Academic journal article Creative Nursing

The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future

Academic journal article Creative Nursing

The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future

Article excerpt

The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future Riane Eisler. San Francisco: Harper & Row. 1995 (first published 1987), 272 pages, $69.99.

In Cusco, Peru, the Cathedral of Santo Domingo was built over the foundations of an Incan palace following the conquest of Peru by the Spaniards in 1550. Because the Incans were superior craftsman, the Spaniards used Incan labor to construct and decorate the building. In the choir chamber, the priest's chairs are ornately decorated with male figures but carvings of naked, pregnant women are also included. These female carvings are strangely out of place in a building dedicated to Catholic worship during a time in history where women held few, if any, powerful positions. What is the significance of these conflicting images?

Riane Eisler, in her book The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future, might suggest that a cultural transformation was underway that was incomplete when the cathedral was built. Incan culture was based on a partnership model: Power was distributed throughout the population and nearly everyone's needs were met (Starn, Degregori, & Kirk, 2005). However, when the Spaniards conquered Peru, they implemented a dominator culture in which power and wealth were held by a select few, creating a great chasm between the wealthy and the poor.

Transforming a culture from a partnership model to a dominator model is not an easy task. Throughout human history, in societies with a prevalent dominator culture with more "masculine" values, "the softer, more 'feminine' values are more rigidly confined . . . to the private world of the home" (Eisler, 1995, p. 150). But when the partnership culture has more strength, "these values press out into the larger public, thereby effecting some measure of social progress" (Eisler, p. …

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