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Monica Sjöö

Monica Sjöö , (December 31, 1938 – August 8, 2005), was a Swedish painter, writer and a radical anarcho / eco-feminist [1] who was influential in the Goddess movement . Her parents were the Swedish painters Gustaf Arvid Sjöö (1902-1949) and Anna Harriet Rosander-Sjöö (1912-1965), who divorced when Monica was three years of age. She first came to Britain in the late 1950s, and eventually settled in Bristol where she lived for many years. [2] Sjöö died of cancer in 2005, aged 66. [3]

Sjöö was an artist, a writer, and one of the early visionaries of the Goddess movement, organizing the “Women’s Liberation Art Group” exhibition in 1971. citation needed ] Her 1987 book The Great Cosmic Mother (co-authored with Barbara Mor) helped revive what she considered the “hidden history” of the Goddess, and her ancient paintings. [4]

Sjöö’s work and beliefs centered on the respect and care of Goddess , or Mother Earth. The Goddess was “the beauty of the earth green, the life-giving waters, the consuming fires, the radiant moon, and the fiery sun”. Sjöö’s respect for nature and the environment was not mere belief but, for her, a spiritual truth. The Goddess / Earth is to be respected as the life giver. This respect is not only in her imagination, but in two texts which is chronicled by the written word. [5] [6]

Sjöö used imagery in her paintings which often makes reference to birth, the female body, and nature. All of these images were central to her beliefs regarding her “Cosmic Mother”. She describes herself as one of the pioneers in this movement of reclaiming female divinity – along with many other writers, artists, poets, and thinkers. In her art, she Attempted to “holistically express” her growing religious belief in the Great Mother as the cosmic spirit and generative forces in the universe. This was a critical component of her artwork. It has been stated that it is “state of the art” where it is available from past, present, and future. Yet, these abstract beliefs have been grounded with a firm foundation of action and activism.anti-Vietnam War movements in Sweden in the 1960s and was active in the women’s movement in Britain. Her political activism has grown out of her native world , similar to the beliefs of Native American peoples.

Sjöö’s most famous painting, God Giving Birth , (1968) depicts a woman giving birth, and has the title text painted in red capitalized letters. [7] It is an expression of Sjöö’s spiritual journey at that time and represents the perception of the Great Mother as the universal creator of cosmic life. The painting and its concept created much controversy and God Giving Birth was censored on several occasions; [8] at a group show in London. The painting to be seen in the police for blasphemy. [9]
Margaret Harrison (1977) states that [on one occasion in 1970 several of Sjöö’s paintings were banned from being shown in St. Ives during the St. Ives festival]. (…) “Monica then wrote in Socialist Woman (Nottingham) proposing a group or alliance of women artists. This led to the formation of the Bristol Women ‘s Art Group (…) “. [10]

Monica Sjöö lost two of her sons in very traumatic ways. Her youngest her, Leify, was killed in front of her by an oncoming car at age 15. Her eldest sound, Sean, died of cancer in 1987, aged 28. [11] She claimed that her death was exacerbated by her experiences of rebirthing . [12] Sjöö’s experience of her loss made in her work, in the shape of the painting My Sons in the Spirit World (1989). This film is not only about her death, but also follows a period of noticeable change in her life. [13]

Sjöö was highly critical of many of the ideas of the New Age movement, including Alice Bailey , JZ Knight and “Ramtha”, and Gene Roddenberry for some of the ideas behind Star Trek . [14]


  1. Jump up^ Monica Sjöö, “Biography of Monica Sjöö”, monicasjoo.org[1]. Accessed 07/04/2011
  2. Jump up^ Monica Sjöö, “A personal remembrance of Monica Sjöö by Jill Smith”, monicasjoo.org. [2]Contributed 2012-02-12.
  3. Jump up^ Pat West TV (2005). [3], “The Guardian”, September 23, 2005. Accessed 08/04/2011
  4. Jump up^ Monica Sjöö with Barbara Mor,The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1987.ISBN 0-06-250791-5.
  5. Jump up^ Monica Sjöö with Barbara Mor,The Ancient Religion of the Great Cosmic Mother of All. Trondheim, Norway: Rainbow Press, 1981.ISBN 82-7223-012-7.
  6. Jump up^ Monica Sjöö,New Age and Armageddon: The Goddess or the Gurus? Towards a Feminist Vision of the Future. London: Women’s Press Ltd., 1994.ISBN 0-7043-4263-4. Reprinted asReturn of the Dark / Light Mother or New Age Armageddon? Towards a Feminist Vision of the Future. Texas: Plain View Press. ISBN 1-891386-07-7.
  7. Jump up^ “God Giving Birth” . www.monicasjoo.org . 2005.
  8. Jump up^ Monica Sjöö. Painting and article. monicasjoo.com[4]. Accessed 08/04/2011
  9. Jump up^ “‘Blessed Be, Monica Sjöö, Konstnärshuset, Stora Galleriet”, omkonst.com. [5]Contributed 2012-02-12
  10. Jump up^ Margaret Harrison (1977), ‘Notes on Feminist Art in Britain 1970-1977. [6], “International Studio” (1977), 193: 987, pp. 212-220. Extract online at mappingwal.wordpress.com, accessed on 09/04/2011.
  11. Jump up^ Monica Sjöö, “My Sons in the Spirit World(oil, 1989)”, monicasjoo.com[7]. Contributed 2012-02-12.
  12. Jump up^ Monica Sjöö,Sinister Channels – Who or What is Speaking? Originally appeared inThe Flames: Radical Feminism with Spiritmagazine, issue 2, winter 1998/99. Entire text online at www.monicasjoo.org, page found 2010-06-29.
  13. Jump up^ Monica Sjöö, “My Sons in the Spirit World(oil, 1989)”, monicasjoo.com[8]. Contributed 2012-02-12.
  14. Jump up^ New Age Channeling: Who or What Is Being Channeled? Bristol: Green Leaf Bookshop, 1998. Entire text online at monicasjoo.org. Page found 2010-06-29.

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