Shamans in Mongolia

In the film “the Horse Boy” the family traveled all acrossMongoliato seek the help of many different shamans to try and cure their son of autism.  When the family first arrived inMongolia, many of the shaman had been alerted of their arrival and had already gathered at the base of a mountain to perform their different rituals to try and heal Roan of his autism.  This was said to be the largest collection of shamans in a long time.  When Roan and his family reached the gathering of shaman they began a four hour long series of rituals from each of the different shamans.  Each shaman believed that the spirit of a relative with mental illness on the mothers side had connected itself with Roans causing the state he is in.  After the rituals were complete there was a noticeable improvement in Roans actions.  He began to play with one of the children there and do things he did not before.  As they ventured acrossMongolia, Roan went in patterns of improvement and regression with his condition.  His parents didn’t know if what they were doing was actually helping him, or just making it worse.  They kept going until they made it to a tribe of reindeer herders that were said to have the most powerful shaman inMongolia.  He agreed to help Roan, and he had one last ritual performed on him.  After the ritual the shaman said that the tantrums and other fits would end the next day, and they would see a steady decrease in Roan’s autism.  As Roan and his family traveled back to their home inAmerica, they did notice that Roan was starting to act different.  He would go to the bathroom by himself, and would rather play with other children rather than with his parents.  Like the shaman said, his condition did steadily become better, but you can never fully get rid of autism.

The healers were the shamans who performed various rituals to try and alleviate the different ailments of their patients.  They could come from any social status, but one that we saw in the movie was a tribe of herders.  These people specifically herded reindeer.  The techniques for the rituals differ from shaman to shaman, but a common thing I saw was the beating of drums and dancing around while waving some kind of smoldering incense.  Some differences were whipping of the parents of Roan in the movie, or making the person receiving the treatment drink some kind of potion.

The culture these people are part of is very spiritual.  They believe that if one were to cleanse the spirit one can cleanse the body.  That both are very closely connected.  The health care in this area is administered through a series of rituals given by a shaman.  You tell the shaman what is wrong with you or someone you know and they will perform a ritual that will help you or that person.

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