...is to return to the beginning. This book is the most important and powerful book I have ever read. It is important to read the book through and understand what is being said before bashing the author as a man-hater, as some have done. There is *such* a difference between bashing men and naming the injustices of the roots of patriarchal religion. For instance, it is men who are dying in the name of a patriarchal God (anti-terrorist and anti-infidel) as I write this. It is boys as well as girls who are starved, beaten and abused within a patriarchal system as children, entirely dependent on women who have all the responsibility for their unpaid labor, and none of the power to make things right.
I loved the way the authors articulated the importance of the unpaid work women do, and how much our entire global economy depends on it.
This work is not only historical, it is current, prescient, and brilliant. It is crucial to our time, and should be mandated reading for everyone. If only we could make that happen!
"Because the enemy does not exist in space, but in time; four thousand years ago. We are about to destroy each other and the world, because of profound mistakes made in Bronze Age patriarchal ontology -- mistakes about the nature of being, about the nature of human being in the world."
Touching on *quantum physics*, the authors create a spiral of hope that defies the statement that we are calling for a *return* to a time that no longer exists, but to a time that cannot be destroyed because it is organic and essential to the survival of this planet and the people She embraces.
I loved the author's use of words, too, she does not limit her vocabulary or "talk down" to her readers, but she does not talk over their heads either. She knows what she is talking about and it would behoove us all to listen.
After all, "People who put in two-thirds of the world's working hours and receive in return one-tenth of the world's income should have something to say about the idea that hard work equals wealth. ... The bitter truth is, under four thousand years of patriarchal 'exploit-for-profit' economics, the women of the world have worked long and hard, often under the worst necrophilic conditions, to keep the human race minimally alive. In return, we receive mostly dismal statistics signifying not reward, but rip-off."
The only drawback of this book is that once you read it, once you *get* it, you will never be the same again. And if more people *don't* read it, those who *do* get it are going to be very lonely and hard to live with people. Evolution is a lonely path. Let's walk the journey together, shall we?
on August 23, 2003
Perhaps it is true that not every conclusion the authors draw and present in this book is identified as such, as a part of a theory, but the book is serious scholarship in the main, and such distinctions are generally unnecessary for close readers. One must keep in mind that all "facts" from prehistory and the field of archeology have been interpreted by their presenters; there is no such thing here as objective truth in the hard science sense. All archeologists/anthropologists "pass their theories off as fact," ie they make the claim that their theory is the one that should be accepted as true, and, if their scholarship is good, they present compelling evidence to support their claims. Why assume that traditional (male-created) theories are more "factual," have a greater "truth" quotient, just because Sjoo and Mor sometimes express their opinions along with their research? Every male anthropologist has done the same. Read traditional anthropology with the same scrutiny and you will find at least as much extrapolation going on with the actual evidence as Mor and Sjoo do; it just fits a dominant paradigm better, and therefore has a resonance that makes it easier to accept as "truth." Sjoo and Mor have as much right to advance their theory as correct as anyone else who has done the same amount of research; they have the same right to draw what they see as logical conclusions from their research as others have had to draw from their own, and also expound as true. Bear in mind that all that is going on with this kind of "truth" is whether it is accepted or not by the majority of the academic world, and men still have the distinct advantage there. Is something truer because you can find more people to agree with you that it is true? It does not logically follow that the inclusion of some "unsubstantiated" statements in "The Great Cosmic Mother" renders the whole work nothing but a fiction, or in fact inferior in terms of probable veracity to traditional theories that came before it. Such a test would flunk traditional theories, too.
on December 11, 2001
(Review will be updated/cleaned up as time permits, but for now ...)
Buy this book if you have any interest in the human condition. An earlier reviewer claims that the book contains angry feminist rhetoric. Well, perhaps the authour is justified in her anger. She certainly is a feminist. But who better to speak about the subjugation and degredation of patriarchy than a woman who has lived with/under both? How can any clear minded individual look around them at our world and not be angry, sick, and furious with what we've done to it?
Every time I open this book and read a passage, I have an instant "aha" experience. These are the things I have felt and believed, but never had words for. This book is for everyone, from the lifelong feminist to the freshman high school girl (and boy!).
Feminists are often accused of wanting to return us to some misty age of superstition. We are accused of being anti-science, anti-technology, anti-progress, anti-human, anti-male. Nothing could be further from the truth. I personally am a very pragmatic, skeptical, science minded person. I love technology and the future is what I am happiest dreaming about. I love change and progress. What I don't love is our social/spiritual systems that feed off of and exist to promote human and planetary genocide. Only those who are the most in denial can say that there isn't anything wrong. But back to the point, the authors of this work use science to make their point. The extensive bibliography is a real treasure trove. The authours don't just say, "we believe it, thus it is so." Instead they cite their references at great length...
Don't be disuaded by negative reviews. It's one of the best 20 some dollars I've spent in a very long time. This book will change your life.
(One of the most amazing things about this book, was that the author wrote it while virtually starving and freezing to death in a little New Mexico home with her kids. For a year after this book was written, she was even homeless and living on the street! ... Is she angry? Suprisingly, given her life, she is very calm, intelligent, focused, and to the point...)
on May 10, 1999
I am a fifteen year old male and was given this book by a freind of my mother. I have read the book two or three times since then, and it has completly changed the way I look at the world! At first I was scared by what I read, then I gradually, as I continued to read, accepted what I knew, deep within myself, to be true (that is to say that the essence of the universe is not a duality between good and evil, but rather, a whole, not torn and divided but together). This book has also helped me to understand the state of modern society (especially its unspoken, but sometimes murmered, antagonism towards ecstasy, not the drug, and visionary experiences).
on May 25, 2002
In-depth history of the earliest Goddess-based religions and beliefs from a wide variety of cultures. This book is quintessential herstory - profound, powerful, and moving. The first 200 pages is an extraordinary compilation of women's multitudinous contributions to the survival and development of our species. The last 100 pages offer a radical analysis of Eurocentric imperialist patriarchy. The authors present a profound and substanial argument against the destructive influences of patriarchal societies which have deliberately attempted to erased the Womb/Mother/Goddess from the very world in which She has created. This book is a must read; if you approach this book with an open mind, you can learn a lot.
on January 20, 2002
I was given this book by a male friend who was so impressed with it that he bought up every copy in his local store to distribute among his friends. I can see why he was so enthused. I couldn't put it down and have read it many times since. It really resonates with me on a deep level - as it does with a lot of people, it seems.
There are so many aspects to this little book worth discussing it would be hard to pick out my favorite! I do think one of the best contributions of this work, is the way Sjoo envisions ancient culture's harmony with nature, and a positive agriculture and science, and then fuses them with the ecstasy and dreamlike states of shamanic traditions. That she somehow manages to combine these emotional, spiritual and practical aspects of Goddess realities is one of the reasons this book is such a complete experience from a feminist point of view. I think it's a very holistic and healthy vision of the past and what is possible for the future.
A couple of people in reviewing this book have mentioned the inevitable "male-bashing" that always comes up when discussing any strong feminist message, but I think any criticism of a group isn't "bashing" or prejudice. It is a fact that whole groups of people have often throughout history oppressed and enslaved other groups of people. The German persecution of Jews, white enslavement and then oppression of black people and culture... you could go on and on throughout history. To say that whole groups of people (meaning the majority of people in a given group not every single person, of course) do oppress other groups would be a lie. When most feminists talk about male oppression and talk about "men" in the general sense, it isn't a criticism of every single man alive, but more a recognition of the fact that there is a real problem within the larger culture and that groups of people do have responsibility, just as single individuals do. I think it's in this positive sense that Ms. Sjoo is discussing her thoughts on the subject and not in any negative prejudicial sense. The fact that there are so many men who seem truly excited about this book is proof to me that men do understand this and don't interpret feminist anger or critiques of culture as personal affronts and aren't offended by them. There is a lot of value here for men who feel close to nature, to women, goddess spirituality, or feminism and are looking to think about and develop a deeper understanding of these aspects of themselves. If you have a feminist love in your life it would be a great gift, too!
In short, I think this is a great book for both men and women who are interested in matriarchal cultures, feminism, Goddess spirituality, or just like to explore new ideas!
on February 24, 1999
It seemed I had always had an appointment with such a book. Many, many things I believed in and that I always thought had nothing in common are suddenly harmoniously tied together. It is really hard, though, to read this book, for it totally uproots your vision of the world, inscribing everyday life injustices into a long tradition (machismo, harm done to women, "minorities", the earth...). But the clearer your vision, the harder to bear those realities - and the more necessary to have it read around. If you don't find peace in the world (the day it happens, call me!!) you can find it within yourself, and believe me, i wasn't one for mysticism!
on November 4, 2005
I first read this book about 10 years ago and I haven't been the same since. I was shocked to learn that all human fetuses start out as female and only if an androgen kicks in will a fetus end up male. This was a major revelation to me...I had never heard that before. Since then I have found information that says the same thing. I am sure that men wish that wasn't the case, but apparently it is.
I suspect some people don't like the book because it comes flat out and says that the first deities were female. I have no problem with that It makes sense since the person people first interact with are their mothers. I have no problems with thatat all.
I would love everyone to read this book--it is definitely an eye-opener!
on February 10, 2001
I read this book about 1987 and it changed my views on the world. In this book I found an alternative to patriarchal religion and I am still very greatful to that. Although today I have been a little more critical of some parts of the book I still very much want to recommend it. That neolithic (and probably even palaeolithic) society was matrifocal and centered around a cult of the Great Goddess is, in my opinion, proved irrefutably by archaeological findings from the 20th century. I agree with Sjoo and Mor that this fact indeed is very important for us today. I think the book is wonderful and gives a convincing picture of the goddess religion. Unfortunately the authors often describe later Bronze Age and even Iron Age societies as matriarchal and goddess-worshipping, although these societies, with the exception of Minoan Crete, already was patriarchal and quite warlike. One example is the Canaanites/Phoenicians, who in fact had a quite bloody and oppressive religion, centered on child sacrifices and "sacral" prostitution. The excavations of Phoenician colonies in Northern Africa has showed many examples of ritual child sacrifices.
But this is a minor point. I think Sjoo/Mors book is one of the important books in the 20th century. You could argue with it, dislike parts of it, but if you are seriously interested in finding alternatives to patriarchal society and religion you must read it!
on January 6, 2003
This is a brilliant, insightful, revelationary and astounding book. Without preaching AT ALL, the authoresses utilize unquestioned archaeological, anthropological, biological, genetic and historic facts to show what has been happening to this world for the last 4,000 years. More importantly, they use the same solid evidence to show what was happening to this world for the 500,000 years before that. In addition to these objective observations, the reader is subjectively shown HOW MUCH OF THE CONFUSION, PAIN AND DANGER OF OUR SOCIETY HAS BEEN CAUSED BY THE GENERATIONAL PERPETUATION OF PATRIARCHIAL CULTURES AND RELIGIONS. Look, there isn't space enough in this review to cite everything that is amazing and critically important about this book; suffice it to say that when you read it (and you MUST read it), you will find yourself deeply wishing that every human being on Earth would read this book because you will know that, if they did, life would change enormously in our society, all for the better. This book will make you see things that are right in front of our eyes and make you wonder why we haven't seen it. As Alice Walker said of this great work: "It is one of the most important books I have ever read." Men and women will be angered, astounded and transformed by reading this astonishingly intelligent and vitally important book. Don't just buy it, GIVE THIS BOOK TO YOUR FRIENDS AND TELL THEM TO DO THE SAME!!