A History of Women in Medicine: Cunning Women, Physicians, Witches

A History of Women in Medicine: Cunning Women, Physicians, Witches

by Sinead Spearing


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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: From Physicians to 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 theseforgotten 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781526714299
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Publication date: 04/05/2019
Sales rank: 590,819
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Sinéad Spearing is a psychological historian specialising in the research of obscure beliefs. She worked as a professional musician before returning to university to study psychology and philosophy. Following a number of articles published in Journals including those of The British Psychological Society and Mensa, Sinéad began researching the bizarre world of Old English medicine, psychiatry and associated supernatural traditions.

Table of Contents

Special Thanks vii

Prologue ix

Chapter 1 From the dust of the ground 1

Chapter 2 Flesh on the Bones 6

Chapter 3 The 'Doctor's Bag' 12

Chapter 4 Magically Empowered 26

Chapter 5 Riddle me This 34

Chapter 6 Women only 45

Chapter 7 The Cult of the Goddess 54

Chapter 8 Daughters of Eve 63

Chapter 9 The Problem of Truth 73

Chapter 10 Smoke and Mirrors 81

Chapter 11 Physician to Witch 88

Chapter 12 Sacred Space and Christian Magic 98

Chapter 13 The Malleus Maleficarum 109

Chapter 14 Bessie's Tale (Cunning-Women on Trial) 118

Chapter 15 A Very British Tradition 128

Epilogue 136

Postscript 140

Bibliography 143

Index 145

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