Yin Illness Its Diagnosis and Healing within Len Dong (Spirit Possession) Rituals of the Viet

Dr. Nguyen Thi Hien

Source: Asian Ethnology, Vol. 67, No. 2, Popular Religion and the Sacred Life of Material Goods in Contemporary Vietnam (2008), pp. 305-321

This paper looks at a small dimension of the vast belief system of the Viet by exploring yin illness (bệnh âm) and a resort of its healing by examining an aspect of lên đồng ritual as therapy. The spiritual healing of lên đồng is seen as the good work of spirit mediums who save themselves, their families, and their patients from personal suffering and yin illness. Yin illness can be caused by a variety of cultural patterns of meaning such as sacrilege, ghost possession, or mediumship. Analyzing the causes and the cures of the yin illness,this article implies the deep sense of obligation many Viet people feel toward tending their dead and ancestors and serving the spirits of the Mother Goddess religion (Đạo Mẫu). Thus, the illness and healing are set within relationships between the living and the dead and between the adherents and thespirits, and are embodied in the folk belief system of the Viet.

KEYWORDS: Spirit possession ritual—yin and yang illness—healing—exorcism