A History of Women in Medicine: Cunning Women, Physicians, Witches

Sinead Spearing (Author)


'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: History of Women in Medicine reveals the untold story of forgotten female physicians, their lives, practices and subsequent denomination 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 traveling 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, Sinéad 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.

Product Details

Pen and Sword History
Publish Date
April 05, 2019
6.4 X 0.9 X 9.3 inches | 0.95 pounds

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About the Author

Sinéad Spearing is a historian of psychology specializing in the research of obscure beliefs. She worked as a professional classical musician and teacher before returning to university to study psychology, achieving first-class honors. Author of Old English Medical Remedies, Sinéad also writes articles published in journals including those of the British Psychological Society and Mensa. When she is not delving into the supernatural aspects of religion and medicine Sinéad enjoys Tai Chi, playing the cello and spending time with her family in Kent.


Comprised of fifteen instructive chapters, "A History of Women in Medicine: Cunning Women, Physicians, Witches" is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of an informative Prologue, Epilogue, and Postscript, as well as a two page Bibliography, and a three page Index. An altogether impressive and sustained work of seminal scholarship, "A History of Women in Medicine: Cunning Women, Physicians, Witches" is 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