Healing through ritual has often been a common facet of shamanic traditions. Catching “shamanic illness” is recognised as a sign of a candidate in many cultures. However, among the Horchin Mongols in China, this phenomenon has taken on a modern twist. Many individuals, who are afflicted by so-called “incurable” illness, are turning to shamanism. What is interesting is that they do not do this to get healed by shamans, but rather seek self-heal through initiation as a shaman themselves. Horchin shaman masters take on hundreds, and even thousands, of “disciples” who would cure themselves in this way. This occurs among more rural folk. Key reasons appear to be the negative effects of industrialisation, urbanisation and technological advancement, coupled with the failure of medicine and health services to catch up with social change and growing expectations in China, and particularly in Horchin Mongolia. This paper investigates the reasons for the dramatic increase in “shamanic illness”, i.e. how people become shamans to heal themselves.
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Critical Link 3
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