W3 Reflection: Welcoming Shamans

I viewed the “Welcoming Shamans” and “A Doctor for Disease, a Shaman for the Soul” articles. These entries detail the duties of Hmong shamans Va Meng Lee and Ma Vue, and their roles in local hospitals within Merced, California. These healers share a status similar to clergymen when they are presiding in a clinic, and they work alongside medical staff such as doctors and nurses.  Among the Hmong, the belief in maintenance of one’s soul is crucial to their culture and religion. These shamans will perform rituals either in the patient’s hospital room, or at the patients home, with their family. The shaman must be requested by the family or patient, and they must also have the permission of the hospital they are working in. The shamans interact with the patient’s spirit and they also perform rites to ward off evil spirits, so as to keep the patient safe. These ministrations are crucial for the patient’s mental and spiritual health, just as medicine would be necessary for their physical health. It is reported that with a firm spirit and sound mind, that patients recover more quickly in the physical realm as well.

The Hmong shamans aid many of the Hmong people in their spiritual health, which is an ethnicity that originates in Laos, which Chang Teng Thao, Mr. Lee’s patient in the article, also hails from. Since these shamans aid hospital patients, they see that their patients are cared for spiritually, as well as physically. Mr. Thao suffers from diabetes, which shaman Lee connects to the recent passing of Mr. Thao’s wife. In this case, shaman Lee appeases Mr. Thao’s wife’s spirit, so Thao can be at peace with his wife’s passing and can be treated for his diabetes more efficiently. The shamans are very helpful to the religious society and provide them with spiritual aid while they also receive physical aid.

Leave a Reply