Woman Shaman: the Ancients

Front cover of the double disc set Woman Shaman
Front cover of the double disc set Woman Shaman

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

Cover for Disc II, Woman shaman dvd
Cover for Disc II, Woman shaman dvd

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.

Max Dashú