The purpose of the Art of Manliness is to help men become better men. To that end, we often explore some of the problems unique to modern men and offer suggestions on actions they can take to overcome those problems. One problem that we discuss regularly on the site is that of the modern male malaise. Maybe you’ve experienced it: You feel restless and without a sense of purpose. You lack confidence in yourself as a man. You might be 20 or 30 or 40 years old, but you don’t feel like you’ve reached manhood.
A few weeks ago, we did a series called “The Five Switches of Manliness.” In it we made the case that within every man are psychological “switches” that must be turned on if a man wishes to activate his unique primordial masculine energy. The switches are how you power up the Wild Man within you and overcome the feelings of shiftlessness and male malaise that many men experience these days.
Another way of approaching the cure for the modern male malaise comes from the book King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine, by Jungian psychologist Robert Moore and mythologist Douglas Gillette. Moore argues that masculinity is made up of four archetypal male energies which serve different purposes. All men, whether born in the U.S. or Africa, are born with these archetypal energies. The authors argue that to become a complete man, a man must work to develop all four archetypes. The result of striving to become complete is a feeling of manly confidence and purpose.
King, Warrior, Magician, Lover was originally published in 1990, and it has had a pretty big influence on masculinity in America. It, along with Robert Bly’s book, Iron John: A Book About Men, kick-started the mythopoetic men’s movement of the early 1990s. During this time, many men in America started attending men’s groups and weekend retreats where they would take part in rites of passage and discuss ancient myths to gain personal insights about what it means to be a man. You can still see the influence of King, Warrior, Magician, Lover in books like Wild at Heart or weekend men’s retreats like The ManKind Project.
Some of the ideas in KWML are of the New-Agey, sensitive pony-tail guy, sitting in drum circles in the woods type. Personally, that sort of approach doen’t appeal to me as a man. I know lots of men that get a lot out of that sort of thing. To each their own. Nonetheless, I still feel like I benefited a great deal from reading the book and putting into practice some of Moore and Gillette’s ideas.
Over the next few months, we’re going to be delving into the four masculine archetypes inKWML. We’ll explore what they are and how you can access them on your journey to becoming a better man.
Psychologist Carl Jung
Like much of the literature in the mythopoetic men’s movement, KWML is grounded in the psychology of Carl Jung, particularly in his idea of psychological archetypes. To understand the four archetypes of masculinity, it’s helpful to understand a bit about Jungian psychology. I could devote an entire post to Jung’s psychology, but I’ll keep this brief for our purposes.
Carl Jung was one of the early and most influential modern psychologists. Ever take one of those Myers-Briggs type indicator tests? Those were inspired by Jung’s idea of extroverted and introverted personalities. Have you ever heard somebody talk about the “collective unconscious?” That’s Jung, too.
From 1907 to 1913, Jung closely worked with and studied under the the Father of Modern Psychology, Sigmund Freud. While the two shared many of the same ideas about the human mind, they had their differences. Jung agreed with Freud’s theory of the unconscious mind, but he thought Freud’s view was too negative and incomplete. Freud focused on the unconscious as the place in which people harbored and repressed negative emotions and deviant thoughts. Jung agreed that negative emotions were repressed in the unconscious, but he also felt that positive experiences, thoughts, and emotions could be held in the unconscious, too.
Jung also diverged from Freud’s theory of the unconscious by arguing that there was a second, even deeper unconscious mind existing in all human beings. Jung called the first level of unconscious (the one Freud also affirmed) the “personal unconscious.” The personal unconscious was created by personal experience.
The second level of the unconscious mind Jung called the “collective unconscious.” According to Jung, the collective unconscious consists of instinctual and universal thought patterns that humans developed over thousands of years of evolution. Jung called these primordial behavior blueprints “archetypes.” For Jung, archetypes form the foundation of all personal experience. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a sophisticated businessman living in a high-rise apartment in Manhattan or a bushman living in a hut in Africa; Jung would argue that no matter who you are, you have the same archetypal behaviors embedded within you.
Jung believed that these archetypes of human behavior came to the surface in the conscious mind through symbols, rituals, and myths. He argued these archetypical patterns explain why we see similar motifs and symbols in rituals and mythical stories across cultures. For example, the dying/resurrecting God figure can be found in the stories and myths of ancient Greeks, ancient Sumerians, Christians, and Native Americans.
Jung’s belief that the collective unconscious is reflected though symbols and ritual also likely explains his fascination with the mystical and esoteric. He was a serious student of fields like alchemy, astrology, dream interpretation, and tarot, although not for their claimed ability to tell the future or to turn lead into gold. Rather, he explored these esoteric traditions because he believed they could help individuals tap into the collective unconscious and explore the archetypal behaviors that resided within.
Alright, so what are the archetypes that Jung believed existed in each person? While Jung suggested a number of universal archetypes, the four main ones are: the Self, the Shadow, the Animus and Anima, and the Persona. For the purpose of this article, I’m not going to go into detail on all four of these. If it’s something you’re interested in, I’d encourage you to investigate these archetypes on your own.
Before we move on, let’s be clear about something. Archetypes aren’t personality types.Jung didn’t think you could classify a person as a specific archetype. A man can’t take a test to tell him that he’s a “Shadow.” Rather, the archetypes are simply patterns of behavior and thought, or “energies” that can be found in all people in varying degrees.
Psychologist Robert Moore took the concept of Jung’s archetypes and used it to create a framework that explained the development of mature and integral masculinity in men. Moore argued that the problems we see with men today–violence, shiftlessness, aloofness–are a result of modern men not adequately exploring or being in touch with the primal, masculine archetypes that reside within them. Like Jung, Moore believed that men and women possess both feminine and masculine archetypal patterns–this is the anima (feminine) and animus (masculine).
The problem with modern men is that Western society suppresses the animus or masculine archetype within them and instead encourages men to get in touch with their “softer side” or their anima. Moore would argue that there’s nothing wrong with men developing those softer, more nurturing and feminine behaviors. In fact, he would encourage it. A problem only arises when the development of the feminine comes at the expense of the masculine.
According to Moore, masculine psychology is made up of four major archetypes: King, Warrior, Magician, and Lover. In order for a man to achieve mature masculine strength and energy, he must be in touch with all four.
Moore argues that each male archetype consists of three parts: the full and highest expression of the archetype and two bi-polar dysfunctional shadows of the archetype. To better understand this, Moore portrays each archetype as a triangle. Here’s an example of the King archetype thusly illustrated:
The King Archetype
The bottom corners of the triangle represent the bi-polar shadow-split in the archetypal Self. The goal of each man, according to Moore, is to reconcile and integrate these two bi-polar shadows in order to attain the fullest expression of the archetype as represented at the top of the triangle.
Moreover, each archetype has a mature and immature form. Moore calls the mature forms of the masculine archetypes “Man Psychology” and the immature forms “Boy Psychology.” The mature masculine archetypes are the four we’ve already mentioned: King, Warrior, Magician, Lover. The immature, boyhood archetypes are the Divine Child, the Hero, the Precocious Child, and the Oedipal Child. Each of these immature archetypes have the same tripartite configuration as the mature archetypes. They all have their highest and fullest expression along with their two bi-polar dysfunctional shadows.
Before a boy can access the King archetype he must develop the Divine Child; before he can access the Warrior archetype, he must develop the Hero archetype. And so on and so forth.
Whew. That’s a lot to chew on and digest. It sounds complicated, but I think if you see Moore’s idea of the four masculine archetypes and the development from immature to mature masculinity in a diagram, it’s actually pretty easy to understand (Click the image to zoom in):
Click to see enlarged version
Over the next few months, we’ll be taking a look at each of the four archetypes and providing suggestions on how you can develop them more fully in your own life. Here’s a roadmap of what we have coming ahead:
Like I said at the beginning of the post, Moore’s four masculine archetypes aren’t going to be everyone’s cup of joe. Some of his thoughts and ideas are sort of out there. However, I’d encourage you to keep an open mind about this stuff. Why? Well, first, I think it’s useful and just plain interesting to learn about an idea that has had a big influence on masculinity in America.
Second, the KWML framework is a useful tool to help you become a better man. While I don’t agree with everything that Moore lays out in KWML, I’ve personally found this framework useful in exploring and developing the mature masculine within myself. Maybe you will, too.
While being a man ultimately comes down to outwardly putting right principles into real action, those actions must come from a mature and healthy inner place, and these ideas, when thoughtfully reflected upon, can help get you pointed in the right direction as you seek to become the best man you can be.
I’d recommend getting a copy of the book so you can follow along as we go through the archetypes, as it will let you get more in-depth if your curiosity is piqued. Plus, I’d love to hear the insights you’ve gleaned while reading.
This is the second part of a series on the archetypes of mature masculinity based on the bookKing, Magician, Warrior, Lover by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading the introduction to the series first. Also, keep in mind that these posts are a little more esoteric than our normal fare, and are meant to be contemplated and thoughtfully reflected upon.
To understand the four archetypes of mature masculinity, we first need to explore their precursors. There are four boyhood archetypes which develop into the manly archetypes. Properly accessing and harnessing their energies is essential for a boy’s full development. These archetypes instill in boys a sense of wonder, play, and energy–traits that are essential for learning and development.
And these boyhood archetypes don’t leave us as we grow up, progress, and access the mature masculine archetypes. While each of the four boyhood archetypes gives rise to the four manly archetypes, they are not discarded once we reach them; the boyhood archetypes remain as building blocks in the structure of our manliness.
While Moore and other Jungians would encourage men to stay in touch with their boyhood archetypes, they’d argue that we shouldn’t do so at the expense of developing the mature masculine within us. According to Moore, one of the biggest problems facing men in the West is that most men are still ruled by boyhood archetypes and haven’t moved on to harnessing the mature masculine. As a result, we have a society of men who act and think like teenagers. They are, as Moore puts it, “boys pretending to be men.”
Exploring the boyhood archetypes is useful for two reasons. First, it’s a reminder that we should never lose touch with the energetic boyishness that resides in each of us. Accessing that boyish enthusiasm makes life enjoyable and allows us to relate to our sons or other boys we might be in charge of. Second, exploring the boyhood archetypes, particularly their bipolar shadows, will make us aware of any childish thought patterns we are still falling into, patterns which may be stunting our growth into mature manhood.
Today will we discuss two of the boyhood archetypes. And next time we will explore the other two.
According to Moore, the Divine Child archetype is usually the first of the boyhood archetypes to develop. For Jungians, the Divine Child is the source of boyish enthusiasm for life. It’s the archetype within us that produces a sense of well-being, peace, and joy, as well as a zest for adventure. Whenever you have that feeling of excitement and desire at a fresh beginning, that’s the Divine Child archetype showing itself in your life.
The Divine Child is in many ways both helpless and all-powerful. Helpless because he’s still a child and depends on adults to meet his needs, and all-powerful because he consumes the attention of those around him. The attention that he garners is mutually beneficial: the Divine Child gets his need for attention met, while uplifting and inspiring others. If you’re a parent watching your child accomplish some milestone, you’ll understand this dynamic.
We see the archetype of the Divine Child reflected in various faith traditions and myths from around the world–the most prominent being the Christmas story. Christ is an archetypal Divine Child. His father is God. He comes to the world as a helpless babe, yet people look to him with awe and hope of a new beginning. He brings peace and order to the earth.
Similar stories exist in other cultures. The birth stories of figures like Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, and Krishna feature miraculous or mystical events that foretold the great work they had to do upon the earth. These special babies had enormous potential, yet they were as vulnerable as any infants are.
If properly nurtured, the Divine Child archetype will mature into the manly King archetype. If neglected, the Divine Child could split off into one of his shadows and eventually mature into a shadow King archetype.
The Shadows of the Divine Child
Remember that every archetype has its bi-polar shadow split. These two shadows are the result of the archetype not being integrated into a boy/man in a healthy and coherent way. The two shadows of the Divine Child are the High Chair Tyrant and the Weakling Prince.
The High Chair Tyrant. Like the Divine Child, the High Chair Tyrant needs attention. But unlike the Divine Child, the High Chair Tyrant doesn’t give anything back. He doesn’t inspire–he just demands. And even when his needs are met, the care often doesn’t meet his unreasonable expectations, so he throws a tantrum. With Gus moving to solid foods and eating in a high-chair, this archetype is rather poignant for me. He’s hungry, so we give him food, but sometimes after a few bites he’ll start pushing your hand away and whining. And splattering food all over his dad.
The High Chair Tyrant is the embodiment of entitled, arrogant, narcissism. He wants attention, but he doesn’t want to lift a finger to get it. He thinks he deserves it just because.
We see the influence of the High Chair Tyrant archetype not only in boys, but men who have yet to move on to mature masculinity. As an infant, the world, or at least your parents’ lives, revolve around you and your needs. But as a man matures, he must come to realize that he does not actually reside at the center of the universe! Otherwise, he will not shed his infantile narcissism.
A grown man who is still ruled by the High Chair Tyrant sulks when he doesn’t get his way, fails to take responsibility for his actions, and is incapable of taking criticism. His arrogance can blind him to reality and cause him to stumble. You can see the High Chair Tyrant manifested in celebrities and politicians who believe they are so special that they are not only entitled to indulge in things like infidelity and crookery, but that they won’t get caught either.
We also see the High Chair Tyrant in our lives when we expect nothing but perfection from ourselves and beat ourselves up if we don’t meet those self-imposed and unreasonable expectations. That voice in your head telling you that you aren’t good enough is the little annoying brat of a child inside of you slamming his spoon on the table and screaming. Ignore him.
The Weakling Prince. The Weakling Prince doesn’t throw tantrums like the High Chair Tyrant, but he makes his own kind of demands. He’s got no passion for life, no enthusiasm, and no initiative, and thus must be completely coddled. He plays the victim role superbly; when challenges or problems arise, it’s never the Weakling Prince’s fault, and his parents dutifully swoop in to save him. He’s the hypochondriac kid who always finds something to whine about.
The Weakling Prince archetype can still influence a man into manhood. It usually takes the form of the “Mr. Nice Guy Syndrome.” A man that allows the Weakling Prince archetype to rule in his life is listless and unmotivated. He can’t take the initiative to make his needs known, but gets upset when others don’t meet his expectations. He is the prince of passive aggression.
Accessing the Divine Child as a Man
Integrating the Divine Child into your life as a man ensures that even as you get older, you still remain young at heart; this archetype keeps life feeling fresh, inspires you with a vision of your possibilities, fuels your creativity, and spurs you to adventure. A man who does not retain some of the Divine Child in him loses sight of his great potential and contents himself with being merely mediocre. Successful integration of the Divine Child archetype involves retaining a remembrance of your godlike possibilities, while at the same time having the humility to realize you’re only human after all.
The Precocious Child
The next boyhood archetype to develop is the Precocious Child. If properly nurtured, the Precocious Child will eventually develop into the mature masculine archetype of the Magician. The Precocious Child archetype shows itself when a boy is eager to learn about the world around him. Curiosity and wonder spring from this archetype. When your kid asks all those annoying “why” questions–Why is the sky blue? Why is the sun bright? Why do things die?–the Precocious Child is manifesting itself. Ditto for boys who read for hours, get really into an art project or science experiment, or work intently on improving their athletic skills.
The Precocious Child pushes us to develop our talents and gives us that manly spark to explore and investigate, to find out how the world works and what makes people tick. He ponders life’s mysteries and is reflective and introspective, although not anti-social, for he loves to share what he’s learned with others in hopes of helping them. A man who stays in touch with this boyhood archetype maintains his boyish wonder and curiosity about the world. He refuses to let cynicism rot his insides and jade him from the marvels of life.
The Shadows of the Precocious Child
The Know-It-All Trickster. As the name implies, this immature masculine energy is the place from which mischief in boys (whether innocent or devious) springs. It originates from a boy’s sense of superiority to everyone else–a superiority he feels compelled to prove and show-off in various ways.
The Know-It-All Trickster knows how to charm his way out of trouble. He’s adept at deception and manipulation and will gain the trust of those around him, only to betray it when they least expect it.
The Know-It-All Trickster is also the source of smart assery from young bucks. Boys (and some men, too) who let the Know-It-All Trickster rule their psyche are prone to running their mouth off. This can be a positive thing–the Trickster will point out mistakes and say that the king isn’t wearing any clothes when others are afraid to. But boys under the power of the Know-It-All shadow can be quite smug and enjoy intimidating others with their words.
The Trickster has lost touch with the Divine Child, and thus does not feel that he himself has any degree of greatness. Because his sense of superiority is often not based on anything substantive, he is envious and insecure, and this is manifested in the need to brag, “one-up,” and tear down other people and their ideas. He loves to destroy things, but he does not build himself.
The Trickster is focused on maintaining appearances. Men who grow into adulthood still under the influence of this immature archetype turn into “$40,000 a year millionaires.” They don’t make much money, but they sure spend and act like they do. Again, it’s all an attempt to trick others into thinking the Know-It-All Trickster is better than he really is, and most importantly, that he’s better than others.
Mythology is filled with Trickster figures. Odysseus from Greek lore was known as a “man of many wiles.” His trickery helped him survive his long trip home, but his loud mouth also got him into troubles that made the journey longer. In Native American cultures, the coyote often takes on the role of the Trickster in their myths.
The Dummy. Boys under the influence of the Dummy shadow are seemingly uncoordinated, naive, lacking in boyish vigor, and slow on the uptake. According to Moore, “the Dummy’s ineptitude…is frequently less than honest.” He may actually understand more than he lets on, but plays dumb to deceive those around him and to avoid the risk of striving and failing. In short, the Dummy shadow has a secret Trickster shadow lurking within him. An archetype within an archetype.
A man who has successfully integrated the Precocious Child archetype maintains his curiosity about the world and is dedicated to lifelong learning. He allows himself to contemplate the mysteries of life and is always seeking greater knowledge. But he does not use the accumulation of this knowledge to feel superior to others nor to manipulate and deceive them. Instead, he is devoted to sharing his insights as a mentor and teacher.
As you may remember, the boyhood archetypes are positive but immature energies that, with proper masculine guidance, develop into the archetypes of mature manhood. Last time we talked about two of the four boyhood archetypes–the Divine Child and the Precocious Child–suggested by Moore and Gillette. Today we’ll talk the other two–the Oedipal Child and the Hero. Let’s just dive right into it.
Did you initially recoil a little when you read the name of this archetype? It’s easy to read “Oedipal Child” and think “Oedipus Complex.” You know, Freud’s idea that boys have a repressed sexual desire for their mothers. Yuck, right? Well, hold on a sec.
True, Moore does argue that a boy’s yearning for “the nurturing, infinitely good, infinitely beautiful Mother,” is at the root of this archetype. But this longing is not for a boy’s actualmother, but rather for the feminine energy of the “Great Mother–the Goddess in her many forms in the myths and legends of many peoples and cultures.”
Okay, that probably doesn’t help very much either. This is one of those places where Moore and Gillette get a little too New Agey for me, and where their prose can put distance between their ideas and many modern men.
The way I think of the Oedipal Child archetype is to relate it to the philosophy of the Romantic period, which I really enjoy. Think Ralph Waldo Emerson. The Romantics explored their inner life, celebrating the power of imagination and intuition, seeking to feel and experience life deeply, and extolling the virtues of passion and free expression. They sought to tap into the energy that emanated from Mother Nature. The Oedipal Child archetype also gives a boy the desire to forge relationships with others and the affection and warmth to nurture those relationships. Thus at the heart of this archetypes is the desire for connection–a connection with oneself, with the deeper forces of life, with nature, and with other people. In this way, the Oedipal Child archetype contains the seeds of a man’s spirituality.
See? It’s a good thing! At least when it’s nurtured into the mature Lover archetype by masculine energy. If it’s not–these shadows are the result:
The Mama’s Boy. Instead of tapping into the positive feminine energy associated with “the Great Mother,” the Mama’s Boy fixates on the energy as embodied by his real mother (and other women); he is too connected to his mom. Jung would argue that this shadow archetype takes control when there is no father, or a weak father in the home.
The Mama’s Boy shadow manifests itself in various ways. The most obvious is the boy (or man) who’s “tied to Mama’s apron strings.” He never wants to offend, hurt, or worry his mother. He lives to please dear old mom, even if that means putting her desires and wishes above his own. Nothing gives him more satisfaction than hearing his mom say, “That’s a good boy.”
Many men never break out from under the influence of the Mama’s Boy shadow. They always acquiesce to their mother’s wishes and put what mom wants ahead of what their wives want (and what they themselves want). These men never learn that man was made to leave his mother and father and cleave unto his wife only.
Other ways the Mama’s Boy shadow rears its ugly head in adult men is womanizing and excessive porn use. An overbearing desire for union with one’s mother and a failure to harness feminine energy in a healthy way will result in a man looking to fill that void and find that connection in mere mortal women. But of course mortal women can never fill that role as the Mother archetype. So a man under the power of the Mama’s Boy shadow moves from failed relationship to failed relationship or spends countless hours each week looking at porn in hopes that he’ll find a woman who’ll fulfill his need.
The Dreamer. The passive shadow of the Oedipal Child archetype is the Dreamer. Instead of seeking connection with others (especially with Mother), the Dreamer is aloof. While the positive Oedipal Child archetype fuels a boy’s spirituality, the Dreamer pushes this desire for other-worldliness to an extreme. He cuts himself off from human relationships because he would rather be alone with his thoughts. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with introspection and solitude, the boy under the influence of the Dreamer shadow too often has his head in the clouds and drifts away from reality. He spends too much time dreaming, and not enough time learning how to have relationships with other people, and thus developing the social skills needed to make his dreams comes true. He is stunted and unconnected.
Accessing the Oedipal Child Archetype as a Man
A man who has successfully integrated the Oedipal Child into his psyche understands thegentle part of being a gentleman. He can be warm, even “sweet” with others, and he can be introspective and spiritual while still keeping his feet on the ground. He isn’t afraid to tap into “feminine” energy, but he isn’t dominated by it either. He loves his mother, and has learned much from her, but he is decidedly his own man.
Think back to when you were a teenager. Remember that feeling of expanding independence? Little by little you started to rely less and less on your parents for your basic needs. You clamored for more freedoms and for your parents to get off your back.
Also, if you were like most teenage boys, you probably took part in activities (sometimes very risky activities) to test your mettle and your ability to overcome fear. You wanted to prove to your friends, and more importantly to yourself, that you were “man enough” to take on any challenge that came your way.
When I was in Vermont a few years ago, Kate and I went to this swimming hole in the woods. The water was cold and deep and was surrounded by sheer cliffs. It was perfect for cliff diving, but still pretty treacherous. While Kate and I swam, we watched a group of teenage boys dive from the highest point of the cliff into the water below. Every dive became more elaborate and dangerous.
Kate elbowed me and asked “So, are you going to jump?”
I was suddenly struck with the feeling of being old. I thought back to the time when I was a teenager camping in New Mexico with some friends. We found a lake with 40 foot sheer cliffs and spent the afternoon jumping, flipping, and diving into the deep water below. We pushed ourselves to do ever more daring jumps. We wanted to test ourselves. Now here I was 13 years later and I was content just swimming along the edge, watching these young men hurtle themselves into the air and plummet into the water.
That desire for independence we all had as young men and that almost reckless abandon those boys in Vermont had are manifestations of the Hero archetype.
The Hero archetype is unarguably the most common figure found in myths. Joseph Campbell detailed the use of the Hero archetype in his seminal work, The Hero With a Thousand Faces. In that book, Campbell describes an archetypal journey that all mythological heroes must take.Star Wars is a perfect example of the Hero’s Journey. Luke Skywalker begins the story as a mere “farm boy” on the planet Tatooine. By the end of the first trilogy he has morphed into a Hero who saves the galaxy from evil.
While we’re accustomed to thinking of becoming a hero as the end-all of existence, Moore argues that the hero archetype is still an immature energy that must be further developed into the mature Warrior archetype. Unlike the mature Warrior who fights and battles for a cause bigger than himself, the immature Hero fights and battles mainly for himself. The Hero definitely has ideals–but these ideals are used for a self-serving purpose–to create an identity that facilitates the process of becoming his own man. When you were a teenager, you probably latched onto an identity like this–you were the super-liberal guy, or the super-Christian guy, or the non-comformist Goth guy, and so on. The Hero’s only goal is to win his personal independence, break free from the feminine influence of his mother, and enter fully into manhood. Moreover, while the mature Warrior knows his limitations, the Hero doesn’t have that sort of self-awareness which often results in physical or emotional ruin.
The Hero is usually the last of the boyhood archetypes to develop and is the peak of psychological development in boys. It is the last developmental stage before a boy transitions into manhood. According to Moore, this transformation from boy to man can only occur through the “death” of the Hero. Through initiation and rites of passage, the boy is symbolically killed only to be reborn as a man. Unfortunately, because many men in the modern West lack a rite of passage into manhood, they remain psychologically stuck in adolescence.
The Grandstander Bully. The young man under the influence of the Grandstander Bully demands respect from others and will unleash his wrath both physically and verbally if he doesn’t get it. He has let the Hero’s sense of invulnerability mushroom into an arrogant and inflated sense of self. Thus the boy under the Bully shadow takes unnecessary and foolish risks, and his hubris oftentimes leads to his own destruction.
This shadow very often follows a boy into manhood. Do you know a grown man who suffers from intense road rage or blows up at the waitress who gets his order wrong? That’s the boyhood bully shadow at work. The man who is still haunted by this shadow believes he is superior to all others, and when his inflated sense of self is threatened–ie., when the world does not cater to his needs–he loses his temper and lashes out.
But underneath the Grandstander Bully’s posturing and false bravado lies an insecure coward, and he must fight to keep this fact hidden from everyone else. This insecurity makes the Grandstander Bully sensitive to any insinuation that he isn’t man enough, and so he lacks the confidence to incorporate any “feminine” energy into his life. This is the man who who scoffs at meditation or introspection as “sissy” stuff.
The Coward. The passive polar shadow of the Hero archetype is the Coward. Lacking the Hero’s courage, the boy under this shadow avoids confrontation; whether the conflict is physical or mental or moral, the Coward cannot stand up for himself. He is a conformist–a boy who always goes along with the crowd and does what others tell him to do. Even when fighting back is the right decision, he will walk away and rationalize his choice as the “manlier” thing to do.
But the boy possessed by the Coward cannot even convince himself of his own excuses, and he despises himself for his cowardice. He knows he is a doormat, and as people continue to walk over him, he gets angrier and angrier until he reaches a breaking point and lashes out in full Grandstander Bully fashion. It would have been far better for this boy to handle conflict in a healthier way.
Accessing the Hero Archetype as a Man
I believe the hero archetype is the most difficult for a man to successfully integrate.
On the one hand, teenagers see things as black and white, and despise the wishy-washy convictions and play-it-safe attitude of adults. Teenage Brett would have been disappointed with adult Brett’s decision not to jump off the cliff.
On the other hand, adults shake their heads at the foolish risks young men take and laugh at the unrealistic idealism of young people, telling them they’ll change their mind once they see how the world “really is.”
The complete man must walk the line between these two camps. He must come to understand his own limitations and the true nature of the obstacles in his way; otherwise, he cannot be effective in bringing about real change. At the same time, he cannot lose heart while pushing up against those challenges, and stumble into the kind of cynical apathy that makes seeking greatness seem an impossible task and an entirely worthless endeavor. He needs to be able to sometimes take youthful risks in order to achieve his goals. If a man can pilot his ship through this Charybdis and Scylla, he can become the heroic warrior.
In our previous articles in this series, we focused on the archetypes of boy psychology. Today we take a look at the first archetype of the mature masculine: the Lover.
I originally planned on following how the book orders the archetypes by starting off with the King and finishing with the Lover. But Will, a longtime AoM Community member, suggested that I swap their places. Why? Because according to Moore and other Jungians, each archetype powers up at certain phases in a man’s life. The Lover (as we’ll soon see) is the archetype of youthful idealism and excitement and is usually the first of the archetypes to develop in a man. The King archetype usually power ups last and is a culmination of the other archetypes.
I thought this was a good approach, so that’s what I’ll be doing. Thanks Will!
With that said, let’s get started analyzing the Lover archetype.
When you hear the word “lover” you probably think of romance and sex.
But there are many types of love–a love for family, for friends, for God, and for life itself–and the Lover archetype passionately seeks after them all.
The Lover is the archetype of emotion, feeling, idealism, and sensuality. Like the word “lover,” sensuality is often exclusively associated with sex but really has a far broader application. Being sensual means opening up and using all of your senses in all areas of your life–touching, tasting, smelling, hearing, and seeing–or in other words–experiencing as many dimensions of life as possible, as often as possible.
Thus, when a man taps into the Lover archetype’s energy, he feels alive with vim and vigor and connected to the world and those around him. A man in touch with the Lover archetype feelsdeeply, whether those feelings are of joy or pain.
The Lover is attuned to the mysterious forces underlying our everyday existence; this is the archetype that fuels a man’s spirituality, and the one in which the Muses reside. When we get those flashes of inspiration or sparks of creativity, that’s Lover energy manifesting itself in our lives. A man who takes time to develop this archetype will experience those hunches, insights, and premonitions more frequently than men who don’t.
A man who has fully developed the Lover archetype in his life is also often adept at reading people and social cues. He’s empathetic with others and understands how to get along and connect with a wide variety of people.
Because the Lover is so alive and sensual, he enjoys all of life’s pleasures, whether it be good food and drink, beautiful art, or gorgeous women. This is the archetype that spurs our appetites. But these hungers aren’t just for “baser” pleasures like sex and food, but for a life of meaning and purpose. And in seeking the freedom to passionately pursue these ends, the Lover can see limits and rules as constraining.
This is why the Lover archetype has a unique relationship to the other three archetypes of mature masculinity. While the Lover’s energy seeks to be boundless, the King, Warrior, and Magician archetypes provide a man with structure and discipline. Thus the Lover’s passion fuels and powers these three life forces, and in turn, they channel and harness the Lover’s energy in a healthy way and towards worthy goals.
You can find the Lover archetype in myths and rituals that span culture and time. The Greek god Dionysus presents perhaps the most salient example. Dionysus was the god of wine, merriment, art, passion, and sex. His followers believed that when a man became so overcome with emotion that he appeared mad, Dionysus was to blame. The yearly festival held in his honor each spring was a ritual inspired by the Lover archetype: lots of drinking, lots of dancing, lots of theater, and lots of sex.
A modern story that exemplifies the Lover archetype is Zorba the Greek. Zorba is a man who lives life fully. He’s earthy. He loves good food and drink. He dances his heart out. Zorba understands that for a man to be truly free, he needs to have a deep emotional life; he needs a little madness:
That’s a man who has a healthy dose of the Lover archetype in his life.
The Lover archetype is usually the first that develops in a man. Look at most young men and you see that they’re often ruled by the passionate Lover archetype. They’re looking for new and exciting endeavors, they develop intense romantic and sexual relationships, and they’re filled with youthful idealism. Their experiences are marked by an acute intensity.
Remember that each archetype has both a pinnacle, which represents the fullness of the archetype, and a bi-polar shadow split. These shadows are the result of the archetype not being integrated into a man in a healthy and coherent way. The two shadows of the Lover archetype are the Addicted Lover and the Impotent Lover.
The Addicted Lover
If the other archetypes do not harness the Lover’s energy, the Addicted Lover shadow can result.
A man possessed by the Addicted Lover is, as Moore puts it, “eternally restless.” He’s forever searching for that one thing, person, or experience that will make him feel truly alive. But whether it’s because he has overinflated expectations, or because he doesn’t even know what he’s searching for in the first place, the vague hunger that endlessly hounds him is never satisfied.
The Addicted Lover falls in love with every girl he dates, and then wallows in despair when she dumps him. He’s constantly getting ideas for inventions or businesses that will make him rich, but he never works at them long enough to get them off the ground. His apartment is cluttered with junk he bought on a whim and never used. His passport is filled with stamps, but he doesn’t feel any happier than we he left home to travel the world.
The Addicted Lover is a collector–of experiences, possessions, or women. But without any structure, any overarching life philosophy to connect the things he collects, his life feels fragmentary instead of whole. Without a channel through which to run, the Lover’s energy dissipates into a million directions.
The flip side of this shadow is the man who takes all of the Lover’s energy and focuses it on one thing. He can become so obsessed with the objects of his desire that instead of bringing joy, they bring destruction and ruin. Perhaps you know a man who became so involved in a vice, a project, or even a hobby that it ruined him financially and destroyed his relationships. That was a man possessed by the Addicted Lover.
I think Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby (my favorite book, by the way), is a perfect example of a man possessed by the Addicted Lover. He longs for the wealthy Daisy Buchanan for his entire life. He’s addicted to the idea of being with Daisy and spends his life amassing a fortune through criminal activity just so he can be with her. But in the end, Daisy disappoints Gatsby. The real Daisy didn’t match the fantasy of her that Gatsby had obsessed about for years. If you read the book, you know what happens to ol’ Jay Gatsby in the end. Lesson learned: being possessed by the Addicted Lover leads to ruin.
The Impotent Lover
The Impotent Lover shadow arises when a man is out of touch with the Lover archetype in its fullness. While the Lover in his fullness sees the world in vivid colors and textures, the Impotent Lover only sees gray. Men dogged by the Impotent Lover archetype feel depressed, flat, and dead inside. Nothing brings them joy anymore. They’ve lost their passion for life. Relationships, whether romantic or platonic, struggle and falter for the man possessed by the Impotent Lover. Libido is non-existent in these men, as is their sex life.
While the Addicted Lover does not give himself enough structure, the Impotent Lover can arise in a man who disciplines himself too much. This is often the case with devoutly religious men, who, going far beyond the admonishments of their faith, laden themselves with overly prudish rules, and feel shame when “indulging” in life’s pleasures. The energy of the Lover archetype builds up behind this dam of limits, and without a healthy channel to pursue, sooner or later it bursts forth in destructive ways, like addiction to porn. The Impotent Lover becomes the Addicted Lover.
According to Moore, the Lover is the most repressed and stunted archetype in men today. Men in the West aren’t encouraged to be “in touch with their feelings.” As men, we’re supposed to be coolly detached from anything and anybody. But the great men in history understood that emotion, properly harnessed, is what drives greatness. The ancient Greeks called this passion for life thumos. It’s a fire in the belly that propels a man to do great deeds.
So accessing the Lover archetype is vital to our success as men. But how do we do it?
The easiest way to tap into the Lover archetype is to take more time to really enjoy the stuff that brings you pleasure in life. The Addicted Lover is forever looking for the high that will last indefinitely. When he takes the first “hit” of something–whether a new drug, a new place, a new lover, or a new car–his brain lights up with pleasure. But our brains quickly get used to the same stimuli, and each additional hit brings diminishing returns. So the Addicted Lover will then take a bigger hit of the stimulus in order to feel the same pleasure he got the first time he tried it. But he’ll quickly get used to that “dose” too. And soon the Addicted Lover is stuck in a destructive cycle–restlessness and dissatisfaction plague him.
The answer to short-circulating this cycle and tapping into the Lover energy in a healthy way is something we have talked about a few times before: cultivating the virtue of moderation and being fully present in your life.
Instead of reaching for more, you stop to experience the things you already have and do in a deeper way, using all of your senses. You turn life’s little everyday activities into indulgent, pleasure-inducing rituals.
For example, do you like drinking coffee? Create a slow, relaxing, coffee-drinking experience for yourself a couple times a week. Take a whiff of the beans before you grind them, carefully create your brew in a French press, pour it into a mug you love, and slowly sip it on the porch, really enjoying the flavor.
Chew your food slowly and really taste the flavors. Enjoy touching and kissing your woman’s skin instead of just immediately getting down to the deed, take a walk after a rain shower and breathe in that fresh smell. Remember, the Lover experiences as much of life as possible, with as many senses as possible.
Another way to access the Lover is to take part in a hobby you’re passionate about, particularly ones that involves artistic skills or craftsmanship. Make it a priority in your schedule to spend time on that hobby. It doesn’t matter how silly it is. As long as it gives you joy, and offers you a creative outlet, do it.
A man seeking access to the Lover archetype should also make reading a lifelong habit. Immerse yourself in literature and writings on a variety of subjects to stimulate your brain and provide it with something to ponder other than whether to have a ham or turkey sandwich for lunch. Seeking knowledge will spur the Lover’s capacity for imagination and inspiration.
Spend time outdoors–hiking and camping. Nature helps you get in touch with the mysterious forces of life.
And of course you can access the Lover archetype by taking time for romance. Plan a surprise date for your wife or girlfriend. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. And don’t just stop there. Write your woman love letters or, if you’re feeling particularly inspired, a love poem. Boom. Instant Lover access.
In addition to the above suggestions, Moore also provides a few techniques to access all the mature masculine archetypes more fully in our lives. These techniques require what Moore callsactive imagination.
Moore suggests admiring and learning about men who exemplify each archetype. For the Lover, you can read biographies and study the work of great artists you admire. Maybe you can spend a month studying the life of Leonardo da Vinci. Or if you’re a Hemingway fan, read all of Papa’s novels.
A final technique to access the archetypes in your life is to “act as if” you’re already accessing the archetype in your life. It’s the old “fake it until you make it” philosophy espoused by Aristotle. If you feel as if the Impotent Lover has taken control of your psyche and you’ve lost your vim and vigor, act as if you were passionate for life and were accessing the Lover archetype fully. If art never really interested you, force yourself to visit a museum and really look at the art. Act as if you’re really interested and pretty soon you might find yourself no longer having to pretend.
Many a boy goes through a magic phase growing up. He learns a few card tricks, and maybe goes down to the local magic store to browse for more elaborate tricks. Even just entering the store is a little thrilling, as is showing off newly learned tricks to one’s family and friends.
Most men outgrow their magic hobby, although not necessarily their fascination with the art. But even the professional ranks of magicians are dominated by men.
So why are men so drawn to magic?
The masculine attraction to magic can be traced to something much deeper than the ability to pull a rabbit out of a hat. Rather, it is rooted in what the magician’s abilities represent–the power that comes from the mastery of a secret knowledge and the ability to use that knowledge to manipulate tools in order to control certain elements and produce desired outcomes. The yearning to harness and possess that power is what fuels the Magician archetype, an energy that every man should seek, whether or not he ever hopes to saw a lady in half.
Intellectually Curious/The Holder of Hidden Knowledge
As Moore puts it, “The Magician is the knower.” What does he know? “Secret and hidden knowledge of all kinds.” While this kind of knowledge sounds very esoteric, and it can be, Moore is simply referring to any kind of knowledge that is “not immediately apparent or commonsensical.” It is knowledge you learn in degrees, its mastery takes great effort and diligence, and the reward is to be able to dwell in a realm that the average man does not have access to. Moore argues that:
“All knowledge that takes special training to acquire is the province of the Magician energy. Whether you are an apprentice training to become a master electrician and unraveling the mysteries of high voltage; or a medical student, grinding away night and day, studying the secrets of the human body and using available technologies to help your patients; or a would-be stockbroker or a student of high finance; or a trainee in one of the psychoanalytic schools, you are in exactly the same position as the apprentice shaman or witch doctor in tribal societies. You are spending large amounts of time, energy, and money in order to be initiated into rarefied realms of secret power. You are undergoing an ordeal testing your capacities to become a master of this power. And, as is true in all initiations, there is no guarantee of success.”
As you go about your studies or the day-to-day duties of your profession, you probably don’t feel like you’re acting in a “realm of secret power.” But take a step back and consider it—whether it’s how to set a bone or repair a carburetor, you probably can do things that to others are completely obscure and shrouded in mystery.
A Master of Technology
A few months ago I bought an iPad. I love it. The first time I swiped across its screen, I felt like I was using some sort of magic gazing mirror that granted me access to an infinite amount of knowledge right at my fingertips. One minute I can be reading a biography of Winston Churchill and the next I can be watching a free video lecture about Churchill on YouTube. The iPad, along with other tablet devices, are great examples of science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke’s third rule: “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
And indeed, the Magician is a “master of technology.” When men learn the secret knowledge of how the world works, and use that knowledge to harness its laws, energies, and forces in order to manipulate them into practical tools and systems, they’re accessing Magician energy. Inventors, scientists, and just simple tinkerers are examples of “masters of technology. It’s funny how we often imbue our most famous inventors and creators with almost supernatural qualities. Newspapers dubbed Thomas Edison “The Wizard of Menlo Park,” legends sprouted up about Nikola Tesla and his power over electricity, and recent obituaries about Steve Jobs would often refer to his creations as almost magical.
Becoming a master of technology doesn’t require that we invent a device like the iPad. Instead, we simply need to create. There’s a concept in the Western esoteric tradition of Hermeticism that the goal of man should be to live the principle of: “as above, so below.” It’s sort of similar to Christ’s admonition in the Lord’s prayer to “make on earth as it is in heaven.” Several interpretations exist as to the meaning of “as above, so below,” but the interpretation that I like is that it means making our amorphous thoughts, imaginations, and dreams a reality. In order to accomplish this, we must use all the knowledge and tools at our disposal. In short, we must become masters of technology.
The Warrior is the archetype of action. But he gets his marching orders from the Magician. This is the energy that powers healthy introspection. When you’re facing a tough decision, your deliberations on which course to take are powered by the Magician. His power comes from thoughtful reflection and meditation; the Magician is like an excellent chess player; the more he experiences and studies, the more he is able to see life like a chess board, envision all the possible moves, and predict with good accuracy where those moves will lead. This ability also generates a man’s hunches and gut feelings and the spontaneous decisions he makes in a time of crisis.
In today’s society, information has been greatly democratized, and people expect everything there is to be known to be available to every person. If you tell someone that certain knowledge is sacred, secret, or just too advanced for them to understand, they’re typically deeply offended and automatically assume that you’re up to something suspicious. But great teachers throughout history understood that knowledge and truth must be taught “precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” Effective learning must be done in degrees–each advancement is earned by the mastery of the previous step. Each concept builds on the other, until a person has acquired perfect knowledge.
Those who try to jump into the deep end without first learning to swim can drown. For that reason, men accessing Magician energy are reticent about the knowledge they possess, only sharing it with the earnest student who continually proves he is a worthy of the knowledge he seeks.
Alchemist of Life
The alchemists of antiquity sought to find a way to turn the baser elements into gold. And this inclination to turn a sow’s ear into a purse is a vital current in the Magician’s stream of energy. When the Magician archetype is integrated into a man, he looks for ways to turn disappointing situations and setbacks into opportunities to learn, grow, and become a better man.
As Moore puts it, the Magician “understands the link between the unseen world of the spirits–the Divine World–and the world of human beings and nature.” As the mediator between these worlds, the Magician has the ability to explain complicated spiritual ideas in ways others can easily grasp. If you’ve ever talked to a friend who used a simple metaphor to resolve your doubts, that was the Magician energy at work.
There are two main roles that the energy of the Magician flow through—the initiate and the initiator. Or in the other words, the mentee and the mentor.
As we just discussed, Magician energy drives us to obtain hidden knowledge. But contrary to the popular adage about professional magicians—that they never reveal their tricks—a man truly animated by the mature Magician archetype is eager to turn around and share what he has learned with others. He desires to elevate the serious and earnest seeker to his level.
This is why the lack of magician energy in modern culture is really at the heart of the issues many men are having today. There is a lack of mature men who have made a rite-of-passage themselves available to initiate other men into the “secret knowledge” of manhood. Dads and granddads, uncles and cousins, used to teach their sons and other young men how to act, dress, and behave like a man. But a lot of men have grown up without such a mentor these days and thus feel lost, directionless, and adrift.
This is not only true when it comes to being initiated into manhood, however, but also applies to a man’s professional path as well. For the most part, gone are the days of guilds and intimate apprenticeships, and trade schools have fallen in popularity. Men are in fierce competition with each other and are looking out only for themselves, thus there is often no one willing to initiate a man into his vocation. It is telling that apprenticeships have been replaced by internships; instead of getting initiated into the job, interns are made to do the undesirable grunt work of others and then cut loose when their temporary stint is up.
That many men have an unfulfilled hunger for initiation into some kind of secret knowledge can be evidenced by the soaring popularity of pick-up and seduction artists who promise, for a few hundred or thousand dollars, to teach initiates the secrets to scoring lots of ladies. And a lot of guys who can’t find mentors otherwise are willing to pony up big time dough to hire them. On the surface, the popularity of the PUA movement is due simply to the desire to want to be great at picking up chicks, but I think it’s really a manifestation of this deeper hunger to be initiated into a secret realm, to have knowledge that others don’t. And actually you see this kind of language used in a lot of PUA forums—people talk about the different levels of knowledge you gain, and how only 10% of people who study the subject ever really understand it, etc.
I know a few guys that have gotten something out of some of these classes and books. Mainly, they’re learning basic social skills they just didn’t pick up as kids. However, I don’t think young men can fully satiate their hunger for initiation into manhood in the pick-up artist scene for a few reasons.
First, most PUA gurus are nothing more than internet marketing hucksters that prey on a young man’s sexual insecurity in order to make a buck. Instead of being in touch with positive Magician energy, many PUA coaches are possessed with the Magician’s shadow, the Manipulator. The initiation into manhood that these gurus offer lacks the gravitas and depth of an initiation from men who have fully developed the mature masculine within themselves.
Second, the manliness of PUA devotees is constantly defined in the context of women–they are consumed with thinking about women– how they think, how they can be manipulated, how to talk to them, where to meet them, and so on. But manhood is not about women. Look at any great man of the past–none of them made women their main focus. Instead, they concentrated on mastering a more significant subject of hidden knowledge, one which created a real and lasting legacy for them. Their success then naturally attracted women to them, without the need for any special gimmicks.
The Detached Manipulator
The Magician in his fullness desires to initiate other men into his knowledge, bringing them up from degree to degree so that they can become better and happier men. The Manipulator Shadow poses as the Magician in his fullness–he teases would-be initiates with the prospect of learning his secrets, but he does not give them all his knowledge. He withholds things from them in order to feed both his pride and his pocketbook. Shadow Manipulators charge their seekers a ton of money with the promise that the student can become just like them, but don’t give away the real secrets to doing that, and especially the secret that they often can’t become just like them, because their own success was due to x,y, or z factor that won’t happen to anyone else.
The internet has created an army of Shadow Manipulators. Everywhere you look there are hucksters promising you the secrets to bedding women, losing weight, making money online…if you’ll only buy their $200 eBook.
Shadow manipulators play a prominent role on our cultural stage as well. Wall Street bankers, politicians, ad agencies, and media pundits are all absolute experts in getting a following by sharing some of the story, but not all of it.
Another aspect of the Manipulator is his cynical detachment from other people. I see this Shadow in guys too often. They’re the ones who, when confronted with their inability to commit to anything, be passionate about anything, or enjoy any pleasures in life, will retort with “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Moore summarizes this man’s issues very well:
“This is the man who thinks too much, who stands back from his life and never lives it. He is caught in a web of pros and cons about his decisions and lost in a labyrinth of reflective meanderings from which he cannot extricate himself. He is afraid to live, to ‘leap into battle.’ He can only sit on his rock and think. The years pass. He wonders where the time has gone. And he ends by regretting a life of sterility. He is a voyeur, an armchair adventurer. In the world of academia, he is a hairsplitter. In the fear of making the wrong decision, he makes none. In his fear of living, he also cannot participate in the joy and pleasure that other people experience in their lived lives. If he is withholding from others, and not sharing what he knows, he eventually feels isolated and lonely. To the extent that he has hurt others with his knowledge and technology—in whatever field and in whatever way—by cutting himself off from living relatedness with other human beings, he has cut off his own soul.”
The Innocent One
The Innocent One is the passive pole of the bi-polar shadow. A man possessed by the Innocent One shadow wants all the power, glory, and status that comes with harnessing the Magician archetype in his fullness, but he isn’t willing to put in the work or take on the responsibility that said power, glory, and status requires. They see another man doing something really cool, and decide they want to do it too. These are guys who get super excited about a new hobby, or faith, or career path–their excitement is absolutely coursing through them–but after the easy part has passed (coming up with the name of the band, buying a skateboard, designing the start-up’s logo), they realize how much “dead work” is required to get really good at the cool thing, and they give up. Men haunted by the shadow of the Innocent One want to be millionaires, but aren’t willing to toil and work years to achieve it. They want to play guitar like Django Reinhardt, but they give up guitar lessons after just a few weeks. They want to be spiritual, but without all that prayer, meditation, and scripture study business.
But the Innocent One’s shadow behavior doesn’t stop there. Because a man in touch with the Innocent One can never attain or achieve his goals because of laziness, he doesn’t want others to achieve their goals and ambitions either. He becomes a stumbling block to others simply out of envy. A man possessed by the Innocent One begrudges the success of others and does all that he can to diminish it. Theodore Roosevelt despised this type of man. To him, a man possessed by the Innocent One was “one of those cold and timid souls, who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Every great civilization has a great warrior tradition and accompanying warrior myths. The Old Testament recounts the stories of a warrior people and a warrior God. In the ancient Mediterranean, the Spartans had perhaps the most legendary warrior tradition. From birth, Spartan society nurtured and trained their boys to become warriors, and that rigorous training created men like Leonidas and his 300 men of unconquerable spirit. Japan had their fearless samurai warriors whose undaunted courage came from living life as if they were already dead.
Today the Warrior archetype lives on in our reverence for those who serve in the armed forces and in modern books and movies. William Wallace from Braveheart and General Maximus from Gladiator embody the Warrior archetype.
But in general, modern culture is not comfortable with Warrior energy. The advent of mechanized warfare during the first half of the 20th century dampened the romantic ideal of martial courage. Since the social and cultural revolutions of the 60s and 70s, we’ve generally taught boys and men to avoid confrontation and conflict and to instead nurture their “feminine side.” The result is the Nice Guy; the man who will avoid confrontation and aggression even when confrontation and aggression are justified.
Society pushes men to be sweet and sensitive, because they fear them becoming coldly stoic, abusive, and destructively angry. But society’s perception of the Warrior archetype is not based on the Warrior energy in its full, healthy manifestation, but on the archetype’s shadows. The problem is not Warrior energy itself, but Warrior energy that is not used in harmony with the other masculine archetypes and directed by empathy, contemplation, and order. Fighting itself is not bad, the question is simply: What is a man fighting for? The Warrior’s energy is needed not only in times of war, but on all the battlefields of life.
Properly tapping into the Warrior’s energy provides a man with an unsurpassable power source which will fuel him to reach his goals, fight for worthy causes, achieve greatness, and leave a lasting legacy.
Moore says that “The characteristics of the Warrior in his fullness amount to a total way of life, what the samurai called a do (pronounced ‘do’). These characteristics constitute the Warrior Dharma, Ma’at, or Tao, a spiritual or psychological path through life.”
What are these characteristics? Let’s take a look.
Note: While here we use the language of the martial warrior, the characteristics can be applied to any man’s life mission, whether civilian or true solider.
If you look up the word “aggressive” in the dictionary, these are the definitions you’ll find:
1. characterized by or tending toward unprovoked offensives, attacks, invasions, or the like; militantly forward or menacing
2. making an all-out effort to win or succeed; competitive
3. vigorously energetic, especially in the use of initiative and forcefulness
Of the three definitions, the first is most popular in modern culture. Something unprovoked, out of line. Notice how often “overly” precedes “aggressive” in common parlance. Aggression may also bring to mind military policies a person does not agree with. In general it has a negative connotation.
But true aggression should be thought of in the context of the second two dictionary entries.Effort. Energy. Initiative. Force. Aggression is a neutral tool that can be harnessed for either ill or good. How it is channeled makes all the difference. A man who does not harness his aggression at all picks a fight with everyone and about everything; his relationships fail and he is stunted in his personal development. The man who reins in his aggression too much becomes the stereotypical weenie Nice Guy–proper aggression turns into passive aggression. He is too “polite” to go after what he wants, and he’s seething inside because of it. A man who has successfully integrated the Warrior archetype harnesses his aggression as the force that pushes him to compete to be the best and moves him ever forward towards his goals.
Of course that proper use of aggression presupposes that a man has goals that he’s striving towards in the first place. A man has to have a clear and definite purpose in life, or he will feel lost and restless, like he is drifting along instead of marching ahead.
The mindfulness of the Warrior is two-fold. First, he is always alert and awake, ever vigilant. He has keen situational awareness. He never lets complacency lull him to sleep; instead, he is always watching, observing, studying, and planning. Secondly, the Warrior is mindful of the finiteness of life and the inevitably of death, and he purposefully contemplates that death. His courage is rooted in the fact that he is not afraid to die. Life’s shortness brings clarity to his mind. He knows that any minute could be his last so he makes every day and decision count.Carpe diem! becomes his battle cry.
During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Army knew that it could not match the man and fire power of the British. So instead of facing them down on a field for a traditional battle, the minutemen took to the woods and launched surprise hit and run attacks on the enemy. This is the way of the Warrior; he is a guerrilla fighter. When he’s up against great odds, he bucks convention and uses his cleverness and his strategic intelligence to find creative ways to turn the tide in his favor. He is an efficient fighter–he studies the weaknesses of his opponents and concentrates his strikes there. He is flexible and able to respond to change by shifting tactics on the fly.
The key to successful guerrilla warfare is the fighter’s ability to travel light. While the traditional force has power in its superior resources, those resources also weigh and slow them down. The guerrilla fighter strips away all superfluities and excess baggage; he carries only what he needs and is thus quick and nimble, able to be two steps ahead of the enemy.
In times of peace or crisis, whether for big things or small, the Warrior is able to boldly make decisions. He doesn’t stand there shilly-shally, wondering what he should do, scared of choosing the wrong option. He is calm and cool under pressure. Once he makes a decision, he unhesitatingly moves on it because he does not live in regret. The Warrior is able to be so decisive because he trains so thoroughly for these moments; he is prepared. He thinks about all possible contingencies and what he would do in each situation before the crisis arrives. When the crisis does come, his mind and body already instinctively know what to do.
Part of the Warrior’s confidence in his decisions is rooted in his supreme competence. Accordingly to Moore, “The Warrior’s energy is concerned with skill, power, and accuracy.” The Warrior “has absolute mastery of the technology of his trade…the technology that enables him to reach his goal. He has developed skill with the ‘weapons’ he uses to implement his decisions.”
If you remember, the Hero is the boyhood archetype which matures into the Warrior archetype. Part of this maturation process centers on a shift in a man’s loyalties. Moore argues that “The Hero’s loyalty…is really to himself–to impressing himself with himself and to impressing others.” The Warrior’s loyalties, on the other hand, “are to something beyond and other than himself and his own concerns.” The Warrior’s loyalty centers on “a cause, a god, a people, a task, a nation–larger than individuals.” The Warrior has a “central commitment” around which he organizes his life. His life’s purpose is rooted in ideals and principles, which naturally strips away superfluities and pettiness and brings his life great meaning.
The Warrior has mastered himself in body and mind. His power is rooted in self-control. He knows when to be aggressive and how aggressive to be. He is the master of his energies, releasing them and pulling them back as he chooses. He decides the attitude he will take in a certain situation, instead of letting the situation dictate how he feels. Unlike the boyhood Hero archetype, the Warrior understands his limits; he takes calculated instead of unnecessary risks. His discipline also frees him of a fear of pain. Feeble, mediocre men believe all pain is bad. The Warrior knows there is bad pain and good pain. He is willing, even eager to withstand psychological and physical pain on the path to his goals. He’s the kind of man who subscribes to the “pain is just weakness leaving the body” philosophy; he relishes difficulty because it makes him stronger.
Not all the time, but when he is in Warrior mode. To complete his mission, the Warrior must be emotionally detached–from the fear and doubt generated by his own feelings, from the intimidation emanating from his enemy, and from the “shoulds” and demands put on him by friends and family. The Warrior needs the kind of mental clarity that only comes from single-minded purpose, or as Moore puts it, “The Warrior needs room to swing his sword.”
Switching off that emotional detachment when away from the mission represents the great challenge for the Warrior. The inability to do so can result in one of the Warrior’s shadows.
The Warrior is the archetype of destruction. However, the Warrior in his fullness only destroys in order to “make room for something new and fresh and more alive.” His is an act of creative destruction–he doesn’t tear things down simply for the pleasure of doing so. We call upon the Warrior archetype when we quit bad habits and replace them with better ones or when we get rid of people in our lives who bring us down and surround ourselves with people who edify.
The Sadist. As just discussed, men in touch with the Warrior archetype have the ability to detach themselves from emotions and human relationships. While detachment provides a man with much needed focus on important tasks, when it becomes a man’s permanent state, the Sadist shadow controls a man’s psyche.
This is why soldiers, who have a mission-minded attitude while on deployment, can find it very difficult to adjust to life back home and find their place in their families, which are based on emotional needs and currents–the stuff the solider has been used to setting aside. The mission-focused life freed him from human pettiness–and returning to it can be grating. This is also true of lawyers, ministers, doctors, politicians, and other men who may be married to their job–shifting from mission-mode to domestic-mode can be difficult for them.
As the name implies, the Sadist can be cruel, even to those most vulnerable. He disdains the weak. A commanding officer in the Army may try to rigidly run his family in the same way that he led his troops. The Sadist creates unattainably high standards for himself and those around him. When a child comes home with a less than perfect grade, a father influenced by the Sadist will put her down and berate her mercilessly. A man with positive Warrior energy would have kindly shown disappointment, but then offered to help his daughter study for the next exam so she could ace it.
The Sadist’s disgust at weakness is linked to the boyhood Hero archetype. The Hero tries to break away from his mother and from feminine energy in general as he seeks to become his own man. But adult men who are still insecure about being “man enough” project this insecurity onto others. He hates what he fears is within himself.
According to Moore, men possessed by the Sadist also tend to be workaholics. They’re the men who take pride in working all night at the office and coming home at 7AM, only to leave for the office again an hour later. They’ll choose work at the expense of health and even family. They take the Warrior’s comfort with pain to an extreme and grind it out to get to the top. But they’re doing it because they really don’t know what they want out of life, and constantly working distracts them from this fact. Once they do reach the top, they often feel empty, lost, and bitter. But many Sadists simply burn out before they even get there.
The Masochist. The Masochist is the passive shadow in the tripartite Warrior archetype, and its attributes closely parallel those of the boyhood Hero archetype’s cowardly shadow. A man possessed by the Masochist feels he is powerless. He is a push-over who has no personal boundaries and will let others walk all over him. He may hate his job or the relationship he’s in and complain about it, but instead of quitting, cutting his losses and moving on, he digs in and tries harder to be who his boss or girlfriend wants him to be and takes even more abuse. Because while he might complain about the pain, he really likes it. This is the man who enjoys being the martyr.
An archetype’s bi-polar shadows often work together against a man. Men under the Masochist’s influence will take the disrespect others dish out without fighting back or asserting themselves. Then one day something, maybe a criticism from his wife, pushes him over the edge and he “explodes with sadistic verbal [and sometimes even] physical abuse.”
Many men today lack Warrior energy. They’ve been told all their lives that aggression is bad and they should just work on being be “nice guys.” But if there’s anything the world needs today, it’s men in touch with the Warrior archetype. It’s the energy that propels men to dare greatly and to fight for a worthy cause. So what can we do to access this positive Warrior energy?
Watch movies about great warriors. Yeah, it’s cliche, but it works. They don’t necessarily have to be war movies. Any film that showcases men with the warrior spirit will do. Here are a few of my favorite warrior movies. I’d love to read yours:
Read biographies about great warriors. Also, dig into writings like those of Marcus Aurelius (the ultimate philosopher-warrior).
Quit shoulding on yourself. The Warrior is able to detach himself from the opinions of others in order to carry out his mission.
Study and practice the skills necessary for completing your goals. Whether that’s marksmanship, computer programming, or being charismatic, become a master of your trade.
Compete in a race like the Warrior Dash. It’s got the word warrior right in the name!
The King archetype is the most important of the four mature masculine archetypes. Just as a good king in mythological stories is often something of a Renaissance man–a good warrior, magician, and lover–the King archetype incorporates the other three mature masculine archetypes in perfect harmony. A man who accesses the King archetype in its fullness will also have accessed the Warrior, Magician, and Lover archetypes. For this reason, the King archetype is typically the last of the mature masculine archetypes to power up in a man’s life. In this way, it is truly the crown of the other archetypes, the energy that gives a man a sense of his full, godlike potential.
He is centered.
Throughout history, cultures have often placed the king at the center of the universe. From him radiated all of existence. If you look at how ancient civilizations laid out their cities, we often see that the dwelling place of the king or leader sat at the center.
In addition to serving as the geographic center of his realm, the ancient king also represented its spiritual center as well. He was the intermediary between heaven and earth. Through his divine powers, the king brought order to the universe by reconciling opposite forces. Myths abound of kings battling evil demonic creatures and establishing order in chaos.
When a man is living the King archetype in its fullness, he feels that same centering power within himself. Not that he believes the world revolves around him, but rather that his confidence, purpose, and well-being give him a supreme sense of balance. Even when the world around him becomes chaotic, he remains cool, calm, and collected. He acts, rather than reacts. He’s the rock in crisis. A man fully engaged with positive King energy is completely present as a man. Because of his position at the center of things, he can survey everything that is going on, soak it all in, and then take a broad view of things. This overarching perspective allows him to remain immovable in the face of the passing and superficial.
He is decisive.
The King is the executive of the other archetypes, and as such, is charged with making decisions. His ability to be decisive is rooted in two things. First, who he is and what he stands for; the King’s core values are centered on firm and unchanging principles. So when a crisis comes, he does not waver because he has already determined the course he will take. Secondly, the King seasons his decisions with experience. His experiences provide him withpractical wisdom: the knowledge of how to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons.
He lives with integrity.
The word integrity is related to the roots of words like “integrate” and “entire.” In Spanish it is rendered “integro,” meaning whole. Integrity thus implies the state of being complete, undivided, intact, and unbroken. Integrity is really the bond that holds a man’s other virtues together; it is the mark of a man who has successfully integrated all good principles. His life is a unified whole.
The King has not only integrated all the other archetypes, but seeks this wholeness in other areas of his life as well. He mends broken relationships, keeps his word, acts with honesty, and takes responsibility for his actions. He is who he says he is; he doesn’t have one set of principles for Sundays and one for the rest of the week.
He protects his realm.
Historically, one of the king’s primary functions was to protect his dominion. When enemy forces encroached on his territory, a king would act with wrathful aggressiveness. Even today, we look to our leaders as protectors. The President of the United States is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, charged with the responsibility of protecting our nation’s security.
While a man might not be a leader of a country, he certainly has his own realms he’s responsible for protecting–whether that protection be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. If you’re married with children, your home is a realm, a place you want to make a refuge from negative influences. The department you’re responsible for at work is another sphere where you work to protect your employees from in-fighting, mediocrity, and layoffs. And your own psyche and personal boundaries are sovereignties that you must protect and defend with zeal.
Whatever your realms may be, when you’re accessing the King archetype in its fullness, you do what you have to in order to protect them, and this often requires accessing the aggressiveness of the Warrior archetype.
He provides order.
Throughout history, Kings have been lawgivers. The first, and perhaps most famous of these king/lawgivers was the ancient Babylonian king, Hammurabi. His code represents one of history’s first written sets of laws. These laws touched on all areas of life for ancient Mesopotamians, including trade, religion, and military service. Other famous king/lawgivers include Solon of ancient Athens, Lycurgus of ancient Sparta, and Moses (while technically not a king, Moses was a leader of the ancient Hebrews).
Just as these ancient kings provided order to their respective societies, so too does a man accessing the King archetype establish order in his own life and in the lives of those around him. We see the King manifest itself in us when we establish rules, guidelines, and principles for others to follow. A man accessing positive King energy doesn’t create rules just so he can reap the satisfaction of watching people obey him. Rather, his rules provide the structure that allows other people to flourish. Figuring out how to create rules that help instead of hinder people’s progress requires the kind of thoughtful reflection that comes from accessing the Magician archetype.
To completely integrate the King archetype into our lives, it isn’t enough to tell others how they should live; a man must also live by those same edicts himself. Before we can provide order for others, we ourselves must become men of discipline. As General George S. Patton told his son:
“Soldiers, all men in fact, are natural hero worshipers. Officers with a flare for command realize this and emphasize in their conduct, dress and deportment the qualities they seek to produce in their men. When I was a second lieutenant I had a captain who was very sloppy and usually late yet he got after the men for just those faults; he was a failure.”
He creates and inspires creativity in others.
According to Moore, mythological kings were often associated with fertility and creation. Many ancient cultures believed that their king’s ability to procreate determined the fate of their crops. If the king was lusty, virile, and siring numerous progeny, the harvest would be bountiful.
But we don’t have to father an entire football team in order to access the King archetype. Whenever we take part in any act of creation, whether it be writing a song, starting a business, or yes, becoming a dad, the King archetype is manifesting itself in our lives.
To fully integrate the King in our lives, however, we must inspire creativity in others as well. A man who is accessing the King archetype understands that his power and influence in the world increases as he empowers others to live to their fullest potential.
He blesses the lives of others.
“The good king delighted in noticing and promoting good men to positions of responsibility in his kingdom. He held audience, primarily, not to be seen, but to see, admire, and delight in his subjects, to reward them and to bestow honors upon them.” – Moore, KWML
One of the functions of ancient kings was to bless those whom they led. As intermediaries between the gods and earth, the king had the power to bless his people so that they might prosper. In the Bible, we can read several accounts of the great patriarchs leaving a father’s blessing on their posterity before dying.
We often associate “blessing” with a religious act. While a man certainly accesses the King archetype by giving a father’s blessing to his children, just like Jacob and Isaac did, he can also bless others around him in other ways that aren’t necessarily religious.
Simply recognizing and honoring others for their achievements is a way we can bless others. As we get older, I think we take for granted the power that a kind word can have on a young person’s life. But think back on your own experience. Remember when you were a young man? How did you feel when an older person, especially a man you admired, gave you a compliment or went out of his way to recognize an achievement? If you were like me, it made you feel awesome. You might have stuck out your chest a bit more or walked with a spring in your step. You probably still remember exactly what they said to you. That’s the power of blessing in action. It uplifts and edifies others.
We can also bless others by becoming a mentor. We’ve talked about the importance of mentorship on the site many times before, but one of the reasons so many young men are struggling today is because they lack positive mentoring from older men. Moore argues that:
“Young men today are starving for blessing from older men, starving for blessing from the King energy. This is why they cannot, as we say, “get it together.” They shouldn’t have to. They need to be blessed. They need to be seen by the King, because if they are, something inside will come together for them. That is the effect of blessing; it heals and makes whole. That’s what happens when we are seen and valued and concretely rewarded for our legitimate talents and abilities.”
As we grow older, wiser, and more in touch with the King archetype, it is our responsibility as men to bless and assist younger men on their path to mature masculinity.
He leaves a legacy.
Kings throughout history were obsessed with legacy. In creating empires, building edifices, writing laws, and changing the culture, they sought to become immortal and to leave behind something that would remind subsequent generations of their lives and their greatness.
No matter the size of your principality, the desire to leave a legacy is a switch of manliness that cannot be ignored. Happily, creating a legacy need not involve the construction of great pyramids, but can come from any idea, business, tradition, relationship, or thought…anythingthat changes a person, the world, just a little and gets passed on, anything that lasts.
Unlike the King archetype which creates and blesses others, the Tyrant seeks to destroy and tear down. Plagued by narcissism, he really does think that he sits at the center of the universe. The Tyrant wrongly believes that power is finite; he has a scarcity mentality. He doesn’t understand the truth–that power and influence actually increase the more you share it with others. Thus the burden of maintaining his fragile illusion of absolute power makes him very insecure; any threat to his authority and supremacy enrages him and causes him to lash out with abuse–physically, emotionally, or mentally.
When the Tyrant isn’t viewing others as a threat and putting them in their place, he sees them as objects to exploit for his own gain; he is willing to push his friends, family, and employees under the bus in order to further his goals. We see the Tyrant manifest itself in this manner when businessmen or politicians further their own career at the expense of the people under their stewardship.
The Weakling is the passive shadow of the King archetype. Instead of taking control of his life and resolutely making decisions, a man possessed by the Weakling often abdicates his throne to others, handing over power, responsibility, and control of his life to them. This is the man who, though grown up, still lets his mother or father make his decisions for him. This is the man who kowtows to his boss’ or his wife’s every whim.
This is also the man who was abused in some way as a child, and when he becomes an adult and ascends into a position of power, relishes the opportunity to turn the tables and become the bully himself. “Now that I’m in charge, things are going to change around here!” But even in a position of power, the Weakling’s insecurity gets the best of him; he becomes paranoid that people are out to get him–and they often are because he’s such a jerk. This paranoia leads him to become even more controlling and cruel.
Moore believes that the Weakling and Tyrant shadows work in tandem with each other. It’s very rare that a man is ruled by one and not the other. Underneath every blustering Tyrant is a scared Weakling. And underneath every cowering Weakling is a Tyrant waiting to explode.
The King seeks to integrate all the other archetypes and all good principles in order to reach his full potential–so that he may use this energy for a higher purpose and to bless the lives of others.
This concludes our series on the archetypes of the mature masculine. I hope you got something out of the articles.
So how much credence and focus should you give to these archetypes? Well obviously their existence cannot be proven–only speculated about. And I do believe that the main focus of a man’s life should be on practical ways to take action. But pondering the more esoteric stuff is what guides you in determining what those actions should be. These archetypes represent one way–a very helpful way–of organizing those meditations and can lead you to a more productive exploration of who you are and what kind of man you want to become.
by BRET, 2011 - 2012, http://artofmanliness.com