The Hmong religion is Shamanism. Shamanism is the practice of using a shaman to communicate between the human and spirit world. It is a sub-religion of Animism. Animism is the belief that all living things (earth, sky, plants, animals, humans, etc) have souls. A shaman is someone who has the gift to communicate with the spirit world. Practitioners of Shamanism believe in spirits and rely on their shamans to mediate and heal.
Like many cultures around the world, religion plays a major part in the Hmong culture. It’s a blurred area as to what is culture and what is religion because they are tightly intertwined. When a baby is born, a shaman is called upon to announce to the ancestors that there is a new addition to the family. When someone is sick, and doctors and medication cannot cure the ailment, a shaman searches for the lost soul of the person who is sick. When someone dies, rituals are performed to send the spirit of the deceased on its way to the final resting place.
Those who don’t know the premise of these rituals may come to think of it as savage, heathen, or pagan. Those who are Hmong and are ignorant to the ways of their forefathers will go as far as calling their fellow Hmong people who still practice Shamanism as devil or demon worshipers.
I have a cousin who converted to a Jehovah’s Witness a few years ago. She told her brother that we are “devil worshipers.” A Hmong acquaintance recently posted on her Facebook that she’s glad she changed her life around by converting to Christianity because shamanic Hmong funerals are scary and people who still send their deceased “worship the demons.”
Too many times in the past have I heard ignorant people call me pagan, heathen, devil worshiper, and witch. Are Hmong people really witches who call upon the devil when they sacrifice a cow, pig, or chicken to either pay respect or appease the wrath of their ancestors? Are Hmong people really savages who need to convert to the modern ways of life? What makes others think we worship the devil?
There really is no point to this blog. I was just offended by someone’s post on Facebook. I had to write out my thoughts. Yes, I did educate that person on Hmong funerals and that we do not worship the demons (I wrote an essay).
Ignorance really does lead to animosity and prejudice. I don’t judge you, your religion, or the way you live your life, so don’t judge mine.