Religion of the Hezhe


The Hezhe are animist. They think that all the objects and phenomena of the nature have their own spirit. As "animist" is a word with an ethnocentrical bias we can say that they know the spirits of the nature and some of them, their shamans, even can influence the way these spirits affect the live of human beings.

They also worship their ancestors.

They believe that every person has three souls, one that dies with the body, and other two that survive it. Of these two one will be reincarnated in another person or in an animal whose species will depend on his behavior during his live. The other one will be driven, by means of the opportune ceremonies, to the world of the dead, a world similar to that of the living people, inhabited by the spirits of the ancestors. This soul is able to abandon the body for brief periods of time during the dreams. For this reason the Hezhe give great importance to the dreams, having built around them a complex interpretive system.

In the nature everything has a god, but not all the gods have the same category. The most powerful is the God of the Sky that directs everything, and the God of the Three Stars, responsible for the illnesses.

The world, for the Hezhe, has three levels: the sky, the earth and the hell.
The sky, where the gods live, has seven levels occupied by the gods in order of importance. In the earth live the people. The hell is where the demons live.

The shamans have a very important function in the Hezhe society and religion, as they are considered to have the power to communicate with the non human realms. With the ability, therefore, of solving the problems that gods or demons can cause to the human beings. There are several kinds of shamans with different tasks.

They still keep vestiges of totemism. Most of the clans remember the legends that recount the way their first female ancestor was matched with the animal that became their ancestor.

The shamanism, on which they built their spiritual life, has almost completely disappeared due to the influence of the Chinese culture.

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