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Another person interviewed was my mother, Lia Moua. Unlike Bao and Washoua, my mother and my father are becoming shamans later in life. Lia has had a dab tshuaj (healing altar) for some years now. When I was young, I remember seeing my mother give herbal medicine to people. Along with her, we would pack herbal medicine into bags. I also saw her and my father conduct the khi tes ritual, which involves tying a red string to someone’s wrist and ankle. Recently, she has also learn how to conduct hu plig (soul-calling) from my grandma. My mother and father also know how to interpret, listen to the chants of Hmong shamans and know how ua neeb ceremonies involve the spirit world to effect healing. My father is also becoming a shaman later in his life. He falls into the category of “magical healers.” He has dab khawv koob, spirit helpers that gift him with the knowledge and power to chant and bless in order to heal illnesses like nocturnal baby crying. I have grown up seeing him perform this ritual for babies numerous times. He would use a newspaper, magazine or piece of paper to use it like a fan. He would do this movement over a bowl of water with quarters in it. He would then chant. He also knew how to hu plig, call the soul, before my mom and also know how to perform the khi tes.
"If you believe that shamanism can help, then after ua neeb, you will get better, if you don’t believe it, then shamanism doesn’t help you." —Lia Moua
Lia Moua's shaman journey started early in her life, when she became very ill. She explains the story like this:
I was very ill to the point where all of hair fell out. I fainted and so I didn’t remember anything. My mom was very concerned and didn’t know what to do because in Thailand it was difficult to go to a hospital. Therefore, my mom asked a Hmong shaman to come ua neeb for me. I slept on the bed, not feeling anything. Whoever spoke to me, I wouldn’t wake up. While he was in his trance and I was going to come to senses and wake up, I can hear his finger bells coming to get my soul and return it to my body.
Kuv mob heev heev ces cov kuv plaub hau lev tag nas. Ces thaum ntawm kuv li xa hlau ces tsis nco qab. Kuv niam thiab li hais tias, ‘oh mob mob ces, tsis paub yuav ua li cas.” Thaum qhov nyob tiv Thaib teb mas mus tsev kho mob nyuaj nyuaj. Ces kuv niam lawm thiab li mus hu ib tus yawg txiv neeb tuaj ua neeb. Kuv pw hauv lub txaj, kuv yeej tsis feel anything. Lawm hais lub los kuv yeej tsis sawv. Nws ua ua neeb. Yus tsaug zog li nos ces thaum yus yuav sawv, yus yeej hnov lub suab. Yus hnov nws lub tswb neeb.
She further explained how, later, she heard her dab neeb, spiritual healers, talking to her in her dreams. The spiritual healers told her that she must eat the root of a tamarind tree in order to get better. My mother told her mother that spiritual healers had told her she must eat the root to get well. My grandmother hesitated because she was afraid that to eat the tamarind root might cause harm to my mother and make her even sicker. Despite her misgivings, she dug up the root and gave it to my mother. My mother got well afterward.
My mother explains to me that this incident of her life is when she really began to believe that ua neeb, and shamanism is real and can cure people spiritually. She tells me that, “Yog tig neeg tseeb tias ua neeb pab ces nws yeej pab. Yog nws tsis tseeb ces ua neeb los, yeej tsis pab, /If you believe that shamanism can help then after ua neeb, you will get better, if you don’t believe it, then shamanism doesn’t help you."