Female Shamanism in Peru: Reflecting Gender Roles and Socio-Cultural Construction of Femininity among Indigenous Women Healers? (pp. 49-72)
Authors: (Maria Costanza Torri, University of New Brunswick, Canada)
Abstract: The phenomenon of female shamans (onaya) is becoming slightly more common in Amazon Peru, especially with the increase in commercial shamanism and spiritual tourism. Especially for lone women travelers, female shamans provide a safe alternative to male shamans. Despite the increased popularity of female shamans among a foreign clientele and women‘s growing encroachment upon a traditionally male area of activity such as shamanism, the number of women shamanic healers is still limited and hardly recognized within the community. This chapter outlines the current situation of female shamanism in urban areas of Peru, in the department of Ucayali, and illustrates the self and community perceptions of female healers among the Shipibo indigenous people. This study shows that far from merely reflecting anthropological
and spiritual beliefs about shamanism and spirituality, the reception of female shamans among Shipibo society also mirrors the complexity of gender roles among this indigenous community.