Sunday, February 26, 2006
Sometimes it takes a ten foot tall stone jaguar statue to remind us that the "dominion over nature" hasn't really come to pass. This statue was transported by rickety banana boat off of Isla Zapatera to Granada, Nicaragua sometime in the last hundred years. It got pretty uncomfortable for me as I stood beneath the downward gaze of this imposing figure from precolumbian times. The jaguar head is considered a depiction of an effigy hat which the shaman wore during ceremony.
According to Anthropologist Barbara Tedlock, the jaguar is the calling card of the woman healer in many places in precolumbian Central America. Women shaman were often midwives as well as religious leaders, which is a more elevated role than we civilized folk give to RNs today. Historical and archaeological evidence for woman shaman is more spotty in Nicaragua, due to the general lack of pyramids and gold frogs in the lands between the old empires. Not sexy enough for National Geographic funding.
But this jaguar is patient.
Check out Barbara's new book "The Woman in the Shaman's Body" - it won the National Book Award for Creative Non-Fiction for 2005.