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The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future

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.

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. With the most passionate eloquence, Riane Eisler proves that the dream of peace is not an impossible utopia. — Isabelle Allende, author of The House of the Spirits

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  1. Missing in Action says

    Offering an Optimistic Alternative Books like this, if read by a broad enough audience, could alter the course of history. Her insights are broad, her treatments are fair, and her paradigms apparently offer some degree of validity judging from the last section of her book (before the Epilogue) in which she describes 25 years ago much of the transformation we are witnessing today.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 It was only later when “civilization” decided that the power to take life superceded the power to give life, and replaced the Goddess with the Hero/War God (symbolized by the blade).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,…

  2. Thomas Fulton says

    History or Myth? Does it Matter? 0

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