"An extraordinary and exceptionally informative study that will be a welcome addition to any and all community, college, and university library Women's History collections, and a 'must' for the personal reading lists of non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject."
--Midwest Book Review
A History of Women in Medicine
Pen and Sword Books, 2019, ISBN 978-1526714299
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: From Physicians to Witches? reveals the untold story of forgotten female physicians, their lives, practices and subsequent demonisation 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 travelling 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, Sinead 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 exposes the elaborate conspiracy conceived by the Church to corrupt them in the eyes of the world. Turning these women from benevolent therapists into the embodiment of evil required a fabricated theology to ensure those who collected medicinal herbs or practiced healing, would be viewed by society as dealing with the devil. From this diabolical association, female healers could then be labeled witches and be justly tortured and tried in the ensuing hysteria known today as the European witch craze.
Old English Medical Remedies
Pen and Sword Books, 2018, ISBN 978-1526711700
In 9th century England Bishop Alfeah the Bald is dabbling with magic. By collecting folk remedies from pagan women he risks his reputation. Yet posterity has been kind, as from the pages of Bald's book a remedy has been found that cures the superbug MRSA where modern antibiotics have failed. Within a few months of this discovery a whole new area of medical research called Ancientbiotics has been created to discover further applications for these remedies. Yet, what will science make of the elves, hags and nightwalkers which also stalk the pages of Bald's book and its companion piece Lacnunga, urging prescriptions of a very different, unsettling nature. Cures for the 'moon mad' and hysteria are interspersed with directives to drink sheep's dung and jump across dead men's graves. 'Old English Medical Remedies' explores the herbal efficacy of these ancient remedies whilst evaluating the supernatural, magical elements and suggests these provide a powerful psychological narrative revealing an approach to healthcare far more sophisticated than hitherto believed. All the while, the voices of the wise women who created and used these remedies are brought to life, after centuries of demonisation by the Church.
"Intelligently and clearly written, with the support of relevant quotes from a range of Anglo-Saxon texts, classical and historical sources as well as modern academic writers, this book brings some interesting new perspectives to a consideration of Anglo-Saxon medical texts."
- Dr Duffin - The Natural History Museum, London.