Eliel Saarinen,  Helsinki Railway Station, 1907-1919

Eliel Saarinen, Helsinki Railway Station, 1907-1919

Pia Lindman

I find the context of FinnFest USA 2015 in Buffalo intriguing because it combines N:th generation Finnish Americans and their interests in cultural heritage with Finnish high-end culture. The quest for Finnish heritage and identity with the help of high-end culture has historical precedents.

Gallen Kallela,  Lemminkainen's Mother,  1897

Gallen Kallela, Lemminkainen's Mother, 1897

At the turn of the 20th century, Finnish intelligentsia, identifying themselves as fennophiles, researched Finnish vernacular by gathering and writing down oral tradition; one result of these projects was the Kalevala compiled by anthropologist Elias Lönnrot. This vernacular was then processed and filtered to fit the international salons and world’s fairs.  It was recreated (Sibelius wrote symphonies inspired by Kalevala - and Gallen Kallela illustrated it by paintings), and constructed (Saarinen, Gesellius, and Lindgren designed, for example, the national romantic Helsinki Central Railway Station and Museum of Natural History). In the first two decades of the 20th Century, Finnish art inspired by Kalevala was presented to the international community in the hopes of driving home the political argument for an independent Finland, freed from Russian panslavism and becoming a “nation among nations”.

Kalevala by Elias  Lönnrot , (FIrst Edition 1935), Pictured is 2004 Edition published by Pennsylvania State Univesity.

Kalevala by Elias Lönnrot, (FIrst Edition 1935), Pictured is 2004 Edition published by Pennsylvania State Univesity.

At FinnFest 2015, in A Kalevala Duo, Playing Bones, I will connect other parts of this vernacular tradition archived in the Finnish oral tradition but did not make it to the heroic stories commonly known as The Kalevala. This other part of Kalevala comprised everyday wisdom of how to live, farm, and heal from within the mainly agrarian communities in Finland. This oral tradition includes an entire book of anatomy in the form of songs, and it includes techniques for how to align bones and joints in bodies to heal ailments.

Pia Lindman performing a Kalevala treatment, 2015.

Pia Lindman performing a Kalevala treatment, 2015.

Bones are the geological aspect of our bodies. They connect us to the roots of our species. Bones speak of memories from when we were still hunters and gatherers. If we cannot live and act in life supported by or in harmony with the geology of our bones, we might end up with many kinds of ailments, such as joint pain, pressure to organs, and misalignments of the entire spine. A Kalevala healer can help heal these ailments. What inspires me in working as a Kalevala bone alignment healer (in addition to the thrill of healing) is the fact that I get to speak directly to the bones of our humanity. While healing, I connect with tens of thousands of years of human life. I think it is fantastic that Finnish oral tradition can still impart this wisdom to us!