Spirit Animals in Korean Culture
It wasn't until I became an adult, did my mother begin sharing important stories of her life - perhaps she felt like I would be far more engaged as an adult. They felt like my history's secrets being exposed, like when King Tut's Sarcophagus was dug up, opening up new fascinations, discoveries, and questions. One of these stories is about her conception dreams, or in Korean, taemong (태몽), where for superstitious Koreans, is often when you are given confirmation from the cosmos that you are pregnant.
Taemong - Korean Conception Dreams
This bizarre occurrence is infused into only a handful of cultures - namely in India and Korea. You can find more on Indian and Korean conception dreams on Wikipedia.
Taemong dreams consist of the dreamer interacting with fruits (e.g. apples, watermelons, persimmons, chestnuts), animals, nature, children, or precious jewels. The interaction can be giving, taking, or consuming the fruit, embracing or catching an animal, or interacting with nature. The setting in the dream can be a significant place or recognizable to the dreamer. These dreams can be had from the soon-to-be mother or by someone close to her. My mother would know someone was pregnant at church before they even announced it, based on her taemong dreams.
There are sometimes heavy meaning in these dreams - such as identifying the gender of the child. Some omens in these dreams could be favorable, in which, people may try to "purchase" the omen from you. Being raised American, this all sounded like nonsense to me, nevertheless, it sounds like a lot of fun - and it didn't seem like anyone took it too seriously. The practice of Taemong dreams seem to be very old. One of the earliest accounts being in the 6th century by Kim Yu-shin, a Korean General during the Silla period - a time when Korea practices shamanism.