Monica Sjöö

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Monica Sjöö
Born (1938-12-31)December 31, 1938
Härnösand, Västernorrland, Sweden
Died August 8, 2005(2005-08-08) (aged 66)
Bristol, England
Occupation painter, writer, radical anarcho/eco-feminist
Spouse(s) Stevan Trickey
Andrew Jubb
Children Sean, Toivo, Leify

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, but she also kept a home in Wales.[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 paintings transformed ancient images and symbols into contemporary icons of female power.[4]

Sjöö's work and beliefs centered on her respect and care of the Goddess, or Mother Earth. The Goddess was "the beauty of the green earth, 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 to be found not only in her imagery, but in two texts which chronicle her journey through 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 described herself as among 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 force in the universe. This was a critical component of her artwork. She claimed to enter a "state" of being or of mind where knowledge was available from past, present, and future. Yet, these abstract beliefs were grounded with a firm foundation of action and activism. She was involved with the anarchist and anti-Vietnam War movements in Sweden in the 1960s and was active in the women's movement in Britain. Her political activism always grew out of her spiritual understanding of the earth as our living mother, similar to the beliefs of some 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 her 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 led to Sjöö being reported to 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 forming 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 son, Leify, was killed in front of her by an oncoming car at age 15. Her eldest son, Sean, died of cancer in 1987, aged 28.[11] She claimed that his death was exacerbated by his experiences of rebirthing.[12] Sjöö's experience of her loss made it into her work, in the shape of the painting My Sons in the Spirit World (1989). This was after the death not only of her eldest son, but also following a period of Sjöö not painting at all in grievance after losing her youngest son.[13]

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


  1. ^ Monica Sjöö, "Biography of Monica Sjöö", [1]. Accessed 07/04/2011
  2. ^ Monica Sjöö, "A personal remembrance of Monica Sjöö by Jill Smith",[2] Contributed 2012-02-12.
  3. ^ Pat TV West.(2005).[3],"The Guardian",September 23, 2005. Accessed 08/04/2011
  4. ^ 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. ^ 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. ^ 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 as Return 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. ^ "God Giving Birth". 2005. 
  8. ^ Monica Sjöö. Painting and article. [4]. Accessed 08/04/2011
  9. ^ " 'Blessed Be', Monica Sjöö, Konstnärshuset, Stora Galleriet", [5] Contributed 2012-02-12
  10. ^ Margaret Harrison,(1977), ‘Notes on Feminist Art in Britain 1970-77′. [6],"Studio International".(1977),193: 987, pp. 212-220. Extract online at, accessed on 09/04/2011.
  11. ^ Monica Sjöö, "My Sons in the Spirit World (oil, 1989)", [7]. Contributed 2012-02-12.
  12. ^ Monica Sjöö, Sinister Channelings -- Who or What is Speaking? Originally appeared in From the Flames: Radical Feminism with Spirit magazine, issue 2, winter 1998/99. Entire text online at, page found 2010-06-29.
  13. ^ Monica Sjöö, "My Sons in the Spirit World (oil, 1989)", [8]. Contributed 2012-02-12.
  14. ^ New Age Channelings: Who or What Is Being Channeled? Bristol: Green Leaf Bookshop, 1998. Entire text online at Page found 2010-06-29.


  • Sjöö, Monica (2000-05-01). The Norse Goddess. Dor Dama Press, Meyn Mamvro Publications. ISBN 0-9518859-6-0. 

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