Sacred Pleasure


Sacred PleasureSex, Myth and the Politics of the Body, New Paths to Power and Love, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1996

Riane Eisler’s second book Sacred Pleasure is not less of a strike of genius than her first, The Chalice and the Blade. In fact, both books are complementary in a way, they should be edited as a two-volume reader, from a publisher’s point of view.

This book turns most of our opinions about sex upside down. I agree with the author when she says that most people are unaware of the fact that their sexuality represents a carefully conditioned habit:

In short, sex does not, as a once-popular song had it, ‘just come naturally.’ Rather, as illustrated by the jarring differences in the prehistoric and contemporary sexual symbols and images we have been comparing, sex is to a very large degree socially constructed./22

I myself believe that human sexuality is not, as modern sexology suggests, a matter of instincts, drives and automatisms. Sexuality could be entirely different from what it is today, and what our sex laws make it to be. Why have we got to be sexual? This is not a party question, it’s a profoundly spiritual quest!

I provide a few quotes to let the author speak for herself, for I feel not apt at paraphrasing her competent lecture. I think the book speaks for itself, while what the author says is all but self-evident. Sexuality has never been a comfortable issue in our society and for that reason, the book is not a comfortable read for some people. However, this book deserves no lesser praise than the The Chalice and the Blade.

The underlying problem is not men as a sex. The root of the problem lies in a social system in which the power of the blade is idealized—in which both men and women are taught to equate true masculinity with violence and dominance and to see men who do not conform to this ideal as ‘too soft’ or ‘effeminate.’/xviii

If we look at the whole span of our cultural evolution from the perspective of cultural transformation theory, we see that the roots of our present global crises go back to the fundamental shift in our pre-history that brought enormous changes not only in social structure but also in technology. This was the shift in emphasis from technologies that sustain and enhance life to the technologies symbolized by the Blade: technologies designed to destroy and dominate. This has been the technological emphasis, rather than technology per se, that today threatens all life in our globe./xx

In sharp contrast to later art, a theme notable for its absence from Neolithic art is imagery idealizing armed might, cruelty, and violence-based power. Nor are there any signs of ‘heroic conquerors’ dragging captives around in chains or other evidences of slavery./17

In Neolithic art, neither the Goddess nor her son-consort carry emblems we have learned to associate with might—spears, swords, or thunderbolts, the symbols of an earthly sovereign and/or deity who exacts obedience by killing and maiming. Even beyond this, the art of this period is strikingly devoid of the ruler-ruled, master-subject imagery so characteristic for dominator societies./18

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