First Nations wisdom: balance

07/18/2012

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) 

33 responses to First Nations wisdom: balance

  1. 

    Ahhh, what a lovely way of looking at this balance between masculine and feminine — qualities, energy. I love the phrase of “running energy”. Yes, the energy that runs through us. I love, too, how it’s about BALANCE — we need both — the masculine energy running through us and the feminine energy running through us…AND in different porportions at different times in our lives — different seasons. Thank you for this reminder to notice, be with, return to the “Great Mother” and sense what energy needs to “run through us” in this particular season of our lives…and then to call on that energy and allow it to move through us. This reminds me of a poem I wrote “Surrender” — about the process of writing a poem (or doing anything) and how we don’t need a lot of “effort” but rather just return to the Great Mother and rest on her lap and let her words move through us. I’ll have to get it out and share it. Love to you, Lisa

  2. 

    Wow…..what a terrific post. I was captured with every word! I’ve often thought about the differences of “men” and “women” but how obvious you have made it with the running energy. I can see it so clearly! Thank you for your wonderful post!
    Christina

    • 

      I am so glad you feel what I feel! It means a lot that you enjoyed this post. I feel inspired and motivated to keep writing, so your comment is not ‘only a comment’ but is a supportive cheer that helps me to keep going. I cannot thank you enough!! Hugs, Gina

  3. 

    Gina, I so enjoyed this post! It really resonated with me. One of my greatest challenges in this lifetime has been trying to balance my intellectual/analytical side with my equally strong intuitive/emotional side. I consider both aspects of who and what I am vital; but it is very difficult sometimes to keep their influence balanced. Thank you for (1) letting me know that I am not alone in this struggle; and (2) giving me beautifully written insights to lean on as I continue along this journey we call Life. Many blessings, Sloan

    • 

      Hello Sloan, what a wonderful comment. I am delighted that this resonated with you. You put it so well here, as we all work on balancing our different aspects, to remember we are not alone in this struggle. That I could offer helpful insights makes me very happy! Thank you so much dear one! Blessings, Gina

  4. 

    What a beautiful post.

  5. 

    Really nice post and all so very true. I’ve witnessed the destruction of a mangrove, an a little of me died with each tree. When will man awaken? Thankfully people like you are helping to educate those who will listen. Thanks, Z

    • 

      Thank you so much for your wonderful comment. Yes I know what you mean about dying a little with each tree that falls. May we all (especially those in power) remember to find our balance. Namaste. Gina

  6. 

    This post is so informative with so many special insights into the 2 types of energy…and the importance of balance between them….I really like that idea of the importance of gaining approval from the Grandmother Lodge…very special….I’m learning to tap into my own intuition…now that I can recognize it, I’m surprised by how often it’s “there”….this post helps with an understanding of that…thanks!

    • 

      How wonderful that you are learning to tap into your intuition! Very important. An ongoing process, for me anyways 🙂 I am delighted that this resonated with you! Thank you so much for such an insightful and kind comment.

  7. 

    Hi Gina. Thanks for another inspirational post. As you’d expect from us, our focus here would be on the third dimension – the social/collective intelligence – in this case, of the female elders. (And I’m writing this on a day I’m about to do a 200 mile round trip to see my 96 year old aunt/godmother!)

    The process you describe is fascinating.

    Stage 1: The thoughts and the (thought-less) instincts of the individual males of the group, and their collective agreement to act.
    Stage 2: Submission of these ideas to the feelings and intuitions of the individual elder females of the group – which are deemed to be more powerful and better informed than those of the males.
    Stage 3: Sharing, consideration and discussion of the proposals by the collective of the elder females – taking into account the reasoning, the instincts and the intuitions of the entire group.

    In other words – there are different types of intelligence (or energy) operating both individually and socially (empathetically), with a democratic outcome that all feel a stake in, since all have participated in it. Which is the basic idea behind syndicalism.

    The really brilliant part here is that every decision is taken on the premise that “nothing shall be done to harm the children”. What’s more, there are three dimensions to this – lessons from the past, implications for the present, and assumptions about possible future outcomes and the impact of those outcomes on the lives of the children and grandchildren.

    I guess all of our current decision-makers would claim that they act on the basis of doing the right thing for every citizen and every child – or at least doing the greatest good for the greatest number – but if we’re honest we know that the power games they play are in most cases more to do with their individual egos and the material interests of themselves and their supporters. Maybe we need a world-wide movement of linked syndicates that are guided by the wisdom of the elders, under the banner “nothing shall be done to harm the children”.

    • 

      So well put! I love imagining a world-wide movement of linked syndicates, guided by the wisdom of our elders under a banner of ‘nothing shall be done to harm the children’. I think it is delightful that you are heading out to visit your 96 year old elder. My wise old grandmother lived to 93 and she was a calm, kind, wise old soul. I do recognize that growing old with grace requires some work and attention, to not become hardened and bitter by all the hardships of life. Indeed, that the Grandmother Lodge of old had such power of decision, one can trust that they were spiritually and intellectually healthy and balanced. If I can be so lucky I do hope to grow old with grace, to gain intuition and wisdom, and maintain kindness. Then I can hope to become an elder others would come to for advice and thoughts requiring reflection.
      Your three stage process described here is thought-provoking (I love how you guys are always provoking thought!). How wonderful if we could all more fully embrace this democratic (balanced) process. As well as the wisdom from our wise elders.
      Thank you so much for a wonderful comment!
      Blessings, Gina

  8. 

    Gina, this is such a beautifully written post and it speaks of the balance of energy within individuals, in relationships, as well as in society. It is so true – we need the energy of the masculine for action to get things done. But we need the energy of the feminine to connect to source and the bigger picture. It also speaks of the opportunity to go within through the feminine principle and be aware of where we are strong and where we are weak in order to cultivate balance consciously. Bless you, dear one for this powerful lesson. Love, Cathy

    • 

      Hello my dear friend! Your kind words always bring such sunshine into my days! Thank YOU! I appreciate how you noticed that I did my best to cover the need for balance within ourselves, our relationships, and society. As always, it does begin with Self. I thank you so much for this wonderfully thoughtful comment, Cathy. It is people like you who help make this blogging world the wonderful place that it is! Love, Gina

  9. 

    Interesting – it give me plenty to ponder over. Blessings – Patty

  10. 

    I really enjoyed how you explained the male and female energies. I have more recently started learning about them myself. Do you have any suggestions for balancing the two? And maybe some good resources to where I could further my understanding?

    • 

      Hello there! Great to have your visit and comment. I wrote this article from my own experiences and what I learned directly from a Shaman, but you have posed a terrific couple of questions here. I will give thought to where you could find more info, but as far as suggestions for balancing – awareness is a key beginning. You already have that, so you are well on your way.
      For me, self-observation helped to discover how I ‘run’ masculine energy, so in order to balance it I work on meditating and going inward to listen to my intuition. I work on remembering my dreams (another feminine aspect). I work on improving my active listening skills and pausing before speaking up. For my husband with his feminine energy, I encourage him to speak up for what he wants/needs. And getting physically active is really good for him too (thankfully he enjoys helping me in the garden!). Really working up a sweat brings up his masculine (warrior) side.
      I hope these personal tips can offer any help. Again, I feel that becoming aware of these two different energies is an essential place to begin. So good for you! I will send you any info that I come across. And I welcome any of my readers to join this comment stream with any tips on adding balance between the two energies.
      Namaste. Gina

  11. 

    Gina,

    Thank you so much for that information. You are so inspiring with your words and I appreciate what you have said! You truly are a wonderful person and I look forward to hearing more about what you have to say! It seems that I really am already doing a lot of what I need to, so i will most definitely stick to it. Thank you so much again for that wonderful reply!

    Clint

    • 

      You are so kind! Thank you Clint. I am enjoying your blog as well, and am impressed with your worthy goal as expressed on your About page! I am delighted to meet you here through our blogging family and am eager to enjoy more posts and discussions in the future. Cheers, Gina

  12. 

    Great reminder about balancing the masculine and feminine energies within. Lovely way of stating these ideas!

  13. 

    This post was fantastic but I especially liked the last paragraph about our ‘gut instincts’ and how if it feels right to be moving forward and out, that it signifies a balance between both energies. I’ve always felt that if a decision of mine didn’t “feel” right, then that wasn’t the right decision. Now I’m thinking that perhaps that “wrong” feeling was merely an indication that the balance was off and that I needed to make another decision in order for balance to be restored. Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us, it was a great read and a great reminder.

    • 

      Thank you Lillian, for such a thoughtful comment. If a decision doesn’t ‘feel’ right I too take pause. And I agree that perhaps when we consider the balance of the energies, we can look at different decisions that may restore a good feeling about moving forward. I am glad to offer something thought-provoking. Blessings and Light, Gina

  14. 

    Came back to take a deeper look at this. Very good post. Thank you. 🙂 I have an over abundance of female energy….I’ve known this for quite some time. I have so much intuition that sometimes it is overwhelming. Thank you for words and insight.

    • 

      I too often do that with posts, sometimes coming back for a re-read. I am delighted this one provoked some thought for returning to. Thank you for sharing about your situation. While I have worked on listening to my intuition, it is easier for me to ‘live’ in my head. I can imagine the other extreme is as uncomfortable, or overwhelming – as you said. Hopefully that wise Shaman’s teaching can continue to ripple outwards that we all may achieve further balance. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment!

  15. 

    What a beautiful blog!! I love the way you write, and your aesthetic is so pleasing!! I can tell you are an artist and designer — thanks so much for following http://heifer12x12.com — I really look forward to following your site when I come up for air!!

    • 

      Hooray! Happy to have you here Betty. I am glad we have found each other in this great big blogging family. I enjoy your site, and hope you’ll be back here again soon as well. Cheers! Gina

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