Transcript of Disc II, Chapter VI: Fans and Herb Bundles
© 2013 Max Dashu

Kemetic fans
Ritual fans show up on predynastic Kemetic ceramics, by themselves and in the hands of women.

Kemetic fans 2
These women dance along rivers, amidst horned animals and ostriches.

Beaded fan
Sacred fans were widely used in West Africa too.

Oshun Fan
Among the Yoruba fans are an attribute of the orisha Oshun, and a ritual tool, as Iyanifa Luisah Teish explains: "She's cleansing the atmosphere with her fan; she's maintaining balance with that fan..."

Oshun Fan 2
"Sometimes we perfume a fan and move around the room to sweeten the atmosphere with the fan." [The fan also clears obstructions and soothes with Oshun's cooling ero power, like the power of cold water by which she heals]

Murhoto of Benin Queen
Ritual fans and standards were carried by attendants of the Queens of Benin

The Iyobas’ power of action was symbolized by the Ikegobo—“altars of the hand”—their outstretched hands visibly holding that power.

Mudang with fan and bell cluster
In Korea, the mudang used ceremonial fans in their kut ceremonies, to brush away shadows and waft in blessings. [from the Book of the Mudang, an 18th century manuscript]

Dancing with fan
As they chanted, danced, and whirled, danced, they flared open the fans and snapped them shut.

Mudang with fan
Around 2000 years ago, the paper fans replaced herbal bundles of more ancient Korean shamanic custom.

Pottery Mound
Women hold up feather prayer fans in medieval kiva murals at Pottery Mound in New Mexico

Pottery Mound 2
Some of them wear feather headdresses and face paint. These prayer fans are still part of Pueblo ceremony today.

Laud Codex 40
Aztec art also depicts the use of feather fans in ceremonies.

Toci with fan in each hand
Mexican codices show women waving ceremonial fans, some with long tassels.

Maya ceramic painting
Maya women hold similar fans in intriguing scenes whose meaning remains unexplained.

Tlazolteotl with herb bundles
Aztec women waved bundles of herbs in ceremony and healing. This priestess embodies the goddess Toci or Tlazolteotl.

Ceremonial bundles of reeds were known as tlachpanoni.

At Goromonzi, Simbabwe, an ancestral mother dances with herb bundles, as the stream of her vitality enlivens countless souls [possibly her future descendants].

Owo Herb Bundle
Herb bundles are sculptured in the hands of medieval Yoruba priestesses at Owo, Nigeria

Bau with herb bundle
A bundle of plants is held by the ancient Sumerian goddess Bau, praised as “Great healer whose incantation is life, whose spells restore the sick...”

Cretan seal
Cretan seals show women waving bunches of herbs in ceremonies before mountaintop altars.

Cretan seal 2
They flourish leafy branches in trance dances where they’ve shapeshifted into winged form.

In this modern painting, the Czech prophetess Libusche waves a birch branch, used in saunas across Eurasia, in healing and rites of sweeping-away.

In this 1558 Swedish woodcut, a völva dances on the seidh-hiallr—high seat—with a knife and a bundle of herbs or feathrers. By this witch-hunting era, shamanic traditions were persecuted and had been heavily demonized. [Olaus Magnus, History of the Northern Peoples]

Vanuatu Women:
Ritual ties of herbs, feathers, or other potencies are common, especially in the Southern Hemisphere--here in a women’s ceremony in Vanuatu.

We often see these ritual ties in rock art, as on the shoulders of a Namibian woman in the Brandberg mountains.

In the Gambarimwe cave in Zimbabwe, shamanizing female ancestors wear ritual ties on their arms and around their ribs, as they dance waving feathers or leaf bundles or rattles.

Another rock mural at Mutoko shows the same ritual acts, the bundles and shoulder ties; one woman dances with a crescent, the other exudes the same flow of blood or potency as in the previous mural.

Goromonzi mural
At Goromonzi, the woman with the staff is wearing ritual ties around her upper arm.

Canto de las Letras:
A similar ritual tie streams from a woman’s arm in ancient rock art in Spain.

Much later Iberian ceramics show the ties were still being worn around 200 bce.

Much more elaborate ties are bound around the arms of the classic Saharan runner at Aouanrhet in southern Algeria.

And they appear among the ancient Taironas of Colombia, on a woman who also wears a feather crown.



Woman Shaman: the Ancients © 2013 Max Dashu

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