Maternal Gift Economy: Breaking Through -
Ongoing Salons

Every two weeks

Special Event - The gift of Women Talking... about War and Terror

January 20, 2024


Special session, Saturday January 20th, to discuss the gaping wound in the conscience of our time: the continued enabling of Israeli's devastating war on Gaza in the wake of the brutal Hamas attach. 

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Special Event

The Maternal Gift Economy as a Radical Alternative to Exchange and Accumulation

November 14th, 2023

with Genevieve Vaughan, Miki Kashtan, Cassie Thornton, Letecia Layson, Sherri Mitchell, Selene Aswell, and moderator Gwen Olton

Special Event

Book release - The Evolved Nest: Nature's Way of Raising Children and Creating Connected Communities

with Darcia Narvaez PhD and G. A. Bradshaw PhD

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Accompanied by original art, The Evolved Nest is a beautiful resource for Nature advocates, parents-to-be, Animal lovers, and anyone who seeks to revitalize Earth wellbeing. Through lessons from the Animal world and scientific insights, The Evolved Nest shows how to restore natural wellness in our families and communities by living in harmony with Nature.

Each chapter explores a species-unique “evolved nest,” a way of living with Nature and raising families which has been perfected through evolution over millions of years to optimize development.

The Evolved Nest shows the heritages we share with Animal kin. You’ll learn:

  • How Wolves display moral commitment
  • How Elephant communities provide mutual lifetime care
  • How Beavers not only work but foster a spirit of play in their children
  • The emotional and social intelligence of Octopus
  • How, when, and whether (or not) Brown Bears decide to have children
  • What the neuroscience of child raising can teach you—whether you’re a parent, grandparent, caregiver, or child-free

Psychologists Drs. Darcia Narvaez and G. A. Bradshaw describe how each evolved nest offers inspiration for reexamining our own systems of nurturing, understanding, and caring for our young and one another. Combining stunning scientific facts with lessons from neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology, we learn to understand and care deeply for our Animal kin and our innate place within the natural world.

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The Woman Who Married the Bear: The Spirituality of the Ancient Foremothers

with Barbara A. Mann & Kaarina Kailo

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Moderated by Letecia Layson

Stories of the primordial woman who married a bear, appear in matriarchal traditions across the global North from Indigenous North America and Scandinavia to Russia and Korea. In The Woman Who Married the Bear, authors Barbara Alice Mann, a scholar of Indigenous American culture, and Kaarina Kailo, who specializes in the cultures of Northern Europe, join forces to examine these Woman-Bear stories, their common elements, and their meanings in the context of matriarchal culture.

The authors reach back 35,000 years to tease out different threads of Indigenous Woman-Bear traditions, using the lens of bear spirituality to uncover the ancient matriarchies found in rock art, caves, ceremonies, rituals, and traditions. Across cultures, in the earliest known traditions, women and bears are shown to collaborate through star configurations and winter cave-dwelling, symbolized by the spring awakening from hibernation followed by the birth of “cubs.” By the Bronze Age, however, the story of the Woman-Bear marriage had changed: it had become a hunting tale, refocused on the male hunter.

Throughout the book, Mann and Kailo offer interpretations of this earliest known Bear religion in both its original and its later forms. Together, they uncover the maternal cultural symbolism behind the bear marriage and the Original Instructions given by Bear to Woman on sustainable ecology and lifeways free of patriarchy and social stratification.

Barbara Alice Mann is Professor of Humanities at the Jesup Scott Honors College of the University of Toledo, Ohio. She has published around 500 articles and chapters and fifteen books, including Spirits of Breath: The Twinned Cosmos of Indigenous America and Iroquoian Women: The Gantowisas.

Kaarina Kailo has been Professor of Women’s Studies at Oulu University, Finland. Senior Scholar at the Finnish Academy, she has also held positions at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Canada. She has published five books, several anthologies, and hundreds of articles on the gift economy, ecofeminism/mythology, bear lore, women’s folklore and sauna healing as well as the gender impact of neoliberalism. She edited Wo/men and Bears. The Gifts of Nature, Culture and Gender Revisited in 2008.


Beyond Patriarchy, Capitalism, and White Supremacy

with Dr. Erella Shadmi

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Moderated by Letecia Layson

This book addresses the multidimensional crisis facing western civilization and offers an alternative, innovative approach — the Mother Logic as the basis for a counter-revolution to the western patriarchal order. This analysis comprises three parts: the profound failure of western civilization, rooted in the patriarchal rejection of the maternal and reflected in its wars and exploitation of nature; the matriarchy as a more viable social, political, and economic order; and the need for comprehensive and deep-seated change.

Drawing upon feminist thought, the maternal gift economy, the wisdom of indigenous nations, and modern matriarchal studies, this book presents an alternative paradigm that is not a utopian fantasy, but a path toward imagining a vision that can transform thinking and activism. While fully cognizant of the obstacles, the author offers a path toward realization of this vision in western society.

Dr. Erella Shadmi is a feminist activist, scholar, and peace activist and mother to Odin, an artist and designer. She headed the women’s studies program and taught the sociology of policing at Beit Berl College, and has published extensively on these subjects. Dr. Shadmi was co-founder of the Kol Ha-Isha feminist center in Jerusalem and the Fifth Mother women’s peace movement, and an activist with Women in Black, B’Tselem human rights center, Ahoti for Women, and the Isha L’Isha women’s center in Haifa. She is currently spearheading a campaign to establish a multicultural women’s museum in Yeruham and is active in global movements to promote the maternal gift economy and modern matriarchal studies.

Matriarchal Societies of the Past and the Rise of Patriarchy

with Dr. Heide Goettner-Abendroth

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Moderated by Letecia Layson

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- Download the captions transcript

Dr. Heide Goettner-Abendroth is a mother and a grandmother. She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy of science at the University of Munich where she lectured for ten years (1973-1983).

She has published on philosophy of science, and extensively on matriarchal society and culture, and through her lifelong research on matriarchal societies has become a founder of Modern Matriarchal Studies. In her magnum opus: Matriarchal Societies. Studies on Indigenous Cultures across the Globe, (New York 2013, Peter Lang), she defines scientifically this new field of knowledge and provides a world tour of examples of contemporary matriarchal cultures.

She has been visiting professor at the University of Montreal in Canada, and the University of Innsbruck in Austria. She lectured extensively at home and abroad. In 1986, she founded the “International ACADEMY HAGIA for Matriarchal Studies” in Germany, and since then has been its director.

She guided three World Congresses on Matriarchal Studies: 2003 in Luxembourg, 2005 in Texas, U.S., and 2011 in Switzerland. She received several awards and was twice nominated as candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, in 2005 by a Swiss initiative, 2007 by a finish initiative.

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Restoring the Kinship Worldview

A Conversation with Darcia Narvaez and Wahinkpe Topa (Four Arrows)

Restoring the Kinship Worldview addresses the potentially impending environmental apocalypse with the idea that Indigenous worldviews are essential to humanity’s continuation. That, in order to survive, we must shift toward a more connected relationship with each other and the Earth.

With years of research and experience in Indigenous scholarship and activism, authors Wahinkpe Topa (Four Arrows) and Darcia Narvaez recognize that the original Indigenous understanding of the world, one that guided us for 99% of human history, offers the most pivotal way to restore balance to life on Earth.

In this book, they have put together 28 powerful worldview precepts from various Indigenous leaders. Accompanied by the editors’ own analyses, each chapter reflects the wisdom of Indigenous worldviews such as:

  • Egalitarian rule versus hierarchical governance
  • A fearless trust in the universe, instead of a fear-based culture
  • Emphasizing generosity and the greater good instead of pursuing selfish goals and for personal gain
  • The laws of nature as the highest rules for living

Effectively tying each precept to the crises we face today, Restoring the Kinship Worldview is a salve for our times, a nourishment for our collective, and a holistic orientation that will lead us away from extinction toward an integrated, sustainable future.

Darcia Narvaez

Our very first relationship is with mother. Mother offers the physiological and communicative nurturing that initiates a child’s entry into the community (Vaughan 2015). Mother’s steadiness and tenderness build the necessary psychosocial neurobiological features that will allow the child to thrive within the community as a growing member. But mother’s devotion to her child depends on felt community support and, traditionally, the community participates in the raising of the child. The good enough community sets up the practices and policies that make good enough caregiving possible. They provide the evolved nest and grow a cooperative, prosocial, healthy member of the community.

Darcia Narvaez is Professor Emerita of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame, Fellow of the American Psychological Association and American Educational Research Association. She employs a lifespan, interdisciplinary approach to studying evolved morality, child development and flourishing. She blogs for Psychology Today (“Moral Landscapes”) and hosts the webpage

Wahinkpe Topa (Four Arrows)

Wahinkpe Topa (Four Arrows), aka Don Trent Jacobs, Ph.D., Ed.D., is internationally respected for his research and publications about Indigenous worldviews. Formerly Dean of Education at Oglala Lakota College and tenured Associate Professor of Education at Northern Arizona University, he is currently a professor with Fielding Graduate University. Selected as one of 27 "Visionaries in Education," he is the author of 21 books, half of which are about Indigenous worldview applications for education, sustainability, wellness, and justice.

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