Chalice and the Blade, The (Anglais) Broché – 21 septembre 1988
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Descriptions du produit
Revue de presse
“Some books are like revelations, they open the spirit to unimaginable possibilities. The Chalice and the Blade is one of those magnificent key books that can transform us and… initiate fundamental changes in the world.” (Isabel Allende)
“Everyone…should have the opportunity to read it.” (Chicago Tribune)
“Validates a belief in humanity’s capacity for benevolence and cooperation in the face of so much destruction.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“The Chalice and the Blade may be the most significant work published in all our lifetimes.” (LA Weekly)
Présentation de l'éditeur
The legacy ofthe sacred feminine
The Chalice and the Blade tells a new story of our cultural origins. It showsthat warfare and the war of the sexes are neither divinely nor biologicallyordained. It provides verification that a better future is possible—and is in factfirmly rooted in the haunting dramas of what happened in our past.
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The general thesis of her book is essentially this. The"Dominator" model of the world in which men rule not only each other, but especially women, with an iron and violent fist, is in fact an inovation that was introduced to a previously more egalitarian, Goddess-oriented civilization. The original civilizations looked at creation and recognized that the creation of life is essentially a female process, symbolized by the Chalice. It was only later when "civilization" decided that the power to take life superceded the power to give life, and replaced the Goddess with the Hero/War God (symbolized by the blade). Over the course of several centuries, the broad social paradigms shifted, and we find our ancestors of recorded history so steeped in the dominator model (as opposed to the more female "partnership" model...) that we take it for granted as simply the way we are, or worse, the way God made us.
Eisler offers for the reader's consideration the possibility that we don't have to accept the violence-laden tendencies of the dominator model anymore. With the rise of feminism in the past century, men and women alike are beginning to question the basic premise of a male-dominated society, and looking for ways to re-weave the social fabric...with some success. Indeed, perhaps enough success that we might be on the cusp of a new social transformation, moving away from the dominator model that has really only been the source of so much suffering, and toward a partnership model which values aliance and relationships more than possession and power. Unfortunately, we will be required to experience a backlash of fundamentalism for a while, as the bastions of the dominator model (monotheistic religion, communism, and capitalism) fight for their very survival.
There are disturbing bits of awareness in this book for those readers (such as myself) who have not read much in the way of feminist material. It is shocking to learn of the basic, dogmatic, written tenets of religious and contemporary philosophy (including those of St. Augustine, Marx, and Nietzsche to name a few) who directly state that the subjugation of the female sex is essential for the survival of the human species! As we watch the burka-shrouded forms of Afghani women beg in the streets of Kabul at this time, we are reminded of how real, and how insidious this objective of the dominator model truly is.
I only give this book 4 stars because there is a quality about her argument that leaves me slightly undone. Maybe it's because I, too, am a product of the old system that struggles to make the transformation. But I think it has to do with her insistance on an "absolute," i.e. that the way women would run the world is inherintly better than the way men would run the world. Her argument is founded on experience, but is therefore also limited by paradigm. The partnership models she discusses at length in the early part of her book in Neolithic times and in Minoan Crete, were systems based on the cooperation of both men and women. She acknowledges this. Yet there is this nagging sense that she insists that the virtues of such a society are the exclusive realm of the female. I am inclined to think that this is possibly a paradigm-driven bias. Such virtues are now attributed to women more than men BECAUSE of the past 6000 years of the application of the dominator model, but successful transformation is wholly dependent on a mutual transformation of both women and men to a full partnership model that benefits from the inherent strengths of BOTH men and women, not just women. For while it is nearly impossible to disagree that virtually all of the tragic events of history can be pinned to boorish, often childish, frequently violent behavior of men, that behavior is not necessarily programmed by biology so much as by socialization (of course both play a role). So to suggest that "female virtues" are inherently superior to "male qualities" is missing a big part of the picture. Men were responsible for the subjugation of women. But what other developments do we presently benefit from that sprung from the strengths of men? The key lies in her description of a "partnership," rather than on the suggestion that "one is better than the other." Truthfully, I think that this is what she intends (she is not a "man-basher"), but since her emphasis is only on the negative contributions of men, the potential for real partnership is never fully explored in this book.
That said, this is a well written, thought provoking book that, as I said at the outset, could indeed facilitate the very transformation she discusses, if people would read it, talk about it, think about it, and reflect on whether or not we as a species really think that the course we've been on is in fact a healthy one.
Quoting from Adele Gettys "Goddess, Mother of Living Nature." "Since time immemorial our ancestors have left sacred images of the female form. From the caves of Lascaux in France to the Balkans in Eastern Europe the art and artifacts of the Paleolithic and Neolithic, which represent human's earliest myth-making impulses, indicated a deep reverence for life, and, in particular, for the Great Mother."
30,000 year old Stone Age nude figures are the first Western Goddess Representations. Twenty thousand years later, in the agricultural societies of the Neolithic (8,000----3,000 BCE) female images still predominated, indicating a remarkable, millennia-long cultural continuity. And, none were depicted with weapons. This is very important material, for to understand it means to reclaim our heritage.
In the depths of my own profound spiritual journey twenty- five years ago, awakening to the loss of the Sacred Feminine, . . . living in isolation, creating constantly . . . Riane's book came into my hands. I was amazed and heartened to learn that humanity had such a history. Like many folks, I had never heard of the Goddess or our pre-history. Barbara Walker's "The Crone" also found it's way into my hands about that time. There is Merlin Stone's well researched book, "When God Was A Woman," which fleshes out even more this picture of a harmonious, egalitarian, spiritual and immensely creative life that spanned thousands of years, before patriarchy and "father god."
The most convincing thing of all is that the religion and the temples of the Goddess, in her many names, are referred to again and again in the Bible. And, somewhere in the Koran it states, clearly with disgust, that some peoples engaged in the abomination of "worshiping women."
The research of Riane Eisler, noted anthropologist Maria Gimbutus, and more recently James DeMeo, PhD (among many, many others) drawing upon global archaeological and anthropological evidence present substantial proof that our ancient ancestors were non-violent. In his book, "Saharasia: The 4,000 BCE Origins of Child Abuse, Sex-Repression, Warfare and Social Violence, In the Deserts of the Old World" professor DeMeo writes, "These early peoples were peaceful, unarmored, and matrist (partnership model) in character. I have concluded that there does not exist any clear, compelling or unambiguous evidence for the existence of patrism (patriarchy--dominator model) anywhere on Earth significantly prior to c.4000 BCE . . . . . . and the earliest evidence appears in specific locations, from which it first arose, diffused outward over time to infect nearly every corner of the globe."
It has been now a bit more than 2,500 years since religious myths of the sacred marriage of the Goddess and her divine lover faded from Western Cultural consciousness. Today our sacred images and myths tend to focus more on death, punishment, and pain than on sex, birth, and pleasure.
Riane writes, "One of the challenges of our time is to create for ourselves and our children images and stories of the sacred more congruent with a partnership than dominator social organization. Images and stories in which giving and receiving pleasure and caring, rather than causing or submitting to pain, occupy center stage.
For in truth we are living in a dysfunctional and antihuman system that threatens to destroy us all. At the same time, there is a new partnership system that is struggling to emerge."
In this time of regression to a harsher, more violent dominator system, Riane's wise words are needed more than ever. May we pay attention to them.
Janie Rezner, Mendocino, CA
Reisler invites the reader to mourn the loss of ancient communities, and reconnect with their underlying values. I read the book as a life-affirming myth that challenges the abusive aspects of our patriarchal traditions. The Chalice and the Blade celebrates the value of partnership, equality, collaboration, non-violence, and connectedness to nature. Eisler gives us some sense of the enormous power to heal that resides in the repressed feminine and lunar realms. However, I would offer the following cautions:
1. It is possible that Eisler has extrapolated a few scraps of evidence into a highly idealized society that didn't really exist quite as she imagines it.
2 . It is possible that Eisler's vision is pyschologically naive in the sense that everything has a dark side. If the Goddess societies existed, they would, by necessity, have a dark side.
3. It is possible that the problem with western society is not that it has a male image of divinity but that it has a one-sided, gender-specific image of divinity. Substituting a Goddess-based image might not lead to Utopia, but might bring its own set of problems. Perhaps we need images of the divine that honor both genders.
4. Eisler is a nationally known advocate of partnership models as superior forms of human interaction in contrast to "dominator" approaches. Faced with the choice of partnership or domination, the former is clearly preferable. A more neutral way of distinguishing between these two approaches would be to substitute consensus for partnership and hierarchy for domination. It is possible that each approach - consensus and hierarchy - has its own merits and drawbacks. The negative shadow of consensus systems might be passive aggression, confusion, paralysis. It is possible that when grounded with love and respect, hierarchical systems can be generative and empowering.
I suspect that humanity would best be served by a society that reveres both male and female, earth and sky, soul and spirit, hierarchy and collaboration, passion and gentleness - a social order with a pluralistic approach that reflects mythopoetic diversity and celebrates consciousness. Yet, whatever the book's shortcomings I must confess that my heart is with Eisler.
From this premise the author hypothesizes that if we humans as a whole adopt the partnership characteristics of the ancient matriarchal societies, we will also become a peaceful, egalitarian society.
The majority of the book explores the earliest civilizations and their worship of the Goddess and then the deliberate destruction of these civilizations by power-hungry men who utilized religion to control and manipulate people. This we all know to be a fact. Those events did take place. But what most us of don't know (and are learning now) is that many aspects of the Bible were derived from the Goddess religions.
Consider the story of Adam and Eve: Eve is responsible for the downfall of man. Eve is symbolic of the Goddess, and the men who created the new religion reversed meanings of Goddess symbols to demonstrate their beliefs. For example, in Goddess religions the serpent was a regenerative life symbol but in the Christian Bible it is a symbol for Satan (Satan being representative of the Goddess). Taken in context of a patriarchal and dominator model, it is completely understandable why this particular group of men sought to destroy the Goddess religion: to obtain absolute power over all people.
In light of this information I developed a better understanding of human history and a greater compassion for all humanity. Yes much of the information in this book will be a shock to those unfamiliar with the subject material, but from learning about the tragedies and mistakes of our past we can build ourselves a better future. For this very reason I highly recommend this book and all books that seek to enlighten the human race to its greatest potential.
Non-feminists also want to burn it. Philosophers love or hate the vision and ethics of the book. Historians scorn the book or are intrigued by its possibilities. These are all signs of greatness, when great emotion and reaction is incited. I credit Riane Eisler with great vision, for that is what this book is: A vision of how things could have been, are, and may be. Visions are meant to expand the mind and open people's eyes to different possibilities. Eisler's famous vision fueled by Marija Gimbutas's work on goddess anthropology from the same time period. Eisler envisions a past where the chalice was worshipped, a golden age of peace that did not involve the subjugation of women in their "proper place" before everything went wrong in the Garden of Eden, but an age when men and women lived together in peace.
She writes of a Utopian Society attacked from outsiders who believed in subjugation and social hierarchy. (You may want to check out Catal Huyak, the controversial Turkish site where fodder for much of this began)
Looking back at Eisler's landmark work knowing what we now know, gives rise to many more speculations. Recently in the Black Sea there were found what looks like actual bones of Women Amazons, or Riders who carry weapons. This isn't that far from Catal Huyak. I'm not sure what it all means but I hope we find out. Chalice and the Blade is a speculative vision, which means, like fiction or a political treatise that it is not meant to be taken as actual history.
People are always speculating about history, novels written about it. If people are so upset about a book, chances are, you should read it. The Chalice and the Blade is a vision of what might be another aspect of history, and done to keep humanity's minds open to a diferent future. Since it was written in 1988, it's good to keep up on material that has been researched since and been discovered. For instance, thanks to Paula Gunn Allen, we know that while not being a utopia, she does write in her essay, When Women Throw Down Bundles: Strong Women Make Strong Nations, that certain tribes of Indians did live in a Society much like Eisler describes before their people were cruelly and methodicaly tortured and killed. Eisler's book is a landmark in feminism, and women's alternative spirituality movements, and for that reason, should be read to see the big picture.
I give the book four stars because of it's influence and vision. I would've given it five if it was updated with new info.