Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The gods Take Over, Part II

Yesterday, dear readers, I treated you to the first part of a review of Riane Eisler's The Chalice and the Blade, the riveting story of the way in which the West was devastated by dropping its worldview of human equality and picking up a dominator model to replace it. Today we’re still struggling under that dominator model. Like a giant wedding cake, we live squashed in layers, with people in each layer “superior” to those in the layer below.

Part II of the review:

Changing Norms
• New male-dominated, violent, and hierarchical societies gradually began to be seen as not only normal but also as RIGHT.
• Norms were changed by constant fashioning and refashioning of oral and written literature

Chalice Replaced by Blade "It had to be established that the old powers that ruled the universe--as symbolized by the life-giving Chalice--had been replaced by newer and more powerful deities in whose hands the Blade was now supreme”

Goddess Pulled Down And to this end one thing above all had to be accomplished: not only her earthly representative--woman--but the Goddess herself had to be pulled down from her exalted place.”

Justifications of Male Dominance
• “In some Middle Eastern myths this is accomplished by a story of how the Goddess is slain.
• In others she is subdued and humiliated by being raped...
• Such tales served a very important social purpose.
• They both symbolized and justified the imposition of male dominance.”

Goddess became consort or warrior “Another common device was to reduce the Goddess to the subordinate status of consort (wife) of a more powerful male god. Still another was to transform her into a martial deity."

Goddess Absent in Hebrew Bible In Cannan: "...the invasions of the thirteen Hebrew tribes not only accelerated, but also radicalized, this process of social and ideological transformation. For only in the Bible is the Goddess as a divine power entirely absent…”

New Male Social Order
• “If we read the Bible as normative social literature, the absence of the Goddess is the single most important statement about the kind of social order that the men who over many centuries wrote and rewrote this religious document strove to establish….

We are still Imprisoned in a Dominator System
"Millions of people still today seem incapable of perceiving what our sacred literature really says, and how it functions to maintain the boundaries that keep us imprisoned in a dominator system".

One important point highlighted here is what I call "The Slimy Slide." The Slimy Side is an historical set of events in which humans drop, through time, from Goddess, to mixed Goddess/god pantheons, and finally to gods alone. We begin with societies in which the Goddess is worshipped alongside few if any male deities. Next, a few meek gods pop up and serve along with her. In the next stage these meek gods are whining for a little more power. Next, the gods are equal with the Goddess -- and marrying Her. Then Zeus is pushing Her around, around and raping other women to boot. Finally, the Hebrews pitch the Goddess out altogether. Of course The Slimy Slide didn't occur everywhere in a straight-line progression. However, Eisler (and others) see ample evidence to support it as a general trend in Western history.

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