“During the excavation of the Upper Paleolithic site known as Dolni Vestonice, they found a pair of shoulder blades from a mammoth. The bones had been placed so as to form the two sides of a pitched roof, one of them leaning against the other. Beneath them was a human skeleton, and in the earth that covered it and on the bones themselves were traces of red ocher. The body had been painted red before it was laid to rest. . .This burial was of no ordinary person. . .A flint spearhead had been placed near the head of the deceased, and the body of a fox had been placed in one hand. . .the fox was a clear indication that the person in the grave had been a shaman: the fox had a long history as a shamanic guide. . .skeletal analysis revealed that the shaman was a woman.” The Woman in The Shaman’s Body, Barbara Tedlock
From the earliest of times women have embodied the role of healer, herbalist, medicine woman, wise one, and one who knows. They have ministered to the physical and spiritual needs of the community and individuals within the community.
In ancient Greece women no longer had the right to participate in the public sphere and yet they continued to officiate at the temples. The Pythia, the Priestess at the Temple of the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi, was consulted by leaders far and wide. (Delphoi comes from the same root as delphys, meaning womb). Even in the early Christian communities there were women who were acknowledged as having the gift of prophesy.
Barbara Tedlock states, “That women’s bodies and minds are particularly suited to tap into the power of the transcendental has been ignored. . .All to often women who enter medicine or the ministry still believe they are stepping into a strictly men’s field; in fact, these are historically women’s fields that men have since entered.”
The cultural changes that resulted in women being excluded from representing the divine, from practicing the healing arts, from having a voice in the community, have greatly impacted a woman’s sense of self. We have learned to mistrust our experience and our knowing.
Today, women make of half of the students enrolled in medical and law school. They earn more than half of all bachelor degrees. Women are now seated in positions of power. That is why this is such an important time for women to do the work of reconnecting with the deep wisdom of their bodies. To return to honoring the goddess within. Otherwise we will perpetuate a system that is dysfunctional, disconnected, and unbalanced.
It is important for women to reown their voices from a place of understanding a woman’s unique biology, psychology, and spirituality. From a place of grounding into a woman’s experience of life, into her sense of being, a woman can begin to bring forth the wisdom that is needed to the public sphere. This is the path of the divine feminine. This is the voice of the goddess speaking through women once more.
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