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The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future Paperback – September 21, 1988

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Editorial Reviews Review

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

From Publishers Weekly

Women played leading roles in the first Christian communities; Jesus' teachings had a feminist bent; ancient Hebrews worshipped the prehistoric goddess-mother well into monarchic times; and Nazis, with their system of male dominance, were a direct throwback to the Indo-European or Aryan invaders whom they crudely imitated. These controversial ideas and findings suggest the thrust of Eisler's highly readable synthesis. She convincingly documents the global shift from egalitarian to patriarchal societies, interweaving new archeological evidence and feminist scholarship. In her scenario, as womenonce veneratedwere degraded to pawns controlled by men, social cooperation gave way to reliance on violence, hierarchy and authoritarianism. The book, despite its jargon, is an important contribution to social history. Eisler wrote The Equal Rights Handbook.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; First edition (September 21, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062502891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062502896
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Riane Eisler is internationally known for her bestseller The Chalice and The Blade, now in 25 foreign editions, as well as Sacred Pleasure, The Power of Partnership, and Tomorrow's Children. Her newest book, The Real Wealth of Nations -- hailed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu as "a template for the better world we have been so urgently seeking" and by Gloria Steinem as "revolutionary" - proposes a new approach to economics that gives visibility and value to the most essential human work: the work of caring for people and for our natural environment.

She is president of the Center for Partnership Studies, and keynotes conferences worldwide, with venues including the United Nations General Assembly and invitations by Rita Suessmuth, President of the German Parliament, and by Vaclav Havel, President of the Czech Republic. She has taught at UCLA and now teaches in the online graduate program at CIIS.

Dr. Eisler is a leader for peace, environmental sustainability, economic equity, and human rights - pioneering the extension of human rights protection to "women's rights" and "children's rights." With Nobel Peace laureate Betty Williams, she co-founded the Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence (SAIV. She has received many honors, including honorary Ph.D. degrees, the Alice Paul ERA Education Award, and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation's 2009 Distinguished Peace Leadership Award, and is featured in the award-winning book Great Peacemakers as one of 20 leaders for world peace, along with Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King.

She can be contacted at
Her websites are,,

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Missing in Action on November 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
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.
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486 of 558 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Fulton on August 22, 1998
Format: Paperback
The Chalice and the Blade describes idyllic, Goddess-worshipping societies that Eisler believes existed several thousand years ago in eastern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. She presents images of agrarian villages that had no defensive fortifications because there was no war. The communities were non-violent and egalitarian. There was no hierarchy and no sexism. There was no class system or great disparities of wealth. The people were deeply spiritual and practiced free love. They were profoundly connected to the natural world. Eventually, however, aggressive warrior nomads from the east (patriarchal peoples who worshipped male sky gods destroyed these peaceful, Goddess-worshipping communities. The warrior nomads killed the men, raped the women, and took the children as slaves. The Goddess was suppressed and the patriarchy has ruled ever since.

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.

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208 of 238 people found the following review helpful By Janie Rezner on May 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
I'd like respond to some recent reviews that suggest Riane Eisler's work is not based on fact and that it lacks plausibility. It is quite a sweeping dismissal of a scholarly and well researched ten year work, drawing from many disciplines, from a woman whose life has been dedicated to helping us understand the mess we are in: how we got here, how violence is perpetuated, and how we can get out of it. Riane Eisler presents us with a roadmap to peace; whether we have the wisdom to understand it and respond to it is something else. Until violence against children and women has been abated there will be no peace. Violence begets violence.

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.
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