Sacred Feminine &
Sacred Masculine

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Male Gender Burden Basket
By WhiteCrow

The basic idea of this is was to discuss the burdens of gender - those gender preconceptions or cultural expectations that hold us back (from reaching our full balanced potential) or that just make us feel burdened. The things we burden ourselves with. I'd also ask for everyone to read Cinn's reply here about Native American burden baskets, since their concept is far more encompassing than my idea is. I'd also like to add, since we are coming up to the new year, that it might be a nice place to not only talk about burdens with carry (or think we carry), but a good time to let them go - to start fresh in the new year.

I can't add to this basket, but I don't like leaving a topic hanging without some kind of starting point. So I'll tell a story. This is a friend's burden. When we were teens he wanted to be a chef. He loves cooking and he's really good at it, but both his parents were not impressed. In their culture men cooking is "feminine". When he cooked as a kid it was semi-ok. As a teen and adult it was not. I know how that burden of his parents' gender expectations have rippled through his life. I can't discuss that - it's his story, not mine. I'm only leaving this in the hope it triggers memories and thoughts.

Very good thread. Kudos! There are a number of things I don't understand, so if this goes further, it will be a very informative read for me, and I will better be able to love and understand.

I have one for ya Crow: When a man is firm in standing by his opinion he is perceived by a woman as a bully. When a women does she is perceived by women as "assertive".

So wait, I'm sorry, but I just was trying to get in on this topic.

So DragonHawk, should I be offended that that was only addressed to White Crow? Or was that just cuz it was just her who started the thread? Yeah, I'm sensitive right now and logic isn't that clear, so I'm asking for clarification on that, if that's okay.

M2, No, I can think of no reason for you to be offended. There was no intention to disregard you in commenting to Crow.

Yeah sorry. I will deal with my basket now.... I will be easier to get along with after that. My basket just scares me. I will stop leading by example now all the crap men have to deal with! smiles.

I'm posting this in both the Sacred Masculine and Sacred Feminine threads as I feel what Jamie Sams has to say about the Burden Basket may be helpful to those of you who are responding. I hope it gives you food for your thoughts.

Burden Basket: Self-reliance
The Teaching:

In our Native American Tradition, there is little use for the Burden Basket in these modern times. The Traditional Burden Basket has been replaced by cardboard boxes stacked in the back of a reservation pickup truck. In looking at the original usage for the Burden Basket we must travel to the times when our people still wandered freely across the Earth Mother without the restriction of fences.

Before the Trail of Tears forced the proud Red Race onto reservations, wood could be gathered by women for their cooking fires or the Grandmother Fires used to heat the inside of the lodges. These heating fires received their name because the wood was small enough for even a Grandmother to carry and was placed in a Burden Basket leaving the hands free to gather and carry tubers, chokecherries, or herbs for cooking. A Grandmother Fire was like a twig fire and burned hot with very little smoke, which might fill the lodge and eventually the lungs of the inhabitants. A Grandmother Fire heats a lodge even in winter and provides the needed warmth and light for nighttime activities such as the evening meal or beading new moccasins.

Native women were never asked to bear a burden heavier than their Burden Baskets could handle. When the Burden Basket was not in use, it was hung outside the home for another reason. Native American etiquette is very different from other cultures and demanded that custom be honored by all Tribal members.

It is obvious that the flap of a Tipi, Karnee, or Wigwam cannot be knocked on like a door. To receive permission to enter the Sacred Space of any Native American home whether Hogan, Tipi, Longhouse, Cliff Dwelling, or Earth Hut, it was necessary to scratch lightly upon the door. Since every dwelling was the Sacred Space of the family, if there was no answer, entry was not permitted at that time. The family could be eating a meal, having a Family Council, or just wanting some privacy. The decision was always honored. No feelings were hurt because the idea of Sacred Space was understood. If permission to enter was granted, the Burden Basket was the reminder to the guest to leave his or her personal complaints or problems in the Burden Basket before entering another person's Sacred Space. The custom was honored, or the visitor was barred from entering that dwelling ever again.

Assistance in relief of a burden was sometimes given in the home of Elders. This practice was an exception to the rule of leaving all burdens outside the door. To seek counsel, one would go to the Elder, relative, or Medicine Person and bring a gift of Tobacco, a trading blanket, a Buffalo Robe or another appropriate gift depending upon the magnitude of the favor being requested. The meeting was not usually held in the presence of others and the person seeking counsel had to wait three days for the decision. On the fourth day the answer would be given. During the three-day waiting period the wise person whose counsel was sought would smoke the answer or dream the solution. Although these wise ones were not required to say more than yes or no, they usually used the opportunity to give a teaching through Storytelling to the seeker.

If Great Mystery had determined that the seeker's burden was to be carried further in order for a life-lesson to be learned, this was accepted gracefully, to allow the lesson to build character. Unlike many seekers in today's world who seek and then refuse advice, the instructions of a wise person in Native America were sacred and holy. In Tribal Law, the burden of finding answers rested on individuals and their ability to be connected to the Ancestors and their Medicine Helpers. If a seeker sought counsel, the wisdom given was honored to the letter.

Burden Baskets served the People in many ways. As utilitarian carriers for wood, herbs, tubers, Acorns, rushes and berries, the baskets assisted the women in keeping the lodge or camp in good order. As the Guardians of the home, the Burden Baskets were a reminder to respect the happiness and privacy of each family's Sacred Space. When the Burden Basket was hung outside of any lodge, it reminded each visitor of the strength of character needed to set aside personal problems. To enter another's home with a black cloud of worry or neediness was considered very poor manners. To be in the present moment and to be willing to be a welcome guest requires strength of character. If everyone considered the Sacred Space of others before speaking or acting, balance would be easily maintained in all communal living situations. As a symbol of the internal strength necessary to keep our own counsel and bear our own burdens without inflicting them upon others, these Burden Baskets still teach each of us to trust the value of knowing our own answers through our connection to Great Mystery and the Medicine Helpers.

Self-reliance is the keynote in all of the Burden Basket teachings. Physical strength is best supported by using leverage and the body's appendages to balance the number of baskets we can carry. To have compassion for the burdens of others, and yet not take those burdens on as our won, requires a strong heart. Strength of character is called for in order to keep from adding to the problems of others through gossip or complaints. Great sensitivity is necessary for impeccable timing in knowing when and how to speak to others. Personal balance brings the self-reliance we need to be in present time. Inner-strength is created through trusting our personal knowing and only seeking counsel when we have exhausted all other paths. When the Children of Earth learn self-reliance and interdependence, our common Burden Basket will one day be tossed in the Fire of Creation. The smoke rising from that Fire will signal the answer to all the prayers of the Fifth World of Peace.

The Application:]If you are carry8ing a Burden Basket today, this card is telling you to pull from your inner-strength and become self-reliant. You can conquer the world when you let go of the burdens by trusting your ability to find your own answers. Problems cease being burdens when solutions are found.

The Burden Basket also teaches us not to drop our woes at the door of another. Relying on ourselves and our connection to Great Mystery teaches us to stretch into our potential. If confusion sets in and counsel is sought, use the advice. Don't waste the precious time of others if you do not intend to respect the wisdom offered. Know also that it's not your job to solve the problems of others. Don't rob others of their right to self-reliance.

In all cases, we only carry the burdens we wish to carry. If it makes us feel good or important to have so much to handle, we might need to look at our ideas of self-importance. The reminder is that we are all self-reliant and must use our talents to find our own solutions. The best answer is one shared equally by all travelers on The Sacred Path.

DragonHawk wrote: “I have one for ya Crow: When a man is firm in standing by his opinion he is perceived by a woman as a bully. When a women does she is perceived by women as "assertive". “

Thanks for participating, DH. - (totally off topic)... and have a great Christmas.

(((DragonHawk))) I just also wanted to give you a hug. If in my processing I have been unkind to you or anyone, I feel sorry about that. Love and Happy Holidays, (and flush my words down the toilet if they feel not good for ya Uncle! I don't mind.) Cheers. -Cathy

I’ll add my two cents, this will probably be tainted a lot by my own basket. I think that a lot of what may go into this and I believe It’s the same thing for women, goes with what society expects of the genders. So here a list of things that pop into mind: Strength Being a good provider assertiveness decisiveness Being able to be in touch with one self... but not too much Being able to show emotions... but not too much, that’s not manly Authority Responsibility etc. I’m sure most of them can be applied to women as well. But like I said above, I'm viewing this with the glasses that most of these things come from society. I don’t know if I completely missed the question here?

Northernwolf, I think you're right - I think many burdens fit both genders. Cinn originally suggested I either start this in Spirituality as one burden basket for everyone or two - one for each (masculine/feminine) forum. I couldn't decide, so I went with two because it was kind of where the conversation with Cinn started. I'd say - read Cinn's reply here about burden baskets - she has the idea way better than I wrote. I sort of missed the point myself.

Cinn, Please don't take offense but the cited article strikes me as an article written by a woman, for a woman from a woman's point of view. Yet was not reflective of the male energies nor placement in society. In the movie "WINDTALKERS" one finds the perfect example of both a fractured soul and a man's perspective of burden. The leading native Marine comes under fire and knows fear and hesitation. Yet though he is ashamed of his actions and failure to act he is confident that his co-Windtalker can remove the fear that gripped him the first time. Turning to his heritage and cultural beliefs he is then cleansed and made whole again through song, tobacco and belief. His burden dropped as he came to recover his strength and purpose.

Part a perception of weakness on his part and what he believed his society expected of him. Part a realization of the appearance of failure and weakness and his not being reliable and dependable as a man and warrior. If he knows fear and allows it to prevent him from doing as his class and society expect then he has lost face.

He is shamed by not only his actions but his perception of what those actions bring upon himself and to some degree his clan within his tribal group. Yet he also knows he can turn to his brother and regain those things in both his eyes and the eyes of those about him. Once recovered he tells the Sgt. that it will not happen again because he was cleansed and got his strength back. Then we see him go on to eventually perform a similar ceremony upon Nicholas Cage's character to help him drop his fear and ghost's and recover his strength and courage.

From a male perspective one really didn't have to leave their troubles upon the doormat for the whole tribe already knew of them. A less skillful warrior or hunter was known to the tribe as was there ability of lack of ability. So many times on the hunt the weaker was helped and encouraged by the group to overcome their shortcomings. If anything I would say it was contempt or ridicule that was left at the doorway to the home. That being left by the one who lived there not necessarily the one who was visiting. The visitor though to had their honor and respect of those they visited and perceptions of them and their worth. A man's word and the trust he had from his fellow hunters / warriors / etc. was the burden he carried. To have lost that trust is the burden that was his to overcome and try to shed.

To be known as a coward or one of weakness was the burden basket they carried and sought to overcome. Strength was a gift if used in the best way available but did not guarantee one would be shamed because they lacked the physical strength of another.

Today I think the notion is harder to rectify than one may wish to admit. It is not just a matter of saying "I want to change this" and then dropping it into the notion of a burden basket. Nor do I think we have but a single burden basket to carry but many that are sometimes filled by our own actions and others that are filled from the expectations and demands of our culture. As a male my burden basket is a product of my own expectations and beliefs and those that I am bound to live by because of my society. Some are weakness that I must overcome, for instance the injuries to my spine leave me broken at times and I feel less than a man. Yet that is my burden to not only face and carry but one that I must overcome not something I can simply drop to the wayside. Yet that very burden also touches upon my ability to provide for family, falls upon the shoulders of my ability to do those things I equate to manhood and even to the extent of how I am seen by friends and family. So many facets that are my burden to carry for they all impact upon me. Other things might be dropped upon the wayside of life. I once smoked but decided I no longer desired to do so and quit that habit. A personal burden that was mine to claim and mine to release and bounded to no other but me. The same might be said of drink and the extent to which I allow it to take me. Yet one facet is mine to carry, another facet mine to face through challenge but not mine to deny or engage.

A woman's failure is seen at best in her family and perhaps in-laws. A man's failure is seen and recorded before the whole of society and their place within that society. To some extent though it is changing a woman was allowed failure and somewhat expected while a man was given no such grace or exception. Like the Windtalker, he carried more burden's than one might expect but they were not his to drop or give away pretty much. They were burdens that were placed upon him because he was a man, because of the expectations of self and his social beliefs. They were his to carry for win, lose or draw he would be known by them and because of them for his entire life and once lost were harder to regain so were guarded with great care and commitment.

Hi there MSLD, No worries, by no means have you offended me. You shared your perspectives and I simply shared what resonated with me. You're right, it was written by a woman but it was a cultural view which speaks to me as being applicable to both genders. I've practiced having a Burden Basket outside my front door for decades. It remains so. *Soft smile* You've addressed the burdens of a warrior and physical challenges which is more than okay. I'm not a man and I've not been to war so I can't address the battlefield perspective in that respect. My battles have been in day to day living, but there are similarities I see. I've faced death there on more than one occasion and I know what that's like. I appreciate your thoughts and I'm sure others do too. It's the sharing we do that gets us thinking, eh?

I've been letting this subject simmer on the back of my mind for a few days and a few other items have been pushing to the surface that I really don't think are purely male perspective or true burdens but the topic in general made me think of them so I figure I'd put them here. If nothing else maybe a topic of discussion. The notion of the basket to take ones burden's seems a fair idea yet something else has stuck or struck me. We often assume a burden as a thing we must carry, often willingly but other times unwilling. Yet what of those burden's we place unknowingly? Let me explain. I am a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer. Now to many that will mean nothing but to those in the Navy would know the common phrase was if in doubt ask the Chief. So one day I had some of my younger sailors over and one made a comment about how they had imagined such and such about me but what they saw in my home didn't match their expectations. So in-retrospect whose burden was there? So I now try to keep my doorway free of perceived notions. I suppose in that facet I use my basket to try and dump my perceived notions of what I expect of another when I enter their home and erase it from my home when they enter.

Part of the erasing of perceptions is also to see them for who they are not who I imagine them to be. I thought about that last statement in reference to a NA tradition and it dawned on me that we must enter in respect and allow them to be themselves and enable us to see them as themselves not as we would have them be. I can't think of the number of times I have entered a person’s home but forgot to see them for who they were and not who I had imagined them to be. Especially if it is someone that is in a higher position to us or one we hold in high esteem. We are so busy looking for them to be who we think and want them to be that many times we fail to see them for who they really are. The other thing is that if I open my door and ask them to enter then I should make them feel at home as I would expect them to do for me when I enter their home. Yet that too is a common misconception I think. Some people think it means to give them free roam and access to all things. Some think it simply means first time guest second time family which is what my family normally does. Basically we'll get your drink and stuff the first time but after that when you visit it's OK to feel free to get your own and we will not feel put out or offended. I suppose part of that boils down to the notion of if I dislike you I shouldn't be inviting you in, if I do then I should treat you as a person not as an extension of an emotional state I hold towards you.

Another facet that sort of bubbled to the surface was the notion of what are my burden's? Many time's it seems we lay claim to a social notion and use it as both burden and crutch to justify our positions or lives. I hear women speak of fertility and it's placement upon them and wonder who really placed it there. Yes it is an expectation but who placed it and who assumed it. The same is true of males as well, especially with regard to emotion and strength. Too little or too much we beat ourselves up over and try to find the right balance, yet the balance is truly never found till we stop and look to ourselves. Only then does it balance out and the burden either lifted or increased I suppose.

As a man sometimes it seems to me I am not allowed to control that burden but I suppose many if not all people feel that way at times. Yet it seems societies perceptions of what a man or woman is supposed to be and things we are to do seems equally unbalanced preventing us, especially males in my opinion, of using our burden basket. When the social order cries we are to hard we are supposed to get in touch with our feminine side. Yet move too far and were cursed, move to little and were still cursed. Many times it seems we can't be males and we can't be females were just sort of stuck. Yet how can one work to maintain balance or shed those items that unbalance us when it is not in our ability to do so? Again as I said it's not just a male thing or female thing either for we both equally are subject to its influence and grow more burdensome without a true ability to lesson out burden.

I believe the balance between cultural norms and societal expectations is found within us as individuals through our spirits and our spirituality. A simple answer but a complex journey to discover it in many cases.


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