Witches and Pagans:
Women in European Folk Religion
by Max Dashu
Swa wiccan taeca∂° ::: "as the witches teach" ... So an Old English scribe let us know that witches counseled the people to "bring their offerings to earth-fast stone, and also to trees and to wellsprings."
In this compelling exploration of language, archaeology, medieval literature and art, Max Dashu pulls the covers off of heritages known to few but scholarly specialists. She shows that old ethnic names for âwitchâ signify wise-woman, prophetess, diviner, healer, and dreamer.
Scandinavian völur ("staff-women") held oracular ceremonies with incantations, and "sitting-out" on the land for wisdom. Archaeology shows that their ritual staffs symbolize the distaff, a spinning tool that connects with broad cultural themes of goddesses, fates, witches, and female power.
This book plunges into the megalithic taproot of the elder kindreds, and traditions of the Cailleach. Drawing on Frankish and German ecclesiastical sources, it lays out the founding witch-legend of the Women Who Go by Night with the Goddess, "the witch Holda," also known as Holle, Swanfoot Berthe and Fraw Percht. Other chapters look at Wyrd, weaver of destiny, "mystery-singers," ancestor veneration, herb-chanters -- and sexual politics, including early medieval witch burnings.
Witches and Pagans gathers strands to reweave the ripped webs of European women's culture.
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