babies were born.
Once again, Samshin was appointed the goddess of birth. She built a huge mansion with a beautiful garden within secure walls, and the babies were sent from here to their mothers’ wombs holding a flower from Samshin’s garden. When the babies are being born, Samshin sits in the delivery room with the women in labour and loosens their bones. She also looks after children and keeps them healthy until they are 15 years old.
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