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Hmong Spirituality

Jul 3, 2013

Hmong Spirituality, Traditional Hmong shaman performing ritual

The spiritual beliefs of the Hmong People.

Hmong Spirituality

The Hmong are a people of Southeast Asia, residing primarily in nomadic groups in the mountainous regions of northern Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and southern china.

Thai folk religion spirit house

A traditional spirit house in Thailand to welcome spirits and bring good luck.

The spirituality of the Hmong has shares characteristics with the folk religions of the people around them. East Asian folk religion places special emphasis on spirits, especially the spirits of ancestors. Rituals and ceremonies across East Asia are held to commemorate ancestors and venerate their spirits, or to keep away the bad spirits who may cause misfortune and harm. For example, Tet in Vietnam and the Chinese New year in china, hint kong, Taiwan, Thailand and Korea are held to welcome the spirits of the ancestors home. In Thailand, special “spirit houses” are built to welcome the spirits and bring good luck.

But with Hmong religion the worship of spirits goes into overdrive. In the Hmong worldview everything has a spirit; the animals and trees, even the hills on which they live have spirits. The Hmong believe that the Spirits were once a clear and physical part of this world. But one day the worlds separated and now there are two worlds, the physical and the spiritual. Invisible to each other but overlapping, the Hmong believe the two worlds interact in a very real and meaningful way. To ignore the spirits and not respect them will cause the good spirits to leave us and the bad ones to come, and disaster to unfold.

Antique Hmong spirit lock pendant folk jewelry of the world

Hmong ceremonial silver locket earring

The Hmong use ritual objects such as large jewelry pieces during their rituals, objects which they believe has the ability to communicate with them.
One ritual performed by the Hmong is the “ua neeb” . The Hmong believe that our soul consists of 11 independent spirits. If one leaves, then the person falls I’ll or experiences some other misfortune. The – ritual is performed to keep the spirits within a persons body to keep them safe. One ritual object used for this is the lock pendant, a silver locket piece worm by the person in the ritual to keep his or her soul “locked” in the body.

The Hmong religion can be classified as “animism” because of its emphasis on the animate spirits of the inanimate world and displays features typical of east Asian religion. But a closer look at Hmong spirituality shows a very unique way of understanding the world. The Hmong spiritual view shows us a universe alive with an infinite number of personable spirits living with and among us, caring for the good of humanity.

Traditional Hmong Jewelry including ceremonial artifacts from the Hmong People

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