The Chalice and the Blade by Raine Eisler
CHAPTER ONE - JOURNEY INTO A LOST WORLD
Catal Huyuk was occupied from about 6500-5700 BC. So civilisation started much earlier than we suspected. The remains of CAtal Huyuk show no sign of damege from war. Similarly, old civilisation of Europe, the sites found were chosen for beauty and water and soil. Not akward high fortifiable spots like later Europe.
This book challenges the view that slavery, male dominance and property all resulted from agriculture. That egalitarianism was the norm was shown by the equal graves of the the inhabitants. The females, though smaller, were substantially the same.
The misinterpretations have had to do with the taking off of archeology (for more than trreasure hunting) after WWII. We looked for the flaws of human nature. Men did it and so thought the wheat were missed spears. Also words such as “fertility cult” limit the scope and essential nature of goddess to the past. And circumscribe it to a narrow focus. Like saying Christianity was a death cult. Another t
rick is that things just get accepted as common currency. To say hunter gatherers. To say agriculture brought out horrors. When people open a tomb (as has happened several time in Egypt) they just assume it is a man (later the autopsy may show otherwise). Also, if they find something that doesn’t fit their paradigm, they may ignore it. It is marginalized as auxilirary.
CHAPTER TWO - MESSAGES FROM THE PAST, THE WORLD OF THE GODDESS
What peoples art does not depict is as important as what it does depict.
There are no war or slavery images and no lavish chieftan burial sites in Neolithic art. Serpent and the butterfly are symobls of transformation and regeneration and are found in many sites. In Catal huyuk there are paintings of goddesses pregnant and giving birth. Often accompanied by a strong animal. The bull being the favourite. In crete the object of the mysterious forces of life are not to punish and destroy, but to give life.Water was also associated with the mother. Later she appears as the
virgin madonna mother and the bull is the devil via pan.
Patrilocal means the woman goes to live with thehusbands family.
Matrilocal means the man goes to live with the wifes family.
This correlates with the gender of the leading deity.
if it isn’t patriarchy it must be matriarchy
When first found folks said these sites spoke of Matriarchy. But when this didn’t pan out they reverted to Patriarchy. Actually, graves, bed sizes, home sizes and statues of fale consort-son with the female goddess and men thinkers, seems to indicate that it was neither.
The power relations she symolises with the blade (the power of domination) and the chalice (the power of actualisation).
CHAPTER THREE - THE ESSENTIAL DIFFERENCE: CRETE
the ability to ignore and marginalize information that doesn’t fit your paradigm is seen in the island of Crete.
the archeological bombshell
Cretes discovery was major as noone suspected an advanced civilisation could be overlooked. Roads palaces, workshope villas burial sites, a large storhou
se of unanticipated art, weaving, trade architecture and writing were found. Also amazing were that all residences had private conveiniences and there were paved roads, look-out posts, roadside shelters, water pipes, irrigation works drainage systems and sanitary installations.
Settled in 6000bc, 2000 was its middle minoan or old palace period. This is when it becomes sudedenly more centralised and the palace of Knossos is built. Well into the broze period when female gods were being replaced there it was.
In 1500 bc it came under foreign domination and is then refered to as mycenaean culture. But the goddes continues in it. The greeks are also mycenaean at this time and have much goddess, cretan stuff.
the love of life and nature
The art in these p
alaces are life enhancing and eye-pleasing. Not monuments to authority and power characteristic of Sumer, Egypt, Rome and other ancient warlike and male-dominant societies. Apartments shaped in labyrinths and connected storehouses for grain are common.
a unique civilization
The throne of knossos is an aesthetic , not monumental emphais.
They had bul games in which men and women would grasp the horns of a chargin bull and somersault over its back. These rigurals were to invoke the divine power to bring well-being to the entire society.
Cretans had weapons, especially later, but did not idealize war and warriors. Its wealth went into increasing life not war and so the people had “a love of peace, a horror of tyranny and a respect for the law. Even among the ruling classes personal ambition seems to have been unknown. We find no names on the art nor records of the deeds of a ruler.
The lack of fortifications or evidence of war between parts of the island stands in contrast to our time, where we think war
the norm. And makes such adjustments less “utopian” as they are a prerequisite for survival.
Another feature is that power is not equated with dominance. The splendor did not go along with shows of cruelty. There are no depictions of rulers period. There is a goddess figure receiving gifts and a nude young long haired youth unarmed, naked to the waist and crowned with peacock plumes and walking among flowers and butterflies.
There are no battle scenes as are depicted everywhere else at the time.
The given that states require warfare, hierarchy and the domination of women is belied here.
In mesopotamia rigid social stratification and constant warfare by about 3500bc and the decline of the status of women were assumed. Not here in 2000bc.
the invisibility of the obvious
One gender needn’t have oppressed the other. As there was a pleasure bond. Women were topless and men had tight pants in their art. Different from societies that treat sex as a worse sin than violence.
CHAPTER FOUR - DARK ORDER OUT
OF CHAOS: FROM THE CHALICE TO THE BLADE
Should history be measured in millenia? Catal Huyuk went back 8500 years. crete fell 3200 years ago. and we measure time from 1997 years ago.
the peripheral invaders
by 5000bc we have evidence of the destruction of old meolithic cultures of the near east. cultural regression and stagnationsets in it is 2000 years before old egypt settles in. These warring invaders include aryans, kurgans,hebrews and dorians.
The one thing they all had in common was a dominator model of social organization: a social system in which dominance, violence and general heirarchic and authoritarian social structure was the norm. Another commanality was that, in contrast to the societies that laid the foundations for Western civilization, the way they go wealth was not by developing technologies of production, but through ever more effective technologies of destruction.
metallurgy and male supremacy
2001 and colllege courses tell us that advance comes from man the hunter or man the warr
ior. So it was assumed that metal was first used for weapons.
In fact, the male invaders worshiped the blade. This was noted by herodotus about the Scythians. The sikhs still do it. These societies were the opposite of female ones. And slavery is then introduced. In Numbers 31:32-35 we have an account . In deuteronomy 3:3-6 we get another view of this god.
The graves now have sacrificed women in them, with the newly dead man. Bows arrows, spears and thrusting knives are now found. Settlements move up hills.The pottery goes to crap and the goddess becomes the male god’s consort.
Crete crashes precipitiouly after 1450 bc by 1100 it is over.
CHAPTER 5 - MEMORIES OF A LOST AGE: THE LEGACY OF THE GODDESS
primates gather more than they hunt. Also, their tools are food processing, not weapons. Independent use of hands and feet is also explainable by gathering , as well as the evolution of brain. Of course, the domestication of plants and possibly animals are women things. Demeter and Isis are associated
with creating agriculture. The muses of all arts are women. Femininity was associated with justice law and wisdom and law givers include the fates, ishtar tablets show women judges, maat is the egyptian goddess of justice. And sophia was wisdom personified well into the medieval days. The oracle at delphi was a woman. The egyptian symbol for goddess was a cobra known as eye. The oracle at delphi was called Pythia she was surrounded by a python. And it now appears that script was first on pottery and universal in old neolithic europe.
A cooperative era is not less advanced than a dominator (make weapons while folks starve) society. And a mother goddess is much more psychologically reassuring than a warrior god.
CHAPTER 6 REALITY STOOD ON ITS HEAD: PT ONE
The Oresteia trilogy (Agamemnon, libation-bearers and Eumenides) by Aeschylus is the play where Athena sides with men in the trial of Orestes for matricide. The defense is based on the children not being related to their mothers! The striking thin
k is that this was still necessary almost a thousand years after the Achaeans took control of athens in the 5th century. Spenser and Davinci also said that womena re only incubators. And religious leaders tell us that women are just to provide children, preferably sons and we take the fathers name. All the begats in the bible cover mothers. Even the savior is the son of god (without a real mother). The acceptance of dominator society wasn’t natural, but through books , plays, the smashing of idols, instalation of a priesthood (with armies and abstra ct dieties)
the metamorphosis of myth
as in 1984, the refashioning of books was done by priests.Zeus takes the serpent. Athena has it also on her shield as a sign of war. The bible rewrites it as evil . And the whole greek pantheon are serpent killers. Hercules et al. read 2 kings 18:4 for serpent in the arc. Before eve, the woman with serpent was the source of advice and wisdom. Now jehova casts her out for listening to the serpent. Man (adam) was less
tenacious in his clinging to the old ways. As her punishment she was put under man and god for eternity.
CHAPTER 7 REALITY STOOD ON ITS HEAD: PART TWO
The first wave of invaders were simply marauders who, the bible tells us, destroyed whole cities and melted idols to transport the gold. Soon the mauraders took over, became overlords and started to commision art.
the rerouting of civilisation
These new leaders created rank in which the brutal would survive, technology was linked to weapons and they got wealth through conquor not creation. And the old goddess are depicted as raped or concubines or killed. This had to be done as the superimposition of the dominators on the old cooperators created a rift.
the absence of the goddess
It is remarkable, that given the fact that much of the bible is based on canaanite and mesopotamian myths, that the female divine is absent. Even though the goddess was ery important to the hebrews until the destruction of the second temple. look at Jeremiah 44:17 for the wor
ship of a goddess or snake. Look at Deuternomy 22:13-21 for the treatment of women as property without initiative. Numbers 31 is a tale of horror and booty. the bible is supposedly a great ethical advance for humnanity, but dominator and partnership morality are not the same. The brainwashing is so thorough that people can read these passages and think they are the commands of a good and just god. The ultimate is in Judges chapter 19 which tells unsympathetically of a gang rape killing of a girl. Or genesis 19:8 where lot is spared after he gives his daughter so be raped by two angels.
knowledge is bad, birth is dirty, death is holy
Also, birth becomes uncleanly. Leviticus 12
But the goddess reappears. Jesus’ birthday is the festival of Demeter, baptism is a goddess thing. But in the new testament mary is minor. It is the father that sent him on this voyage. And it is not his life in this veil of tears that matters. But his ritual death.
CHAPTER 8 - THE OTHER HALF OF HISTORY PART ONE
are partnerships and dominator societies and actualising hierarchies
our hidden heritage
A woman themistoclea, a priestess of delphi taught pythagoras and another priestess, Diotema, taught socrates. Hesiod is told by his mother of the good old days when gold people ruled, followed by the hated dorians.
the cyclic unity of nature and the harmony of the spheres.
presocratic philosophers provided the first known secular, scientific approach to reality. This represents a blossoming in the place of minoan and catal huyuk civilisation after the dust of recent invasions had settled. Xenophanes idea the the universe is ruled by one all-encompassing and infinite intelligence is not olympian. It is in contrast to it. Homer said the rainbow came from the goddess iris. Pre-socs sai
d from the sun hitting dense moist air.
The orderly coherent universe view is much closer to goddess view than the olympic pantheon. Pythagorean universe as musical harmony is too. Regularity and cycles are commonly mentioned. Dialectics of opposties are also common.
Because of similarities with egypt and mesopotamia borrowings from the older civilisations are often thought to have happened. But what of the influence of local tradition and legend? Peace and democracies were harkening back. Platos equality for women in education and pythagorian and platos schools accepting them was not hierarchically kosher.
love of art, intense interest in processes of nature, the rich and varied feminine as well as masculine myyth and the brief attempt to institute equality in politics harked back. But also wasr and manly virtues were present. The old and new clashing can be seen in Athens patron diety, Athena. locally, demeter and persephones were worshipped. Pericleses wife was very powerful in th
e golden age of pericles. Sapho of lesbos ran a school and wrote beautiful poetry.
Aristophanes famous Lysistrata has women peace activists withholding sex. and another play of his has women wanting to be like men. The hetaerae were the prostitute goddess holders, but also brilliant escorts and some of platos best pupils were thought to be them.
but in the end aristotle said that jsut as slaves are naturally meant to be ruled by free men, women are meant to be ruled by men. Anything else violated the observable, and therefore, “natural” order.
CHAPTER 9 - THE OTHER HALF OF HISTORY: PART TWO
Jesus preached about the meek and not opressing and universal love and hung out with women, who were spiritually equal Galatians 3:28. Not suprisingly, people found him dangerous. It is to mary that he first appears after death, not the men. In acts 9:36 we hear of a female disciple (conspicuous in her absence elsewhere). In acts 2:17 we read of women prophets. He hung with a prostitute at a time when women were st
oned for adultery (the ultimate dominator sin).
the suppressed scriptures
The gnostic gospels were unearthed in Egypt in 1945. They were possibly written in 50-100. Around 200 men of the orthodox ordered all gnostic gospels destroyed. They say that a person need not go through a hierarchy to get to god. It also shows mary is the most important figure in the early movement. And mary challenges peter as the head of the new hierarchy. Early gnostic bishops write of stopping rankings and discrimination between clergy and laity. Early christian writers write of their horror of the gnostics letting women have power, exorcise, cure and engage in discussion.
the pendulum swings back
by the year 200 the mojority of christian communities endorsed as canonical the pseudo-pauline letter of timothy which stresses and exaggerates pauls anti feminist stance “let a woman learn in silence with all submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men: she is to keep silent”. And after this change it be
came the official religion of rome. It thus became the official Western religion and later that of the Holy Roman Empire.
Constantine was given his sign. Christian historians often omit that he also had his wife boiled alive and ordered the murder of his son. And soon church leaders ordered torture and execution, smashed pagan temples, burned books (perhaps the library at alexandria) and made art illegal until the renaissance.
CHAPTER 10 - PATTERNS OF THE PAST: GYLANY AND HISTORY
THE “feminine” as a force in history
Another dialectic is proposed. A pattern for those who are into patterns.
One early proponent was the moralist Henry Adams. He said all history rises and falls on the Virgin v. the Dynamo.
Another person talks of the humanising of the West via the troubadour. They made the virgin the patron andaccepted the ideal of gentleness to the weak to children and to women of their own class.
If viewed as a patriarchy vs. females and egalatarianism struggle, then the churches desire to silence women a
nd the feminine jesus wasn’t a periphrial characteristic. It was central. Millions were killed and tortured sadistically.
Part of the persecution was from the 13th church educated male “physicians” began to compete with the traditional “wise women” who were now accused of having “magical powers” affecting health. They were burned for using them. Having covens in the woods was another charge. Being sexual was the most common. If the goddess tradition continued unabated it is possible that the the ancient bull god (now the devil ) was worshipped.
Elizabethan england was a time of ascending humanitarianism. Also the arts and learning bloomed at this time. This is followed by the Puritans and the burning of the witches in America. In such times as the renaisance, upper class women gain freedoms. The medici women were super patrons and the feminine value of the arts soared. Also women played a large part in the Englightenment.
A precursor to a bad pendulum swings are the revival of misogynist dogmas.
This is a precursor to war. Hostile attitudes towards women are at times that they are oppressed.
An example of the tension is that late 19th century feminism’s rise gave way to compulsively masculine political style (theodore roosevelt). He and others called for war as a moral tonic. This is what happened in WWI. The identification of masculinity with violence.
women as a force in history
One half of humanity has traditionally been left out of history. So many educated folk don’t believe there were women who mattered. The first book on the topic was Mary Beard’s Woman as a Force in History.
Charles Fourier observed the degree of emancipation of women is an index of the degree of society’s emancipation
the femal ethos
The female ethos succeeds when women are let outside of their homes. Thus the effect of susan b anthony and elizabeth stanton was just that. Once out the feminine values are promulgated. Jane Addams, sojourner truth and Dorothea Dix and florence nightengale came into the public on anthon
y and stantons wakes.
such trends also make men more feminine and cause a backlash (ie moral majority and ERA defeat and other rightest groups.
the end of the line
If violence against women is a predictor, then we must become aware of this trend and address it. And now, frighteningly, our world is in a fundamentalist upsurge. This is due to the growth of the world wide feminist movement which is a threat to hierarchy.
CHAPTER 11 BREAKING FREE: THE UNFINISHED TRANSFORMATION
the industrial revolution brought a flowering of ideas and literacy. Kant Mill Rousseau Marx were all heralds of a cultural transformation.
the failure of reason
Hope waned as rational man continued to oppress, kill exploit . Social darwinism took off . then WWII .Disillusion with capitalism communism and rationalism had folks going to fundamentalism. We can go to fundamentalism, nihilism via entertainment or go back to an imaginary past “the good old days”. But if we recognize it is not human nature , but dominator society that does
this to us...
the philosophes started the shift with recognition of equality and fraternity.
the secular ideologies
capitalism was the first move to a partnership society. Familial breakdown also encourages her. Abolitionism, pacifism, anarchism, anticolonialism and environmentalism all came in the 19th and 20th centuries. But each was like a blind man describing the elephant. The elephant was male dominant society. The only philosophy that frontally attacks this is feminism. Feminism was born on July 19th, 1848 at seneca Falls New York. The first convention in recorded history helf for the express purpose of launching womens collective struggle agains subordinationa dn degredation. Around the same time Neitzche showed up.
the dominator model of hu
all modern progressive ideologies can be seen as against dominance. In the face of environmental problems. Female consciousness explosion can be seen as natures own defense mechanism. A survival edge we have is the abilityn to change. but to do so we must recognize feedback,interpret it correctly and respond appropriately. The big problem of population needs women to take control and not listen to dominator churches. we should choose the female values of “love/duty” and consciously choose and redirect the symbols that enter and guide manikinds mass mind. the new science of empathy and power for oneself instead of power over others is important. with a partnership model and better distribution of resources, we can lick the world problems. Caring, not alienation, must be the new way.