Book Review: “Return of the Dark/Light Mother or New Age Armageddon?” by Monica Sjöö

I’ve wanted to review this book for awhile, but reading it kept triggering me to pick up other reference books, so that this one book turned into reading about seven books! I finally finished it today. Monica Sjöö’s “Return of the Dark/Light Mother or New Age Armageddon?” is called “New Age and Armageddon: The Goddess or the Gurus” in its UK edition. Both versions carry the subtitle, “Towards a Feminist Vision of the Future.” With those titles, one might conclude that Sjöö enters the book with a full-on agenda; however, the book itself raises more questions than it answers. At relatively equal parts memoir, grief work (processing the deaths of her two sons), feminist polemic, Goddess celebration, Earth manifesto, sacred site pilgrimage, and apocalyptic warning, Return of the Dark/Light Mother is actually very difficult to pin down.

Sjöö presents a well-researched, sometimes shocking look at the cultural appropriation, racism, patriarchal and imperialistic attitude and actions of many New Age messages and gurus. I found her analyses articulated the discomfort and occasional outrage I’ve felt when reading channeled material or hearing New Age platitudes, as well as through observing in private sessions with clients just how much damage New Age thought has caused some lovely, sincere and good-hearted people. I have never felt comfortable with the “instant shaman just add water” nature of so many New Age books and trainings, and I, too, have noticed how much of the channeled material supports passivity and denial in the face of a looming military industrial complex and international globalist New World Order.

I often wonder if we would be at our current level of police state in the US if so many New Agers hadn’t believed all the luv-n-lite messages claiming Obama was a “higher dimensional ET” here to “save the world,” or if so many Americans could turn a blind eye to the devastation we wreak in the Middle East, Africa and Central America if certain interpretations of the Law of Attraction didn’t convince otherwise compassionate (and maybe otherwise active?) people that the victims of US bombings and invasions had “attracted” such things by “negative thought forms.” Sjöö provides much documentation to support these and other critiques.

Return of the Dark/Light Mother was first published in 1991 and then updated in 1999. Even so, reading it in 2015 reveals it as a highly (and scarily) prophetic book. Sjöö raises alarms about GMOs, transhumanism, the encroaching police state, CIA infiltration of the New Age movement, and — a major focus of her book — New Agers’ continued (sometimes subtle, often overt) patriarchal war on women and matter, including a disregard for our home planet as damaged, 3D or low vibration, or otherwise lesser than the “Sons of Light,” atomic bombs (yes, this was a shocking and well documented New Age guru celebration throughout the book), some kind of ET/Sun/Light Savior(s), and/or a group of “Masters” controlling Earth and humanity from behind the scenes, off world or inside the Earth. Indeed, a major reason I looked for a book like Return of the Dark/Light Mother stemmed from my own alarm at the disregard for our planet in favor of “Ascension,” as though none of the poisoning or attacks on our planet matter, because we’ll all be whisked away … in 2000, in 2001, in 2012, in March 2013, in …. um, hey, what if that doesn’t happen? Shouldn’t we be cleaning up the poisons? Shouldn’t we be doing whatever we can wherever we are to stop GMO’s? Shouldn’t we be resisting free trade Trojan Horses like TPP and TTIP?  Shouldn’t we say no (loudly and with force) to more nuclear plants, patented body parts, and forced vaccinations?

I do hope that many people will take the time and considerable effort to read “Return of the Dark/Light Mother or New Age Armageddon?” It is the only book I know of and thus, the best book I can recommend, which addresses to this degree the insidious, controlling, dangerous, racist and highly patriarchal oppression masquerading as “Love,” “Light” and “Earth healing.” I especially resonated with Sjöö’s various discussions of ley lines and how the New Age fad of “healing” them or of “bringing the Light into sacred sites” needs further behind the scenes exploration to see whom or what is really instructing people to do such things. Exactly who is funding these New Age organizations, and how might their stated agenda really look if enacted? Sjöö asks many questions, many of which she admits to not knowing the answer. Taken as a group, though, along with the extensive quotes from early New Age leaders through the 1990’s, these questions, quotes and results do showcase some rather alarming trends — especially from the further vantage point of 2015.

Although I wish that anyone and everyone who even flirts with New Age ideas, channeling, natural healing and spiritual travel would read and study this book, I also need to admit that the book meanders. A lot. Monica’s personal journey of grieving and processing the deaths of her sons runs throughout the book, in nearly every chapter. On the one hand, this showcases the emotions and living into the grit and the darkness of life, not just putting a smile on things and spiritually bypassing our humanity. On the other hand, a lot of readers may not have the patience to wade through yet another version of her “process.” Unfortunately, or fortunately (it just is, like Life), this process informs some of the most astute and incisive points of the text. To skim through paragraphs in which she mentions “my son,” would mean missing enormous layers of value and insight. In many ways, Return of the Dark/Light Mother exemplifies the return of Monica Sjöö’s sons’ Dark/Light Mother, as she grieves, processes and nourishes herself back to life, often through mystical experiences at sacred sites.

A prolific visionary artist, Sjöö scatters black and white images of her artwork throughout the book, along with lengthy annotations describing the paintings, locations, experiences at the locations, public reactions to the paintings, and anything that inspired the images. Her work is phenomenal! It combines dolmens and sacred mounds with goddesses from diverse traditions as far apart as Africa, Ireland, and South America. The paintings offer visceral glimpses into the mystical realms and experiences that Sjöö can only approximate with words.

Clearly, she has a complex, deep, loving, and sometimes troubled relationship with the Goddess in all her many forms, but Sjöö remains a fierce advocate for all things Goddess throughout the book. This fierceness and clear slant may alienate male as well as female readers, because she clearly wants everyone to get spiritually back in touch with Mother Earth, and she clearly has her own ideas of how we should (or should not) go about such an endeavor. I largely agree with Sjöö, but even I sometimes found myself mumbling, “OK, OK, yeah, yeah…” only to find some new nugget or aha to remind me not to give into the temptation to skim. For all its overt patriarchy bashing, Return of the Dark/Light Mother is actually a quite subtle book. I will let Monica Sjöö speak to the subtleties she tries to parse:

“I believe in the power of thought and of thought-forms. I know the importance of meditation and visualisation. I believe in the reality of communication with the spirits, of the spiritworld and of reincarnation. I have experienced many times the oracular power of wells and of the sacred places of the Goddess. I do believe that we are indivisible and holistically whole. I believe that we must open our second sight and ‘see’ again. I believe that if we work with Earth’s places of power and Her evolutionary lights, we ourselves will be deeply affected and great changes will come about. I believe in synchronicity — as above, so below — and in multiple universes.

“Superficially, one might think that I have much in common with New Age thinking. But, as I have tried to show throughout this book, there are great differences indeed between being open to psychic changes on many levels and adopting the fundamentally reactionary, anti-Earth and anti-Goddess, patriarchal religious views of so many New Agers. I do not believe that they truly love Earth, our sorrowing Mother.

“I sense that we are having a mass near-death experience at this time…  Now is the time for all visionaries — women and men — to come to the aid of our ancient Earth Mother. We must struggle to make far-reaching changes politically and economically if we are to survive, and we must indeed also mediate worldwide and dream Her alive. …”

I would remind readers that Monica Sjöö wrote and revised this book pre-9/11, pre-2003 Iraq War, pre-Afghanistan, pre-unauthorized Libya invasion, pre-Monsanto becoming a household name, pre-BP Oil “spill,” pre-Fukushima, pre-NDAA, pre-TPP, and pre-Ukraine-Russia-NATO potential for WW3. While, like Monica, I seem superficially in favor of many New Age platitudes and ideas, like her, I recognize we need to heal our planet with direct action of cleaning up nuclear waste and pollution, not just “bringing Light down to Mt. Shasta” or reasserting control over the ley lines. We need to RESPECT Earth and all of her creatures and people, not insert some new patriarchal, top down CONTROL agenda “of the Light.” Important things like gestation, sleep and dreams occur in the dark. As I’ve said before, all light, all the time is just as destructive (maybe even more so) as too much darkness. Reading how New Age leader after leader actively celebrated the atomic bomb and the idea of nuclear war as a great liberator from matter was an incredible wake-up call. I know that radiation mutates with a possibility of transmutation, but a religion/philosophy whose early founders repeatedly celebrated bombs as liberation from matter and heralded the blinding flash of an atomic explosion as the great Light should hopefully give us all pause. At least before we hit the self-destruct button.

If you read Return of the Dark/Light Mother, prepare to be challenged, intrigued and expanded. Then prepare to go back inside yourself and into Nature, to listen and observe, to hear and feel as humans once knew how to do. Remember and reconnect — not just with your mind, but with your precious body, made of Earth and Stars, influenced by the Moon, in harmony with earth, sea and sky. Thank you, Monica Sjöö for your beautiful heart and art and for your fierce devotion to our planet and the loving consciousness within Her.

Blessed Be.

22 responses to this post.

  1. sounds like a powerful book…and i know you don’t review books often, unless it is meaningful. also sounds like great material for the writing in the works 😉 thanks for sharing your in depth review. i always love when you get on a revved up role. the fire seems to be lit in cycles for us both on things when the collective energy bottle noses. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, I originally bought this book as research for Schizandra book 2 … and I have a monolith of books to keep reading before it’s time for writin’…. Lots of creative fire these days, even Fire in the Head! xoxo ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. i had a feeling it was for Schiz…totally feelin’ it too!! xoox!!


  4. Posted by Mitch Mattraw on February 11, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    I can only echo Laura’s fantastic review as I’m slowly making my way through “Return…” while savoring every page of Ms. Sjoo’s earlier classic, “The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth” which has shifted me unlike any other ‘spiritual’ orientated book I have ever read. Yeah, I know, every day our awakened friends recommend books they’re excited as they’re having breakthrough’s etc however Ms Sjoo is unlike any author/artist I have ever experienced, the sheer amount of ground she cover’s, first rate archeological research, sacred sites, shamanic experience, paleo/neolithic art all weaved into a narrative that will either absolutely challenge your notions of just what is ‘god’ ‘source’ ‘spirit’ and the origins of creation itself as well as just what were the first humans like on this amazing planet? who were the tribal leader’s, innovators, artist’s, language innovators? hint, it wasn’t the gender with a penis.


  5. […] Book Review: “Return of the Dark/Light Mother or New Age Armageddon?” by Monica Sjöö […]


  6. A potent book, by the sounds of it, and a potent review. Thanks Laura. Having just discovered your site (via the Divine Mother article you linked to on my site), I am having a browse around. 🙂

    I feel in a agreement with much of what you convey. In my experience, this is also very much—at least in principle—in agreement with the “Original Knowledge of the Mother” as preserved, and lived, for thousands of year by the Kogi of Columbia.

    I often find myself taking on and investigating various beliefs put forth by contemporary (i.e. New Age) approaches to spirituality. As you say, a great deal of the status quo New Age paradigm is inherently—perhaps unbeknownst to those espousing such beliefs—anti-LIFE. I trust people feeling drawn to LIFE-negating belief systems and ideologies will, over TIME (one of the Mother’s great deliverers of consciousness) realise the folly in ascribing to channelled (or otherwise) information suggesting ETs will “save us”; that ignoring the dark aspects of the world and focusing solely on the good and “light” will transform the state of human affairs (as if avoiding our dark shadow of unconsciousness is somehow going to be “enlightening”, as opposed to delusional); and what have you.

    Speaking of the Kogi, your comment, “Important things like gestation, sleep and dreams occur in the dark. As I’ve said before, all light, all the time is just as destructive (maybe even more so) as too much darkness.” is particularly relevant. The shaman/priests of the Kogi (known as Mamas or Mamos) typically spend the earliest 18 years of their lives in almost total darkness! A key function of such rigorous spiritual training is that a Mama is henceforth permanently “wired up” to be in constant direct perception of “Aluna”… the creative dimension or “mind” of The Mother, from which the phenomenal world emerges into form. What’s also fascinating (well, to me, at least) is that “Mama” essentially means “One who embodies the Spirit of the Sun”. For 18 years (sometimes 27) a Mama will barely, if at all, see the light of day, and yet he/she emerges as one who is in deep spiritual connection with the Sun… and with The Mother.

    May you have a rich and meaningful day…



  7. Thank you so much, Jonathan, for this richly informative comment! I’m glad we’ve connected. Many blessings to you, Laura


  8. Thanks, Mitch! As you know, Great Cosmic Mother is in the ever morphing queue!


  9. Laura, you are most welcome. 🙂


  10. […] But these are just a few juicy appetizers. Please do read Laura’s full post about this important book — including timely and powerful insights — here. […]


  11. […] Book Review: “Return of the Dark/Light Mother or New Age Armageddon?” by Monica Sjöö | Laura B…. I’ve wanted to review this book for awhile, but reading it kept triggering me to pick up other reference books, so that this one book turned into reading about seven books! […]


  12. […] my dream deck process is greatly inspired by my reading of “Return of the Dark/Light Mother or New Age Armageddon?” by Monica Sjöö, recommended to me by Laura Bruno. In this groundbreaking book, Sjöö talks about how […]


  13. Profound book instills a deep change in consciousness and much awareness for a blossoming feminist. Thanks for a great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks, Amanda! I’m so glad you’re finding this book of value. I knew you would. It’s just so rich on so many levels. 🙂


  15. Posted by Nitakomi ai oka on February 14, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    As a “new ager” from birth, I too have had to do some hard thinking about some of the airy-fairy beliefs that I have ingrained in my world view. Especially the focus on a salvationist doctine no of Jesus or Jehovah but of “ascend beyond the earth through Light or ETs or it’s all maya so why bother.” I found John Lamb Lash’s book “Not in His Image” just as shaking as this book sounds. It is brilliant, erudite, disturbing, and paradigm shifting and insists on reconnecting with the horizontal Nature/Gaia/Sophia as our source rather than the vertical salvation from above. My Native American pagan roots have been reborn, and my love for the earth is no longer just head level but is now gut level. With that transformation, action is possible.


  16. Yes, Not in His Image is another ground breaking, paradigm shifting book. Glad you’re found your roots. Thanks for being here at this time!


  17. Reblogged this on Laura Bruno's Blog and commented:

    This one needs to go up again. The current onslaught on the regenerating, nurturing, life-giving Sacred Feminine energies is so strong, and it’s coming more and more from the “awakened” crowd. When assessing “liberating” messages, please take the time to unpack the message to its logical or implied conclusion. Is the message life giving? Does it honor or heal our planet? Does it nurture and heal or completely reject the physical world?


  18. Posted by Senatssekretär FREISTAAT DANZIG on April 8, 2015 at 12:00 am

    Reblogged this on Aussiedlerbetreuung und Behinderten – Fragen and commented:
    Glück, Auf, meine Heimat!


  19. […] this topic, including Return of the Dark/Light Mother or New Age Armageddon?, which I reviewed here and reblogged yesterday. For today, I will simply include a few headlines, comments and links to […]


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