March 17, 2012


Academia requires an abstract, which is a concise distillation of the tentacled monster that is the larger work of the dissertation. It seems like it should be the easiest element. But no, it is one of the hardest as the research and writing transform over time, and so it is the last thing one finishes writing.  As I re-read this, my own eyes gloss over from this boxcar freighted compacted language. However, it is a synopsis of what my work covers. And so it is. I have broken it into paragraphs for easier reading, but first enjoy the electron.

 Women’s European Indigenous, Pagan, and neo-Pagan histories, traditions, and female ways of knowing have been subsumed within Western patriarchal culture in which political, philosophical, and religious systems have functioned to erase women’s ancestral knowledge of specific spiritual states of consciousness that function to access deep relationship with the multiverse and that are represented by the shaman and the European witch.

This inquiry seeks to understand this cultural amnesia and to explore the historic social and psychic mechanisms that have caused it. In this work, I attempt to provide an academic exploration of subaltern histories of European female shamanic traditions, including corresponding art, rite, and mythology, using a feminist, metaphysical, and multidisciplinary methodology, one that includes my experiences as a practitioner as part of my interpretive lens, for the purposes of retrieving ancestral memory for the benefit of present-day people.

Specifically, I approach this research as an exploration of women’s sacred cultural history and a ritual of shamanic soul retrieval into ancient and unspoken, and often violent, areas of European history. It asks what happened to the Indigenous shamanic female legacies of European women and why they have been mostly erased from present-day collective memory.

This work makes relevant the traumatic loss of European ancestral wisdom and female shamanic states of consciousness so that disassociated aspects of our collective European consciousness can be restored through remembrance of this history for the purposes of healing ourselves and for correcting our current maladaptive Western evolutionary trajectories.

To this end, this work explores women’s relational states of consciousness, including trance, which is often invoke by rites, sacred medicines, and the iconography illuminated by the Neolithic art of Old Europe. These techniques have historically been used by women to access ancestral wisdom (biognosis), and have been a factor in women’s roles as spiritual and cultural agents in the making of ancestral sustainable evolutionary human culture-making strategies.