Eternal feminine: a source of democracy: An insight on Iroquois culture in Canada

0000-00-00 00:00:00 by Paola Canale
Eternal feminine: a source of democracy: An insight on Iroquois culture in Canada by Paola Canale

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Paola Canale
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This book wouldn’t mind to be the nth elegy to the “eternal feminine”, concept fathered by Goethe who who said in the Faust: "The eternal feminine attracts us to the highest", reducing it to a gateway of salvation, a way of redemption from suffering and evil. This expression has been coined to point out the eternal, unchangeable features of feminine appeal. Femininity intended as the wholeness of feminine qualities and skills, of the characteristics that mark behaviors, attitude and intimate soul of women. The eternal feminine is shortly the essential principle of femininity. In the light of it, we can note how exceptional women keep on marking our history representing a bright expression of fulfilled femininity, engaged in political, social, ecclesial and spiritual roles of the first order. According to what nowadays Pope John Paul II has affirmed, “God is Father, and even more, He is Mother”, showing off the “Maternal face of God” and stressing the importance of women in present day society. The eternal feminine is what lends to the spirituality a compelling sense of poetry, magic, enchantment, transfiguration and mystery. This myth has many faces: the sanctity of the mother, the purity of a virgin, the fecundity of the earth and the womb.
This is the right key of interpretation of the matriarchal system of Iroquois social organization. Peoples are generated by the creative power of Mother Earth, as handed on in the Creation story, and that sees in every woman a source of life, fertility and prosperity. They are the symbolic depositaries of the copious gift allowed by Mother Nature to feed and to develop their population. Iroquois woman is the Personification of Life and she represents the propellant power that makes everything in society work well and in harmony. Most of Iroquois ceremonies are to give thanks to the fertility of the earth, especially for crops, which are women's main concern. The three main crops grown by the women are corn, beans, and squash which are referred to as the "Three Sisters," "Our Mothers," and "Our Supporters." These "Three Sisters" are revered among the Iroquois, along with the female abilities of food provision and procreation. Iroquois woman has a predominant role both in public and private realms. She’s an active agent, not a passive victim, kinship was traced through the female line, children were raised and, sometimes adopted, by women, they own the land, the crops and the longhouses, enjoying more privileges and greater freedom in comparison to other American Indian women.
Their political powers are essentially based on economy, controlling the fields and the agricultural production, illustrating what they mean for democracy: in order to be equal, one had to have a stake in society. They are pivotal political actors. The gantowisas takes on administrative, legislative and even judicial duties. They run local clan councils, hold all the lineage wampum, nominations belt and titles, retain exclusive rights over naming, nominate all male sachems as well as Clan Mothers to office and to impeach wrongdoers. They appoint warriors, declare wars, negotiate peace and mediate disputes.
Everything starting where our feet are placed-on Mother Earth, the purpose of The Great Law of Peace is to help us remember the natural laws of creation, according which woman is the necessary precondition for material creation, and she, like all of her creation, is fundamentally female. She’s the spirit that informs the right balance, true harmony, and these in turn order all relationships in conformity with her law. Beauty, health and goodness are wholeness and they are symbolized in the sacred hoop of life, a female symbol.
In addition to the juridical, political and social aspects, it’s also included a brief overview of the fashion trends, lifestyle, traditional music and folklore.


Eternal feminine: a source of democracy: An insight on Iroquois culture in Canada

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