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The Woman in the Shaman's Body: Reclaiming the Feminine in Religion and Medicine Paperback – 27 Dec 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 349 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Inc; Reprint edition (27 Dec. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553379712
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553379716
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.4 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 347,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Praise for "Woman in the Shaman's Body:
"Healing, birthing children, gathering and growing food, keeping communities in balance, presiding over ceremonies and rites passage, maintaining relations with the dead, teaching, ministering to those in need, communing with nature to learn her secrets, preserving the wisdom traditions, divining the future, and dancing with gods and goddesses-these are shamanic arts. "And these are the arts of women. In a thoughtful way, Barbara Tedlock traces the true history of shamanism, a history in which women have always been an integral and creative part. "The Woman in the Shaman's Body illuminates the oftentimes hidden, and sometimes openly suppressed, feminine spirit that is shamanism, that is healing, that is life." --Bonnie Horrigan
Executive Director, Society for Shamanic Practitioners
"This book is a highly readable yet comprehensive and definitive study of the role of women in shamanism. It is without doubt the best book ever written about the female role in shamanism and perhaps the best book ever done on shamanism itself."--Timothy J. Knab, Ph.D.,
Author of "A Scattering of Jades and "A War of Witches
"Barbara Tedlock did a brilliant job of weaving together her own story
of shamanic initiation along with an incredible depth of research. She shatters
current myths about shamanism and shows how women were the originators and
key practitioners of shamanic healing and divination. In a time where we see so many women engaging in shamanic practice Tedlock offers valuable insight into the long-standing role of women in this ancient path. I truly loved reading this book!"--Sandra Ingerman, author of "Soul Retrievaland "Medicine for the Earth
"Scholars and lay readers alike are indebted to Barbara Tedlock for combining her personal and professional experience in this insightful, cross-cultural interpretation of shamanism."--Douglas Sharon, director, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Berkeley
"Barbara Tedlock is part of the present big struggle to drag anthropology out of the rationalist and anti-humanist black hole in which it has found itself. Barbara Tedlock started her career in anthropology with the "distant coolness of a scientific observer." But the K'iche' Maya among whom she worked responded by healing her in her illness. They thenceforth taught her to practice as a healer herself. This is the pattern in advanced anthropology today. Now Barbara Tedlock has written the definitive book on women's shamanism-its history, the way it is activated, and its particular roots in the woman's body and in her powers of creation and procreation. The book is simply written, full of real stories, real dreams, and real shaman journeys. It will be a treasure for all adventurous women."--Edith Turner, Editor-in-chief of "Anthropology and Humanism, published by University of Virginia; author of "Experiencing Ritual and "The Hands Feel It
"This is a wonderful, insightful, and compelling introduction to Shamanism as "a healing practice and religious sensibility" performed by women from time immemorial to the present day. Barbara Tedlock is a working Shaman and proud descendant of Shamans native to North America. She is also an accomplished social scientist who understands the rules of empirical analysis that apply to the scholarly study of religion and ritual. With the clear, engagingprose of an expert observer and the personal experience of a spiritual practitioner, she weaves a story that is both autobiography and persuasive argument for the importance of women as Shaman world-wide and throughout history." --David A. Freidel, Ph.D., University Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Southern Methodist University
Barbara Tedlock's study of female shamans offers rare gifts: luminous insight, exhaustive scholarly knowledge, and accessible language that pulses with quiet intensity. After Tedlock, no one will ever again be able to portray shamanism as a male enterprise."
--Michael F. Brown, Ph.D. Chair, Dept. of Anthropology & Sociology Williams College and/or as the author of "The Channeling Zone: American Spirituality in an Anxious Age and, more recently, "Who Owns Native Culture?
"If Joseph Campbell or Mircea Eliade had been feminists, this is a book they could wish they had written. This canon-busting romp across history and around the globe, from Paleolithic Europe to contemporary North America, insists on the centrality of women to the shamanic traditions that have until now been considered the province of men. Drawing on her training in the healing arts as a young child by her Ojibwa grandmother, her later professional training with Mayan shamans in Guatemala, and her more recent observations of shamanic rituals in Mongolia, Tedlock has created a formidable work: a meticulously researched yet delightfully absorbing compendium of women's shamanic skills across time and space."--Alma Gottlieb, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology at University of Illinois; co-editor of "Blood Magic, and "A World of Babies; President, Society for HumanisticAnthropology

"From the Hardcover edition.

Praise for "Woman in the Shaman's Body:
"
"Healing, birthing children, gathering and growing food, keeping communities in balance, presiding over ceremonies and rites passage, maintaining relations with the dead, teaching, ministering to those in need, communing with nature to learn her secrets, preserving the wisdom traditions, divining the future, and dancing with gods and goddesses-these are shamanic arts. "And these are the arts of women." In a thoughtful way, Barbara Tedlock traces the true history of shamanism, a history in which women have always been an integral and creative part. "The Woman in the Shaman's Body"illuminates the oftentimes hidden, and sometimes openly suppressed, feminine spirit that is shamanism, that is healing, that is life." --Bonnie Horrigan
Executive Director, Society for Shamanic Practitioners
"This book is a highly readable yet comprehensive and definitive study of the role of women in shamanism. It is without doubt the best book ever written about the female role in shamanism and perhaps the best book ever done on shamanism itself."--Timothy J. Knab, Ph.D.,
Author of "A Scattering of Jades" and "A War of Witches
"
"Barbara Tedlock did a brilliant job of weaving together her own story
of shamanic initiation along with an incredible depth of research. She shatters
current myths about shamanism and shows how women were the originators and
key practitioners of shamanic healing and divination. In a time where we see so many women engaging in shamanic practice Tedlock offers valuable insight into the long-standing role of women in this ancient path. I truly loved reading this book!"--Sandra Ingerman, author of "Soul Retrieval" and "Medicine for the Earth
"
"Scholars and lay readers alike are indebted to Barbara Tedlock for combining her personal and professional experience in this insightful, cross-cultural interpretation of shamanism."--Douglas Sharon, director, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Berkeley
"Barbara Tedlock is part of the present big struggle to drag anthropology out of the rationalist and anti-humanist black hole in which it has found itself. Barbara Tedlock started her career in anthropology with the "distant coolness of a scientific observer." But the K'iche' Maya among whom she worked responded by healing her in her illness. They thenceforth taught her to practice as a healer herself. This is the pattern in advanced anthropology today. Now Barbara Tedlock has written the definitive book on women's shamanism-its history, the way it is activated, and its particular roots in the woman's body and in her powers of creation and procreation. The book is simply written, full of real stories, real dreams, and real shaman journeys. It will be a treasure for all adventurous women."--Edith Turner, Editor-in-chief of "Anthropology and Humanism," published by University of Virginia; author of "Experiencing Ritual" and "The Hands Feel It"
"This is a wonderful, insightful, and compelling introduction to Shamanism as "a healing practice and religious sensibility" performed by women from time immemorial to the present day. Barbara Tedlock is a working Shaman and proud descendant of Shamans native to North America. She is also an accomplished social scientist who understands the rules of empirical analysis that apply to the scholarly study of religion and ritual. With the clear, engaging prose of an expert observer and the personal experience of a spiritual practitioner, she weaves a story that is both autobiography and persuasive argument for the importance of women as Shaman world-wide and throughout history." --David A. Freidel, Ph.D., University Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Southern Methodist University
Barbara Tedlock's study of female shamans offers rare gifts: luminous insight, exhaustive scholarly knowledge, and accessible language that pulses with quiet intensity. After Tedlock, no one will ever again be able to portray shamanism as a male enterprise."
--Michael F. Brown, Ph.D. Chair, Dept. of Anthropology & Sociology Williams College and/or as the author of "The Channeling Zone: American Spirituality in an Anxious Age" and, more recently, "Who Owns Native Culture?"
"If Joseph Campbell or Mircea Eliade had been feminists, this is a book they could wish they had written. This canon-busting romp across history and around the globe, from Paleolithic Europe to contemporary North America, insists on the centrality of women to the shamanic traditions that have until now been considered the province of men. Drawing on her training in the healing arts as a young child by her Ojibwa grandmother, her later professional training with Mayan shamans in Guatemala, and her more recent observations of shamanic rituals in Mongolia, Tedlock has created a formidable work: a meticulously researched yet delightfully absorbing compendium of women's shamanic skills across time and space."--Alma Gottlieb, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology at University of Illinois; co-editor of "Blood Magic," and "A World of Babies"; President, Society for Humanistic Anthropology


"From the Hardcover edition."

Praise for "Woman in the Shaman s Body:
"
Healing, birthing children, gathering and growing food, keeping communities in balance, presiding over ceremonies and rites passage, maintaining relations with the dead, teaching, ministering to those in need, communing with nature to learn her secrets, preserving the wisdom traditions, divining the future, and dancing with gods and goddesses these are shamanic arts. "And these are the arts of women." In a thoughtful way, Barbara Tedlock traces the true history of shamanism, a history in which women have always been an integral and creative part. "The Woman in the Shaman s Body "illuminates the oftentimes hidden, and sometimes openly suppressed, feminine spirit that is shamanism, that is healing, that is life. --Bonnie Horrigan
Executive Director, Society for Shamanic Practitioners
This book is a highly readable yet comprehensive and definitive study of the role of women in shamanism. It is without doubt the best book ever written about the female role in shamanism and perhaps the best book ever done on shamanism itself. --Timothy J. Knab, Ph.D.,
Author of "A Scattering of Jades" and "A War of Witches
"
"Barbara Tedlock did a brilliant job of weaving together her own story
of shamanic initiation along with an incredible depth of research. She shatters
current myths about shamanism and shows how women were the originators and
key practitioners of shamanic healing and divination. In a time where we see so many women engaging in shamanic practice Tedlock offers valuable insight into the long-standing role of women in this ancient path. I truly loved reading this book!"--Sandra Ingerman, author of "Soul Retrieval" and "Medicine for the Earth
"
Scholars and lay readers alike are indebted to Barbara Tedlock for combining her personal and professional experience in this insightful, cross-cultural interpretation of shamanism. --Douglas Sharon, director, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Berkeley
Barbara Tedlock is part of the present big struggle to drag anthropology out of the rationalist and anti-humanist black hole in which it has found itself. Barbara Tedlock started her career in anthropology with the distant coolness of a scientific observer. But the K iche Maya among whom she worked responded by healing her in her illness. They thenceforth taught her to practice as a healer herself. This is the pattern in advanced anthropology today. Now Barbara Tedlock has written the definitive book on women s shamanism its history, the way it is activated, and its particular roots in the woman s body and in her powers of creation and procreation. The book is simply written, full of real stories, real dreams, and real shaman journeys. It will be a treasure for all adventurous women. --Edith Turner, Editor-in-chief of "Anthropology and Humanism," published by University of Virginia; author of "Experiencing Ritual" and "The Hands Feel It"
This is a wonderful, insightful, and compelling introduction to Shamanism as "a healing practice and religious sensibility" performed by women from time immemorial to the present day. Barbara Tedlock is a working Shaman and proud descendant of Shamans native to North America. She is also an accomplished social scientist who understands the rules of empirical analysis that apply to the scholarly study of religion and ritual. With the clear, engaging prose of an expert observer and the personal experience of a spiritual practitioner, she weaves a story that is both autobiography and persuasive argument for the importance of women as Shaman world-wide and throughout history. --David A. Freidel, Ph.D., University Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Southern Methodist University
Barbara Tedlock s study of female shamans offers rare gifts: luminous insight, exhaustive scholarly knowledge, and accessible language that pulses with quiet intensity. After Tedlock, no one will ever again be able to portray shamanism as a male enterprise.
--Michael F. Brown, Ph.D. Chair, Dept. of Anthropology & Sociology Williams College and/or as the author of "The Channeling Zone: American Spirituality in an Anxious Age" and, more recently, "Who Owns Native Culture?"
If Joseph Campbell or Mircea Eliade had been feminists, this is a book they could wish they had written. This canon-busting romp across history and around the globe, from Paleolithic Europe to contemporary North America, insists on the centrality of women to the shamanic traditions that have until now been considered the province of men. Drawing on her training in the healing arts as a young child by her Ojibwa grandmother, her later professional training with Mayan shamans in Guatemala, and her more recent observations of shamanic rituals in Mongolia, Tedlock has created a formidable work: a meticulously researched yet delightfully absorbing compendium of women s shamanic skills across time and space. --Alma Gottlieb, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology at University of Illinois; co-editor of "Blood Magic," and "A World of Babies"; President, Society for Humanistic Anthropology


"From the Hardcover edition.""

From the Inside Flap

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 andcelebrates their continuing role in the worldwide resurgence of shamanism today.

"From the Hardcover edition.

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Format: Paperback
This book had the potential to really make an enormous contribution to our understanding of women's roles in indigenous cultures. However, it was full of seemingly unrelated stories about the author and her neo-pagan-feminist view of life, the world, and all other ways of being, as well as way-too-personal and continual references to her sex life and views on sex, which seemed inappropriate to say the least. There were just a few short profiles of actual indigenous women who perform shamanism - which were wonderful! But these were few and far between, and overshadowed by yet more talk about women's role as mother, menstruator and the usual focus on women's bodies - which are holy, but not the only way in which women have empowerment. Isn't that what women have been trying to overcome? It was an aggravating mish-mash, which did nothing to promote women's roles, past, present or future. This is a shame, as the author and her husband have studied Mayan traditions a great deal - and did discuss them here, but these again were clouded by personal and confusing anecdotes about their alleged initiation as Mayan healers at a time when they were very inexperienced. Perhaps in the future this author could refocus her talents on telling us more about female healers, which was what this book said it set out to do. I for one would welcome it!
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Recommended as a great antidote to male centred ideas of shamanism. Well written and well referenced.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8c306510) out of 5 stars 24 reviews
44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c309f30) out of 5 stars Brilliant, feminine balance to Jung, Campbell, Eliade 19 Aug. 2005
By Lesley Thomas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A brilliant, feminine balance to Jung, Campbell and Eliade

"The Woman in the Shaman's Body" is empowering, vastly informative and also great fun to read. It reads swiftly and goes down as easily as cool water with delicious healing herbs thrown in - it flies along as easily as a shaman in a lucid dream. If I were still a college teacher I would use it for a text, for I know young people would find it accessible and intriguing.

As a woman engaged in alternative healing practices, an author and a lifelong student of the world's shamanic traditions, I LOVE this book and will place it in my library's spot of highest honor. Yes, for me it is an elixir. Tedlock is a great synthesizer of the scholarly - with prodigious research and meticulous citation, and a fair sprinkling of up-to-date neuroscience and the biochemistry of healing and altered states - blended with vivid, earthy stories and personal anecdotes from her incredible adventurous life into a marvelous alchemy. As she says herself, to make her point she relies on the skills of both her callings: "argumentative intellectual reasoning" and "intuitive emotional reasoning", the yang and the yin. It should be difficult for any reader to not be persuaded by her writing.

What is Tedlock's case? It is the argument for the "existence, importance and power" of women shamans in ancient cultures over the entire Earth, a legacy that belongs to all of us. (We can all follow the shamanic paths of our ancestresses. You don't have to be Native American or usurp or steal Native American or Mongolian traditions. You don't have to be male). As with other indigenous traditions, the knowledge of ancient women, the feminine connection to the spirit world and with healing, birth and death has not perished and is coming to light again with the help of writers like Tedlock.

Her argument is not earth-shattering news for we who have been following recent work in history, prehistory and anthropology, or consulting female shamans and healers (even, as in Tedlock's case, their own grandmothers). It won't be shocking or controversial to those who know that much of human history, especially in the spiritual and healing realms, has been suppressed and censored for centuries - if not thousands of years - by masculine and European dominance, or that female knowledge, power or talent has been denied or killed off. Once that suppression was brutal; in more recent years, as Tedlock shows, it has been more from ignorance, insidious censorship or use of misleading words.The woman shaman was always seen by Eurocentric male explorers as just an "assistant", for example. Many of us know all about that. Yet there will be readers who are shocked. It will be considered revolutionary by those still of the older patriarchal mindset still prominent in academia and medicine, that the feminine healing/spiritual practices of indigenous cultures were somehow of a lower order than those of men, that women shamans were not SHAMANS but rather, mere "herbalists" old wives, or just evil witches. Such orthodox thinkers may be confounded to learn that many of the skeletons of ancient shamans taken for men by researchers were probably those of robust women (or at least half of them were!) For those people who have already moved beyond that mindset and are part of the growing worldwide renaissance movement of holistic earth-based spirituality and healing, Tedlock's book will be a good, seminal source of information, and all in one place instead of scattered through a thousand books. It is not often a book like that comes along.

Sex, herbs, spirit flight, spirit guides, childbirth, gender-bending, weaving (!) - Tedlock has it. I find of particular interest her focus on the neglected aspect of shamanic dreaming, which she gives its rightful place of immense power. She herself is an accomplished dreamworker.

As I blazed through this book, I found myself growing evermore excited, as if I was myself unearthing those womanly remains of the shaman who lived sixty thousand years ago in that Bohemian forest. Though I had been exposed to such ideas before, I felt an awe, the tingling kind I feel in caves and cathedrals and tall forests, moutain tops...and maybe even a kind of fear. Excited, because vindicated by such a worthy author in what I have long known to be true from my own life experience and research. Fearful, because of the responsibility it gives us women. Knowledge is power and power is scary to wield. Fearful because of the implications, in the way the initiate feels fear when passed the old secrets and now is going forth into the world.
31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c0ad2f4) out of 5 stars Myth-Shattering Exploration of the Female Roots of Shamanism 3 April 2005
By Shaman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In this book a woman anthropologist and initiated shaman challenges the historical hegemony of the masculine shamanic tradition, restores women to their essential place in the history of spirituality, and celebrates their ongoing role in the worldwide resurgence of shamanism today. She probes the practices that distinguish female shamanism from the much-better-known male traditions and reveals the key role of body wisdom and women's eroticism in shamanic trance and ecstasy. She explores feminine forms of "dream witnessing" and vision questing as well as the use of hallucinogenic plants.

There is much that is absolutely new here, especially in terms of Mayan and Mongolian shamanism. The book also delves into shamanic midwifery, perhaps the first book to ever do so!

Her knowledge is both experiential, i.e. she is a trained practicing shaman, and scholarly she has read virtually everything ever written on shamanism worldwide and has undertaken first-hand research in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. In her worldwide coverage of the topic she is similar to Mircea Eliade but both her gender and her training in shamanism makes her very different from Eliade.

The last chapter explores various forms of shamanic practice today: Wicca, Goddess Spirituality, Druidry, Heathenry, Seidr and many more. She points out that we are at the beginning of a worldwide spiritual movement in which women and men trained in feminine shamanic traditions insist on their right to openly practice ancient religious rituals as well as complementary and alternative medicine. A must read!
41 of 49 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c668114) out of 5 stars Good but with some questionable sources 8 Sept. 2006
By Erynn Laurie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The author does name names of sources for the most part. I think that her discussion of traditional shamanisms and shamanistic practices in different cultures is pretty good, and that she does a service in lifting the veil of academic male-centered assessments of shamanism in her work. She has some very good things to say, but overall, I do find her approach rather feelgood. She somewhat downplays the dangers of the shamanic path, though she points out that the death/renewal theme of shamanic initiation seems to arise more from the masculine practice of shamanism, where her view of the feminine practices emphasise birth/midwifery as a metaphor of shamanic initiation in global practices.

Generally, the book seems reasonably sound. My greatest overall complaint is that there is no bibliography. All her cites are in her footnotes, and the reader is forced to comb through the footnotes to get where her research is coming from, rather than having her sources and readings cited in a more easily accessible bibliography. It's in looking to these sources that I have some concerns.

Her chapter on reconstructing shamanisms is where I have my greatest single issue. She seems to hold Michael Harner in high regard, and cites people like Nigel Pennick (whose books are always notably free of source cites), John Matthews, Tom Cowan, and DJ Conway about the shamanic nature of early Celtic religion and Wicca. This in itself is more than enough to make me twitch. I could probably have lived with it if she'd only cited Cowan and Matthews, but Conway's inclusion really tosses her final chapter off the deep end for me, and makes me wonder about the rest of the scholarship in the book. Her academic mentors, Peter Furst (well known for his work on entheogens and shamanism) and Mihály Hoppál are quite respectable in the field and are generally reliable from what I can discern.

Overall, I'd say this book is a mixed bag, but worth the read if you want to wait for the trade paperback. Her chapter on reconstruction, if read with Robert J. Wallis's Shamans/Neo-Shamans: Ecstasy, alternative archaeologies and contemporary Pagans, can be somewhat useful. Wallis's approach is to take "neoshamanism" as its own thing, unrelated to indigenous shamanism, but useful and workable in its own right. I feel that if we're going to deal with things like this, it's how we should approach the field rather than making attempts to claim that New Age and NeoPagan "shamanisms" are the same as indigenous practices. I feel Wallis's book is more useful to modern practitioners in general, though Tedlock's work on uncovering the feminine side of shamanism is certainly eye-opening for those exposed only to mainstream academic views of the shamanic complex.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8cf4c0e4) out of 5 stars Reclaiming the Feminine 19 Jun. 2005
By Anne Key - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I applaud Barbara Tedlock for tackling the sometimes difficult issues, at least academically speaking, of the roles of hallucinogens, sex, and blood in shamanic practices. She also takes on some of the established "greats" in the academic world related to shamanism, like Mircae Eliade and Michael Harner, and holds them accountable for their misogynistic statements. She reclaims shamanism for women in a way that holds strong academically and experientially, as her credentials are excellent on both counts.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c86cbf4) out of 5 stars Taking the Field from Mircae Eliade 30 May 2005
By Frederic C. Reynolds - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Tedlock knows her subject from the inside as someone who

has experienced the "lightning in the blood", yet because

of her knowledge as a scholar, she has truly written a tour de force. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the old ways, for the book un-seats Mircea Eliade's book, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstacy. I found it to be not only a fleshing out of the role of women as shamans, but also of couples as healing teams. F. Christopher Reynolds, M.Ed.

Ashland University and Berea City Schools
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