Mongolian Shamans

Mongolia Shamans are shown in the video “The Horse Boy”.  This video is a documentary of a four year old autistic child whose parents take him to Mongolia to complete a healing voyage.  The father, having witnessed the works of Shamans and seeing the power they seem to have, had the idea of taking his son to Mongolia to see two separate groups of Shamans and to visit the River that is ‘good for the brain’.  The family, after traveling to Mongolia, met the first set of Shamans at a sacred mountain.  Before the arrival of the autistic child, word had spread and several Shamans had travelled to the mountain in order to help.  After the rituals of the Shamans’ were completed, the boy seemed to improve functionally.  He still had his ups and downs but seemed to interact better with others.  The second task was to visit the river that is said to have healing powers specifically for the brain.  At the river the boy swam around and seemed to enjoy himself.  The third task was that of finding the reindeer herders.  It is said that the Shamans of the reindeer people are the most powerful of Shamans.  It was a difficult travel to find the herders but the family and their guide were finally able to find them.  It was determined that the Shaman could help the child and the ritual was performed.  Upon completion of the ritual the family was told their child would become less and less autistic over the next few years and would immediately stop his fits and messes in his pants.   After this, the child did start using the toilet for his needs in a proper manner and his fits also stopped. 

The healers in this case were that of Shamans.  They are seen as very important people with great powers and are high on the social status ladder.  The Shamans of Mongolia use several different techniques.  The main one is that of the use of a drum.  They can also go into trances in which they speak with spirits.  Potions are also used and can be in several different forms.  In this specific case with the family described above, a potion was used for the child to drink and one was used for the mother to rub on herself.  There were also incense, chants, and the use of a whip on the parents.  The Shamans do not have very much interaction with the patient; it was usually the helpers or the parents.  When interactions did occur, they were kind, gentle, and caring. 

Shamans act in the Folk sector of healthcare.  Healthcare is delivered by the patient going to the Shaman or even by the Shamans going to the patient.  (Both of these ways is seen in “The Horse Boy”)  The body and symptoms are understood as spirits affecting the individual.  In the case of “The Horse Boy” the spirit was that of the mother’s grandmother.  The grandmother’s spirit was holding onto the child and was almost like trying to pull him away.  The treatment includes chants, potions, incense, whipping the parents, and trances in which the Shaman speaks with the spirits.

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