Dr. Eftyhia Leontidou, MD, is a Greek Obstetrician- gynecologist, who has worked for over 40 years healing and empowering women, in villages, University clinics, the National Health system and the private sector. A lover of music, archaeology, travel, photography, and Tai chi, she is a member of the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights and has offered her medical services to the Medical Center for the Rehabilitation of Torture Survivors.
Eftyhia has written and translated many articles on women’s rights and health issues for medical and feminist magazines in Greece and abroad. She has also coedited and contributed as an author, translator and photographer to many collective women’s books. Her activities include lectures, seminars and workshops for doctors, medical students, women’s groups as well as battered, unemployed, immigrant and socially excluded women, in collaboration with women’s and cultural organizations, groups, schools, parents’ unions, local authorities, and the European Union; in addition she has taken part in training programs for the police on violence against women.
For more than 50 years she has been active in the autonomous women’s movement being a member of self-examination, feminist activist and feminist spirituality groups in Athens. Her latest project is called Feminist Gynecology and consists so far of three books: 1) Goddess in Action – Childbirth, 2) Female Sexuality – From Flesh to Spirit, and 3) Female body – A Mystical tour.
Goddesses of Healing in Ancient Greece
The Warrior Healer
Anyone who has ever visited Greece has certainly come across the most
common Greek expression, «γεια σου» (yassou), meaning “to your health!” This
phrase is used as a greeting, a wish, a blessing, or a toast when raising glasses.
The word «γεια» or «υγεία», meaning health, is personified by the ancient
Goddess Hygeia; its derivatives are to be found in more languages, e.g. the
English term “hygiene” meaning healthful practice. Hygeia is the most well-known
ancient Greek Goddess of healing, although there are quite a few more, including
her four sisters, daughters of the god of medicine Asclepius: Panacea, Iaso,
Aceso, and Aegle.
In my presentation I will unfold their stories and their symbolic
associations, particularly the snake, whose venom can kill or heal. These
Goddesses of medicine promote health on the physical, emotional and spiritual
planes; but emphasis should also be placed on the healing needed by our
societies and our planet, Mother Earth, both wounded by millennia of patriarchy.
Since the earliest matriarchal societies of prehistory, healing has been a
women’s art. Nowadays, although female healers outnumber their male
colleagues, they still fight to earn their rightful long-overdue recognition within the
health system and break the glass ceiling that separates them from positions of
authority. Consequently, the medicine women of our times also have to be
fighters, guided by the archetype of Goddess Athena, who was worshipped as
healer and warrior, warrior and healer, among her other qualities.