What you'll learn in this course
In the first video, you'll look at herbalists gathering medicine, preparing teas and salves; healers who use touch and various ways of clearing blocked or trapped energy, including with bundles of herbs, whisks or rattles, or wafting smoke, spraying, rubbing plants or stones on the body, or by ritual washing. Then we look in depth at healing traditions in Mexico, from the temezcalli (sweathouse) to Aztec herbal codexes, espeically sacred datura (toloache) and psilcybin (nanacatl). You'll see midwifery and childbirth represented as sacred passages, and then more on curanderas and their ceremonies of limpia ("cleansing") and smudging. We compare these with Cuban, medieval European, Kirghiz, and South African use of smoke in healing ceremonies.
Part II goes into more depth on ecstatic healers: María Sabina of Oaxaca; Essie Parrish of Kashaya (coastal northern California); izangoma and igqirha diviner-healer-herbalists of South Africa and their counterparts in Zimbabwe; and a Phi Fa healing ceremony in Thailand. It also touches on the yuta of Okinawa. Then we see more ways of removing negative energies from people's bodies: passing eggs over them, or sucking out disease, including via "sucking tubes." The widespread practice of cupping is shown from medieval Europe, modern Scandinavia, Bengal, and Uzbekistan. Sucking out illness, again, from Ladakh in the western Himalayas, and also ritual (symbolic) whipping and cutting illness out of the aura, in Central Asia, Korea, Tibet and Nepal.
Part III begins on the theme of Medicine Women Who Raise the Dead, with stories about dramatic healings from Manchuria, Korea, Mali, and Finland. It looks at healing ceremonies of the Namibian healer Katjambia, and of San women in Botswana, and in Congo. A section on Decolonizing the Foreign Gaze examines the bias of the cultural record as it is presented to us, in photo documentation of Menominee and Karok and Navajo medicine women, and stereotypes in engravings and the ways these traditions are represented. We look at women healers in medieval Europe, the "faery doctors" of Ireland; and the pellars of Cornwall. Finally we look at the healing style of Teresa Urrea, la Santa de Cabora, and lomilomi / romiromi of Hawai'i and Aotearoa (New Zealand); street herbalists in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and New Delhi, India. We compare living traditions, some of them adapted to Christian or Muslim or Buddhist overlays, that persist today in Indonesia and Congo.
There's a short audio commentary on the term "shaman" and its use, and an illustrated article on Medicine Women Who Revive the Dead.
Witch-mother revives her son Lemminkainen, painting by Gallen-Kallela, Finland.