Barnes 1Joseph Barnes Professor LockremCULF 3331. 1015 December 2016It’s All a Sham(anism)The Tungus tribe of Siberia traditionally included a religious practitioner within their society. This individual had the ability to communicate between the world of divinity and reality. Their talents usually defined them as the Siberian term “saman” which is translated to, “one who is excited, moved, raised”. As time passed and more members of the community announced theirgift of speaking to the spirit world, Shamanism emerged and spread past the Tungus borders. The shaman provided more than a connection to the world unseen, but also lent a hand in healingthose in pain or mental strain with the help of the spirits above. Shaman’s usually treated whoever needed tending to within their society. However, spiritual leaders dispersed across China and Northern Vietnam and brought their belief of healing the soul by pleasing the spirits above. “One cannot belong to shamanism, but one can participate in or benefit from this pattern of beliefs and activities and in special circumstances become a shaman oneself within a particular cultural setting or religious tradition” (Croffart 152). This creates a loose and and supportive system that stimulates the imagination while reconciling inner turmoil.Nguyen Thi Hein provides interesting insight on the role of a shaman within contemporary Vietnamese culture. Hein describes the two types of illnesses one can face within this culture; the first being a yang illness that can be identified as a specific physical ailment while a yin illness is a result of a supernatural force and can only be cured through ritual. A yin
Barnes 2illness could be the cause of many disruptions within the self and the spirit world. An example ofa yin illness could be a family moving into a new home forgets to build an altar for their ancestors causing the spirits to feel disrespected. As a result, the spirit world would severely affect and alter the mind of the head of the household causing hallucinations and uncontrollable irritability. This phenomenon leads impaired civilians with the desperate need for an individual who can communicate with the very forces disabling them. In order to rid of a yin illness, shaman’s use Len Dong ritual that involves spiritual possession of a human vessel to infiltrate the metaphysical sickness and provide healing. “Len dong Spirit possession can be seen as a mode of therapy, bringing to its performers and audience a state of happiness as well an expectation of healing.” (Hein 67.2). The shaman guides the individual to a meditative mindset that travels one through “altered states of consciousness” (or ASC) that is only available through the shaman’s eyes. One is guided through the through the spirit world at the hand of the shaman to communicate with those that can adjust the struggle within the struggling individual’s soul.