The Hmongs believe that dreams and illnesses are signs of calling. The spirit addresses the person in a dream and when that person wakes up, he/she will have a new realization of his fate. The individual must take a journey to the heavenly palace. In the spirit world, the individual walks the path while dodging various obstacles along the way and if they reach the palace, they are believed worthy and therefore given the knowledge of curing and healing. They would then be cured of any illnesses and in possession of the special powers given to them. However, if the individual does not reach the palace, they are believed to be not strong enough and unworthy, their spirit will be lost in the spirit world and cannot return to the body.
The shaman is a person gifted with shamanic talents which deal with spirits and healing of the souls. They are like a medicine man or woman, they are healers, social workers, and psychologist and people go to them for treatment, just as one who would go to the doctors in the United States. A shaman’s main job is to serve as a medium between the spirit and physical world. They are to heal the sick people and prevent illness by communicating with the spirit world, including the spirits of the deceased ancestors. The shaman is one of the most important people in the Hmong community and he or she gives hope to the people in crisis. They are a spiritual healer who guides a person in difficult situations.
Although the role of the shaman continues to be important here in America most Hmong people are adapting to American medical customs but they still respect and visit a shaman. Besides talking to a shaman, Hmong people are traditionally herbalist and use many herbs and plants which grow wild in the mountains to heal them. The Hmong shamanism is different because the Hmong shaman does not use any magic rituals to influence events like a witch doctor would.
The Hmongs believe that the ancestor worship is a belief where there is a connection between the ancestor and the living descendants and believes that the spirits of the ancestors influences the daily lives and welfare of their descendants. They would offer up foods and give a proper ceremony to make sure their ancestors are remembered. This practice keeps the Hmong family strong and family relations harmonious. It also serves to strengthen the Hmong identity.