Barbara Tedlock is the granddaughter of an Ojibwe midwife and herbalist and was trained and initiated as a shaman by the K'iche Maya of highland Guatemala. She is currently Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at SUNY Buffalo and Research Associate at the School of American Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The author of The Beautiful and the Dangerous: Encounters with the Zuni Indians claims that women shamans have been erased from history and gravely slighted by both chauvinistic scholars and religious authorities.

Moving from prehistoric African rock art to accounts of modern Mongolian ceremonies, Tedlock proves the important role women have played in the oldest spiritual healing tradition. There are chapters on eroticism, ecstasy and trance; dreaming; herbalism and plant power; menstrual taboos as feminine power; birth, ritual, and the midwife's art; weavers and celestial goddesses; gender shifting; women warriors and prophets, and other subjects. She does a fine job assessing the strengths that women bring to shamanism — their intuitive abilities, their empathy and compassion, and their gift for helping clients become active participants in their own healing.