Transcript of Disc I, Chapter IV: Shapeshifters
© 2013 Max Dashu

Swimming or flying angakoq
In Alaska, female angaqok often take the form of sea mammals, swimming through the waters of the spirit realm

Unalgals, Aleutian Islands
Ivory sculptures show them as humans with walrus tusks, the powers of their spirit ally or double

Tusks, Dorset culture
During ceremonies, the angaqok would put on ivory tusks, like these medieval ones from Nunavut, in northern Canada.

Pukrngak sculpture
A tusked sculptured titled “Woman Shaman” was carved by Nancy Pukrngnak of Baker Lake, Canada. (1976)

Transforming herself
Another modern sculpture is called “Woman Shaman Transforming Herself.” She covers her face in mystery, as her walrus tusks sprout forth.

Walrus Woman
Other sculptures show the angakok shapeshifted into walrus, only their hips and legs showing their human side

Polar bear woman
Or they take the form of a polar bear, also human in their nether parts, as they swim the Arctic waters.

Polar bear woman 2
These ivory carvings of polar bear women are numerous in medieval Nunavut.

Siberian bear
and in northern Asia, the ancient Siberians made bear-women figurines too

Moche Owl Woman                      
In Peru, a Moche medicine woman manifests her Owl aspect, one of many female shapeshifters in South America.

La Tolita Snake Woman
An Ecuadorian ceramic woman reveals a vortex of transformation: half of her face has melted away, and she holds a snake up as an eye. Another snake is around her neck, and she has tusks.

In Colombia, a Tairona medicine woman is arrayed in a feathered headdress, with ritual ties on her arms, and her body painted-up. She has an animal head, with lolling tongue, and many claws. [These are the ancestors of the Kogi people, renowned for their Mother Creatrix,]

Rosales, Nicaragua
In Nicaragua, a deer woman sits in meditative peace, with hooves instead of hands and feet, face and body painted with sacred signs

In Spain, a rainmaker shakes a branch, showering water. Her other arm has turned into a plant

Los Organos, Spain
Ancient Spanish rock art shows transformed women with animal heads, or wearing spirit masks

La Loba
On an Iberian ceramic, the upraised arms of this woman have metamorphosed into wolves, with more wolves in the forest beyond

Zagros, Crete
A dancer assumes the form of a waterbird in this Cretan seal from Zagros – and a snake floats above her head... [which seems to be a sign of transformation in this art]

Zagros 2
Another Cretan woman takes the chimeric form of a sphinx with butterfly wings.

Cypriot dancer
This horned dancer from Cyprus hints at ceremonial masquerades drawing on archaic shamanic roots

Other horned beings – spirits? ancestors? medicine people? appear in rock engravings in Wyoming. So much that is not known...

This Algerian mural from the Tassili is finely painted, except... the faces seem strangely distorted. Looking closer, those are animal heads, not human. These could be ancestors or medicine women.

Rannatlailes, South Africa           
Another San mural shows a dancing woman, her face painted with white clay of the spirit realm, with a beaded ritual veil. Her body is outlined in numinous white dots, her ankles ringed by cocoon rattles.

Wilcox site, South Africa
In San womanhood initiation ceremonies, the new woman is painted up in white clay and red ochre, acquires powers of the Eland, who is connected with the full moon and menstruation. In her potent state she distributes red ochre, vital power, to the community.

Isopatra seal
In Crete, numerous seals show women dancing in ceremony, with more serpents flying in the air.

Isopatra 2
Looking closer, we can see that the women have the heads of bees, their hands and feet -- also bee

Hana seal, Greek mainland
Other seals show ceremonies at hilltop tree shrines; and once again, the dancing celebrants are transformed into bees

Rhodes bee-woman
Melissae, or bee-women, was a name for certain groups of ecstatic priestesses, at Delphi and Eleusis in Greece. This bee-woman is from Rhodes, off the coast of Turkey

Eleuthera bee regalia
Around 900 bce, a line of Cretan priestesses were buried at Eleuthera with bee-women ornaments: they have a woman’s head and breasts, and the body and wings of a bee.

Eleuthera 2
When inverted, they show a bee-headed standing woman, still winged. mtDNA tests indicate that these priestesses belonged to the same matriline. [Women who became bees.]

Coclé Dragon Woman
In Coclé, Panamá, the shapeshifter is dragon-headed, with little animal spirits resting on her head and paws. Her vulva is a mouth, with teeth: the vagina dentate.

Azuero Peninsula, Panamá
Another gold figure has dragons emerging from her mouth, as some Brazilian traditions speak of women who keep serpent helpers in their vaginas. And this brings us to Snake Power.



Woman Shaman: the Ancients © 2013 Max Dashu




Suppressed Histories Archives | Woman Shaman: the Ancients dvd