Magic in healing practice: a case study in Vietnam and its philosophical assessment
Thu Huu Nguyen – Alexey I. Prokopyev – Natalja I. Lapidus – Svetlana A. Savostyanova – Ekaterina G. Sokolova
The use of magic and religion in healing practices in Vietnam is relatively popular. In the folklore and folk religion of Vietnam, it is often said that “In case of sickness, follow any feasible cures [co benh thi vai tu phuong]” in the sense that all means, including using religious beliefs and rituals, will be used to get healing for oneself or one’s relatives. When people or their relatives get sick, besides going to medical facilities, they will look for a shaman, necromancer, monks, even priests, bishops, and pastors to cure the illness they or their relatives are suffering from. Based on Mircea Eliade’s theory published in The Sacred and the Profane (Eliade, 2016), the article has the ambition to offer a different perspective on the use of magic (sometimes considered as a religious ritual by the subject) to cure disease. We employ both the comparative and analytical methods of study as we explore concrete cases of treatment of patients with different religious beliefs (Ms. T’s case of treatment, following Buddhist practices in comparison with the healing cases of the Mother Goddess Worship and the Catholic Church). The authors propose that a uniquely Vietnamese philosophy of life (Life-philosophy) serves as a constitutive basis for the adaptation of magic in healing practices, being itself formed and influenced by these practices.
Key words: magic, religious healing, life-philosophy, healing practices