Siv Yis- The Hmong Shaman
Posted on 21 December 2009
This past quarter I had taken Photojournalism and for my final assignment I had to do a photo essay, for the photo essay I had done a story on “The Life of a Hmong Shaman” and I was able to interview an aunt of mine. She had been a shaman for a while now and she was nice enough to give me her story and also let me take photos of her. Truth be told, my photo essay wasn’t so great, time was running out and I was on a crunch time therefore I honestly just threw the whole thing together to make a story. I know I could had done a better job had I more time on my hands. But then reality kicked in and time was not on my side, but then good news is, I did have a decent enough grade for the assignment to pass the class.
So from the very long video interview I did I decided to take a part of the interview out and convert it to an audio as she tells us the story of Siv Yee, the Hmong God who is a Shaman and how certain Hmong individuals are able to become Shamans.
I had learned a lot during the time of this assignment. She gave me all the information needed to make a complete story, she was willing to show me whatever she is able to and not upset her “spirits”, she was kind enough to answer every question to the best of her ability and over the interview I had learn new information about my own culture and belief which was a good thing.
All in all, it was a great and successful assignment.
Here is a rough summary of the interview:
Long ago there were three brothers (she couldn’t remember the youngest brother’s name) the oldest was Ntxwg Nyoog and the middle son was Siv Yis (The shaman god), because Siv Yis was the shaman god he constantly go down to earth to heal the sick and Ntxwg Nyoog his older brother was a kind person, but because he fell in love with an evil spirit and was so in love with her, he was blinded at the evil things she does. But because Siv Yis trusted his brother, he had asked his brother to take care of his family while he is on earth healing the sick and wounded, but upon his return home, Ntxwg Nyoog’s devil wife had already killed Siv Yis’s sons and ate them. When Siv Yis found out what had happened to his son, he then close all contact to his brother Ntxwg Nyoog for his evilness (therefore to us Hmong people Ntxwg Nyoog is an evil spirit or is translated into the “DEVIL” ). Siv Yis was very disappointed about the death of his sons so he decided that because he is able to save people on earth and heaven but unable to save his own sons, he decided not to Ua Neng (being a Shaman) anymore, he was to hurt from the death of his sons. So for that reason he decided to spread his powers to earth, but only selected few will get this power. He left words stating that any individual who is kind heart and is willing to help heal the sick will get his power, only the pure hearted individuals will receive this special power. So for now Siv Yis is still in heaven watching from above, but refuses to heal the sick since he had let his special power down to certain individuals to earth.
The second part of this particular portion of this clip I had asked her “While you are doing your Ua Neng rituals do you see anything?”
Her reply: I do not know about other individuals, but no I do not see anything, I have my hat on (a special shaman hat) and I do not see anything, but I do know that the spirits are next to me, but I can feel them around me, I know in my heart how they look like, whoever I call upon I know their features, but I do not actually see them. They are the one who tell me what to do and what to say, I can feel them very close to me, I just don’t see them.
This is one of her 3 shrines, she has one shrine that has two saparate sections (this one, the other part of this shrine is not in this photo), a smaller shrine and a buddah shrine. This shrine is her strongest shrine (with the strongest spirits) of the 3.