HAIB: A Shaman Podcast, EP. 1: Intro to Shamanism

HAIB: A Shaman Podcast, EP. 1: Intro to Shamanism


okay so who are you and where are you from?
I am Tou Ger Billy Lor. I am from Eau Claire, Wisconsin and I am a college
student, and also a shaman. What does Shamanism mean to you? Shamanism and Animism to me is our Hmong belief right, when we talk about rules and religious practices. When you talk about that you, if you want to based off
like anthropology terms you have to talk about animism. Which is you
know the belief that there’s a divine force within every
natural objects we have like lakes, rivers, stones, mountains. And that is one
thing and it really answers to worship which is something Hmong people do but
shamanism to me is when Hmong people practice shamanism and go into a trance.
Do a lot of procedures and really going to trance communicating between two
worlds and really throwing ceremonies just to make peace. For me new shamanism and old shamanism. What does it mean? To me old shamanism is more of the traditional way of
practicing shamanism. The very traditional way and what’s hard
for me to talk about old and new shamanism is that shamanism continuously and it will
always be continuously and constantly changing and reforming and adapting to
survive. And so, when we’re talking about old shamanism I would say, in our generation old shamanism is more of the 1900’s style of shamanism you know in Laos and everything because
past that we no longer know. But you know old shamanism is going into a trance on the shaman chair. Going into a trance wearing shaman bells and just shaking in a trance. um, moving your lips to chant the shamanic phrases. But then new shamanism, what I think of it and what do I see new shamanism is more of the… I would say it’s more… it’s shamanism
dealing with a lot of intersectionalities or dealing with
influences from a lot of other cultures For example, some shamans speak Laotian. Some shamans speak Thai. um, and they speak Chinese a lot. Hmong people says that Chinese can also mean Chinese and foreign. So when I say like, Hmong has spoken in Chinese which is just foreign language we say that’s just a spiritual language but some people these days they literally speak Chinese. But I feel like the new shamanism is a lot of, it’s in
terms of a lot of cultures. For example, some people they don’t stand on the shaman chair. They don’t wear the shaman hood too. Some shamans they don’t use the normal tools anymore,
so I feel like the new shamans are a new way of practicing it’s just a new
way of being able to adjust to where you are because for example if you look at it, the male shamans in America the new shamans that come from here, they come from this land, they do shamanism are really adapting to the lifestyle the
westernized lifestyle but the people who does new Shamanism in Thailand and Laos does it
very differently. In adapting to that lifestyle the people. For example, going to Thailand I saw them.. Some people they do new shamanism. They worship their altar like Laotian people worship their Buddha. So I feel like a lot of it is, really, as for new shamanism just more of… the… I think we say new shamanism
because we’re not used to it yet. But eventually the new shamanism will become old shamanism in the future as well. And so, that’s how I really define it. Is this correct? Is one chosen by a shaman god? Is Siv Yiv a shaman god? Yeah, if you were to say it. People are chosen to become Shamans. Originally, the origin story, which is the folklore. The origin story is about Siv Yiv. Siv Yiv left his shaman tools before returning to heaven he threw all of his shaman tools back into the world. Into the caves, on top of the farm lands, and in the water. So to whoever that picks them up they will become a shaman. So people say that Siv Yiv left them around and if you pick them up you will become a shaman. But, once you start or have been practicing shamanism, you don’t say that Siv Yis chose you. When a shaman performs a ceremony though, we call upon Siv Yiv. When going into a trance we do call upon Siv Yiv. We call ourselves Siv Yiv as well to mask our identity. To bring strength to really summon strength within us.
But, I think as Hmong we do believe that it is not that Siv Yiv picked you. But back then when the religion started… then we say that you were chosen by Siv Yiv. But now as things go on, we say our great grandparents and ancestors are the one who picked us. Or sometimes we say heaven bestowed it. We don’t really… rarely hear Siv Yiv is the one who bestowed it. Usually it’s the heavens that bestows it, then that’s how they are able to become a shaman. And a lot of times is your grandma or grandpa. Your great grandparents/ancestors and the generations who came before you. They usually are the ones who choose you to become the next shamans. Or a lot of
times the heavens bestow it upon you so we don’t really say Siv Yiv but it’s very… But with that, like, definition and the context behind it it’s very true. But
with shaman God choosing I would say it’s more of your ancestors and your
lineage. What’s the difference between Animism and Shamanism? Hmong, if we look at Animism and Shamanism… what we practice. For example, we have new year festivities, cleansing of evil spirits. Our belief that a stone has a spirit, trees have spirits, natural
objects has spirits. But that is Animism, they have life within everything. That’s what Shaman guidlines/religions is, it’s Animism. But then when we go into a trance it is Shamanism. because it involves the shaman going into a trance which is really the definition
of shamanism and so with Hmong it’s really hard. We have to go back and
forth between Animism and Shamanism because when we cleanse evil spirits. Our funerals, these things are no longer a shamanistic funeral it’s an animistic
funeral. But when we perform ceremonies to heal and when we call upon a shaman and
he performs because he or she goes into the trance that is shamanism and so it’s
I think that’s really the main differences in the culture of what
shamanism and animism is.

4 thoughts on “HAIB: A Shaman Podcast, EP. 1: Intro to Shamanism

  1. Time stamps:
    (0:05) Who are you and where are you from?
    (0:16) What does Shamanism mean to you?
    (0:56) What does neeb qhub (old shamanism) mean and what does neeb tshiab (new shamanism) mean?
    (3:08) Is one chosen by a Shaman God? Is Siv Yiv a Shaman God?
    (5:08) What's the difference between Animism and Shamanism?

  2. YES!! you take the words right out of my mouth! I hate that people dont understand that funerals and other hmong traditions are not SHAMANISM! shamanism is a type of exorcism/spiritual trance! Definitely sharing this! Just hope it spreads and our generation can understand the difference.

  3. Good explanation of the differences, but it sounds like an ancestral curse that is being passed down from one generation to the next. The Spirit’s legal right is tied through a family’s bloodline generation after generation so then each potential family member carries the curse to the next and so on. Was Siv Yi a good person, or did he make a deal with ill intention Spirits from the begging? What happens if you were “chosen” and you refuse?..do you die? Get sick? Family gets sick? What was his origin story and where can I find more information on him? I just want to get down to the nitty gritty.

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