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

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  2,988 ratings  ·  252 reviews
The legacy of the sacred feminine.

The Chalice and the Blade tells a new story of our cultural origins. It shows that warfare and the war of the sexes are neither divinely nor biologically ordained. It provides verification that a better future is possible—and is in fact firmly rooted in the haunting dramas of what happened in our past.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 21st 1988 by HarperOne (first published 1987)
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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 don't make that claim, but are certainly influenced by the popularity of Eisler's 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
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ✺❂❤❣
Even though some details seem a bit questionable (possibly!?), many ideas are interesting and illuminating.
Wendy Babiak
Loved this book. Helps clarify how we got where we are, and where we can go if we want to. Those who brush this off as feminazi aren't reading well. She reiterates many times that there are gentle men and less-than-gentle women. Nor does she say that the Neolithic matrifocal societies were uptopias with no problems, just that they focused on nurturing rather than destruction. Her ideas about a gylanic society based on linking rather than ranking are excellent and should be pursued.
Not in a million years should The Chalice and the Blade be considered a work of feminism or competent scholarship in general. (Indeed, it is, in fact, widely rejected by even feminist archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians.) Many of Eisler's arguments are recycled from the later work of Marija Gimbutas, who claimed that Paleolithic and Neolithic "Venus" statuettes and figurines were representations of a "Mother Goddess." The speculation is plentiful, but the evidence is not. There is no ...more
Steve Cran
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
During the Neolithic times our world was a much different place. The evidence is present not only in our technology but also of the presence of certain statues all over Europe. They are called Venus statues. They were misjudged at first and archaeologists thought they were used for lustful purposes. Well they were wrong the statues were used to worship the Goddess. The Goddess was seen as the creator of all, the giver of birth. There was a male consort who co -ruled with her. In those times heri ...more
Katja Vartiainen
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So, I give this book 5 stars even though I know well the controversy about Gimbutas's work, Eisler based her prehistoric analysis on.
Eisler, as has for example Joseph Campbell, emphasizes how important the myth is to our evolution as a species and as a person. A mythology is psychological/spiritual model for us as we grow into maturity throughout our lives. I dived into the debate that has, and is going on online, and I haven't yet read Gimbutas's work. But, I have read Joseph Cambell's primitiv
Feb 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
Having just read Half the Sky, Infidel, and several books about the FLDS (Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints), I recalled this book which I had read a number of years ago. The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler is a cultural anthropology and analysis of what she calls dominator societies vs partnership societies. The cultures in Half the Sky, for example, are extreme dominator societies. That women are not valued is how they work. What it takes to change them has been Eisler's life work since s ...more
Sep 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Pagans
Shelves: witchynonfiction
This was a life-changing book for me. It helped me to connect and make sense of all the stories and myths I had read about from other religions. In doing so, it firmly established the Goddess in my life, and as I look back it is responsible for my decision to become a Witch and devote my life to the feminine energy of the Goddess. I cannot say enough good things about this book. I feel it is a must for all spiritual awesome book and a real eye-opener to say the least!!
Mar 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
'Attempts' to use evolutionary theory to explain how, through punctuated equilibrium, men rose up and took over the peaceful female-dominated societies all over the world. Apparently all men are evil 'blades' who want destruction and women are all good 'chalices' who believe in religion and want peace and harmony. Eisler argues that there has been a conspiracy within science to hide these early peaceful societies, as evidence she cites an anecdote about an anthropologist she really likes getting ...more
Jan 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Like DaVinci Code? Read this. This book is where the information came from, this book is the mother to many, many others...
Nov 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
" individuals as in nations, contentment is silent, which tends to unbalance the historical record."

This often overlooked truth, advanced by historian Barbara W. Tuchman, is wielded with a vengeance in Riane Eisler's The Chalice and the Blade. Eisler directs our attention to the least advertised stages of societal evolution, those of relative peace and prosperity, in which nothing strident rises up to catch the eye - and which we fail, rather consistently, to recognize as eras of manifest a
Jun 01, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: philosophy, religion
Apparently, the author and the publisher thought that this 300 page work of prevaricated, atrociously researched swill was passable. They are gravely mistaken.

I am not a diseased, half-dead pack animal who can't think, so I'm not sure why the author treats me as such. This book is poorly written, Ms. Eisler spoon feeds readers her opinions that are poorly veiled as facts, her writing lacks style, and for a history it lacks what it needs: actual history.

My main criticism is that this book is mark
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Riane Eisler was born in Vienna, Austria and with her family fled for their lives, first to Cuba and finally to the United States, experiencing three different cultures, each with their own version of truth and reality.
Very early in my life I saw that what people in different cultures consider given - just the way things are - is not the same everywhere. I also very early developed a passionate concern about the human situation.

She began to ask herself many questions:
Why do we hunt and persecute
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Five stars. An exceptionally important, brilliant book. It is a rare book, indeed, that can change a person's entire view of human history.

I've seen copies around for years but never read it. I recently got a copy of a later book by Eisler (The Real Wealth of Nations), then saw a copy of TCATB for a dollar, and thought I would take a quick look at it first. I picked it up and was immediately engrossed. Starting about 10,000 years ago, and continuing for a period of about 30 centuries, widespread
Oct 02, 2007 rated it liked it
The first 66% of this book is fantastic-- a well-researched and developed argument that we must view our notions of anthropology and history with an extremely critical eye.

Unfortunately, the last third of the book leaves all that behind, and becomes a flight of fantasy as it describes what society might be like if based on a more egalitarian method.

So I recommend it based on the holes it punches in many of our most taken for granted beliefs on historic and prehistoric mankind, but don't put too
May 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, religion
I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to read this book. A lot of what I read in its pages changed my entire worldview and caused me to reevaluate the history of the world as I knew it through a feminist lense and to change how I felt and thought about that history. There was a lot in this book that I didn’t completely agree with but there were many parts that I was glad to have read and have reached a deeper and richer understanding of the world because of it.

The Chalice and the Blad
Jen Marin
Eisler reframes the age old idea of the 'war between the sexes' into something equally polarizing, yet more inclusive. Many people have examined the problems of humanity as an inevitable outcome of our innate aggression and territoriality. Our history clearly how the forces of war, colonialism, nationalism and greed have shaped the world as we know it.

On closer inspection, however, the picture is less clear than we have long believed. I was surprised to learn that archaeology, as a science, only
Jan 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
It tends to happen that each new book I read then becomes my favorite - but this book did such a good job answering so many questions for me (giving me a system wide look instead of too focused) that I am now in awe of my new worldview. She answered my questions of "Where did patriarchy come from? How did it begin and why has it lasted as our social system to this day? What better possibilities can we aim for?"

The Chalice and the Blade is a very level headed approach to what is often a heated to
Nov 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book was required reading for a workshop I attended on Starr Island for a Religious Education retreat sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Association

It changed my life as I began to understand and believe that there is an alternative to the Dominator model which most of our world has been living under for the last 4,000 years. The Partnership model which prevailed prior to much of our recorded history is what I strive for now. You have to read it to understand it, and whether you accept
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My personal change agent. I read this book at a juncture in my life when many things were changing. I have read Chalice more than 5 times, have been in book studies on it and led them as well. In nearly every case women who have not encountered information like this before have often profound experiences with waking up. My copy is dog-eared, underlined, commented in and loved dearly for what it has brought me and other women I love.
C. Drying
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing

This one has been on my TBR shelf for twenty years, so I figured it was time to read it. Of course, having come of age at the tail end of the second wave of feminism, I’m not unfamiliar with the content; nevertheless, I wanted to brush up on the subject for a work of fiction I’m writing.


I think Riane Eisler is a very good writer, and HarperCollins editors are excellent too. The writing in this book is clean and tight and erudite, just
Feb 12, 2012 rated it liked it
I found this book to be more a work of speculative fiction than the cultural anthropology that it pretends to be.
Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Audio is a bit dry but the book is great, hopeful. We humans CAN live in a non-patriarchal (and non-matriarchal) society in PEACE.
Robin Tobin (On the back porch reading)
An all time spiritual classic...
May 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Until reading this book, I thought the arguments that early human cultures were peaceful egalitarian Goddess worshipers was about as strong as the arguments that early human beings were brutish war-mongering death-worshipers. Both directions seemed to be speculative wishful thinking based on very limited weak evidence. But this book provides a great overview of recent archeological finds and corrections of earlier literature that didn't have the benefits of carbon dating. It is quite convincing ...more
Erik Graff
Feb 07, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Erik by: no one
This book is comparable to such archaic utopian works as Engels' On the Family and E. Morgan's Descent of Women, but, like Morgan's, without the excuse of ignorance. When Engels wrote in the nineteenth century his ideas of a prehistoric cooperatism were at least plausible and, indeed, supported by contemporaneous anthropological work. When Morgan and Eisler wrote, however, much more work had been done and little evidence accumulated to support the hypothesis of an archaic social paradise.

Such ev
David Wright
Oct 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book and its sequel, Sacred Pleasure, really need to be read back to back, because it shows how society can be changed by the stories we tell ourselves and each other and how power can be usurped based on untruts about the feminine, and that within the masculine. They have been the foundation pieces of partnership work done in Sustainable Ballard. A good solid study of how we became the way we are.
Feb 07, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2010
I guess it's a sign of how well these ideas have been disseminated since this book was published that I found nothing all that new to me here. (Or maybe it's just because I live in Northern California...)But it's always welcome to hear evidence that human history hasn't just been a straight line of organized violence from the African savannah to Pax Americana.
Apr 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
A very informative view of humanity's goddess-worshiping, egalitarian past and the ways that Western culture of dominance has sought to erase the memory such traditions. An inspirational read for those who seek a broader explanation of our cultures past and greater possibilities for our future.
Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Clears a lot of the mystery about why women have become second class citizens
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Riane Eisler is internationally known for her bestseller The Chalice and The Blade, now in 26 foreign editions and celebrating its 30th anniversary with a new 2017 epilogue in its 57th US printing, as well as for other award-winning books. She keynotes conferences worldwide, with venues including the United Nations General Assembly and the US Department of State. She is President of the Center for ...more

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47 likes · 11 comments
“All over the ancient world populations were now set against populations, as men were set against women and against other men. Wandering over the width and breadth of this disintegrating world, masses of refugees were everywhere fleeing their homelands, desperately searching for a haven, for a safe place to go.

But there was no such place left in their new world. For this was now a world where, having violently deprived the Goddess and the female half of humanity of all power, gods and men of war ruled. It was a world in which the Blade, and not the Chalice, would henceforth be supreme, a world in which peace and harmony would be found only in the myths and legends of a long lost past.”
“When we look closely, not only at what Jesus taught but at how he went about disseminating his message, time and again we find that what he was preaching was the gospel of a partnership society. He rejected the dogma that high-ranking men - in Jesus' day, priests, nobles, rich men, and kings - are the favorites of God. He mingled freely with women, thus openly rejecting the male-supremacist norms of his time. And in sharp contrast to the views of later Christian sages, who actually debated whether woman has an immortal soul, Jesus did not preach the ultimate dominator message: that women are spiritually inferior to men.” 4 likes
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