Sacred Woman, Sacred Dance:
Awakening Spirituality Through Movement and Ritual
A Book by Iris J. Stewart

Reviews on the Internet

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The Universal Expression of Dance

This is an extraordinary book. Just picking the book up for the first time, we see that
it is filled with illustrations, from the most ancient to the most contemporary, of the sacred
dances of the world's greatest cultural traditions. We are struck immediately by the powerful,
feminine nature of dance, ultimately the celebration of the mystery of the
feminine. The text, at once scholarly, informed, personal and at times touching the
ecstatic, takes us to the inner spirit of the dance as a uniquely feminine expression. Lines
like the following from the book leap out at the reader: "The belly dance in the context
of the birth ritual...was done not to project eroticism or to present the woman as a lure
but to display a consciousness of the wonder of birth and the awesom power of
motherhood." (p. 83).
This book definitely opens our eyes to the sacred nature of dance and to its importance
down through the ages for celebrating and teaching the great mysteries that defy verbal
expression or scientific scrutiny. If we dare take it seriously, and Iris Stewart gives us
every reason that we should, then it may be one of the most effective ways open to us
for healing our relationship to nature.
Because the book is so beautifully designed and illustrated, in an oversized format, it is a
wonderful gift--but not your usual "gift book" or innocuous "coffee table" book. Its
beauty extends deep into a brilliant text.

Reviewer: Hal Bennett from Upper Lake, California

An amazing journey for anyone seeking transcendance

This is the kind of book that might change one's life. Is that not worth a few dollars?
One could call it the bible of spirituality through movement, music, beauty. For it is a
moving exploration, both personal and academic; through dance, history, archeology,
ritual, music, raiment and more. A rediscovery of ancient ways lost or pushed aside by
the growth of organized, hierarchical religion. A means to rebirth of these ways that are
being revived, or were kept alive, by and for women as well as men. One of the most
amazing things to me was to find out that many modern dancers that i admired as free
spirits were also deeply philosophical, and deeply committed to keeping personal
spiritual expression and sharing alive. In addition to the exploration, there are:
movement experiences to try, an extensive compendium of further sources, and many
colorful visuals~~~~~
 Reviewer: Steve Cochrane from Sonoma County, CA

I found this wonderful book while taking up the dance after a 25 year period of no
dance in my life. It is like an instruction manual for awakening movement. Each chapter
has an activity at the end that seems to break down old inhibitions and moldy ideas that
crept in during the years I sacrificed for my family.The author and other individuals who
contributed to the writing of this wonderful work gently encouraged me. As a practicing
Buddhist,I found the Dance of The Twentyone Tara's very inspiring. I have contacted
the creator of that dance and she returned contact with me. It is a living link between
ancient times and tangible resources available today! Happy Dancing one and all.

Reviewer: Dona Forrand from Eugene, Oregon
A Wonderful History of Women, Dance, and Spirituality

What a beautiful compilation! As an academic, I was very pleased with the author's
thorough examination of the history of women and dance. It was enlightening -- filled
with numerous facts, perspectives, and accounts that I had not come across anywhere
else. And the photos/pictures!! This book tells a beautiful story through images and
words. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Sahar Kianfar, San Francisco, CA
A Great History of Women and Dance

Iris Stewart has done a fine job of illustrating the history of women and sacred dance
from paleolithic to modern cultures. The book is a visual delight because of its many
photographs and drawings. Ms. Stewart has portrayed forms of ritual, liturgical dance,
belly dancing, the Dances of Universal Peace and other modern forms of sacred
I have been involved with sacred dance for over 30 years and I found this book to be
very informative. I also appreciated the exercises that are given throughout the book to
encourage the reader to experience some form of sacred body movement.

Reviewer: Sharon G. Mijares, Ph.D., CA

This book is a gem for anyone interested in Sacred Dance for Women. It delves into the
history, types, costumes, ritual, current and ancient traditions of dance. As a Beginner to
Sacred Dance, I found this book easy to understand, full of hte "basic movements," plus
rich with well researched information that dispells some myths about dance. For
example, belly dance was not really a dance of enticement, but a birthing dance used by
women having a baby. The photos clearly invite one to a feast of dance. I found this
book very inspiring to a Beginner like me to realize that dance really is such a rich and
ancient tradition of natural movements for a women. Through the various movements
of the body, a woman can delve deeper into her own healing process and spirituality in
a natural and honorable way. Sacred Dance is a wonderful and ancient form of a
spiritual path which this books gives a wonderful overview. I highly recommend it for
anyone interested in the Dance tradition with a spiritual twist yet not too technical. The
modern resources in the back of the book do not leave one stranded but wanting to
follow-up and go search out places to go dance!

Reviewer: Marcia Heller from EL Cerrito, California

Review on
As good as it gets!, 8 December, 2001
Whether you just dance your sox off in the living room, are a performer, artist or
therapist, this one will have you rivetted and inspired. Why you feel the way you do
when you dance. Dance as a connection to your spirit. Why we dance, have danced,
will dance. Women as leaders and creators of life, community, society. I carried my
copy everywhere untill devoured and am now re-reading at leisure.
Reviewer: ( from Devon England

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Copyright © 2000 Iris Stewart (All Rights Reserved)