Matriarchal Societies

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* Book: Matriarchal Societies. Studies on Indigenous Cultures Around the Globe. By Heide Goettner-Abendroth.



"This book presents the results of Heide Goettner-Abendroth's pioneering research in the field of modern matriarchal studies, based on a new definition of matriarchy as true gender-egalitarian societies. Accordingly, matriarchal societies should not be regarded as mirror images of patriarchal ones, as they have never needed the patriarchy's hierarchical structures of domination. On the contrary, matriarchal patterns are socially egalitarian, economically balanced, and politically based on consensus decisions. They have been created by women and are founded on maternal values. This new perspective on matriarchal societies is developed step by step by the analysis of extant indigenous cultures in Asia, Africa, and the Americas."


Annie Finch:

"Matriarchal Societies by Dr. Heide Goettner-Abendroth is a book about that new something —which is also something very old. Matriarchal culture “still exists on every continent, and has a long and worldwide history—much longer than the history of the patriarchal form of society. Far from existing only as isolated, “exotic,” special cases, this form of society was once the general rule.” (p. xxiii). While Goettner-Abendroth claims that cultures on every continent have “residual matriarchal patterns,” Matriarchal Societies focuses on documenting only extant matriarchal societies, which she has so far found in North America, South America, India, and Africa.

First published a decade ago in German, Matriarchal Societies started a worldwide movement–Matriarchal studies. This stunningly unique and influential book is now, excitingly, translated into English for the first time. Dr. Goettner-Abendroth’s exhaustively documented research illuminates the widespread patterns of indigenous matriarchal cultures: consensus decision-making, matrilineal cultures, gift economy, and goddess-centered spirituality. Here is Dr. Goettner-Abendroth’s description of patriarchal and matriarchal cultures: “In patriarchal states . . . hierarchical pressure from above keeps everything—and everyone—in line, while matriarchal peoples base their largest forms on the equal value of every member. In this, and in their fundamentally peace-oriented politics, matriarchal societies serve as important models for future societies, beyond patriarchy, that are just and peaceful.” (p. xxxvi)


Dr. Goettner Abedroth’s visionary theories and painstakingly collected evidence of how matriarchal societies work across continents resonates deeply with my inner awareness and life experience of how we can live most easily, how we can live with the most delight, and also how we must live if we are to survive as a species. Her career path is also a model for all of us independent thinkers; for example, at the beginning of her career, when she realized that her research was too radical for the current university system to handle, she simply founded her own Academy so she could work unhindered and have the most impact." (

More information

* Book: Societies of Peace. Matriarchies Past, Present and Future. Edited by Heide Goettner-Abendroth. Inanna Publications and Educations Inc., Toronto/Canada 2009

"This book includes the speeches from the First and Second World Congress on Matriarchal Studies 2003 and 2005. It is an outstanding representation of the intellectual sharing of matriarchal-indigenous and non-indigenous scholars from all over the world in their knowledge on matriarchal societies. There is a wealth of insightful work on past and present matriarchal societies, which makes this book a powerful life-affirming political one."