Wise Women Past and Present

Original title: Le Grand Livre des guérisseuses

Publication Date:

October 2020



Original language and publisher

French | L’Iconoclaste

Territories Handled

Netherlands, North America, Scandinavia

Territories Sold

Poland (Znak)



Wise Women Past and Present

Original title: Le Grand Livre des guérisseuses


The first exhaustive study of the history and practices of “wise women”, healers, and midwives, from medieval times to the present day, and a vital compendium for anyone interested in alternative therapies.

Sought-after, yet secret. Their names were whispered from woman to woman, in secret. Some used traditional herbal knowledge handed down over the generations, others had healing hands or cured troubled souls. These women – faith healers, shamans, magnetizers, sophrologists, energy therapists, and burn healers – have always found themselves on the fringes of “official” medical practice. Their work is often shrouded in mystery, though more and more people are turning to them.

Marginalized, yet vital. Clara Lemonnier sets out to explore these practices from the point of view of the women forced into traditional household roles who devoted their lives to healing others. From Antiquity onwards, these midwives, hedge-witches, and diviners were shunned and discredited for being too unlearned, too “witchy”, for the mainstream scholarly institutions and political and religious authorities. Over the centuries they have resisted marginalization and to this day still take care of those in need, discreetly, in the shadows.

Healers past and present. The book looks back as far as the Middle Ages to record often overlooked therapeutic practices that ally practical skills and symbolic knowledge, plants and prayers, the visible world and the invisible realm. It documents the links between the healers of centuries past and today’s alternative therapists, the folk medical lore of yesteryear and the complementary medical practices of the twenty-first century.

Marketing Information

  • Ideas for daily treatments, recipes and remedies
  • 8,000 copies sold