Johann Jakob Bachofen (1815-1887) was a Swiss antiquarian, jurist and anthropologist, and professor for Roman law at the University of Basel. This volume is a translation of 'Mutterrecht und Urreligion,' a selection of Bachofen's writings that was first published in 1926.
He says, "Myth is the exegesis of the symbol. It unfolds in a series of outwardly connected actions what the symbol embodies in a unity." (Pg. 48) He adds, "Therein lies the spell of mythical representation, which shows us the great deeds of the primordial age in the muted light of distant melancholy recollection, and that is what lends them the aura of consecration characteristic of the ancient necropolises." (Pg. 50)
He admits, "The present work deals with a historical phenomenon which few have observed and no one has investigated in its full scope. Up until now archaeologists have had nothing to say of mother right... The most elementary spadework remains to be done, for the culture period to which mother right pertains has never been seriously studied. Thus we are entering upon virgin territory." (Pg. 69)
He argues, "The mythical tradition is seen to be an authentic, independent record of the primordial age, a record in which invention plays no part... There is scarcely a feature of the matriarchal system that cannot be documented in this way... There is still another reason why myth demonstrates the authenticity of mother right. The contrast between mythical conceptions and those of subsequent days is so marked that where more recent ideas prevailed, it would not have been possible to invent the phenomenon of matriarchy." (Pg. 72-74) Later, he argues, "All the myths relating to our subject embody a memory of real events experienced by the human race. They represent not fictions but historical realities. The stories of the Amazons and Bellerophon are real and not poetic." (Pg. 150-151)
He states, "The elevation of woman over man arouses our amazement most especially by its contradiction to the relation of physical strength. The law of nature confers the scepter of power on the stronger. If it is torn away from him by feebler hands, other aspects of human nature must have been at work, deeper powers must have made their influence felt." (Pg. 85)
He adds, "I shall pursue the religious basis of matriarchy no further: it is most deeply rooted in woman's vocation for the religious life... Seen in this light, matriarchy becomes a sign of cultural progress, a source and guarantee of its benefits, a necessary period in the education of mankind, and hence the fulfillment of a natural law which governs peoples as well as individuals." (Pg. 91) He contends, "Amazonism is a universal phenomenon... Amazonism, despite its savage degeneration, signifies an appreciable rise in human culture." (Pg. 105)
Bachofen's writings had a HUGE impact on feminist writers of the 20th century; and it's illuminating to read his own writings, rather than just the interpretations that are given by later writers.