A study of the female healers of centuries past, and how they went from respected to reviled.
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 reveals the untold story of forgotten female physicians, their lives, practices, and subsequent denomination 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 traveling 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 also exposes the Church’s efforts to demonize them in the eyes of the world, leading female healers to be labeled witches and persecuted in the ensuing hysteria known today as the European witch craze.