Hmong – Southeast Asian people originating in Laos; many now live in North America. Traditionally an animist culture, the Hmong employ shamans as healers and mediators in disruptive situations. Illnesses and other problems may be understood to result from disruption and lack of cohesion among the souls that inhabit each person’s body. Such souls are supposed to cooperate to form the individual, but may act independently and require a shaman’s attention. Illnesses and bad luck may also be caused by unwanted possession, which requires shamans to journey to the other world in performances that can be public or seen only by individual clients or patients. Journeying is supported by helpers rhythmically hitting gongs when guided by the shaman, who wears bell rings on each hand. Divination using split buffalo horns may aid understanding of the cause and solution of problems. Shamans also play significant roles in maintaining and developing traditional culture, especially when faced with Christian missions and the dominance of Western modernist society. Thus, they offer a further illustration of the political dimensions of shamanism.
See also South and East Asia.
Historical Dictionary of Shamanism by Graham Harvey and Robert J. Wallis 2007