of The Gift Economy

Forgiving: A Feminist Criticism of Exchange
[Entire Book Online]

Homo Donans
[Entire Book Online]

Articles and Essays by Genevieve Vaughan

Athanor: Il Dono, the gift, a feminist analysis


Many Voices discuss The Gift Economy



Contact Us


Kaarina Kailo
Pan Dora Revisited

From Patriarchal Woman-Blaming to a Feminist Gift Imaginary

The article revisits the myth of Pandora’s Box as the source of mankind’s scourges and foregrounds Pan Dora as a pre-patriarchal All-Giver and Guardian of Giving and Abundance. After addressing the gendered assumptions about “human nature” underlying neo-liberal economic thought, I present an example of a Nordic/Finnish Pandora variant with her gift–related aspects. I suggest that the naturalization of a masculated worldview behind the “human norm” needs to be exposed. It is merely one among many possible ways of ordering human life and understanding human nature. In the alternative gift imaginary and logic, instead of homo economicus, the norm may well have been femina donans, the giving human, Kave.

The goal of my engaged research consists in reclaiming gynocentric imaginaries with their implicit ecological economics and sustainable worldview, one that also honours women and nature. In this paper, I will revisit the Greco-Roman myth of Pandora as a cross-cultural motif and its Finnish variant. This master narrative of humanity’s creative origins consists in transforming women’s gift labour into a woman-blaming narrative of male superiority. I introduce at the same time the gift imaginary with its philosophical tenets based on giving back to nature the goods it bestows on humans. Both patriarchal and gynocentric variants of “Pan Dora” as All-Giver, the goddess of abundance and life-centered values can be found across the world. My discussion of the fate of Pandora in Finnish, and more broadly Nordic mythology, is an example of how we can draw on local, situated mythologies to rediscover and make more visible the submerged and symbolically non-masculated (Vaughan l997) ways of relating to and ordering the surrounding world.

I call the dominant western paradigm and worldview to do with human nature and values the master imaginary, which echoes aspects of the exchange economy on which Genevieve Vaughan (1997) has elabourated and what eco- feminist scholars have labelled as either the master identity (Plumwood l993) or consciousness (Warren 2000: 48). The concept condenses the artificial and arbitrary dichotomies that have allowed mostly white heterosexual elite men to dominate nature, women, Indigenous populations, and people of colour as well as men defying the hegemonic gender contracts. The master imaginary refers to the totality of cultural customs, etiquettes, gendered divisions and processes of labour, attitudes, behaviours, activities and gestures that lend legitimacy and inner strength to patriarchy’s asymmetrical gender system. Among the central elements of this logic are assumptions and projections of non-egalitarian and hierarchically constructed difference (e.g. men vs. women, humans vs. animals, mind vs. matter or spirit, rationality vs. emotionality). This includes a gendered segregation of “male” and “female” realms of reason, influence, prestige, power or social activi- ties and a relegation of the less prestigious “emotional” labour mostly to women. This imaginary rests also on a perceptual pivot which privileges a worldview of strict boundaries to ground ownership rights, competition and social hierarchies. Establishing society’s moral boundaries via the female body is an effect of asym- metrical power relations, not of a categorical logic within social structures.

Women can and do, at different locations of power and privilege also embrace the master imaginary and its logic of mastery over the “other.” Many women embrace themselves a system of boundaries projected on the (female) body, on territory and society that marks and defines female corporeality in its “open and vulnerable stage” (menses, pregnancy) as polluted and polluting (Douglas 1996 [1966]). However, it is necessary to distinguish between the internalization of patriarchal societal values and conscious, informed consent to sex/gender systems that subjugate women through a misleading politics of idealization/denigration of the “feminine.” If one does not grow up knowing of alternatives to a patriarchal social order, one cannot really claim that women willingly embrace asymmetrically constructed social systems.

Although the master imaginary in its current, markedly economistic form can be embraced by whites, non-whites, men and women, its roots are in the asym- metrical sex/gender systems of patriarchies and thus it contains gendered and gendering as well as class-related processes. David Korten (1996) has provided a succinct and useful summary of the current master imaginary, i.e. the neo-liberal visioning of human nature and worldview.1 Competitive behavior is believed to be more rational for the individual and the firm than cooperation; consequently, societies should be built around the capital-hoarding, non-giving motive. Also, human progress is to be measured by increases in the value of what the members of society own and consume (Korten l996: 20). These ideological doctrines as- sume according to Korten that:

People are by nature motivated primarily by greed, the drive to acquire is the highest expression of what it means to be human, the relentless pursuit of greed and acquisition leads to socially optimal outcomes, it is in the best interest of human societies to encourage, honour, and reward the above values (1996: 70-71).

These neo-liberal ideas, although a form of extreme capitalistic ethos, fit to some extent what Vaughan (1997) labels as the patriarchal exchange economy and the hegemonic belief system of today.2

The mythologies and patriarchal epics of the western world reflect the tenets of the master imaginary, a gaze where women are defined in relation to men and where war, conquest, hero-worship take priority over narratives of life-sustaining events, collaboration and peaceful co-existence. Mythologies are powerful means of mind colonization, and stressing humanity’s capacity for good is itself a revolu- tionary and mind-altering process. Many scholars studying archaic societies ignore the gender-molding cultural processes and refer simply and in a gender-neutral way to a society’s social order. Few comment on how the various social contracts are established and consolidated through explicitly patriarchal mechanisms and values where women’s views are not as a rule solicited. The socialization through patriarchal myths and grand narratives explains in part why women more than men have internal glass ceilings and self-limiting attitudes regarding power, leadership, authority and other attributes associated positively with men.

The gift imaginary contrasts with the masculated ethos in terms of its goals and values; it is a worldview, an alternative imaginary and ideology that one can perceive dominating pre- and non-patriarchal societies. Although it is important to heed historic and culture-specific variations, generally speaking in such com- munities economic life is built on balanced human and environmental relations, a recognition of our interconnections and interdependencies and a forward-looking use of resources to ensure future cycles of abundance, fertility, and rebirth of all species. Its logic consists in the rationality of care and responsibility to ensure collective survival and well-being (eco-social sustainability). Giving and sharing the Commons is at the root of this worldview and the norm of the human is best embodied by the care-circulating individual whose logic of action and ethics is like that of the ideal mother, not a distant, absent and judgmental father (see Ochs 1977). Today westerners in particular need to become aware of the white mythology and worldview that has been naturalized as the universal and desirable one. This is one precondition for the kind of ethnosensitivity required for us in the West to become open to alternative, more eco-socially reliable styles of knowing and living (Meyer and Ramirez 1996). The gift and give back economies of by-gone eras appear not to have been as dualistic and based on strict hierarchies of being, knowing and wielding power. Modern westerners have been so conditioned by the dichotomous worldview, however, that it takes a special effort for many of them, as well, to re-imagine the more integrated, holistic model of cognition, perception, and beingknowing. The gift imaginary, rooted in the ethos of group cohesion, circulation of a community’s resources is not pure utopia (although we also need utopian visions to help chart us towards a more justice-oriented world). Heide Goettner-Abendroth (1987, 1995, 2004) has found evidence of such societies even in the contemporary world3 and provides much evidence of matriarchal societies having combined sustainable green economics and a world- view of balanced/complementary gender relations beyond the hierarchical and asymmetrical dualisms of western sex/gender systems. In these societies the social imaginary is not rooted in the idea that self-interest and fierce competition are natural or desirable; in contrast, their social rituals serve to guarantee collective survival and not to ground private accumulation.

The myth of Pandora’s box epitomizes patriarchy’s historical appropriation and reversal of the gift-circulating and woman-friendly mythologies and economies. By re-owning this myth in the North and elsewhere, we can trace our steps back towards the more sustainable view of the human and of communal life that we sorely need today’s world of global warming and the green house effects.

On Pandora and Spirit Guardians of the Gift

The myth of Pandora’s box is an appropriate “case” for making visible the attributes and values to do with women, gift giving and nature that have been overwritten to make way for the master imaginary and politics. Although our knowledge of pre-patriarchal times is uncertain, there is sufficient scientific data to allow us to speculate that a gift circulating and more gynocentric socio-cosmic order has existed. If matriarchy refers to “mothers at the beginning,” and not “maternal domination” as Goettner-Abendroth argues (see her article in this volume), the Pandora myth refers precisely to the world’s first woman and beyond the story’s patriarchal rewriting to social systems where the primal mothers were honoured as gift providers. There are innumerable versions of the story particularly in Greek and Roman mythology.4 I will introduce first some patriarchal versions of the myth before elabourating on their feminist reinterpretations. According to Encyclopædia Britannica, “Pandora” refers to “All-Giving” and the first woman:

After Prometheus, a fire god and divine trickster had stolen fire from heaven and bestowed it upon mortals, Zeus, the king of the gods, determined to counteract this blessing. He accordingly commissioned Hephaestus (a god of fire and patron of craftsmen) to fashion a woman out of earth, upon whom the gods bestowed their choicest gifts. She had or found a jar—the so-called Pandora’s box—containing all manner of misery and evil. Zeus sent her to Epimetheus, who forgot the warning of his brother Prometheus and made her [my emphasis] his wife. Pandora afterward opened the jar, from which the evils flew out over the earth. According to another version, hope alone remained inside, the lid having been shut down before she could escape. In a later story the jar contained not evils but blessings, which would have been preserved for the human race had they not been lost through the opening of the jar out of curiosity by man himself. (Encyclopædia Britannica 2002).

In another, more recent encyclopedia version we read:

... in Greek mythology, first woman on earth. Zeus ordered Hephaestus to create her as vengeance upon man and his benefactor, Prometheus. The gods endowed her with every charm, together with curiosity and deceit. Zeus sent her as a wife to Epimetheus, Prometheus’ simple brother, and gave her a box that he forbade her to open. Despite Prometheus’ warnings, Epimetheus allowed her to open the box.... (The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia 2005)
One finds the earliest extant (patriarchal) Greek text of Pandora in 700 BC in Hesiod’s Works and days with the classic image of Pandora and the box; the latter however is really a “jar,” and the story does not specify exactly what was in the box Pandora opened. The idea of humans as giving beings (femina donans) epitomized in the giving, creative and procreative mother, the first woman, is far removed from the above variants of Pandora. As in today’s archi-capitalist ethos of marketization, commodification and structural violence, men and male gods wage war between each other with women merely as trophies, objects, beauty queens or screens on which to project the weakest links of dysfunctional patriarchy itself. In the patriarchal versions of Pandora, a natural impulse—the desire to understand one’s surroundings, one’s life, one’s gifts—is turned in the case of the subaltern—women—to a sin, a transgression. This is no doubt an attempt to keep the lid on women’s mental, psychological, spiritual and cultural authority. Both Genesis and the myth of Pandora’s Box are among the primal myths that serve to manipulate women to distrust their own impulses, instincts and epistemic desires, and, at worst, to perceive the critical, probing, question- ing mind as evil. Both types of narratives of course help keep women obedient, flexible, and malleable—and humble enough to internalize the master imaginary in its various historical manifestations. In patriarchal mythic narratives, blame for the most unimaginable wrong-doings have been passed on to the female sex, and this is one way of producing free-floating collective guilt as a precondition for submissiveness. Of course, many women can negotiate their gender script and disown parts or even all of it. Yet, the performative repetition of the pri- mal story and woman’s role in it does lend dubious support to society’s other woman-blaming mechanisms.5 The bringing of gifts to the first woman echoes another story of divine creation, the birth of Jesus, to whom gifts were brought from near and far. Could it be, then, that even this incidence is an appropriation of the historically more remote gift-bestowing to the Goddess? It is particularly dis-empowering for women to be told that Pandora as first woman was created as a curse and as revenge for the theft of fire by Prometheus. This epitomizes the patriarchal notion of woman as mere currency of exchange in relation to men and male interests. On the other hand, Pandora was fashioned as a bewitching beauty endowed with gifts from all the gods and goddesses. Pandora’s beauty, instead of representing the inherent beauty of creation, nature and humanity becomes a pawn of power in the struggle between men for dominance. Indeed, the rapes of women during wars serve precisely the same function of projecting shame on victims rather than the perpetrators of violence. It is a means of dishonouring men and entire nations by depriving their women of honour (sexual “purity”). Woman is honourable only as male property. Pandora’s box is a proto-narrative of domination-submission and “power-over” relations beginning with Zeus’s power over men and ending with men’s power over women’s nature, female beauty, and the female body. The story and its many variants epitomize how the ancient mystical vessel—the womb, female blood, and related myths have been turned to their opposite. Philosophically, in Vaughan’s terms (1997), the story epitomizes how the gift economy as a particular quality of other-orientation and metalogic has been replaced by a more ego-oriented exchange economy, although both imaginaries continue to co-exist in more or less visible and complex gen- dered and culture-specific forms. In many variants cited by feminist scholars and numerous research articles, Pandora’s mythic origins are foregrounded to reveal the transformative politics of the master imaginary. Sandra Geyer Miller (1995) for one refers to Anesidor as one of the Earth Goddess avatars that the writers of master narratives have sought to replace. Jane Harrison (1975) sees in Hesiod’s story evidence of a shift from matriarchy to patriarchy in Greek culture. As the life-bringing goddess Pandora is eclipsed, the death-bringing human Pandora arises (283-85). The above-cited patriarchal variants also hint at a historical and narrative shift from a more peaceful to a more violent and militaristic male order, whereby men are turned into each other’s enemies. Eros is replaced by logos, an all-pervasive and positive sexuality transformed into a denigration of women, corporeality, matter, earth, even physicality.

Non-Patriarchal Reinterpretations of Pandora as Pan-Dora

Patriarchal and feminist versions of Pandora differ significantly, and one way to epitomize the transformation is to view them as expressions of the gift and exchange or master economies and the worldview to which they belong. An important point revealed by male and female scholars critical of the hegemonic version is that the very notion of a “box” may have been nothing less than a mistranslation, if not an intentional effort to rewrite mythic herstory. Evidence suggests that indeed, Pandora herself was the “jar”—the creative/procreative womb, the holy vessel or grail. In Ancient Greece jars commonly bore images of women’s uterus. The mistranslation is usually attributed to the sixteenth-century Humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam.6 Various feminist scholars claim that in an earlier set of myths, Pandora was the Great Goddess, provider of the gifts that made life and culture possible.7 The Greek and Judeo-Christian versions of both the Eve and Pandora myths serve above all now to propagandize the message of early patriarchy about the status of women at that time and Hesiod’s tale is seen as part of a propaganda campaign to demote All-Giver from her previously revered status (Geyer Miller 1998). A very different definition is provided by Barbara Walker (1983) who notes, regarding “Vase” that as:

Forerunner of the funerary urn in Old Europe [it] was the large earthenware vase representing the Earth Mother’s womb—of rebirth. When cremation was the chosen funerary rite, reducing the body to ashes, small vases were created to contain these remains and still serve as womb symbols. The uterine shape of the vase so often bore the connotation of rebirth, that even when corpses were no longer stuffed into actual earthenware vases like the funerary pithoi of early Greece, a vaselike shape persisted in various receptacles for dead bodies. The sacrophagus seems to take the shape of the uterus in many societies.... In pre-Hellenic Greece, a title of Mother Rhea as the Womb of Mat- ter was Pandora, the All-Giver [my emphasis]. Her symbol was a great vase, originally signifying the source of all things, like the great cauldron of the Mother Goddess in northern Europe. Hesiod’s antifeminist fable converted Rhea Pandora’s womb—vase into the source of all human ills and evils. Cen- turies later Erasmus mistook pithos (vase) for pyxis (box) and mistranslated Hesiod into the now-conventional story of Pandora’s Box. The vase retained its uterine symbolism in alchemy, where the Womb of Matter was called vas spirituale. A vase containing the Water of Life remains the symbol of the Chinese Great Mother Goddess Kwan-Yin. (160-161)

Among other data, the reference to female imagery, rebirth, and procreation allow us to speculate that Pan Dora as the gift-giving human, the human norm refers back to matriarchal worldviews; of course, more research is also needed to specify and identify the local itineraries and processes of transformation from a more gynocentric8 to a more patriarchal social order. The stories and myths of the first woman, the Sacred Feminine and primal gift givers have been overwritten across the patriarchal world, in alignment with the values of patriarchy and the master imaginary. The hope that this provides—like Pandora’s box itself—is that behind these layers of the myth, we can re-discover, unearth and reintroduce the more originary, woman-friendly versions. I will next elabourate on the Finnish Pandora variant.

Kave and Louhi: From Panarctic Gift Givers to the Origin of all Evils

As there has been a conscious and non-conscious suppression of the gynocentric dimensions and layers of Finnish culture, the female goddesses in their broad spectrum are practically unknown in Finland. Many of them have simply been split along the axis of good/evil, plus replaced and condensed into a monomyth—Virgin Mary or her demonic counterpart. It is therefore empowering to make visible and to re-circulate the gynocentric stories and images, representations and fragments relating to archaic Finnish goddesses, haltias, female spirit beings and guardians. This is important because they are the matrix of a different worldview and can be seen to preside over the gift imaginary.

The Finnish Kalevala, the canonized epic of the Finnish Golden Past was compiled and put together by Elias L–nnrot, a folklorist and country doctor, in a patriarchal framework and according to nineteenth-century Christian and nationalistic ideas and values. It does contain reflections of the archaic worldview that stressed ecological balance and the philosophy of thanking nature for the gifts it bestows. The give back- based worldview is reflected in numerous poems in the Finnish Folk Poetry collections where the sauna, guardians of game and animal life as well as the forest, among other beings and things, are greeted and thanked as part of a cyclical world order based on bonds rather than an ethos of unilateral mastery over nature. The bear ceremonials and other festivities (Honko 1993)9 were occasions for sharing rituals and for both establishing and transgressing boundaries of the sacred as a way of reconfirming them (Anttonen 1992). Much has been written about this ancient system of combining economics, religion and socio-cosmic order. Less, however, has been written about the role of the realm labelled as “feminine” or of the gift circulating ethos from a gynocentric point of view. The goddess tradition allows us to foreground prepatriarchal representa- tions of female power, not as “power over” but as creation-power. I look upon the goddess guardian of Bear and game, Mielikki as one such non-patriarchal manifestation of an imaginary beyond the split female psyche, the whore-madonna dualism, for Mielikki as a benign haltia need not be pitted against a separate negative goddess. Rather, she contains in herself her shadow aspect; Kuurikki as do all mortal beings. She withholds game if she is not respected and the balance of nature maintained. In the patriarchal order, however, the first woman, the mysterious Kave linked also with Ilmatar, goddess of the Air, is clearly split from the destructive feminine dimension, following the patriarchal imaginary. Good and evil become absolute, rather than shifting dimensions of a single goddess which of old reflected the waxing and waning moon or cycles of nature’s death and rebirth. In Finnish mythic herstory, the transformation of Pan Dora, “the all-giver” has been replaced in prominence by the “procreator of scourges,” Louhi. The Finnish goddesses of nurturance, fertile nature, sexuality, and rebirth are often linked with or embodied in a figure called Kave, which Irmeli Nieminen (1985) defines more narrowly as just the typical epithet of female haltias or goddesses (M”kinen 2004: 60). A study of the Suomen Kansan Vanhat Runot (SKVR) (a collection of ancient Finnish folklore and poetry) reveals that Kave is indeed the attribute of a host of different goddess or haltia figures. However, she is above all linked with haltias associated with healing, midwifery and the enhancement of nature’s gifts of plenty. Most importantly, she is the mother of Luonnotars, the daughters of Nature that echo the Roman Parcea, the Nordic Norns, the Sami Uksakka, Sarakka, Juksakka. Finnish mythology commands closer attention in light of comparative mythological studies that allow us to reveal affinities between Finnish/Finno-Ugrian, Nordic and Greco-Roman mythologies. It is challenging both for the renewal of our imaginaries and for scientific reasons to recreate the archaic gynocentric worldview from the fragments and more complete folk ma- terials that have failed to inspire even female scholars identified with mainstream folklore methods and schools of thought. European and Euro-American scholars consider Demeter, Hecate and Persephone to be the proto-types of the three ages of women, personifying virginal youth, sexually mature middle-age and the menopausal age of the Crone. These figures in the culture-specific constellations are part of the continuum of the cyclical worldview and its system of time mea- surement; the ages of women and of all growth cycles, the waxing and waning of the moon. Kave has obvious affinities with the birth-giving and omni-creative aspect of the primal Guardian/haltia just as Louhi is her death-wielding aspect is comparable to many Greco-Roman and international mythic figures from Kali to Hecate. Although myths take on local form, expression and color, the notions of women’s puberty, pregnancy, reproduction, coming-of-age and “ripening” are likely universal land-marks of women’s life. As an instance of cultural translation of mythic material, the myth’s variant is located spatially in the most holy site of Finnish traditional culture, the sauna.

In Finnish folk poetry, Kave, as the principle of nourishing nature and creativity is linked with the material abundance of nature (Luonto). John Abercromby, in his two-volume, Magic Songs of West Finns (1898), reveals the links between the mysterious Kave—transformed into Virgin Mary in later periods—and Louhi, both of whom are put forth as principles of life protection and creativity:

The recuperative power of nature would naturally occur to exorcists and wizards when healing the sick, and in a more objective form would be ap- pealed to for assistance. Old mother Kave (the woman), the daughter of nature (luonto), the oldest of womankind, [my emphasis] the first mother of individuals, is therefore invoked to come and see pains and remove them. Almost in the same terms she is implored to help an exorcist. And under the same title she is invited to allay the pains of child-birth because she formerly freed the moon from imprisonment in a cell, and the sun from a rock. [my emphasis] But the original idea is on the wane in a charm for relieving pain, in which it is related that three Luonnotars sit where three roads meet and gather pains into a speckled chest or a copper box, and feel annoyed if pains are not brought to them. And the old idea of her functions is missing where the woman (kave), the old wife Luonnotar, the darling and beautiful, is asked to point out the path to a bridal procession. Or when she is invited to bewitch sorcerers and crush witches; to weave a cloth of gold and silver, and make a defensive shirt under which an exorcist can live safely with the help of the good God. (Abercromby 1898: 307-8)

In this passage, Kave’s role is that of a midwife, helping women give birth through imitative magic. She is referred to also as einesten em”, a dispenser of nature’s pro- visions (Kalevala 38:82 and The Birth of the Snake 26:707).10 In the patriarchal epic, this type of a variant of Kave is replaced with the one-sidedly negative goddess variant, Louhi, now the mirror image of the midwife: no longer the giver or promoter of the gift of life, she is turned into the symbol of spiritual darkness, greed, avarice, denial of life.11 In Abercromby’s (1898) above description of the role of Kave, she is referred to as freeing the moon from imprisonment in a cell, and the sun from a rock. In the Kalevala the same motif is found in reverse: Louhi is depicted as imprisoning instead of releasing the luminaries. The birth-giver and creator/releaser of new life is transformed or split into a figure, Lemmink”inen’s mother, who can recreate life, and the Pandora-like source of disease and chaos. The goddess with her temporally and situationally changing aspects is thus split into the classic patriarchal dualism of nameless, idealized mother and the whore so labelled because she transgresses the acceptable female role. The copper box in which pains are gathered in the above description, can also be related to Sampo, the Finns’ magic mill of prosperity and endless riches (Kailo 1987). A multilevel, overdetermined and mysterious symbol, it has been interpreted as a mythic mill of immaterial and material goods. However, in connection with the Lapp matriarch, it is turned into a metaphoric source of greed and treason. As patriarchy gets stronger, primal woman-blaming increases while the role of female goddesses is replaced by the ascendancy of male gods (cf. Kemppinen 1960: 276-277).12 To foreground Louhi over Kave epitomizes the Finnish version of Pandora’s role and fate from an All-Provider to the Christian projection of All-Evil.

The Finnish Goddess/haltia galaxy in its gynocentric form consists of numer- ous shape-shifting complex characters and spirit guardians with overlapping and context-specific symbolic functions associated with Life and Creation. They in- clude Ilmatar, Rauni, Akka, Maaemo and Suonetar, to name the most common ones.13, 14 The Finnish concept of luonto or nature is also their essential quality and has very different associations from the kind of human nature to which Freud, among others, ascribes aggressive and ego-oriented drives. In her form as Kave, the goddess is her own excuse for being, the graceful materiality and ground of existence, beyond the priority to trade and exchange, or horde and monopolize spiritual power as a way of ensuring mastery over the other. Kave is a complex, yet clearly beneficial energy force of nature in its procreative, fertile and autonomous manifestation. Like all goddesses, she is part of a circle or web of interconnec- tions, not comparable to the solitary hero or autonomous hero-god of patriarchal lore. Kave condenses associations to do with mother, matter, nourishment, food and is related to the Golden Woman, a mysterious archaic being in Finnish and Finno-Ugric oral tradition, referring to honey and the magic meady (“golden”) substance giving and maintaining life.15 She is a condensed Akka/Maderakka (the latter being the Sami variant), with Louhi as her patriarchal version—Hag of the North, Mistress of the North Farm.16

I foreground Kave as an appropriate role model and embodiment of the worldview honouring nature, women and the Gift or Give back imaginary. This attribute of the feminine divine allows us to retrace the historic steps back towards the more “originary”17 meaning of Pandora or the Finnish version of the All-Giver in a worldview based on abundance rather than scarcity and the creation of false needs serving the master imaginary. Since traditional Finnish folk poetry has been above all functional and performative—it was meant to be performed and hence was communal rather than textual—it is misleading to posit anything like a Finnish pantheon of gods and goddesses separate from such a performative function.18 However, just as patriarchy has created its own would-be-national pantheon of significant male gods, the representations of a gynocentric imaginary can be rein- troduced into the collective consciousness. The fact that it is impossible to posit and prove a matriarchal or matristic imaginary beyond the constant give-and-take of cross-cultural influences does not prevent such a goal. It has not prevented the male elite of the nineteenth century from creating an imaginary male order to reinforce male domination in cultural and political matters. If such an epic was used to help Finland achieve its independence, why not use folk poetry also to ensure women’s independency from the master imaginary?

In nineteenth-century folklore there are numerous descriptions of the sauna as a sacred site becoming a demonic place in the presence of Louhi—the midwife and “post-menopausal” crone associated with disease and pollution. Louhi as the Finnish Pandora variant is represented as giving birth to various child-monsters and ailments, and transgressing the holiest of societal rules by naming the offspring herself—without the sanctifying intervention of Christian priests or pastors. Both in folk poetry and the Finnish Kalevala, Louhi is described in numerous variants as a harlot or demon, giving birth to a variety of illnesses and evils. Instead of Kave embodying the life and reproductive force, however, the folk poetry is full of references to the FinnishVirgin Mary, Marjatta, helping a male god cure ailments in the sauna.20 Sauna itself can be seen as a kind of primal pithos or originary womb of rebirth. The sauna is also where Marjatta gives birth to a child echoing the story of Jesus. The sauna has traditionally been a symbolically feminine place—not unlike a bear’s den, which is the site for Spring-time rebirth, it is also womb-like in its darkness and warmth. One key recurrent attribute of Finnish folklore is honey. In many folk descriptions Louhi is portrayed as a whore copulating with the wind and producing, for example, nine sons as embodiments of gout and other diseases. Thus the role of the divine midwife is turned to its opposite (SKVR 470, Source 2834. Ilomantsi. Eur. H, n. 178. 45. Hattup””) (Kailo 2005b). Not only has Louhi in many representations been made to evoke otherness, blackness, old age, animality and asexuality, but she has been represented in many films and books even of today as the classic dispenser of disease and destruction, pollution and black storms threatening human life.21

Emil Petaja (1966, 1967), an American-Finnish science fiction writer has resurrected the character of the dark and “evil witch of the North” in many of his science fiction stories based on the Finnish Kalevala, providing a good illustration of the ongoing misogynous myth-making going back to the myths of Pandora and Eve. His repetition of mythic woman-blaming underlines the need to interrupt and transform the master imaginary as the psychological anchor of asymmetrical gender relations. In Petaja’s novels the northern witch, Louhi’s resurrected spirit is referred to as a black-faced Lapp. In Kalevala Louhi requires the Sampo as booty, in exchange for her daughters which the Kalevala heroes coveted and desired as their wives. She is represented as a matriarch who breaks her promise and keeps the goods and the magic mill all to herself. At the end of Kalevala, the Sampo is finally lost to both the men and Louhi, and it is broken into pieces in the bottom of the sea. Petaja makes Louhi22 return to the scene where she manages to pick up a few fragments of its mystical cover. This echoes the lid of Pandora’s box which represents hope in the story reported by Geller Miller (1995). In Petaja’s (1966) retelling, Louhi makes the Sampo grind goods in reverse, i.e., she is depicted as the root of the ecological destruction the book dramatizes. Thus Louhi’s avatar is identified in The Star Mill as the “Mistress of All Evil” (200):

Sorcery and cunning were the Witch’s watchwords. Louhi’s evil nature was so strong that it soaked up all of the other evil in the universe like a sponge, and had done so for thousands of years. Her pacts with alien creatures who were inimical to man had given her immense power. (Petaja 1966: 196).

In light of Petaja’s science fiction stories where the “Louhi stereotype” is again made to embody pollution, evil, destruction (Petaja 1966: 66x), the question imposes itself as to the reasons for such stability of the oral tradition and their literary offspring—and for the psychological meaning of such projections across time and space, from Finland to North America. Louhi, something of a feminized alter ego for the male heroes of Kalevala is as a woman of science and innovation/ power made to carry all the negative attributes of knowledge as mere black magic. The Sampo, the major symbol of material and immaterial wealth in the Finnish epic could also be related to Pandora’s box as the perverted mill of abundance. Whereas a gynocentric story might portray the mill as a womblike pot of honey, source of life and material/immaterial riches, the patriarchal imaginary has made of it a mill of economic prosperity and a source of conflicts between two war- ring groups, the matriarchal “man-eating Lapps” or their historically ambiguous equivalent, and the patriarchal forefathers of the Finns. This epitomizes the contrast between the master and the gift imaginaries. As is the case with the pithos-pyxis translation mistake in the Greco-Roman stories, the woman-positive meaning of which has been most intentionally re-interpreted, Sampo, too, can be rethought through the word’s earthy, ecospiritual and gynocentric interpretations. Sampo’s etymologies and possible linguistic variants have provided scholars with a wealth of opportunities for creative speculation. Many of them somehow express the ideas of connection, spirituality and community. It is possible to read into them the most diverse meanings, for at the deepest level, the Sampo is the symbol of symbolism itself. “Symbol” derives from Greek and means “Sun” (together) and “ballein” (to throw). Symbolon originally referred to a concrete token of recogni- tion for an object which had been separated from its other half, evoking original oneness and its loss. On one level the symbol means whatever meaning a particular object or phenomenon has been endowed with by a particular society through a social contract. The Sampo can be seen as a condensation of all the etymological theories that scholars over the centuries have given of it; it is a samovol (Slavonic), a selfgrinding signifier capable of endless new meaning proliferations; it is also a god-image (sam bog – Russian) for it can represent the metaphysical “nail of the North Pole” around which an individual’s quest for metaphysical meaning revolves and it is also summum bonum (Latin), the highest good, if, as a symbol, cymbal-like, it allows a reader to enter into aesthetic ecstasy or expand his or her perceptual horizons (Kailo 1987). Comparetti associates the Sampo even with the Swedish sambu with its archaic meaning of living together (today one’s living partner). These interpretations based on linguistic terms believed to lie at the word’s root differ greatly from the economic reductions to which Sampo has given rise today (Sampo as the name of an influential major banking institution in Finland).

The myth of Pan Dora when linked with matriarchy is a powerful example of how the world view of gift circulation has in the course of patriarchal history been transformed into its opposite—gift deprivation or an exchange economy- related interpretation of the very concept. It epitomizes how women as creators and reproducers of humanity have been turned into representations of impurity and pollution (Douglas 1966)—the scourges flowing out of Pandora’s box. The widely-spread patriarchal narrative summarizes how power elites operate; among other strategies by reverting/recoding/renaming symbols of power and by vilifying those that threaten their monopoly on Truth, Justice, Good and Evil—totalitarian, class-related, gendered and dualistic notions of the patriarchal master identity. The dominant form of the human norm—the neo-liberal pseudo-autonomous individual with his competitive and non-giving ethos—is not a natural reflection of “human nature” and worldview, but one that has developed as elite male he- gemony and the master imaginary have deepened.23 On the other hand, we need the pre-patriarchal myths of Pan Dora myths in order to instill hope and trust that the norm of the human can well be a caring immanent and life-preserving mother rather than an abstract, feared, judgemental father-god. The myth mat- ters also in terms of women’s renewed trust in their own power and authority. When a dominant culture insists that power lies only outside the individual, in hierarchical organizations, people eventually cease to believe in their own inner power. This may be another reason why Pandora’s Box was “invented.” The sense of union with the larger powers of life is tremendously empowering. Hence, the connection between inner wisdom/strength and outer power is one that patriarchy does not want women to make (Iglehart 1982: 294).

Over millennia, mythology has developed narratives about universal human conditions. The gift imaginary represents for me a return to myth making of a more holistic and eco-socially sustainable variety. The validity of a theory and practice might be measured by the extent to which it enhances human/woman rights, wellness and ecological sustainability, and how strongly it advocates the rights of all to spiritual and other basic modes of self-determination and expression. The feminist self-reflection has further ensured a constant process of realignment and assessment of one’s own collusion with abusive ethnopolitical politics and ways. As Audre Lorde (1984) notes, the erotic is manifest in everything that binds us, as the eros and magic of everyday life. This is for me an essential quality also of the gift imaginary where we can also give expression to utopias of gift-based communities, equality and justice, the raw materials for change. As Vaughan (1997) sums this ethos, it is based on listening to the sign-gifts of individual and collective needs, and being able to respond to them. For an American writer on ecospirituality, Cynthia Eller (1990), the creation of a feminist spirituality is a logical extension of other feminist premises. The interest in reclaiming the female body as a positive image and as an intrinsic and celebrated part of women’s existence through the other imaginary, moves simultaneously with the desire of uniting spirit, body, and mind into a more holistic, resisting or empowering lifestyle. In this context, healing becomes a metaphor for any form of self-transformation, whether physical, emotional, or mental; it is the name given to the overall effort to gain self-knowledge and marshal personal power (Eller 1990: 110).24 Finnish folk healing also contains the notion that in order to heal one must know the words of origin (synnyinsanat), something that applies also to collective balance. To know, cherish and honour one’s roots is to stay or become whole, what the fragmented, atomistic modern self suffers from is loss of soul, loss of rootedness and connectedness with the extended family of sentient beings. According to old folk beliefs, people can only be healed by healing them together with the environment and broader cosmic spirits and forces. After all, they all form one, and hurting nature means hurting oneself.

The gift imaginary as the radically other worldview is, as I have tried to sug- gest, a way of going back to the ecologically and socially sustainable roots of our being and earth communities (the etymology of “radical” has to do with “roots”). Feminists are among the groups today that are trying to make a difference through their engaged politics and consciousness-raising. They are the transgressive women opening Pandora’s Box, prying into patriarchal secrets and exposing the roots of the inequities and structural inequalities making the world an unsafe and unstable place for women and men alike. Social activism is also a form of traditionally feminine gift and to such an extent feminists are the modern kinfolk of Pandora, opening the lid on the scourges created by the modern corporate world with its politics of unsustainable accumulation. They remind society that it is the corpo- rate elite, not women that have released the evils that plague us today—global warming, the bird flu, the mad cow disease. Today’s scourges unleashed by the neo-liberal fundamentalist globalization are indeed gene manipulation and ter- minator seeds, terminator technology, computer viruses, nuclear proliferation, a deepening digital divide, and an increasing wedge between the haves and have- nots between the industrial and overexploited countries. In sum, then, the other imaginary means returning to Pan Dora her role as gift giver, not as an enemy of patriarchy. In concrete politics, this also means listening and voting for gift-ed men and women—for a change. And reminding us all what Pan Dora’s original vase contained—honey. Not missiles and woman-blaming tales. In Geyer Miller’s (1995) view:

In mythology, gifts are symbols of power and authority. Pandora received many gifts and thus came down to earth well equipped. The patriarchal overlay on the myth has robbed the feminine descendants of Pandora of their birthright, the knowledge of the meaning of the gifts and the power and authority to utilize them effectively. It was the Horae who enhanced Pandora’s attractions by embellishing her hair with floral garlands and herbs to awaken desire in the hearts of men (golden grace). Thus Pandora wore the fruits and flow- ers of the seasons, bedecked with nature’s finest perfumed offerings. She is, herself, the most delectable offering in perfect timing, a “natural” gift. She is the first earth woman, with her cyclic nature and ability to move in tune with the tides and seasons. Pandora is the symbol of birth and death. By her, a man enters and leaves the physical world. Like the Horae, she is the keeper of the gates. Her gift is that of having an integral sense of timing.... The Greek word for grace, “charis,” means the “delightfulness of art.” Aglaia, the youngest of the Graces, was the wife of Hephaestus. Her name means “the glorious” or Brilliant. Thalia (Flowering) and Euphrosyne (Heart’s Joy) were the other two Graces. Older names were Pasithea, Cale, and Euphrosyne which was actually a title of Aphrodite (Pasithea Cale Euphrosyne) meaning “The Goddess of Joy who is Beautiful to All.” (9)

The gifts of gynocentric mythology and imaginary remain to be unearthed. Ritvala’s Helka festival is one strong gynocentric ritual remaining of the pagan past in Finland. As a women’s spring and fertility ceremonial going far back through the oral tradition, it is one of the most promising gateways towards the other imaginary, despite its strong Christian-patriarchal overlay (Kailo 2007). It is not only possible to reconstruct the woman-friendly and ecosocially sustainable imag- ined communities of the past, it may well be that without a radical change in our worldview, there is not much of a world left to defend. Patriarchy as institution and the master imaginary as its psychological order have let so many scourges out of its arsenals of violence and destruction that hope is indeed the only thing we now have left of a sustainable future.

Kaarina Kailo, senior researcher at the Finnish Academy, has held various women's studies positions in Canada and Finland (1991- ), ranging from interim director of the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Montreal, Canada to professor at Oulu Uni- versity. She has published numerous co-edited books on topics from postcolonialism (Sami people) to feminist views on folklore, storytelling, literature, gift economy/gift imaginary, neoliberal economic philosophy, honour-related gender violence, mythol- ogy, ecofeminism, bear myths, sauna and sweatlodge as gynocentric ritual spaces. Her current research compares Northern/Indigenous women’s writings on trauma and healing. She is active in local, national and international Green-Left politics. Her edited anthology, The Gift Gaze: Wo(men) and Bears will be published by Inanna Publications in 2007.


He exposes the norm of the “human” behind the current value system; it is, I believe, also the invisible Eurocentric norm, linked with a notion of “autonomous” subjectivity that does not fit women’s and many non-European cultures’ values or perceptions. We are, after all, all dependent on each other—and men particularly so regarding the care work that women provide.

Vaughan (1997) believes that the current western norm of the human is, to use a heu- ristic description of men as a group, a masculated male ego in the “exemplar” position, pan dora revisited reflecting the outcome of a male-specific upbringing and conditioning to become the non-gift giving gender entitled to receive rather than bestow nurture. The individual, cut-throat ethos of neo-liberalism is for educational and socialization-related reasons less expressive of the values and behavioural mores with which women are brought up. It is clear that the greater responsibilities and societal expectations regarding carework fall mostly on women’s shoulders. My point in this paper is that the underestimation of female contributions to society through reproductive, emotional and care labour and the concomitant overevaluation of men’s realms of influence have their mythic, psychological roots in the primal myths that circulate in and with which children are conditioned in patriarchal Western societies. Hence the importance of exposing and rewriting such myths operating in our deep unconscious.

See www.gifteconomy.org and www.akademia.Hagia for information and videoclips of the Peaceful Societies past and present conferences organized by Akademia Hagia.

According to William E. Phipps (1988,1976), the myths of Pandora and Eve are similar in that both attempt to explain why woman was created. Hesiod’s poetry, entitled Theogony (507-616) and Works and days (West 1985: 47-105), provides the only Greek source pertaining to woman’s creation.

Pandora is in some versions portrayed as the product of Hephaestus’ craft and Zeus’s guile. Geyer Miller in “What is the Pandora Myth All About?” (1995) offers a version of Pandora in which she is clearly a trophy between warring male gods, providing an illustration of the “exchange economy” as an ideology adopted by men to trade in women and other resources (Vaughan 1997): “Prometheus (fore-thought) and his brother Epimetheus (after-thought) were Titans. Prometheus had remained neutral during the revolt of the Titans against the Olympians and thus had been admitted to the circle of Immortals by Zeus. Seeing that the race of men had been destroyed in the deluge, it was Prometheus who fashioned another prototype man, into whom Athena, the favored daughter of Zeus, breathed soul and life. As long as Cronus had reigned, gods and men had lived on terms of mutual understanding. In the cool of the evening the gods might wander down to earth and sit down together with men to partake of the supper. With the coming of the Olympians, everything changed. Zeus asserted his divine supremacy. Although Prometheus was now an Immortal he harboured a grudge against the destroyers and favoured mortals to the detriment of the gods. He tricked Zeus into choosing the fat-covered bones as the part of the sacrifice for the gods, leaving the best meat for mortals. Zeus, in his anger, withheld fire from man. Prometheus stole the forbidden fire and gave it to the mortals. Zeus, enraged, called for Hephaestus the forger. He bade him make a virgin woman of dazzling beauty equal to the Olympian goddesses. He requested all of the gods to bring her their especial gifts. Her name was Pandora (anciently called Anesidor, which was one of the names of the earth-goddess), rich in gifts, the all-gifted [my emphasis]. Zeus also ordered a large Pythos (casket) to be made in which were placed the Spites: Old Age, Labour, Sickness, Insanity, Vice, and Passion to plague mankind upon their release. Delusional Hope was placed in the jar to keep men from killing themselves in despair and escaping their full measure of suffering” (Geyer Miller 1995).

See also Kramarae and Treichler (1985), “Pandora.”

The honey vase of gifts has indeed been transformed into the pot of poison, as even the etymology of the word Gift suggests (it has both meanings of gift and poison in German) (Vaughan 1997).

For an alternative view of Pandora, see Spretnak (1978) and Stone (1976).

To quote Goettner-Abendroth (2004): “Matriarchal women are managers and ad- ministrators, who organise the economy not according to the profit principle, where an individual or a small group of people benefits; rather, the motivation behind their action is motherliness. The profit principle is an ego-centred principle, where individu- als or a small minority take advantage of the majority of people. The principle of motherliness is the opposite, where altruism reigns and the well being of all is at the centre. It is at the same time a spiritual principle, which humans take from nature. Mother Nature cares for all beings, however different they may be. The same applies to the principle of motherliness: a good mother cares for all her children in spite of their diversity. Motherliness as an ethical principle pervades all areas of a matriarchal society, and this holds true for men as well. If a man of a matriarchal society desires to acquire status among his peers, or even to become a representative of the clan to the outside word, the criterion is “He must be like a good mother (Minangkabau, Sumatra)” (3).

Lauri Honko (1993) has elabourated in The Great Bear on Finno-Ugric festivities and reflects the Maussian view that behaviour at a feast was characterized by some element of competition between families and communities for whom the maintenance of good relations was important: “The act of hospitality central to festivals and feasts had two functions. On the one hand, it emphasized one’s own social position and the status of guests in relation to it. On the other hand, acceptance of hospitality also assumed reciprocity and the guest inevitably had in mind his own forthcoming duties as host, while the host did not forget that it would soon be his turn to act as guest. In this social exchange, not only bonds between individuals but, above all, between groups were defined and strengthened. The host demonstrated his percep- tion both of his own standing and that of his guest by his behaviour and the scale of his hospitality. Sometimes a host might deliberately use the occasion to enhance his own prestige and humble his guest either by exaggerated largesse or by deliberately offering less hospitality than custom required” (259).

The poems have been primarily collected from Juhana Kainulainen from a spell used in bathing a sick person: “Kaveh eukko, Luonnotar,/kaveh kultainen, koria” (SKVR VII 4, 1758: 90-91). Kave woman, golden, beautiful is implored with other forces to help the one to be bathed be relieved of his or her problem. Luonnotar sometimes also manifests as one of Tapio’s daughters (Haavio 1967: 68; Krogerus 1999: 131).

Tuulikki Korpinen (1986) reveals through her study of Louhi’s etymologies that her name has both the meaning of “flame” (Swedish lÂga) and lux (light), suggesting how patriarchy has turned this fiery bringer of light into a figure of death and darkness.

Iivar Kemppinen (1960), for example, analyzes the history of Finnish mythology and spiritual life and views the gradual replacement of the goddesses with the one god of resurrection as the Finn’s heightened maturity and “development” towards a higher form of religion.

On Nordic mythology and goddesses from a feminist perspective see Sjoo (1985).

In Christian dualistic mythology women are not generally represented as belonging to the sky-world but are kept associated with the inferior “other” of the “masculine” mind (matter), spirit (body), or culture (nature). In the pre-patriarchal representation of the creative spirit women are images both of nature and culture, where such a di- chotomy does not exist. The Luonnotar daughters can be associated with an alternative social order and alternative sex/gender system; after all, they create the products of “culture” such as iron out of maternal milk, expressing thereby an imaginary where maternity and the female breast are not restricted to their patriarchal functions: nurturing babies or being objects of the male erotic gaze, the fetishized breast. This
is one telling example of an alternative worldview or way of endowing prestige to social contributions. The above representation of the feminine is not dependent on an approving male order but is defined in relation to itself and its own values, e.g. the inherent value of women creating both life and technology.

“Using clay and water, he fashioned the beautiful artifice. The forges and fires of the earth are the artificial womb from which Pandora is born. This Hephaestian passion for creative expression is deeply of the mother. Pandora was not the product of a union with the masculine but through Hephaestus, the most primordial feminine influences of nature are mimicked and made real. In addition to the gift of life, Hephaestus fashioned a golden crown, which was placed on Pandora’s head by Athene. On this shining masterpiece were carved all of the creatures of the land and sea. They were complete with voices and movement, an animated world of instinctual and natural energies. It was a crown for an earth goddess (Rhea Pandora), the first woman, Queen of nature, and a symbol of fertility and seasonal life” (Geyer Miller 1995: 2). As this quotation suggests, the earth goddess may well have affinities also with the Finnish Golden woman or Kave. In patriarchal lore, for instance the Kalevala, the Golden Woman is turned into a mere fantasy of the eternal smith and hammerer, Ilmarinen. Echoing the Greek Hephaistos, he is the prototype of the engineer-innovator-scientist who tries to reproduce through technology what he cannot own in a flesh-and-blood woman (Kailo 2002). Ilmarinen hammers for himself a kind of primitive cyberlady and exemplies the male effort to create through mechanistic means and machinery what men cannot bring to life in a womb. These efforts of “artificial insemination” or possible womb-envy projected into technological innovation and projected to the level of the nature/culture split and myth fail. The Golden Woman remains lifeless, as indeed are classic dualistic male fantasies of women. They are projections and hence cannot give life to women as complex humans beyond the restricting and unrealistic whore/madonna dualisms.

“The givers of gifts were living there and the old wives that give game lay just in their working dress, in their dirty ragged clothes. Even the forest’s mistress too, the cruel mistress Kuurikki was very black in countenance, in appearance terrible; bracelets of withes were on her arms, on her fingers withy rings, with withy ribbons her head was bound, in withy ringlets were her locks, and withy pendants in her ears, around her neck were evil pearls. The evil mistress then, the cruel mistress Kuurikki was not disposed to give away, or inclined to helpfulness” (Abercromby, 1898: 179-180). As this description of Kuurikki and its broader context by Abercromby reveal, Mielikki and Kuurikki are not a separate good and bad goddess but two aspects of the same game-giving female haltia. For studies of Louhi see Nenola-Kallio and Timonen (1990); Siikala and Vakimo (1994) and Kailo, in English (e.g., 1996, 2000). Siikala (1986) discusses the connections between Louhi and words or etymologies connot- ing trance states, addressing the chthonic projections on Louhi as the mistress of the domain of death, the North and the otherworld

By “non-imaginary” originary meaning I refer to the postmodern insight that ul- timately any one primal version is unknowable. To refer to origins is a “no-no” of postmodernism because such a quest presupposed unified origins and a linear history. While I embrace the constructivist nature of postmodern theory, I refer to originary meanings as part of a conscious strategic essentialist claim to a founding mythology aimed at empowering a group, in my case, women.

My source for the analysis of Kave/Louhi is the vast collections of folk material in the archives of the Finnish Literature Society in Helsinki, primarily the Suomen Kansan Vanhat Runot (SKVR), plus the Finnish national epic, Kalevala.

The sauna is at its best when bathed in meady vapours, and there is a haltia of beer, Osmotar, associated with the drink that raises spirits and energies (Kailo 2005a).

She is best known through the Finnish Kalevala, an epic that is an appropriate mise- en-abyme of the tendencies persisting in literature on the North. The striking feature about these stories is that their representations of femininity and masculinity, male heroes and female anti-heroes could not be further removed from reality, in light of historical facts or contemporary developments (Kailo 2005b).

See Sawin (1998) for an excellent feminist analysis of Louhi.

As Myram Miedzien (1991) has demonstrated, there are numerous peaceful cultures, among them Indigenous nations that have been able to heal from a violence-based social structure. Goettner-Abendroth (2004) has also gathered proof of existing matriarchal social systems with little or no violence. It may be idealistic and naÔve to argue that archaic societies or matriarchies were either peaceful or that aggression did not characterize humans at all times. However, it is necessary to distinguish between worldviews that have or have not sought to naturalize giving and a sustainable cultural, economic and biological order. If the peoples labelled as “noble savages” have never been simplistically noble, it is still of great significance that their worldview, if not all individuals, have more humane cooperative values built into their visions of life and way of living than is the case in today’s dominant ethos of “each for his own.”

However, it is important to stress that feminist approaches to power emphasize power within and empowerment for all rather than power over.


Abercromby, John. 1898. Pre- and Proto-historic Finns. Both Eastern and Western. With the Magic Songs of the West Finns. London: np.
Anttonen, Veikko. 1992. “Interpreting Ethnic Categories Denoting ‘Sacred’ in a Finnish and an Ob-Ugrian Context.” Temenos 28.
The Columbia Encyclopedia. 2001-05. Sixth ed. New York: Columbia University Press.
Douglas, Mary. 1996 [1966]. Purity and danger. An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. London: Routledge.
Eller, Cynthia. 1990. Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America. New York: Crossroad.
Encyclopædia Britannica 2002.
Geyer Miller, Sandra. 1995. “What is the Pandora Myth All About?” Online: http://www. support4change.com/general/women/pandora/myth.html.
Geyer Miller, Sandra. 1998. “Did Pandora Bring Trouble or Transformation for Women?” Online: http://www.learningplaceonline.com/change/women/pandora/myth.htm.
Goettner-Abendroth, Heide. 1995 [1980]. The Goddess and her Heros. Stow, MA: Anthony Publishing Company.
Goettner-Abedroth, Heide. 2004. “The Relationship between Modern Matriarchal Stud- ies and the Gift Paradigm.” Paper presented at the conference, “A Radically Different Worldview is Possible: The Gift Economy Inside and Outside Patriarchal Capitalism.” Las Vegas County Library, Nov. 14-17. Online: http://www.gift-economy.com/atha- nor/5.html/ Date Accessed: 2 July 2005.
Goettner-Abendroth, Heide. 1987. Matriarchal Mythology in Former Times and Today. Trans. Heidi Goettner Abendroth with Lise Weil. Freedom, CA: Crossing Pamphlet. Haavio, Martti. l967. Suomalainen mytologia. Helsinki: WSOY.
Harrison, Jane. l975. Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion. New York: Arno Press.
Hesiod. Works and days. 700 B.C.
Honko, Lauri. 1993. “Festivities.” Eds. Lauri Honko, Senni Timonen, Michael Branch.
The Great Bear: A Thematic Anthology of Oral Poetry in the Finno-Ugric Languages.
Pieks”m”ki: Suomen Kirjallisuuden Seura. 259-284.
Iglehart, Hallie. 1982. “Expanding Personal Power Through Meditation.” The Politics of Women’s Spirituality. Essays on the Rise of Spiritual Power Within the Feminist Movement. Ed. Charlene Spretnak. New York: Doubleday.
Kailo, Kaarina. 1987. “Emil Petaja’s Star Mill and the Sampo’s Shifted Axis.” Ural-Altaic Yearbook/ Ural-Altaische Jahrb¸cher 59: 107-117.
Kailo, Kaarina. 1996. “The Representation of Women and the Sami in the Finnish Kalevala: The Problem with the “Overlap(p).” Simone de Beauvoir Institute Bulletin/Bulletin de l’Institut Simone de Beauvoir 16: 33-49.
Kailo, Kaarina. 2000. “Monoculture, Gender and Nationalism: Kalevala as a Tool of Acculturation.” Ethical Challenges for Teacher Education and Teaching. Special Focus on Gender and Multicultural Issues. Eds. Rauni R”s”nen and Vappu Sunnari. Oulu: Acta Universitatis Ouluenis. 13–37
Kailo, Kaarina. 2002. “Sukupuoli, teknologia ja valta. Nais- ja miesrepresentaatiot Kal- evalasta ÷–piseen.” [Gender, Technology and Power: Female and Male Representations from Kalevala to ÷–pinen]. Tieto ja tekniikka. Miss” Nainen Toim, Riitta Smeds, Kaisa Kauppinen, Kati Yrj”nheikki, Anitta Valtonen. Tekniikan Akateemisten liitto: TEK. 241-259.
Kailo, Kaarina. 2005a. “The Helka Fest: Traces of a Finno-Ugric Matriarchy and World- view?” Paper presented at the World Congress on Matriarchal Studies, Societies of Peace. September 29-30, Austin, Texas.
Kailo Kaarina. 2005b. “Mythic Women of the North: Between Reality and Fantasy.” Northern dimensions and Environments. Northern Sciences Review Eds. Lassi Heininen, Kari Strand and Kari Taulavuori.Oulu: Thule Institute, University of Oulu. 2005b. 173-223.
Kailo, Kaarina. 2007. The Gift Gaze: Wo(men) and Bears. Toronto: Inanna Publications and Education.
Kemppinen, Iivar. 1960. Suomalainen mytologia. Helsinki: Kirja-mono Oy.
Korpinen, Tuulikki. 1986. Sammon ainekset. Helsinki: Heinola.
Korten, David. 1996. When Corporations Rule the World. Towards a Green Revolution. San Fransisco: Kumarian Press.
Kramarae, Cheris and Paula A. Treichler. 1985. A Feminist dictionary. Boston: Pandora Press.
Krogerus, Tuulikki. 1999. Kalevalan Hyv”t ja H”vytt–m”t. Eds. U. Piela, S. Knuuttila and T. Kupiainen. Helsinki: SKS.
Lorde, Audre. l984. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. New York: Crossing Press.
L–nnrot, Elias. 1985 [1845]. Kalevala, The Land of Heroes. Trans. W. F. Kirby. Intr. Michael Branch. London: Athlone Press.
M”kinen, Kirsti. 2004. Sammon sanat. Kalevalan sitaatteja. Helsinki: Otava.
Meyer, Leroy N. and Tony Ramirez. 1996. “‘Wakinyan Hotan’–The Thunder Beings Call Out: The Inscrutability of Lakota/Dakota Metaphysics.” From Our Eyes: Learning from Indigenous Peoples. Ed. Sylvia O’Meara and Douglas A. West. Toronto: Garamond Press.
Nenola-Kallio, Aili and Timonen Senni. l990. Louhen Sanat. Kirjoituksia kansanperinteen naisista. Helsinki: SKS.
Miedzien, Myriam. 1991. Boys Will Be Boys: Breaking the Link Between Masculinity and Violence. New York: Anchor Books.
Niemi, Irmeli. 1985. “Kvinnorna i Kalevala.” Tr. J. O. Tallqvist. Nya Argus 4 (April): 75-80.
Ochs, Carol. 1977. Behind the Sex of God: Toward a New Consciousness: Transcending Matriarchy and Patriarchy. Boston: Beacon Press.
Petaja, Emil. 1966. The Saga of Lost Earths and the Star Mill. New York: Daw Books, Inc.
Petaja, Emil. 1967. The Stolen Sun and Tramontane. New York: Daw Books, Inc.
Phipps, William E. 1988. “Eve and Pandora Contrasted.” Theology Today 45 (1) (April). Online: http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/apr1988/v45-1-article3.htm. Accessed August 10, 2006.
Phipps, William E. 1976. October. “Adam’s Rib: Bone of Contention.” Theology Today 33 (3) (October). Online: http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/oct1976/v33-3-article5.htm. Accessed August 10, 2006.
Plumwood, Val. 1993. Feminism and the Mastery of Nature. New York: Routledge
Sawin, Patricia. 1988. “L–nnrot’s Brain Children: The Representation of Women in Finland’s Kalevala.” Journal of Folklore Research 5 (3): 187-217.
Siikala, Anna-Leena. l986. “Myyttinen Pohjola.” Kirjokannesta Kipin”. Kalevalan Juhla- vuoden Satoa. Helsinki: SKS.
Siikala, Anna-Leena and Sinikka Vakimo. 1994. Songs Beyond the Kalevala: Transformations of Oral Poetry. Tr. by Susan Sinisalo. Helsinki: SKS.
Sjoo, Monica. 1985. The Goddess/es of the Northern Peoples. Part I and II. London: Arachne.
Suomen Kansan Vanhat Runot (SKVR). Vol. I–XVIII. Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seuran kansanrunousarkiston kokoelmat. Suomalaisen karhuperinteen primaaril”hteet [Finnish Peoples’ Ancient Poems and Foklore]. Suomen Kirjallisuuden Seura. Eds. Kaarle Krohn and V. Alava. Helsinki: SKS.
Spretnak, Charlene. 1978. Lost Goddesses of Early Greece: A Collection of Pre-Hellenic My- thology. Boston: Beacon Press.
Stone, Merlin. 1976. When God Was a Woman. New York: Barnes and Noble.
Vaughan, Genevieve. 1997. For-Giving: A Feminist Criticism of Exchange. Foreword by Robin Morgan, Texas: Plainview/Anomaly Press.
Walker, Barbara. 1983. The Woman’s Encyclopaedia of Myths and Secrets. New York: Harper and Row.
Warren, K. J. 2000. Ecofeminist Philosophy. A Western Perspective on What It Is and Why It Matters. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
West, Martin Litchfield, ed. 1978. Works and days/Hesiod. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
West, Martin Litchfield. 1985. The Hesiodic Catalogue of Women: Its Nature, Structure, and Origins. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
return to top