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The Woman in the Shaman's Body: Reclaiming the Feminine in Religion and Medicine Hardcover – March 29, 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 68 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Scholarly and lay interest in shamanism continues to grow. Many pertinent books are still shadowed by the antifeminine bias of the renowned Mircea Eliade, whose mid-twentieth-century works applied shaman to a self-initiated, solitary male practicing "techniques of ecstasy." Eliade's towering influence has led to startling failures of scholarship, with facts twisted to fit his interpretative framework and biased language cloaking the truth. Tedlock reclaims the female shamanic tradition with vigor and clarity, arguing against depiction of shamans as male participants in "a sort of Flintstones private club in which manhood was celebrated and the transcendental achieved by worshiping, then negating, the feminine." The earliest known shamanic burial, she points out, was that of a woman of the Upper Paleolithic (30,000 years ago), whose dwelling included a potter's kiln in which she crafted thousands of tiny heads, feet, hands, and other talismans for healing. Tedlock argues that deliberate misreadings of data have been common, as when a shamanic couple is described as a "shaman and assistant" even when both acknowledged their shared role. She argues that women have been active practitioners and, in fact, the primary occupants of the shamanic role. Salted throughout with her own impressive memoir of initiation (with her husband, anthropologist Dennis Tedlock) and practice of traditional shamanism, Tedlock's book should become the classic on the controversial but now indisputable question of women's place in the shaman's world. Patricia Monaghan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


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

Product details

  • Publisher : Bantam; First Edition (March 29, 2005)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 368 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0553108530
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0553108538
  • Item Weight : 1.4 pounds
  • Dimensions : 8.18 x 1 x 9.53 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 68 ratings

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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening. 10/10
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