1. A woman who is venerated for experience, judgment, and wisdom.
2. A woman who practices traditional arts or folkways such as herbal medicine, midwifery, or divination.
3. One of the cunning folk
(WOMB Centric - Wise Women - Folk Medicine research)
The Wise Woman Tradition is the oldest known healing tradition on our planet. It offers a unique view of health that is woman-centered and deeply empowering to women. This is in stark contrast to orthodox - and most alternative - healing traditions, which are based on male viewpoints which disempower women.
When women believe that their natural cycles and changes (puberty, menses, pregnancy, menopause) are somehow sick or wrong, they open themselves to medical experiments. When women learn that the Wise Woman Tradition honors these states above all others, they find a source of deep wisdom and great power flowing into their lives.
When women define themselves from a male-centered viewpoint, they always loose. When they define themselves from a woman-centered viewpoint, they always win. The Wise Woman Tradition offers this power to women, from the Ancient Grandmother's heart to yours.
The Wise Woman Tradition empowers women by reminding us that we are sacred, that our bodies are sacred. As women, we are the earth. Each one of us lives in the body of the earth. Each one of us comes from this sacred ground of being. And not only are we empowered to honor ourselves, we are empowered to demand that respect from all others.
When women accept orthodoxy's image of them as constantly in need of help, they accept a powerless position. When women accept the Wise Woman Tradition's assertion that they are already perfect, already vibrantly healthy, even when they have problems, they assume a position of power. When women create their own healthy norms, they create a place of power in which they can stand, no matter how fast and furious the changes.
Throughout the ancient and medieval periods, ordinary people in Europe who could not afford the services of a university-trained physician turned to popular healers. These were often so-called ‘wise’ women who possessed knowledge, passed down through generations, of traditional or folk medicine. They dealt with all kinds of illnesses and medical conditions, including childbirth and, in some cases, abortion - though their knowledge and skills were by no means restricted to women’s health. Their methods of diagnosis and treatment were based on the belief that all human life was linked to the rest of creation and that this was made clear in the doctrine of signatures. However, wise women also used many practical herbal remedies, drawing on plants and the rest of the natural environment, which they knew well.
Wise women and their medicines were often scoffed at by professionally trained doctors, nearly always male, who were anxious to protect their professional status. However, more recently the herbal remedies of folk medicine have been found to include many naturally occurring ingredients that are medically useful. The concept of signatures on which they relied also underpins modern practices in homeopathy, a prominent branch of alternative medicine.
Witchcraft was a woman’s craft. The whole intention of witchery was intuitional. Priests were against it; their whole world was intellectual. Remember, all the witches, almost all the witches, were women; and all the priests, almost all the priests, were men. First, priests tried to burn the witches. Thousands of women were burned in Europe in the Middle Ages because the priests could not understand the world of intuition. They could not believe in it — it looked dangerous, strange. They wanted to wipe it out completely.
And so they did. They wiped it out completely. They tried to destroy one of the most beautiful instruments of receptivity, of a higher knowledge, of higher realms of being, of superior possibilities. They destroyed completely; wherever they could find a mediumistic woman, they killed her. And they created such fear that even women lost that capacity, just because of the fear.