Sarah M. | Izzy
L. | Mariah | Gabby
| Nate | Pakou | Emma
| Dylan | Mark | Martha
Thai Vang was a refugee at Ban Vanai, Thailand,
for the first several years of his life. His father had two
wives, and he had four sisters and seven brothers. When he
was 4 or 5 the spirits started sending him messages through
dreams, signaling for him to become a shaman. He had become
very sick, and was reborn a shaman. A shaman is a Hmong doctor
that heals people with troubles, whether it’s stress,
or a car accident or anything. Basically he can just tell
if he looks in the victim’s eyes what is their problem,
he can also tell whether he’ll be able to help, and
if the person will live or die. Even if he knows the patient
will die, he still says they’ll be fine, and does his
best to heal them. He helps them by going into a trance. He
goes into the trance by having helpers beat drums and shake
rattles because the instruments will help his body spirits
fight the bad spirits. Once he is in the spirit world he makes
a deal with the spirits, like “I’ll give you a
chicken if so and so is well in 2 days.” And I guess
the spirits agree and he comes back. If you are asked by the
spirits to be a shaman you must not refuse, but it is such
a great gift Thai doubts anyone would.
People think that Thai is the youngest shaman
in Hmong history. He was 5 when he first became the youngest
shaman ever. Usually a shaman is sick before they become a
shaman. That happened to Thai. He was so sick, nothing would
cure him. Then the spirits told him that if he became a shaman,
he would get better. So he became a shaman. Unlike other shamans,
he had no tutoring from an older shaman. One of his abilities
is being able to find out what happened to the patient even
if they don’t tell him. He just looks into their eyes.
He can heal non-Hmong, also.
Thai Vang is proud to be a shaman, because
it is a gift to be a shaman. Thai Vang was born in Thailand,
and is very traditional. He has been to the spirit world many
times, and I wonder what it is like? If it is a good place
or a bad place? And why they go to it? His more recent shaman
act was helping a woman give birth to a child.
You have to be a good person to be a shaman.
It is a big responsibility because if that person dies it’s
your fault. Not all good people become shamans. The spirits
choose you and if you don’t
accept you will get sick and won’t get better. When
he helps someone he knows right away if they will be ok but
he isn’t allowed to tell the people. Shamans bring back
spirits to people’s bodies. Every person has 12 spirits
and the main spirit is the body spirit. The bone spirit never
goes away. Sometimes he has to tie the spirit to the body
so it won’t go away. He has a net that catches the spirits.
After you have it you cover it with the buffalo horns. Shamans
think that sicknesses are spirit losses. Shamans work with
doctors because sometimes the doctors can’t find anything
physically wrong but there might be something mentally wrong.
To become a shaman you must be a good person
with a good soul because if you have a bad soul the people
you try to heal will only become much sicker. Different shamans
have different powers, for instance one shaman may have a
stronger soul so that would make them more powerful. The human
body is made up of twelve spirits, your ears, your eyes, your
nose, your mouth, your body, your arms, your hands, your legs,
your feet, your head and your shadow. If you lose your shadow
you die. When Thai was 4 or 5 he died and was reborn as a
Thai’s grandma was a shaman who
helped people from their sickness. Shamans can be an old person
or a young one. There are men and women shamans. The shaman
has 12 spirits in the house, I think. The special spirit is
the body spirit because it has bones and it can break easily.
Some people tie a white or a white and red thread to your
hand to make you feel better and sometimes that person has
to say something to make you become better.
About one out of one hundred Hmong People
are shamans. Most Hmong shamans become shamans when they are
over sixty. Every person has twelve spirits. One spirit is
your shadow. The main spirit is your body spirit. That’s
the one that shamans talk to when they are in a trance. If
one of your spirits dies, a shaman tries to make the spirit
alive again. All kinds of Hmong people are shamans. You could
be a house builder and a shaman. Thai lives in two different
worlds: the spirit world and the earth world.
Thai has been a shaman since he was 4-5.
The spirits came to him and taught him how to be a shaman.
A lot of people were shocked to find out about such a young
shaman. Thai might be the youngest Hmong shaman in America.
He goes to emergencies and also goes to hospitals. He started
healing when he first became a shaman. His tools to use in
the spirit world are a big ring and buffalo horns. He goes
into a trance to get into the spirit world. If he fights a
spirit it is hard on his physical body too. He is very glad
he is a shaman.
Thai is a shaman. There are many shamans
but there are not a lot of shamans in Madison. A shaman is
a healer. Thai is happy that he is a shaman. Thai has an ordinary
life. Shamans use instruments to help them. They use buffalo
horns. Shamans sometimes fight the spirits and the music helps
I never knew shamans are never allowed
to say somebody is going to die or that they are very sick.
I also had no idea shamans actually communicated with spirits.
It’s amazing how shamans go into the spirit world. I
wonder how you feel when the spirits talk to you. I wonder
what Thai felt, maybe he was very happy or nervous. I would
feel excited and worried. Maybe he felt that way. I don’t