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Empress Jingu In Korea (Public Domain)

The Rise and Fall of Shaman Queens of the East

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The word ‘shaman’ conjures up images of Native American medicine men smoking peace pipes, dancing in a trance to drumming around a fire or African sangomas, adorned with leopard skin, throwing dollose bones and shells to divine and drinking beer from calabash.  This is far removed from the concept of sophisticated, regal shaman queens of the East in China, Japan and Korea who used their talent and connection with the ‘Otherworld’ to the benefit of their kingdoms and populace.  Later this feminine healing power was suppressed and persecuted by religious men, who regarded it as a threat to their faith.

Mongol Darkhad Shaman just starting Shamanic ritual at Khovsgol lake (Munkhbayar.B /CC BY-SA 4.0)

Mongol Darkhad Shaman just starting Shamanic ritual at Khovsgol lake ( Munkhbayar.B / CC BY-SA 4.0 )

Woman Shamans on a Global Platform

Worldwide, women have been at the forefront of this field of spiritual healing. In some cultures, they even became leaders. From the Buryats in Mongolia to the Bwiti religion in Gabon, the first shaman was in fact a woman. Other examples of the surviving shamans include Machi (a traditional healer and religious leader) of the Mapuche in southern Chile and the Babaylan and Catalonan of the Philippines. Images and historical descriptions show women in many different roles such as invokers, healers, herbalists, oracles and diviners. They also performed as ecstatic dancers, shapeshifters and priestesses of the ancestors.

Himba woman of Namibia (Yves Picq / CC BY-SA 1.0)

Himba woman of Namibia (Yves Picq / CC BY-SA 1.0)

In the practice of Katjambia in Namibia, a Himba medicine woman absorbs the negative energies into her own body before returning them to the sacred fire of her ancestors, who then release those negative energies. Similar descriptions were recorded by Greco-Roman visitors to Anatolia. At Castabala, in Cappadocia, the priestesses of Artemis Perasia, walked barefoot through a furnace of hot charcoal without experiencing any harm. The healing power of women shamans was occasionally stated in mythology as being able to restore life to the dead. Medea of Colchis revived a dead ram by putting it into a cauldron with potent herbs and incantations. The Nostoi (Returns), a lost epic of ancient Greek literature, tells of Medea who rejuvenated Jason’s father Aeson in a cauldron.

The Kuo Yu, (Guoyu), BC 5-4 is a Ming-era edition of a historical work written in the 19th century. Exact Date: The Lung- Qing--era keng-shen庚申 year, ie 1570. (Public Domain)

The Kuo Yu, (Guoyu), BC 5-4 is a Ming-era edition of a historical work written in the 19th century. Exact Date: The Lung- Qing--era keng-shen 庚申 year, ie 1570. ( Public Domain )

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Martini Fisher is a Mythographer and author of many books, including  Time Maps: History, Prehistory and Biological Evolution  | Check out MartiniFisher.com

Top Image : Empress Jingu In Korea ( Public Domain )

By Martini Fisher

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