The Chalice and The Blade

[openbook booknumber=”0062502891″][rating:3/5]

The phenomenal bestseller, with more than 500,000 copies sold worldwide, now with a new epilogue from the author–The Chalice and the Blade has inspired a generation of women and men to envision a truly egalitarian society by exploring the legacy of the peaceful, goddess-worshiping cultures from our prehistoric past.

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.

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.

The Chalice and the Blade is a book divided into two basic parts. The lion’s share of the book is devoted to a detailed history of human kind comparing and contrasting the two different basic types of worship: god worship and goddess worship, worship of a dominating war-like god and worship of a nurturing loving goddess. The societies that practiced these are taken apart and examined and a lot of history is re-evaluated along these lines of dominator societies and equality societies.

The beginning was fascinating to read about, to hear about these societies that practiced worship of a female goddess that were run by a semi-democratic government with women making up the majority of the leadership. To hear about the research and archaeological work on these sites, the fact that they had paved roads, irrigation systems, drainage systems, and probably lived in better and cleaner cities than some people in third and fourth world countries today can boast of, eight thousand years before the birth of Christ was absolutely stunning to read about. To hear about their destruction at the hands of dominator societies, heartbreaking.

A lot of history starts to make sense once you read the beginning chapters of this book. How do we learn such amazing things and then “forget” them for centuries on end? Why does our society seem to stagnate for thousands of years at a time? What happened to the goddesses of long ago? These and more are answered and the answers make this book worth the read in my opinion.

Some of this book seems very anti-christian and anti-semitic. Those parts were a little uncomfortable to read about. It does explain why the first half of the bible is filled with war and hate and the second half peace and love. If you can hold on until chapter nine the answers will surprised you. This author is not anti-religion, just anti-hate. Jesus Christ was actually one of the first recorded, and definitely the loudest, speaker for the support of love and equality of all people. After reading the chapters that came before, you realize how amazing it is that he spoke the way he did in the time and society that he did. It was pure blasphemy.

A lot of the coverage of the more recent history I didn’t really agree with. This happened a few times in the earlier chapters but it happened a lot later. It seemed like the author just went too far and tried to draw the lines of comparison too much and in places where they didn’t belong. Was there a hatred that sparked Jesus’ disciples to try and oust the women placed in positions of leadership in the church? Yes. Was the same hatred of women and their gaining of equality and rights what helped spark World War I and II? Not so much. Her expertise is clearly with the former and not the later.

In spite of that and the ending, which seemed to me to have lost its way, this was a powerful and enlightening book. Read it for the first three quarters if nothing else. The new insight and the new worldview you will gain about the history of god and goddess worshiping cultures makes it worth it. Just be prepared to switch gears once she gets beyond her realm of expertise as she does stumble in the last few chapters, and by the end finds that while this new understanding can change how we view our past not even she can come up with a way for it to help guide our future. Many questions are answered in this book, but some we just have to answer for ourselves.

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