in someone else's words....

riane eisler
by Alex Burns ( - October 02, 2001

Riane Tennenhaus Eisler is one of the most challenging, intelligent, and provocative scholars alive today who write on Cultural Transformation models. Her inter-disciplinary research blends together anthropology, economics, history, political science, psychology, and sociology to reveal the coercive and double-binding structural patterns underlying global civilization's repressive and violent history.

Drawing upon the archaeological research of Marija Gimbutas, Ashley Montagu, and others, Eisler's influential book The Chalice and The Blade: Our History, Our Future (New York: Harper & Row, 1987) explored early matrilineal and matriarchal societies and polytheistic Goddess worship.

Eisler proposed that much of history has been the battle between Dominator (Androcratic) and Partnership (Gylanic) societies: the destructive Blade has often been exalted over the life-giving Chalice. Although criticized by some analysts for promoting a Golden Age of supposedly equalitarian agrarian village life that they claim never existed (and who note that Eisler's continuum is still hierarchical in nature), Eisler's book offers many insights into gender equality far beyond its contemporaries: the development of High Civilizations; the destruction of Goddess worship by monotheistic Judeo- Christianity; and Minoan Crete as a possible model for cultural transformation.

The Partnership Way: New Tools for Living and Learning (2nd Edition, Holistic Education Press, 1998), co-written with David Loye and originally published in 1990, offered an International Partnership Network and a collection of self-development exercises designed to explore non-violence and stimulate awareness of environmental, multicultural, and gender issues.

In her next book Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth, and the Politics of the Body (San Francisco: HarperSan Francisco, 1995), Eisler directly confronted the reasons for linking Sex and Violence, from anthropological studies of Neolithic/Paleolithic societies to contemporary media eroticization and sacralization of pain. Well-researched, wide-ranging, and passionately argued, Sacred Pleasure surpasses Eisler's earlier work, and continues detailing the Chaos, Gaia, Eros trinity detailed by Ralph Abraham, Robert Anton Wilson and others. This book shatters more misconceptions about gender relations and human sexuality than any other feminist/cultural studies oriented study.

With Tomorrow's Children: A Blueprint for Partnership Education in the 21st Century (Westview Press, 2000), Eisler turns her attention to regenerating the education system into an innovative one that harnesses individual creativity, stimulates collaborative problem-solving strategies and exalts needs-centered values over moulding the student to 'best-fit' mythic-membership society.

Through the Pacific Grove, California based Center for Partnership Studies, Eisler and Loye continue to explore the possibilities for sustainable societies through consulting, lecturing, research, social activism, and teaching.

Riane Eisler's open-ended worldview has influenced many aspects of contemporary cultural debate, most notably stimulating interest in Wicca and Goddess-oriented religions; countering the Killer Ape and Selfish Gene models of human development; and offering a more embracing Feminism that isn't blame or guilt-oriented.