About fifteen years ago, I was invited to join a small teaching circle and learn with a wise Shaman. In the tradition of the Great Sioux Nation and tribes beyond, we learned of prayer techniques and ways of honoring Self and Others. We learned of animal wisdom and lessons from trees. We learned about the wisdom and energy from each of the four seasons and each of the four directions. We learned about Mother Earth and Father Sky. We learned of the importance of balancing both male and female energies, and how the world has become imbalanced from too much male (intellect) energy and not enough female (intuition) energy.
He taught how all decisions used to have to go through the Grandmothers for final approval. Even if the warriors and the Chief himself were set on warring with another tribe over an injustice, as a final step before heading out they had to go through (obtain approval from) the Grandmother Lodge. If the Grandmothers said No – the warring group could not set out. They would have to wait for another time, or find another way to settle their differences. While the tribe’s Shaman would hold the energy of Father Sky, the Grandmothers held the energy of Mother Earth and they could feel the reverberating implications of decisions far beyond the fiery male-energy intellect. We students learned a basic concept that they all knew but our times have forgotten: “Nothing shall be done to harm the children”.
Our Shaman compared this illustration to a decision by a corporation to arbitrarily purchase tracts of ancient and vibrant wetlands to drain and plow for developments. He told how this example group of decision-makers, comprised of men and women who were stuck in their intellect and only thinking of commerce, had lost touch with their intuition. They were forgetting to ‘go through the Grandmother Lodge’ and thereby were making decisions that ultimately would hurt the children. Hurting the children refers to not only the literal, local children but also the larger picture of all of us, all of Earth’s Children. For indeed we are all being hurt by decisions motivated and pushed through by the greed encouraged by unbalanced male/intellectual energy.
This wise Shaman would frequently remind us that saying we live in a ‘male-dominated world’ is not necessarily only about the gender of men. He pointed out how some women ‘run’ male energy, predominantly living in their thought-process and actions, and not making time to listen to their intuition. And the flip side of this, of course, is that some men ‘run’ female energy, preferring listening over action, and feeling things very deeply but are unable to put it into words.
“Running energy” is about whether a person’s energy is predominantly going outwards, or coming inwards. Male energy runs outwards, going out into the world. An important energy, this is of intellectuals, explorers, builders, and protectors. The balance of this energy is female, a pulling-inward energy, of bringing it in. Also as important, this energy is of listeners, artists, educators, and healers. The balance between these two types is what is essential. He encouraged us to understand what is male-energy and what is female-energy, and to endeavor to have a healthy balance of both.
To meet me in person, it is apparent that although a bit introverted, I still ‘run’ male energy. Spending time in my thoughts comes easily but listening to my intuition requires effort. It has become easier over the years because I work on finding the balance all the time. My husband, although very masculine and strong, nevertheless ‘runs’ female energy. Both of us refer to him as being Zen-like, and that calm ‘unruffled’ demeanor in someone who takes time with decisions and really thinks things through epitomizes female-energy in the way our indigenous peoples referred to it. I, on the other hand, have a strong-willed, forward moving, quick thinking, and warrior type of energy. When I wrote earlier that I am an introvert, I am referring to the fact that I need time alone to recharge (all these examples are only suggestions for further self-awareness). I know I ‘run’ male energy. Same as my mother did. And it is not surprising to me that I married a man not far unlike my own father, who was a kind gentle soul who offered a calm balance to my mother’s energy.
The female-energy / intuitive / introverted types need to understand how to speak up because the world needs your input.
The male-energy / intellectual / extroverts of the world need to listen to and really hear the introverts and their ideas.
This healthy balance is true within our selves as well. We need to take time to go within and notice what our intuition (our ‘gut’) tells us about any decision, action, or step we are about to take. Let us bring our decision ‘through the Grandmother Lodge’ and feel what the female energy of Mother Earth has to say.
If our ‘gut instinct’ still feels good and clear about moving forward, then is it time to be courageous and stretch out into the world, doing what needs to be done. This is a healthy balance of our male and female energies working in harmony, remembering that nothing shall be done to harm the children.
(Please note: The word Shaman is pronounced shaa’-men)