Sunday, September 13, 2009

Religious Practitioners of LISU-3

Shaman: In the event of a serious illness, the shaman may be asked to perform the 'spraying' of the sickness. A pan of lard is placed on the fire, and while it is heating he sings himself into a trance. He then scoops hot fat into his mouth, and sprays the fat over a torch he carries, making big fireballs - a most spectacular sight in a dark house. Then he moves to the door and blows fireballs out of the house.

While the shaman is in a trance the spirits speak through him telling those assembled what offering is required to bring healing - usually a pig or chicken. The following day the sacrifice is made to the ancestor or other spirit causing the sickness. The ancestors most commonly associated with sickness are those who have recently died, especially fathers and mothers.

When there are clear signs that a man is called to be a shaman, other shamans in the area gather with him in the jungle outside his village to hold an initiation ceremony. One of the older shamans calls down some of the powerful yet potentially benevolent spirits, such as the village guardian spirit, to ride the new shaman. Lisu say they do this so the wild, fierce spirits will not come to ride him first, as it is 'just like when someone gets a new horse, everyone want to ride it'. The good spirits keep away the evil spirits, until the shaman is strong enough to deal with them.

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