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

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When God Was A Woman, Part Deux

Aug 19, 2001
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Excellent review of history with sound sources and research

Cons:Weakest when projecting the future

The Bottom Line: If you have any interest is what it means to be male or female, in the past or future, or in where we're going as a species--read this.


Excellent, revelatory, mind-expanding, broadening, life-changing, well-researched, comprehensive...forgive me, but I want to get all the good words in early, for those who simply browse the reviews.

The book is about ancient history. What have we been taught? Have we been told the truth, or are we just handed old versions of patriarchal stories? Is there evidence to support the caveman stereotypes we're fed through the media, and sometimes through the schools? Or does the evidence suggest, in fact, that a lot of what we're taught is a very skewed pack of lies?

The period of history covered in this book lasted for thousands of years. Our typical ideas about this huge span of history--from maybe 30,000 years ago up to Bibilcal times, is that primitive people scampered around in leopard skins. The men bashed animals over the head and dragged them home for their wild-eyed mates to cook over a pit.

What if all that is bogus? What if cavemen and cavewomen were actually sophisticated artists, living in communities where their children were treasured, and in which mutual respect and sharing was common?

If any of that intrigues you, read this book! If you like to think, read this book! If you enjoyed or were curious about Merlin Stone's When God Was A Woman, which came out around 30 years ago, read this book. If you've heard of the discoveries of Marija Gimbutas, the archaeologist who took on the whole establishment of entrenched scholarship and challenged the old stereotypes, devour this book!

In the last 30 years, controversies in archaeology and anthropology pit the traditional scenario of "man-the-hunter" against more egalitarian, peaceful, goddess-worshipping cultures. The evidence for the first is getting rusty and ambiguous. If you're curious about the second view, however, it may be hard to find facts. There are tons of New-Age style books out there about goddess-worship and ancient traditions, but many are, to be blunt, fantasies. How do you distinguish a book built on some real research from one that simply expresses the author's wishful dream of history? Especially since most bookstores carry both kinds of books?

Well, one way is to look at the author's credentials. Riane Eisler, author of The Chalice and the Blade, is a scholar, humanist, and feminist. The Disinformation website calls her "one of the most challenging, intelligent, and provocative scholars alive today."

One of Eisler's main points is that the way we look at the "other" half of humanity--the opposite sex, colors all our relationships. If half of humanity (the male half) sees the other half as inferior, then it's pretty likely that society itself will tend to dominate and try to prove itself superior to every other culture it encounters. This is, according to Eisler, what has happened in many places over the past 6,000 years.

In a subtle way, The Chalice and the Blade looks at our views on the most basic issues in our lives: Who controls us? Why do we permit this? Who is deciding how the resources of the world are spent? Who decides the line between rich and poor--who has taught us to turn a blind eye to ignorance? How are we brainwashed? On and on--the implications of Eisler's work are, indeed, life-changing.


Recommend this product? Yes


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