A distinguished anthropologist–who is also an initiated shaman–reveals the long-hidden female roots of the world’s oldest form of religion and medicine. Here is a fascinating expedition into this ancient tradition, from its prehistoric beginnings to the work of women shamans across the globe today.
Shamanism was not only humankind’s first spiritual and healing practice, it was originally the domain of women. This is the claim of Barbara Tedlock’s provocative and myth-shattering book. Reinterpreting generations of scholarship, Tedlock–herself an expert in dreamwork, divination, and healing–explains how and why the role of women in shamanism was misinterpreted and suppressed, and offers a dazzling array of evidence, from prehistoric African rock art to modern Mongolian ceremonies, for women’s shamanic powers.
Tedlock combines firsthand accounts of her own training among the Maya of Guatemala with the rich record of women warriors and hunters, spiritual guides, and prophets from many cultures and times. Probing the practices that distinguish female shamanism from the much better known male traditions, she reveals:
• The key role of body wisdom and women’s eroticism in shamanic trance and ecstasy
• The female forms of dream witnessing, vision questing, and use of hallucinogenic drugs
• Shamanic midwifery and the spiritual powers released in childbirth and monthly female cycles
• Shamanic symbolism in weaving and other feminine arts
• Gender shifting and male-female partnership in shamanic practice
Filled with illuminating stories and illustrations, The Woman in the Shaman’s Body restores women to their essential place in the history of spirituality and celebrates their continuing role in the worldwide resurgence of shamanism today.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of Religion eBook: The Woman in the Shaman's Body|
|Release Date: 09-02-2009|
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|Publisher: Bantam Books|
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The Woman in the Shaman's Body
Half a century ago, as archaeologists worked in the wooded Pavlov Hills of the Czech Republic, they made a remarkable discovery. During the excavation of the Upper Paleolithic site known as Dolní V?estonice, they found a pair of shoulder blades from a mammoth. The bones had been placed so as to form the two sides of a pitched roof, one of them leaning against the other. Beneath them was a human skeleton, and in the earth that covered it and on the bones themselves were traces of red ocher. The body had been painted red before it was laid to rest.
If nothing more had been found in this grave, it would have added little to what was already known about Ice Age peoples and their customs. During the Upper Paleolithic, corresponding to the final years of the Ice Age, about sixty thousand years ago, people already had the same anatomy as modern human beings. In Eurasia, most of them lived not in caves but in the dark coniferous forests and wide-open steppes that lay beyond the reach of the glaciers.
This particular burial was of no ordinary person, though. A flint spearhead had been placed near the head of the deceased, and the body of a fox had been placed in one hand. For the archaeological team, led by Bohuslav Klíma, the fox was a clear indication that the person in the grave had been a shaman; the fox had a long history as a shamanic spirit guide, in Europe and all the way across Asia and into the Americas. It came as something of a shock, however, when skeletal analysis revealed that the shaman in question was a woman.
Why is this find so important? Before the discovery of this woman—and, though it’s hard to believe, for a long time afterward—...