After three years laboring in the tech trenches, my new video on medicine women around the world is finally here. It reveals a rich (and long disregarded) cultural record of medicine women, oracles, healers, trance-dancers, shapeshifters, drummers, and dreamers, with commentary and music.
I dug through libraries, journals, the internet and my own archives to put together rare images of women’s ceremonies in Saharan and Azerbaijani rock art; Indus tiger women, Spanish wolf women and Zimbabwean lion women; ecstatic dancers in Chinese bronzes, Mexican codices, Cretan seals; shamanic sculptures from Ecuador and Japan and the Arctic.
This unprecedented global view of female shamans uncovers overlooked depictions in rock art, sculpture, codices, bronzes, and ceramic paintings. The double-disc set includes chapters on sacred dance, staffs, rattles, fans and mirrors; flight; entheogens; serpents, animal spirits, and goddesses with shamanic aspects.
The video (nearly 3 hours total) is underscored with archival world music from Smithsonian Folkways, and
music from Flute by Cynth; Yolanda Martinez; Layne Redmond; Luisah Teish; Tiokasin Ghosthorse; Suzanne Teng; Viviana Guzmán, Ensemble Pachamama, and more. Taste the trailer! To experience the beauty, power and wisdom of these spiritual legacies is medicine for the spirit. More info, including a complete list of chapters and musician credits, plus orders, here.
Taste the trailer, which gives a short overview.
In future, I’ll be adding the full transcript, open source, along with additional notes, pictures, and links.
From the Commentary that ends the video:
What I’ve tried to do here is to open up a view of the cultural treasures that have been obscured and denied, because they are female, Indigenous, non-Christian—not European.
Cultural gatekeepers screen out certain kinds of images and information, often unconsciously. Their omission of women has a tremendous impact. Even when significant evidence of female shamans exists in archaeology, the habitual focus on males acts as a filter that screens them from view. There is also a marked geographical and ethnic screening-out, the omission of entire regions outside the centers of political power, and exclusion of non-dominant peoples and cultures.
This is not a final analysis but a starting point, for a mosaic that can be arranged in countless ways. It’s a process of re-collecting, comparison, connecting. Many realities remain to be brushed in and fleshed out. We’re approaching a planetary web of history and heritages, of meaning and power. Much more remains to be known, and told, and shown.
But we need this knowledge; it is medicine for the spirit.