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Male/Female Maori Wisdom

February 13, 2011

This newsletter article was originally written on 1/6/09.

whale tale

Last weekend I felt a yearning for the ocean, so I picked up the movie The Whale Rider to connect with the sights, sounds and feel of the open sea. With the loving expanse of water as a backdrop, upon this second viewing I found myself drawn into the relationship between Paika’s grandparents. (Paika is a fictional 12-year-old native Maori girl in New Zealand who becomes her indigenous people’s first female leader by riding a beached whale back into the ocean.)

As the story unfolded, I felt deeply the constant friction between Paika’s grandfather, a stubborn Maoori community leader, and her grandmother, an incredibly strong, quiet, resourceful woman. The relationship is unfortunately all too familiar, all too painful–an example of the discomfort we often witness between men and women all around us. However, in spite of the tension between them, a deep foundational love held their union together.

I was equally enthralled with the wholeness of the sparkling Paika who effortlessly balanced her inner male and female characteristics. She was as comfortable learning an ancient warrior skill as she was weeping openly on stage in front of her people. At the end of the film when rode a beached whale back into the open ocean, she revealed her strong feminine urgings of intuition, nurturing and patience, along with her male gifts of courage, action and independence. The ocean, the energy of the divine feminine, supported her spiritual odyssey and mothered her back to life on shore.

With this one act, she saved a pod of whales, clearly emerged at the future Maori leader, and brought a new sense of community and cultural pride to her people.

Oh that we might all become more like Paika, developing harmony between the male and female aspects we all innately possess. When the division between head (male) and heart (female) is healed, we are then able to act with integrity and love. The heart holds an intelligence about love for all living creatures and our mother earth that the mind is incapable of fully understanding on its own. And when the two are in conflict, trust the heart. When we honor both our inner male and female inner selves, our relationships with others often become more balanced, too.

Most people have a stronger male or stronger female energy, irrespective of whether they are actually a man or a woman. A healthy male energy is logical, grounded, protective, giving, action-oriented, mental, independent, strong and likes to fix things. A healthy female energy is intuitive, nurturing, emotional, receiving, community-oriented, soft, mystical, mysterious, non-linear, and likes to create things.

Ideally we’re most whole when we can access both male and female attributes within us, depending upon what would be most beneficial in any given situation. This inner work helps us become more balanced in all aspects of our lives. If Paika had only been in touch with her female energy, she might have desired to help the whale but not found the courage to act. Or if she had only been guided by her male energy, she might not have intuitively known what the whale needed to earn the whale’s trust.

Her grandparents modeled the strong male and female aspects, which she was able to integrate into herself. As we, too, bring these parts of ourselves into greater internal harmony, I believe we’re also helping to heal all male/female relationships on the planet.

(Photo courtesy of


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