Mythic Imagination Along the Silk Road


Friday, July 20, 2018
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
249 Lambert Road, Carpinteria, CA 93013 – South Hall
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Free and open to the public

Office of Admissions

805.969.3626 ext: 305


Like werewolves, female were-animals are shape-changers whose appearance alternates between that of a human woman—often identified as a witch—and that of one or another bird or mammal, including a hyena, a jackal, a wolf, a fox, and most intriguingly, a bat.  Myths of these fearsome, predatory creatures are embedded in the mythological and demonological canons of several cultures and religions, and attested across some three thousand years of history. While the richest sources for these traditions are the Tantras of medieval South, Inner, and East Asia, the earliest accounts of these creatures are found in Roman literature from the beginning of the Common Era, where they are known as striga. They next appear in Hindu India (where they are most often called yoginis) and Buddhist Asia—India, Nepal, Tibet, China, and Japan—where they are most often called dakinis. Finally, they are described in Arabic-and Persian-language encyclopedias and travel accounts dating from the fourteenth century. In this richly illustrated talk, Dr. White will discuss the salient features of their mythology, including their female gender; their identifications with nocturnal animals; their predatory habits; and their transformation into divinely appointed agents of human salvation.

If you have any questions about this event please contact the Admissions Department or 805-969-3626 ext: 305.

Featured Presenter

David Gordon WhiteDavid Gordon White received his Ph.D. from the Divinity School at the University of Chicago in 1988. He also studied Hinduism at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris, France, between 1977-1980 and 1985-1986. A specialist of South Asian religions, he is the J. F. Rowny Professor of Comparative Religions at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he has been teaching since 1996. He is the author of five monographs, four published by the University of Chicago Press: Myths of the Dog-Man (1991); The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India (1996); Kiss of the Yoginī: “Tantric Sex” in its South Asian Contexts (2003) and Sinister Yogis (2009). He also edited Tantra in Practice (Princeton University Press, 2000). His two most recent books are published with Princeton University Press: Yoga in Practice (November 2011) and The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali: A Biography (2013). White has been the recipient of several research fellowships and grants, including a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (2007-2008) and three Fulbright Research Fellowships for India and Nepal.

General Information

Pacifica is currently accepting applications for select programs for a Fall 2018 start date. You can conveniently apply online here. For all questions regarding program information and enrollment please contact the Admissions Department, 805.879.7305 or email Thank you for considering Pacifica Graduate Institute for your graduate degree.

The Lambert Road Campus, 249 Lambert Road,  Carpinteria, CA 93013

Onsite accommodations are not available for this event, please use the links below to reserve a room at a nearby hotel in Carpinteria.

Best Western Plus
Holiday Inn Express & Suite

Major airlines provide service into the Los Angeles International Airport located 90 miles south of Santa Barbara and into the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, approximately 18 miles north of the Campus. Please download our Travel and Hotel Information Guide for information about ground transportation to and from Santa Barbara. Please reach out to the admissions staff if you need any information about ground transportation to and from Santa Barbara.

It is the policy of Pacifica’s Public Programs Department to accommodate attendees with disabilities in compliance with state and federal laws and regulations. Please let us know in advance if you have special needs or require assistance due to a disabling condition while you are attending a public program. If you are accompanied by a service dog, please contact Disability Services directly (805.679.6125), as all animals visiting campus must have pre-approval. For additional information regarding Pacifica’s policies, visit Pacifica’s Disability Services web page.


Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?
Please contact the Office of Admissions at 805.879.7305.