Jeremy | Maggie
The Hmong have a very unique religion. They
usually are either Christian Hmong or they are traditional
Hmong. They have many spiritual beliefs including shamanism,
and many other practices.
Shamanism is a way to heal the Hmong by going into the spirit
world, to battle the body spirits that ran away and to bring
them back. To keep them staying there by tying them by a string
to the body.
Shamans are special people who are actually
chosen by the spirits to be one of the people who is able
to talk with the spirits and help to heal people and give
blessings. Many people believe this is true, but there are
those who refuse to believe it. I, personally, believe that
it really happens, and that shamans do go to the spirit world
and talk and argue and call the spirits.
You can tell where a shaman is, because usually there’ll
be corn hanging, by the door and inside there’ll be
a shaman’s alter. On the alter, some of the things on
it are two small bowls for rice to feed the spirits, eggs
to feed the spirits, water to feed the spirits, incense to
burn to call the spirits, a gong to send the shaman into a
trance, buffalo horns to ask spirits questions and get the
answers, a blindfold to help in the trance, and more.
Shamanism, to me, is one of the most distinctive things about
Hmong culture. It amazes me that a person, a regular human,
can go into a real trance and actually talk and argue with
real spirits. There is a saying that if a shaman falls during
his/her performance, he/she’ll die. That’s why
a child of the shaman keeps its hand around the waist of the
shaman, to stop the shaman from falling.
A good example of a traditional shaman is Thai Vang, a 16-year-old
shaman and qeej player. He thinks that Hmong traditional culture
is very important, and I agree. Thai is a special shaman –
most shamans are 60 or older – Thai is only 16, and
already a shaman!
Shamans don’t choose themselves to be shamans. They
say that a spirit comes to them and tells them they’re
a shaman. So, they get an altar, and start acting like a shaman!
Shamans are excellent people and are very interesting. I’m
glad to study them.
The practice of shamanism is and was used
in many different cultures. One of those cultures just happened
to be Hmong culture which my class also happened to by studying
People can start to be shamans at any point in their live
but you have to born a shaman. We had a visitor in our class
who was named Thai Vang. Thai is only in high school and he
is a successful shaman. He uses all the traditional tools
and chants that were used back in Laos. One of the places
a shaman might be working is a Hmong funeral because at Hmong
funerals animals are sacrificed to guide the spirit back to
the place it was born to get the placenta. The need the placenta
to get through the gat that takes you in to your next life