Amazon blurb: Witch’ is a powerful word with humble origins. Once used to describe an ancient British tribe known for its unique class of female physicians and priestesses, it grew into something grotesque, diabolical and dangerous. A History of Women in Medicine: Cunning Women, Physicians, Witches reveals the untold story of forgotten female physicians, their lives, practices and subsequent demonisation as witches. Originally held in high esteem in their communities, these women used herbs and ancient psychological processes to relieve the suffering of their patients. Often travelling long distances, moving from village to village, their medical and spiritual knowledge blended the boundaries between physician and priest. These ancient healers were the antithesis of the witch figure of today; instead they were knowledgeable therapists commanding respect, gratitude and high social status. In this pioneering work, Sinéad Spearing draws on current archeological evidence, literature, folklore, case studies and original religious documentation to bring to life these forgotten healers. By doing so she exposes the elaborate conspiracy conceived by the Church to corrupt them in the eyes of the world. Turning these women from benevolent therapists into the embodiment of evil required a fabricated theology to ensure those who collected medicinal herbs or practiced healing, would be viewed by society as dealing with the devil. From this diabolical association, female healers could then be labeled witches and be justly tortured and tried in the ensuing hysteria known today as the European witch craze.
My Thoughts: I found this book fascinating. The history of women and their role in their culture is much more complicated than we are led to believe. In this book the author takes us back to the tribal times in ‘Britain and details the very important role the cunning-women, later to be called witches, played in the society of the times. She then goes on to trace the changes in the perception of women that came about as a result of the growth of the Catholic Church in Europe and Britain. I have to say that at times in this history I became very angry with the actions of the church’s leadership in regard to women. If denigrating 1/2 the population gave them more power and control, then denigrate they would. To think that for hundreds of years women were not allowed to contribute to society just because some church leader had a beef with his mother. The acts of brutality that resulted are quite frankly, disgusting. I found this book to be very well researched, well organized and easy to read.
Alinefromabook’s rating: 4.5 stars!!