Switching to GoddessI am normally a silent reader, not one who leaps into the air, fist clenched, shouting "YES!" every now and again. My unusual cheerleading behaviour was entirely due to the fact that I was so happy to read a book about Goddess that actually proposes some real, radical solutions to the mess our world is in right now.  Books that tell me about ancient Goddesses are still good, but I was really starting to yearn for more.

The greatest thing about the book is - quite apart from the fact that it might help to save the planet and us all - its readability and the feeling of breathless adventure I got from it. What's coming next? How can this work? I was particularly keen to get to the part where I would find out just how in Goddess' name we were going to get from here to there, how the big switch could happen. We need more books, and more thinking, along these lines, and we need them very, very soon. To have more books with this kind of clarity and readability would be fantastic.

Above is the short review I wrote many months ago; after I was lucky enough to have a preview of the book.  I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it for real, and wasn’t disappointed when I did.  For if it was time a year ago to move on from re-discovering Goddess towards doing something, then that’s even truer today.  Time to figure out what we actually do with all this information. Time to start moving in the direction of saving humanity from the mess we’re in, and to use our knowledge and our love of Goddess to begin planning how to shift the world in Her direction and make things better for all of us.

Jeri Lyn Studebaker has done just that with this book, suggesting ways we can really survive and thrive on this planet – as the title suggests, by switching to Goddess before it is too late.

The book is entertaining as well as informative – Jeri wears her considerable learning lightly and although she draws from archaeology and anthropology, psychology and a number of other academic disciplines to make a very convincing case for how patriarchy and the gods of war have led to our current intolerable state of affairs, and to suggest a plan for how we can change things for the better, at no time is the book anything other than a very good read.

It’s radical, certainly, but that’s what we need right now.  The laughs are a bonus; Jeri’s writing reminded me several times of novels by Fannie Flagg - the humour in pointing out people’s foibles is gentle and the effect is both comical and loving.  I laughed out loud at passages like this:

“By six I could decline verbs like stone (to death) and smite (smitheth, smote, smitten).  All our ministers spoke non-stop about Father, Son and Holy Ghost, never about Mother, Daughter and Holy Grandmother.”

But even while laughing, I was learning a great deal: about the shift in climate that led to the world as it is today, of which I’d read a little but much of this material was new to me.  I loved another convincing challenge to the ridiculous linear view of history (in which we have made great progress since Ugh in his cave first started banging rocks together, while wifey made mighty-hunter mammoth stew).  We knew, or suspected, that in fact the world was doing very nicely, thank you, with peaceful, Goddess-loving cultures which valued equality and motherhood, until that climatic shift about six thousand years ago which led indirectly to a culture of starvation, to the patriarchies and warmongering of today. The difference here is that there’s actually a plan for what we might just do to change all that.

The book gives a great deal of evidence of peaceful cultures which have somehow managed to survive – barely – such as the egalitarian, free-loving Moso in the Himalayas.  The Moso have a Mother Goddess, and entirely the right idea about babies (I’ve never understood how a child could be “illegitimate” – we all have a mother, after all).  There are a number of other examples given; the Basques, with their earth-dwelling Goddess, the once wealthy Hopi, with their several goddesses.  All, of these cultures, from which we could learn so much, are disappearing fast in today’s world, sadly.

“Imagine: a world without war.”

How enjoyable, also, to have science actually backing up these healthy ideas, with evidence that maybe we’re not so much like chimpanzees, who are known to fight, to kill and eat chimp babies.  That in fact humans are genetically as much like the bonobo as they are the chimpanzee, that bonobos are peaceful, egalitarian and sexy. Perhaps our society gets the science and the “discoveries” it deserves, so that newer findings that maybe humans are motivated as much by altruism as violence are just what we need right now – and the evidence has been coming in right on time.

Another scientific discovery used here to fascinating effect is the role played by the hormone oxytocin – enhancing relaxation and decreasing the body’s stress responses.  I knew about the role of this hormone in stimulating uterine contractions but not that it is actually released in the act of giving birth and triggers the love a mother feels for her newborn – which makes total sense to me.

Jeri is not afraid to take on the patriarchal religionists and explains precisely how the jealous old father gods, who prefer punishing to loving us, have got us into the mess we’re in, at least in part by the genocide of any people who didn’t go along with The Book; the destruction of any people whose deities loved them unconditionally, as a good mother, rather than an angry dad.

And at last we come to “The Fix” – a peaceful world, environmentally conscious, creative – the kind of world I suspect only people who recognise the Earth as our Mother can create – and Jeri doesn’t just assume that we can wave a magic wand and head over there – there’s a structure here, and a workable one, although a lot of people would have to be convinced first and I’m not sure if my glass of optimism is full enough – but what do I have to lose?  What do any of us have to lose?

©2009, Geraldine Charles