Whiro-of fear, challenges and growth

Whiro-of fear, challenges and growth

The god of Fear and Death, Whiro, reminds us that we must release our fears before we can open to new life. As we give away the old, so new possibilities become available to us.

This is a card about overcoming our fears.


I am open to new beginnings.

I am willing to let go of old ways, customs, habits and beliefs I no longer need so that I may embrace new ones.

Hineahuone is the daughter of Taane Mahuta, created by him from the primordial red earth at Kurawaka and the goddess of humankind. When she observed Observed the appearance of Whiro in the world, she was so troubled that she undertook a journey past each of the atua to create a path for human beings to follow on their individual journey toward spiritual fulfilment.

Whiro is the Lord of darkness and the embodiment of all that is evil. Fear is his domain, and that is how he dominates humankind. His home, Taiwhetuki, is in the underworld, a deep dark cave where all things evil are preserved. He is the Lord of nightmares in the dark things that come to trouble us in the night.

However, like all atua, there is a positive side to this. While Whiro is the force of darkness and our lower realms, for each and all of the atua dwell within us, he also lays the wero on the ground before us, the challenge to stare him in the face, conquer our fears, and move forward onto our sacred ground. He is the first gate through which we have to pass.

Our human lives are all growth journeys, following the Koru, the sacred spiral of existence. We may choose to pass through our life and dodge the challenges and pain of growing, but we risk becoming like Aoraki and turning to stone. If we decide to avoid growth, then we will have to repeat it at some later stage.

Confronting our fears, which come in many shapes and forms, physical, psychological, and perhaps spiritual, is our life’s true purpose. We came into this world to evolve and grow since when our time comes, the only riches we take with us are the heart’s treasures. If we allow ourselves to be blocked, Whiro has succeeded, for that is his purpose. But, on the other hand, Whiro sets up home in our heads and feeds upon our minds, leading us to believe that we cannot or are not or will not, which are all negative statements.

And yet we are beautiful beings, each of us, and whatever we might think, we are upon a similar shared path, even though we may not see other people as companions.

The Whiro card is rendered in black and white. Did you know that the human eye can only perceive night in terms of light and dark? In very low light levels, we use the rods in our eyes, which cannot see colour. Only when the light gets above a certain level can the cones in our eyes, red, green and blue, function.

Notice the serpent circling and trapping the tiny foetus in its womb. That is us. We might look at the serpent and see Ouroboros, the snake eating its tail. Fear is like that. Fear feeds upon itself and traps us in a cycle of perpetual inaction. While we may wish to break out and become, fear will do its best to prevent us from evolving and growing.

However, if we avoid the challenge of life, Whiro, the atua of sickness and dis-ease, will eventually reach us in the physical. We cannot escape the challenges he places before us. The more we turn our backs upon what he sends our way, the stronger he becomes and the greater the trials we will face.

Passing Whiro means looking deep into ourselves. It is no coincidence that in the maramataka, the Maaori lunar calendar, the new moon, the darkest part of the month, is called Whiro. This is a time for going deep within, for reflection, karakia (according to our particular spiritual tradition) and caution.

We might well ask ourselves:

What am I afraid of?

What holds me back?

What do I need to release that no longer serves me?

What old habits or beliefs prevent me from being uniquely, wondrously me?

What do I have to fear?

Are my fears real or mere illusions?

Remember this. You are a unique being. There is no one like you. There has never been, and there never will.

Open the first door and pass through it.

You are worthy and worth it.

Whiro-of fear, challenges and growth

Picture of Tony Bridge

Tony Bridge

Tony Bridge
I am tangata whenua-Maaori (Te Rarawa, Te Rapuwai, Waitaha), following the songline gifted to me by my tupuna.
I am a weaver of words and pictures, a photographer, digital artist, poet, published author and Fujifilm Global Ambassador.

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