Chalice and the blade wikipedia

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chalice and the blade wikipedia

The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future by Riane Eisler

Three stars because it was a pretty interesting read, and she covers, well, all of human history.

I read it because I know a number of people who claim this book fundamentally shaped their worldview (and a number of others who dont make that claim, but are certainly influenced by the popularity of Eislers ideas).

The first half is in large part a summary and popularizing of the work of archaeologist Marija Gimbutas, who argues that before the spread of Indo-European civilization there existed a matrifocal [NOT matriarchal:], peaceful, egalitarian society, that practiced a predominately female-oriented polytheism that also involved a single Goddess figure.

Gimbutas is a highly controversial figure in archaeology, and I tried to wade a bit into the debate around her by reading a number of articles, to better weigh Eislers argument.

My conclusion: there are a couple strong points to the idea of a more egalitarian Neolithic society that had possible elements of a religion involving numerous goddesses. Anything after that, we cant really say for sure. Gimbutas, and by extension Eisler, with all her claims after those, moves onto increasingly shakier ground.*

I feel like my comments on the second half of the book, in which Eisler moves away from prehistory to deal with the political power men have had over women throughout history, can be dealt with by pointing out that its unfortunate that Judith Butlers Gender Trouble came out in 1990, three years after Eisler first wrote this.

Eisler sees the main theme throughout history as the struggle between so-called feminine and masculine values (138). That so-called is oddly placed, because its clear that Eisler sees women as the bearers of the peaceful virtues; men are regressive and violent unless they submit to a feminine value system.

Which made me realize why I also have trouble believing her claims about a women-oriented peaceful society. I think that true egalitarianism is more likely to be achieved by making our concepts of sex and gender less rigid, more fluid, and more varied, rather than dividing humanity into two halves and constantly trying to either make both halves stay on the correct side, or to persuade one half that theyre not good enough because theyre not like the other.

*[This book also made me realize how skeptical I am about archaeological evidence in general, but especially about the interpretation of ancient art and symbols. And this I attribute, in large part, to a single exercise done for a class I took on Philosophy and Science Fiction: We had to write a story in which Carl Sagans Pioneer plaque (see it at was found by either humans or another species who didnt know its origin but had to try and interpret it anyhow... its pretty clear how ridiculous it is to believe that someone would come up with the right meaning.]

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The Chalice or The Blade

The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future (Updated With a New Epilogue)

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Riane Tennenhaus Eisler (born 22 July ) is a cultural historian, systems scientist, educator . In earlier works such as The Chalice and the Blade and Sacred Pleasure, Eisler Eisler analyzes the androcracy (governance of social.
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Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary. WOTD — 10 December This entry needs audio files. If you have a microphone, please record some and upload them. There is the third alternative, the humanistic future to which the concept of gylany , both the balanced core and the logical requirement of our cultural evolution, provides the key.


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  3. Anna P. says:

    The Chalice and The Blade: Our History, Our Future by Riane Eisler, first published in , presents a conceptual framework for studying social systems with.

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