Reader reviews for The Woman in the Shaman's Body by Barbara Tedlock

Dr. Tedlock, an anthropologist, granddaughter of an Ojibwe midwife and herbalist, and shaman initiated into the Mayan tradition, has written a book about two things: the role of female shamans, and her own training as a shaman. Traditionally, anthropologists have assumed that only men were shamans. But discoveries have been made in Stone Age burials that seem to suggest that some shamans were women, as does some cave art. The majority of societies that still practice shamanism have both male and female shamans. Tedlock and her husband (also an anthropologist) have lived with and studied a number of groups that have shared their shamanic rituals with them. While there are differences between all the groups, they all have a few things in common: they all have both male and female shamans; the women are all considered to have special powers that the men do not; they all achieve altered states of consciousness in some of their rituals, whether it be by drumming, dancing, or psychoactive plants. The shamans are healers, but not *just* healers. They are held to be able to see into other worlds, contact the dead or gods, to see the future. I found this very interesting. But I had problems with the form of the book. In some ways, it felt like I was reading a doctoral thesis. The fact that the author bounced back and forth between the academic research and her personal experiences was a little jolting; about the time I was immersed in what she experienced, she went back into academic voice. I think a good editor could have helped this book a lot.
Permalink · Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Tedlock, a Ph.D. and initiated shaman, wrote this very interesting book about the well-hidden female shaman tradition. Due to western scholar's mistakes, misinterpretations, and the historical lack of female anthropologists (which sometimes meant that female rituals were inaccessible to western men studying the culture), the female shaman's existence has been widely discounted in the past. Tedlock reexamines many cultures and describes the crucial role of female shamans across the globe. A scholarly, yet easy read on the topic.
Permalink · Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.