Pro's and Con's of Hmong Shamanism

By: Pao Xiong



The practice of shamanism can be found in many Asian societies. One variation of the traditional practice can be found in the Hmong society. The Hmong are a group of people who had settled in the hill side of Laos were original descents of China. As old as the tradition may be, the practice can now be found in almost all part of the world. The Hmong people for may generations practiced the form of shamans for reasons of physical and spiritual healing, emotional uplifts, greetings and celebration of good fortune and a path way into the spiritual world of the unknown to learn of the causes and cure to current problems.


Shamanism is a variation of religion where every thing has a sprit and when that spiritual power of nature becomes unbalance or disturbed, sickness and bad luck may be brought upon the family or individual. The art of shamanism is not a practice that can be learned or quickly or by anyone. Although most people can learn the basic, a true shamanism is someone that has been chosen by the ancestor or sprits to perform this duty. The shamanism is usually chosen by birthright and it may not appear so clear as to what he has be given. Knowing that you are the chosen one often comes in the form of early sickness where death is a constant battle for survival. It is said that through these actions the sprits of the unknown enters the body and the body and sprit becomes one.



The purpose of the shamanism is to travel into the world of the sprit and provide answers to current problems in which life may bring upon a person. The shamanism acts as doctor but not in the medical form of practice that we are so accustom to. The shamanism is a spiritual leader, savor, psychic and most important a link to the other world. A world that we are not accustomed to and not permitted to go to. A world where sprits roam and evil and good has no distinction.


The Art of Shamanism

One of the event that a shamanism perform is the hand tying ceremony. This event has many symbolic factors to it, but most importantly it is to signify that the person has change or become something new. This process also acts a shield to protect the individual form evil sprits. Of the hand tying ceremony there lies a sub unit in this event. There are four different colors that may be used in this event. The colors are red, white, black and blue.

Of these colors, white is the most common and frequently used. The white strings act as many things. Most importantly it acts as shield against the evil sprits that roam the underworld. It protects and shields that individual form any sickness or harm that a bothering sprit may try to do onto that person. The white string may also act as a blessing to individuals wearing the string. Such events may be the birth of a newborn, or the union of two individuals. It may include but not limited to good fortune, blessings, loss of a loved one and sickness.

The next most common is the red. The red string has one main use and it is to cast out the evil sprits of the underworld in the celebration of the New Year. It is tied at the end of the year and usually at a celebration of some sort. It also acts of wishes or inquires for good fortune form the year to come, and to hold back and shield off sprits of misfortune form the old year.

Black and blue are other acceptable colors that may be used in the absences of the other two colors, but are usually used only out of desperate need.

How Does Shamanism Complete its Job?

To accommodate the shamanist on his trip into the other world are wooden benches, usually four legs placed at an angle and no wider that the human body. The bench acts as a form of transportation where the shamanism travels into the other world. For that reason it is not common to see the shamanism jump. It is furthermore believed that this action is not caused by the individual but by the actions of movement that the horse takes him. Horn tips for a bull, usually spliced in halves. This instrument can be used as a fortune telling instrument. This can be accomplished by the direction when the horn is thrown onto the ground. Finally there is the white cloth mask which must be worn at the time of which this act is being performed. The mask acts as a blockage from the real world so that concentration may be acquired more easily. However it is the true that the mask is to act as a disguise into the sprit world, if he so happens to make any sprit mad, that the evil sprits can not find him in the real world. The mask protects the individual in the spiritual world.
Shamanism is a form of religion, more so than a medical treatment for the sick and the needy.

What are the Downfalls to Shamanism?

Basically, there is nothing wrong with the issue of shamanism. It is more an issue of ethics and religious beliefs. The practice of shamanism is a practice where spiritual enlightenment can be learned and acquired to help those who are sick and in need. It is not a religion where eternal life of happiness and health can be guarantee. In fact it is just the opposite of many religion. There are no savior or way to enlightenment after death. After death, your become the sprits and the living will soon seek your knowledge to help them when they are in need.

The one thing that makes shamanism different from religion is that there is no savior, god, or founder. It is a world built upon old ideologies of spiritual ancestors and the sprits of the natural environment.

Shamanism is also a world filled with myths and no concrete evidence of physical facts for explanation of happening. For the scientific concrete evidence people, shamanism closely related group of people imagination. A world built upon faith and fortune.

The power of shamanism as a healing treatment. It is believed that the practice of shamanism can do many good in medical treatment. Although the practice is not medically proven, the shamanist have been known to cure disease and sickness, mental illness, physical limitation (pregnancy fertility) and spiritual haunting. The Hmong people believes that many spiritual powers can occur without cause and be found through the experience of crossing to the other side. It is believed that through shamanism the dead can be contract, or the dead can come and take over a living soul therefor that person has to die. It is also believed that through shamanism people have battle and seen events of where the dead spirits come and take someone along further more, the power of shamanism can bring physical change to a person, his spirit or the environment. It is not uncommon for the people to say that a dark figment brought over a lump of log and took that girl. The long being the physical body of the dead girl, while the girl now wonders off into this spiritual world of the unknown.

There are arguments that claims that through this practice of spiritual rituals, it is what makes the hmong people unique. Like many other ethnic cultures of the Asian societies, the practice of spiritual relief in the form of Shamanism is what brings this group of people, faith. Faith is what coexist with every society in the world today. There is no evidence to say that this form of spiritual practice is right nor it is wrong, it is however, a distinct variation of a small population of people in the world. The hmong people. A group of people with a country, written history or language and a group built on skepticism and oral history.

Tools used for death ceremony