Saturday, February 11, 2017

Book Review: Witches, Midwives, and Nurses by B. Ehrenreich and D. English

Book Review: Witches, Midwives, and Nurses by B. Ehrenreich and D. English

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Okay, so Witches, Midwives, and Nurses is not entirely about witches. It is actually a feminist piece written in the 70s promoting women in the field of medicine. The second edition, which I read, includes a wonderful introduction adding some new information and discussing how the book came about. The original version has some mistakes, but it was written based on the evidence they had at the time which was very little. Despite this not being a book particularly on witches, I still feel witches and pagans, especially women, should read this 100-something page pamphlet discussing the rise and fall of women in medicine.
Book Review: Witches, Midwives, and Nurses by B. Ehrenreich and D. English

The original text is very forward. The original authors even comment on this fact in the second edition introduction, saying that they know it is an angry text aimed at calling women in the medical field to action. As I mentioned some of the historical details are inaccurate in the original text, but they are sure to correct them in the introduction. At the time the book was published, there were very little historical texts recalling early witchcraft and healing arts.

Despite its short nature, the book delivers a powerful narrative. Women were traditionally skilled healers, especially in the arts of herbalism, at a time when medical "professionals" were not only mostly men but doing more harm than good when they treated their patients. Wise women and men, who learned their craft through generations of trial and error, knew enough of the human body and plant uses to successfully cure people, especially of the poor, of ailments "professional" doctors could not. It was because of this, in combination with political and religious upheaval, that led to people being accused of witchcraft. While some of these men and women probably did practice witchcraft, most probably did not. This book gives a very brief, but excellent, introduction to the history of early wise women and men and how the arts changed over time.

I strongly believe this small book should belong in every witch's library. It ignited a passion in me to continue pursuing herbalism, working my magic, and healing the world. Overall I give the book 5 stars, despite the subtle inaccuracies and the very passionate call to arms presented in the original text.

I am well on my way to reading 24 books this year. Have you read anything interesting thus far this year?

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