My purpose in this post is to introduce the concept of archetypes and provide a context to other articles I write on this blogsite for those unfamiliar with the concept. It is by no means comprehensive. It is simply a “quick and dirty” summary of the four mature masculine archetypes set forth in King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette.
I’ve been involved with “Men’s Work” in different ways for the last twenty years and feel that is is vital for our communities for men to become more conscious and self-aware. I’ve also noticed that in my private practice over the past two decades, I have a much higher percentage of male clients than ever, which makes me hopeful that the stereotype of men not being as interested in personal growth as women is starting to dispel.
The concept of archetypes was developed by Dr. Carl Jung, a pioneering psychiatrist of the twentieth century. The archetypes are “innate, universal, psychic dispositions”. This is a fancy way to say that deep inside each of us, are these psychological instincts which provide us with potential paths to express different aspects of our lives.
Just as physically we have inside us the capacity for language, waiting to be stimulated by our environment, we have these psychological capacities as well. We have the seeds insides ourselves for expressing our masculinity, our femininity, our capacity for parenting, for organizing into a society and for so much more.
The archetypes are expressed through our mythologies, the stories passed down from generation to generation, through our symbols and the images, hopes and dreams that seem common to each civilization across time and geography. If this concept seems challenging to wrap your mind around, don’t worry, because it IS challenging!
For the purpose of this post, let me just share some data on the four masculine archetypes presented by Moore and Gillette and perhaps it will begin to make some sense to you. If not, don’t worry, just consider the possibility that within each of us, these four aspects of masculinity exist:
King, Warrior, Magician, Lover
Each archetype has its positive aspects as well as what Jung called its shadow aspects. The shadow generally has two “polarities” one being when it is too active, one when it is too passive. Like the Goldilocks myth, we want it “just right”.
The King is the source of order in the Kingdom. He provides for the health and safety of his subjects. The shadow sides of the King are the Tyrant and the Weakling.
The Warrior is the source of energy, a doer, not a thinker. Though he is a fighter, his ultimate fight is the battle within, for self-mastery. The shadow sides of the Warrior are the Sadist and the Masochist.
The Magician is the wise man, the thinker. His knowledge bridges the inner and outer worlds. He can withdraw from the outer world and channel the deeper, inner truths of the soul. The shadow sides of the Magician are the Manipulator and the Innocent One, who wants the power without the responsibility.
The Lover is passionate, of the senses, and intuitive. He is opposed to the structure and order which separate us and wants to connect us all as one. The shadow sides of the Lover are the Addicted Lover and the Impotent Lover.
Our work is in growing from “boy” psychology to “man” psychology. This is accomplished by integrating the different aspects of each archetype, allowing us to move from a position of enslavement of the ego to a place where one is an ally with the ego.
Accomplishing this is the work of a lifetime, which can start by each man defining for himself these four masculine archetypes including their shadows. Hopefully the basics have been laid out here for you and provide a new way to look at and improve your life.
There are also corresponding female archetypes, yet while I continue to work with women and especially couples in my practice, I feel the female archetypes would be better served by someone who has worked with them more thoroughly. I look forward to your comments and thoughts about this subject and will write more about it over time.
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