Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From Ancient Greek γυνή (gunḗ, woman) + English l(inking) and Ancient Greek λ(ύειν) (l(úein)), λ(ύω) (l(úō), to dissolve, sever; to release, set free) + Ancient Greek ἀνδρός (andrós) (genitive singular of ἀνήρ (anḗr, man)) +‎ -y (suffix forming abstract nouns denoting a state, condition, or quality); coined by the Austrian-born American cultural historian and author Riane Eisler (born 1931) in writings in the 1980s, including The Chalice and the Blade (1987): see the quotations.[1]



gylany (countable and uncountable, plural gylanies)

  1. (sociology) A social system based on equality of women and men. [from 1980s]
    • 1981 December, Riane Tennenhaus Eisler, “Gylany: The Balanced Future”, in Futures: The Journal of Forecasting, Planning and Policy, volume 13, number 6, Oxford: Elsevier Science, DOI:10.1016/0016-3287(81)90105-1, ISSN 0016-3287, OCLC 854802618, abstract, page 499:
      [T]he two projected androcratic futures—a totalitarian future or no future at all—are not our only alternatives. There is the third alternative, the humanistic future to which the concept of gylany, both the balanced core and the logical requirement of our cultural evolution, provides the key.
    • 1987, Riane Eisler, “The Other Half of History: Part I”, in The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future, San Francisco, Calif.: Harper & Row, →ISBN, page 106:
      It seems particularly fitting to use terms of Greek derivation to describe how these two contrasting social models have affected our cultural evolution. For the conflict between gylany and androcracy as two very different ways of living on this earth—and the advancement of our evolution through gylanic influences—is dramatically illustrated if we take a fresh look at ancient Greece from the new perspective offered by cultural transformation theory.
    • 1989, Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess: Unearthing the Hidden Symbols of Western Civilization, San Francisco, Calif.: Harper & Row, →ISBN, page xx:
      Old Europe and Anatolia, as well as Minoan Crete, were a gylany. A balanced, non-patriarchal and non-matriarchal social system is reflected by religion, mythologies, and folklore, by studies of the social structure of Old European and Minoan cultures, and is supported by the continuity of the elements of a matrilinear system in ancient Greece, Etruria, Rome, the Basque, and other countries of Europe.
    • 1996, Harald Haarmann, “Iconography, Symbolism and Writing at the Dawn of Civilization – Old Europe from the Seventh to the Fourth Millennia B.C.”, in Thomas A[lbert] Sebeok, Roland Posner, and Alain Rey, editors, Early Civilization and Literacy in Europe: An Inquiry into Cultural Continuity in the Mediterranean World (Approaches to Semiotics; 124), Berlin; New York, N.Y.: Mouton de Gruyter, Walter de Gruyter & Co., →ISBN, pages 13–14:
      In a gylany, the sexes are "linked" rather than hierarchically "ranked" which is typical of patriarchal societies. The existence of gylanies or societies with a balanced authority among men and women has been evidenced by ethnology and anthropology. Gylany must not be confused with matriarchy which never existed and which has the value of a myth like the one about the Amazons []. Civilization in Old Europe is among the examples of an early gylany in mankind's cultural history.
    • 2013, Donald N. Yates, “The Mother Goddess in America”, in Old Souls in a New World: The Secret History of the Cherokee Indians (Cherokee Chapbooks; 7), 2nd edition, Phoenix, Ariz.: Panther’s Lodge Publishers, →ISBN, page 66:
      Once in our sights, gylany seems in abundant evidence as a worldwide societal phenomenon before about 3000 bce, when it, together with the Mother Goddess religion underpinning it, yields universally to the blood-and-thunder sky-gods of warrior societies. Did anything like gylany ever exist in the ancient Cherokee world?

Coordinate terms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ Riane Eisler (1987) , “The Other Half of History: Part I”, in The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future, San Francisco, Calif.: Harper & Row, →ISBN, page 105.
  2. ^ Eisler, “Notes [chapter 8]”, endnote 1, page 222: “The preferred pronunciation for gylany is gi-lan-ee. The g is hard, as in gift. The accent is on the first syllable.”