Sunday, September 16, 2007


This is the second of three-part series that summarizes this weblog.


The Hopi, Basques and Moso are three current societies that, until very recently at least, revolved around a strong Great Mother Goddess. Each stands out among its neighbors for its various “utopian” characteristics.


In the 1980s and before, many wrote about the predominance of a Neolithic Great Mother Goddess. Anthropologists also wrote then (and still do) about the Neolithic as a time of peace, nonviolence, equality and community-run political systems.

The 1990s however witnessed a backlash against both these ideas. Anglo feminist archaeologists and military historians figured prominently in this backlash. Many feminists view any emphasis on the biological differences between the sexes as harmful to women’s social and cultural advancement. And they see the idea of Mother Goddess as limiting women to their biological functions. In the 1990s a flurry of books and articles appeared that blasted the Mother Goddess and her ancient “matriarchy” (a term psychologically loaded as well as misunderstood). A major backlash book was The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory, published in 2000 by an assistant professor of religion, Ms Cynthia Eller.

But now we’re beginning to see a backlash against the backlash (this is how science works). In 2002 the great French archaeologist Jacques Cauvin wrote at length about the Great Mother Goddess of the Neolithic, especially as She existed at the Neolithic town Catal Hoyuk (Cauvin, The Birth of the Gods). Anthropologists Keith Otterbein (How War Began, 2004), Raymond C. Kelly (Warless Societies and the Origin of War, 2003), and Douglas Fry (Beyond War: The Human Potential for Peace, 2006) argue vehemently against the notion that humans are intrinsically violent.
The pic above is a Goddess figurine from the Japanese Neolithic


Morgaine said...

I'd tell you what I think of Cynthia Eller, but I don't want to use that kind of language on your blog.

Medusa said...

"Knocking Down Straw Dolls,"an excellent critique by Goddess scholar Max Dashu of Eller's book can (and should!) be read on:

Athana said...

Thanks medusa for the pointer. I need to go back and read Max's critique again. To me, Eller's out of her league. She's a non-scientist trying to swim in scientific waters. She seems to have written the book with the "help" of a male anthropologist family member who seems scared stiff of women.