Book Review by Dan Docherty of 'Women In Daoism'
by
Catherine Despeaux, Livia Kohn

Three Pines Press (2003),  ISBN: 1-931483-01-9

Women in Daoism cover

Joseph Needham’s Science & Civilisation  in China has one entire volume devoted to internal alchemy. The trouble is Needham was a Quaker and seems to have had little empathy with the  subject matter. Not so with Despeux and Kohn who write authoritatively on this interesting topic

Towards the end of the book there are many detailed references to actual Daoist Nei Dan exercises which are often identical to the ‘Xian Jia Baduanjin’ [Immortal Family 8 Pieces of Brocade] Qigong exercises taught by an itinerant Daoist hermit to my Sifu’s uncle, Cheng Wing-kwong. Techniques such as ‘Gnash Teeth, Swallow Saliva’ are discussed

It is wonderful to know that as early as the 11th century, female practitioners were training these recondite techniques alone and with male and female partners.

We find that though always fewer in number than male Daoists, women Daoists were involved in every aspect of Daoism.

There is also an analysis of female Jing [essences / secretions] as compared with male Jing. We are given information on practical Daoist numerology, breathing and the use of mantras and the trigrams and hexagrams of The Book of Changes

I  strongly recommend this excellent tome to serious practitioners of Neigong  and Qigong.