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In this episode we welcomed our Girl Scout colleague Kalue Her to the podcast to talk about Hmong Shamanism through her personal experiences. Shamanism focuses on health and balance in body and soul, and helping and healing individuals, families, and communities. It’s all about love, healing, and a connection and respect for nature and living things, and is rooted in the belief that everything has a soul.
Shamanism is a practice of healing and protecting family members – providing balance. Shamans have many duties and a variety of specific skill sets for helping their families. It’s a huge responsibility and doesn’t come with material wealth or a lot of recognition, but it’s important and rewarding. Kalue talked about the increase in women taking on the shaman role, including herself, and shared the surprising story of how she came to accept it as her path.
Shamanism can sometimes be seen in the wrong way – as barbaric or outdated, and not as the traditional practice of religious healing, spiritual care, loving, and light that it really is. This can make it challenging for young people to be open about their family’s practice of Shamanism. Kalue is hoping to change this with her own kids, sharing her experience and passing it on to them in a positive way.
We talked about stereotypes related to what Shamanism is and the impression we had of what it means. Kalue talks about working to change the face of Shamanism and breaking through stereotypes and stigma within the Hmong community. She shared with us what the practice of Shamanism looks like in her family and the importance of having a spiritual leader. It isn’t always easy, she and her husband walk a fine line with their own kids of teaching them about Shamanism but not wanting them to feel like they are different or outsiders in their school or neighborhood.
As our takeaway, Kalue shared some advice for Hmong girls:
Find people who support you, learn, ask questions. Seek out a wise person like a teacher, caregiver, parent, troop leader – someone you trust. Shamanism is evolving and changing, and in order to experience the love and healing it offers, you have to first love and accept yourself.
What a great message! For those of you who are new to learning about Hmong Shamanism, We hope you find this conversation as interesting and eye-opening as we did. Take care of yourselves out there, GIRL Talk listeners.