Jessamine Dana, PhD


Jessamine DanaDr. Jessamine Dana — Founder and Director of the Woman and the Owl Foundation.

The Woman and the Owl Foundation was born out of my deep appreciation and esteem for the lives of service and the experiences of the world’s ‘unsung heroines’, the women spiritual leaders who create and sustain community. The Foundation continues my research, education, and support of Women of Spirit, regardless of their tradition or background.

I hold a PhD (D.Phil) in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Oxford, England. During the course of my studies, I resided in Nepal for two years, performing ethnographic research at a Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage site in the high Himalayas, close to the Tibetan border.

While living with the Nyingmpapa Buddhist nuns who are the caretakers of the pilgrimage site, I began to think more deeply about the nuances and challenges of being a spiritual person in a woman’s body, and wrote about how the gender and sexuality of the nuns was a primary concern for many of the pilgrims and non-Buddhist ritual leaders who came to the site. The caretaker nuns of the site become nuns because they are the second of three daughters born to families in the surrounding villages, and not usually because of a personal spiritual calling. This also raised some interesting questions about the nature of spiritual calling, predetermination, and spiritual development. My stay in the nunnery allowed me to study a range of girls, young women, and mature women at various stages of spiritual development, commitment, and identity.

I became actively involved in earth-based religions while living in Ireland, and have gone on to study and practice within Lakota, Curanderismo, plant medicine, and other traditions. After finishing my doctoral dissertation in 2012, I moved from England back to my native USA, to continue my research on women spiritual and ritual leaders in the context of ‘new’ and ‘native’ traditions.

In addition to serving as Director of the Woman and the Owl Foundation, I sit on the board of the Moving Steps Foundation, A non-profit organization that operates a dance company in a women’s medium-security prison and offers dance programs for former offenders.

Dr. Jessamine Dana is a teacher, writer, mentor, and facilitator at the individual, group, university, and corporate levels. Her work at the Woman and the Owl Foundation is both an offering to the public and a personal journey.

16 thoughts on “Jessamine Dana, PhD”

  1. Hi Jessamine,
    Just wanted to drop a note to say how much I enjoyed our conversation with Kay and Carla this morning. It was a pleasure to share thoughts with you. Your Woman and Owl Project is one whose time has definitely come and we’re all better for it.

    1. Thanks, Dianne!
      I really enjoyed our conversation as well. Speaking with you made me long for the sacred places of the UK once again! I wish you the best of luck with all your work and travels too.
      Best wishes, Jessamine

  2. Hello Jessamine,

    Your site is just beautiful. Many of the things you are writing about resonate with me. Where are you located. (if okay to ask)
    I am in Seattle and did a search and got your site…
    Thanks for the article about Teachers… meaningful to me on many levels. I appreciate your sharings.


  3. Thanks, Patricia!
    Amy, I am currently based in Austin, Texas although I may be moving this summer. I am so glad that this work connects with you. I hope that as it grows there will be greater opportunities for participation on the site. Best of luck with your path and journeys!

  4. Would love to know if you’re around Tucson at any point! Deep appreciation for your mission and vision… and I share your love of the Owl – having rescued and raised a “buffy fish owl” in the jungles of central Sumatra in the 1980s! My own spiritual leadership is a weaving of classical Chinese Medicine & Taoism (professional), Islamic Sufism (personal spiritual lineage), and the pacifist mystics of my family line, Swiss/German communalists known as the Harmonists, of western PA. The fact that we can even experience so many different influences in one life is the hallmark of our times! Many blessings.

    1. Wow, Christy, you have such a vivid and beautiful background! I also believe that it is a time for people ‘born under many stars’. Do you have any photos of the owl you rescued?
      I will certainly let you know if I will be in Tucson!
      All the best wishes, Jessamine

  5. I am very happy to have found this site! The Great Horned Owl is my main Power Animal, I have several around me all the time and two nests of owlettes! I have just started Journey Work and have been reading a lot on women’s issues. I teach beadweaving which is a great way for women to work together and to “re-weave” their lives at the same time! I would love to know when you are in the Denver area!

    1. Oh my goodness, I love it! beadweaving and women’s groups just sounds right to me. One practice I really connect with is making prayer ties, the sacred practice of making, of creating and praying, and of untying our clarity and connection as we tie up the little parcels of tobacco prayers and colored fabric, is so simple yet effective. I will certainly let you know if I’m in Denver, in fact, I plan on moving to Boulder in September!

  6. I loved your interview with Bernadette Torres. I recently met her at the curanderismo class in New Mexico. She was awesome. She is right when she talks about the women being called to do this work. I have spent most of my life seeking and searching my path. I am an Episcopal Priest and recently retired. I am a chicana from Houston, texas currently living in Austin. My abuela was a curandera and now I am finally on the right path and paying attention. The owl is my guide. I just wanted to thank you personally for doing this work. It affirms my current journey of wanting to know myself more. I have always challenged the “staying in the box mentality,” and so my life as an Episcopal Priest had quite a few challenges. Anyway, wish i could meet you in person someday. Ometeotl, Rev. Virginia Marie Rincon

    1. Dear Virginia, Thank you so much for your comments and offering a bit about your story. I actually live in Austin so I’ll send you a message and see if you are free for tea! With love, Jessamine

  7. will you be having any workshops faciliated by you in Austin soon?

    I am looking for an excuse to come back there and meeting you could be the icing on the cake. Let us know… thanks…sr

    1. Hi Susan,
      Yes, we will and we do! You can check out our local Meetup Group at I am also about to integrate a calendar with our ‘Events’ page so you can get all that info here. This year, we have a few workshops in the pipe line, a leadership retreat in the Autumn, and the YSS Leadership Course will start March 4th; Thanks for asking!
      See you soon, I hope!
      With love,

    2. Hi Susan! I hope that you’re still out there; we were inundated with spam and I’m just now sifting through the thousands of messages. Yes! We are offering workshops, classes, and teaching circles in fair Austin, TX. You can find out about these on our new events page and our more extensive Woman and the Owl Project Meetup Group.
      Thanks for your enthusiasm and friendliness! I hope to meet you soon.
      With love,

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Cultivating and Connecting Women Spiritual Leaders