Modern Matriarchal Studies

Helheta / Gunilla Madegård

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          the Swedish lyricist par excellence



Elisabet Hermodsson is the kind of poet that easily could qualify for a real Goddess-ship in the celtic style of the mighty Morgan le Fay, or at least as her devoted priestess / holy queen.


Not only because of the  breathtaking beauty and irresistible spell in her bardic tones or the deep wisdom in her philosophical speculations, but as much because of her residence on the mythical island of Fårö outside the greater island of Gotland in the middle of the Baltic Sea.


And taken into account the content of the novel Dimstråk, 1990, everyone must agree that my notion buy no means is unfounded.

Because - exactly as the Morgan le Fay on the island of  Avalon in the (M)otherland was surrounded by a wall of glass, and accompanied by heros torn apart in their battles with dragons and other monsters in order to gain half the queendom and the queen, whom she, as a magician, had to put together again -  the celebrities on Fårö always have been surrounded by a dense wall of impermeability. And among them were not at least the world-famous hero Ingmar Bergman, whom we all know was ridden by all kind of monsters.


It seems though like the Goddess of Fårö unfortunately never got the opportunity to put his torn apart pieces together again, may it be because he too, as Lancelot and the other guys around the table of King Arthur, completely lost his mind by the androcentric whims fabricated thereby.

Considering that one has to to dive into a dwell, or pass through the wall of glass that surrounds the fabulous island, one must realise what a huge privilege it is to us modern people, to here, by this photo, getting the opportunity of looking right into the most secret dwellings, in wich the Goddess concoct her magic brews of bewitching poems and fateful predictions:

Elisabet Hermodsson, born 1927





There is much to say about the headstrong Swedish poet, painter, songwriter, feminist and philosopher Elisabet Hermodsson, who left us this year in maj, 89 years old, and the manifold creativity of her life´s work, that is quite beyond comparison. And I suppose most of it is already done in the dissertation of her authorship by Birgitta Ivarson Bergsten Förflytta berg till bokstäver (Move Mountains into Letters 1989) as well as in the presentation of her complete life´s work by the famous art historian / critic and curator Thomas Millroth, published 2013


As a heir of  Elin Wägners world of ideas, Elisabet Hermodsson, as well as the
Swedish science journalist and writer Eva Moberg, took up their great predecessor´s radical ecofeminist perspective of an alternative matriarchal way of organizing society and her critical stance towards male stream science and history writing. All these three "E:s" have been of fundamental importance to the feminist discussion, as well as to the worldfamous reforms of improved wellfare for women & children in the country.


Taken this strong Swedish feminist tradition into account, wich also has exerted considerable influence on the famous Swedish peace mediators Alva Myrdal and Inga Thorsson, it is beyond comprehension why the enormous effort of laying the foundation to the academic field of modern matriarchal studies, that is done by Dr Heide Göttner- Abendroth (who furthermore, among other candidades, was nominated to the Nobel Peace Prize 2000) hasn´t been largely echoed in this country and / or at least translated into Swedish.


Not at least in consideration of the inadequate debate about the existence of the matriarchy, to which Elisabet Hermodsson and Eva Moberg made their competent contributions in liberal daily Dagens Nyheter in the 90´s, without getting listened to by their male scholar opponents with the respect they deserved


(Scroll down!)


I guess it is due to an increasingly overall positivistic / scientistic approach to science, aesthetics and religion, which sooner has strengthened its grasp on peoples minds the last decades, than the opposite, as I took for granted would be the result of the the new field of integrated multidisciplinarity in social / cultural research of the kind  I myself was taught to manage, by studying musicpsychology  in the 90´s.


From  Elisabet Hermodssons homepage, we can learn, that she even has been rewarded an article in the French dictionary Larousse, which must be considered remarkable, in relation to the fact that most of her own fellow countrymen not even have a clew of who she might be, no less neglected in Swedish publicity than her great master and genius of her own manifold calibre; Elin Wägner


Larousse Dictionary: Writers
Larousse, Edinburgh, New York, 1994:

Elisabet Hermodsson

Swedish writer, composer and artist. Born i Göteborg, she studied in the University of Stockholm as well as attending art school. Her work enkompasses a range of media and genres, the volume Dikt-ting (1966, "Poems Objects") conflating poetry and picyures. On the basis of humanist, Christian and subsequently feminist convictions she has formulated a far-reaching cultural critique to which environmental concerns are central, for example the poems in Mänskligt landskap, orättvist fördelat (1968, Human Province, Unfairly Distriubuted,) in the essays in Synvända (1975, "Sight Distortion"), and in the "Ecological  Oratorio"  Skapelse utlämnad (1986, "Creation Abandoned”). Her feminism first found expression in the 1970s, notably in Disa Nilssons visor (1974, "Disa Nilsson´s songs), a volume of poems set to music and illustrated by the author, and designed to offer an antithesis to the conventional image of a woman presented in Birger Sjöberg´s popular Fridas visor in 1922.


B. I. Bergsten "Förflytta berg till bokstäver": utvecklingslinjer i Elisabet Hermodssons författarskap (1989)


This ode, expressed in one of her books; ”Moln Steg” (”Clouds”), translated into English by Eva Claesson, may be representative to her fundamental stance:


About Elisabet









“...In our modern world (we) human beings have lost the connection, the great creative connection of (our) lives to nature. A society denying its kinship with nature and without the experience of respect or reverence for the intrinsic value of nature, denies also the value of human beings. Poetry and art are the path to understanding of life and a feeling of wholeness. Poetry and art provide us with the essence of existence. Poetry and art are the rites – the ceremonies with which we can save the world.”

Där världen blir till (Were the World Emerges) 2002, is a follow up and further development of the thoughts and issues from the author´s earlier personal / philosophical essay-writings in Rit och revolution (Rite and Revolution) 1968, Synvända (Sight distortion)1975, Ord i kvinno-tid ( Words in the Time of Women”), 1979 and Ett etiskt universum (An ethical Universe) 1988

The Swedish scholar  Erland Lagerroth, who has spent the last decades writing educational books about science philosophy and the “new” kind of systems theory about self generating and self regulating systems in the organic, as well as the cultural evolution, has, among Ilya Prigogine and the other representatives of the paradigm he presents, also commented Elisabet Hermodsson´s  contributions to this topic (although he doesn´t even mention Elin Wägner; wich must be considered utmost incomprehensible, in particular as she has written a famous biography about Selma Lagerlöf, which Lagerroth calls attention to as the Great Genius herself.)


Both of them; Elisabeth Hermodsson, as well as Erland Lagerroth, have since long been inspired by the mission of re-enchanting the world, after the loss of enchantment that the ortodox clergy of reductionist & mechanist busybodies have imposed upon us all, with the result of alienation -  as well as arguing for the relevance of aesthetics as an epistemological field of as fundamental importance, as the field of nature science. Not at least due to it´s potential of cultivating the ability to perceive holistic patterns and distinguish the intrinsic dynamic between the detail and the whole in process-related systems, i.e. to enhance our hermeneutic capacities.


In Erland Lagerroth´s review of her book: Där världen blir till, 2002 (”Where the World Emerges), a Critical Comment. About image, Worldview, Art and Science” (my translation), he expresses his gratitude to the publication of this edition, as he states that books about critiques of science and civilisation is something of luxury to us swedes, whereafter he gives an interesting and elaborated comment on the thought provoking content, which constitutes a continuation of a longstanding theme in Elisabet Hermodsson´s writings since the 60´s.

In the 70´s she even succeeded to obtain some popular fame through her song Vad gör vi med sommaren kamrater? (What to do with the Summer, Comrades”) which became a real hit, as well as with her playful invention of the word “synvända” - quite impossible to translate into English as it alludes to a little yellow flower called “solvända” ( “turned to the sun”) and accordingly means a worldview that has changed its perspective ( “syn”=“view” or “sight”, “vända” = “turn” or “change” ) that was understood as a synonym to the word “paradigm”. But that wasn´t really what the author herself has had in mind, as she claimed that the word through it´s roots in old folk belief: “förvända synen” (to distort ones view) belonged to quite another epistemological tradition than the scientific one, namely the tradition of art and fiction.


In Där världen blir till (Where the World Emerges) she once more focuses on how the scientistic worldview has permeated our language to the extent, that we have lost our sense of poetry and great mystery in life and thereby also of fundamental morals & ethics. Considering the false acclamation of assigning science the ability to mirror reality itself, she argues that the scientistic (OBS! NOT "scientific" - two different things, my notion!)  worldview to a great deal has been used to substitute the old religious priesthood´s religious mandate with a new kind of ortodoxy, ruling under the same old patriarchal conditions as "always"- especially so the mandate to master nature.


As for example; What kind of purpose does it serve to change the verbal expression; "love of nature" into; "environment consciousness", if not to desensitize, in order to make people indifferent to the ruthless mastery and exploitation of Mother Earth?


Her history writing is thereby somewhat different from the one, that we normally are taught and in which the Master of the Measurement; Galilei Galileo is presented as the great martyr and hero.


Her main mission is to make us aware of, to what extent we will organise our future societies according to the kind of inner imagery our present culture is imposing upon our minds.

Critiques of Science & Civilisation


"Visitor" - a postcard to me from the artist herself:



According to fil. dr. Jan Olof Hellsten, who also has written a  penetrating comment on Elisabet Hermodssons life´s work, is this book used as educational litterature in the academic institution of environment philosophy.


In addition, he refers to a reasoning by Elisabet Hermodsson about the creative process in artwork, which i find  interesting, as it reminds of the hermeneutic reasoning by Ricoeur, as well as it attaches to the fundamental principles in the theories of self generating and -regulating systems. She argues that given the right kind of attention and openminded listening, the structure of the artwork will unfold by itself, from the moment you have percieved it its inititial shape.


That´s a phenomenon in music structure and composition and listening which has been scientifically examined  in the field of musicpsychology, whereby similar conditions in the mind´s processing has been stated.


As a young student in the 70´s, my encounter with Elisabet Hermodsson´s passionate expressiveness and razor-sharp intellect in her Rit and revolution (“Rite and Revolution”) 1968, was crucial. This book, wich she, as a pioneer very couragegesly wrote early in the 60´s, containing essays in which she delivers a sophisticated critique against the analytic philosopher Ingmar Hedenius´simplistic dichotomizing of science and religion, was a real breakthrough to my selfconfidence as an intellectual, as it confirmed many of my own reflections. I was then quite struck by the discovery, that I was not alone with my thoughts and thus not crazy.


She was also the one, who introduced Elin Wägners world of ideas in my life, wich altogether eventually came to exert a deep impact on my intellectual development and become a great help to coop with the alienation in a world dominated by men and simplistic malestream scientistic thinking.


Not at least was I enchanted by the breathtaking beauty in her songs, specially those in which she has given a voice to the special kind of harsh and barren landscape on Fårö, an island not far away from my own beloved one; Öland, with a similar  melancholic wilderness and untouched virginity in its character.


The rich stream of creativity in art, poetry, songwriting, wisdom and philosophy of trust, caring and hope, wich as an integrated whole is running from EH:s workshop on her summer island of Fårö, as well as her loft apartment in Uppsala, has a given place in the theoretical framework of matriarchal artwork, that Dr Heide Göttner-Abendroth has carried out from her thorough investigations (See "The Dancing Goddess"!)



I can hardly think of anyone representing  the specific kind of matriarchal approach to aesthetical expressions, as spiritually transformative openings to the realms in life, where we can achieve piece in mind  and fullfillment in our development as human beings, more accurate than Elisabet Hermodsson


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