King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine - by Robert Moore, Doug Gillette

It can be said that life's perhaps most fundamental dynamic is the attempt to move from a lower form of experience and consciousness to a higher (or deeper) level of consciousness, from a diffuse identity to a more consolidated and structured identity.

In order for Man psychology to come into being for any particular man, there needs to be a death. Death--symbolic, psychological, or spiritual--is always a vital part of any initiatory ritual. In psychological terms, the boy Ego must "die." The old ways of being and doing and thinking and feeling must ritually "die," before the new man can emerge.

Jung and his successors have found that on the level of the deep unconscious the psyche of every person is grounded in what Jung called the "collective unconscious," made up of instinctual patterns and energy configurations probably inherited genetically throughout the generations of our species. These archetypes provide the very foundations of our behaviors--our thinking, our feeling, and our characteristic human reactions. They are the image makers that artists and poets and religious prophets are so close to.

There's a saying in psychology that we have to take responsibility for what we're not responsible for. This means that we are not responsible (as no infant is) for what happened to us to stunt us and to fixate us in our early years when our personalities were formed and when we got stuck at immature levels of masculinity. Ours is a psychological age rather than an institutional one. What used to be done for us by institutional structures and through ritual process, we now have to do inside ourselves, for ourselves. Ours is a culture of the individual rather than the collective. Our Western civilization pushes us to strike out on our own, to become, as Jung said, "individuated" from each other. That which used to be more or less unconsciously shared by everyone--like the process of developing a mature masculine identity--we now must connect with consciously and individually.


The King archetype in its fullness possesses the qualities of order, of reasonable and rational patterning, of integration and integrity in the masculine psyche. It stabilizes chaotic emotion and out-of-control behaviors. It gives stability and centeredness. It brings calm. And in its "fertilizing" and centeredness, it mediates vitality, life-force, and joy. It brings maintenance and balance. It defends our own sense of inner order, our own integrity of being and of purpose, our own central calmness about who we are, and our essential unassailability and certainty in our masculine identity. It looks upon the world with a firm but kindly eye. It sees others in all their weakness and in all their talent and worth. It honors them and promotes them. It guides them and nurtures them toward their own fullness of being. It is not envious, because it is secure, as the King, in its own worth. It rewards and encourages creativity in us and in others.

In its central incorporation and expression of the Warrior, it represents aggressive might when that is what is needed when order is threatened. It also has the power of inner authority. It knows and discerns (its Magician aspect) and acts out of this deep knowingness. It delights in us and in others (its Lover aspect) and shows this delight through words of authentic praise and concrete actions that enhance our lives. This is the energy that expresses itself through a man when he takes the necessary financial and psychological steps to ensure that his wife and children prosper. This is the energy that encourages his wife when she decides she wants to go back to school to become a lawyer. This is the energy that expresses itself through a father when he takes time off from work to attend his son's piano recital. This is the energy that, through the boss, confronts the rebellious subordinates at the office without firing them. This is the energy that expresses itself through the assembly line foreman when he is able to work with the recovering alcoholics and drug abusers in his charge to support their sobriety and to give them empowering masculine guidance and nurturing. This is the energy that expresses itself through you when you are able to keep your cool when everybody else in the meeting is losing theirs. This is the voice of calm and reassurance, the encouraging word in a time of chaos and struggle. This is the clear decision, after careful deliberation, that cuts through the mess in the family, at work, in the nation, in the world. This is the energy that seeks peace and stability, orderly growth and nurturing for all people--and not only for all people, but for the environment, the natural world. The King cares for the whole realm and is the steward of nature as well as of human society. This is the energy, manifested in ancient myths, of the "shepherd of his people" and "the gardener" and husbandman of the plants and animals in the kingdom. This is the voice that affirms, clearly and calmly and with authority, the human rights of all. This is the energy that minimizes punishment and maximizes praise. This is the voice from the Center, the Primeval Hill within every man.

As in the case of all of the archetypes, the King displays an active-passive bipolar shadow structure. We call the active pole of the Shadow King the Tyrant and the passive pole the Weakling. The Tyrant exploits and abuses others. He is ruthless, merciless, and without feeling when he is pursuing what he thinks is his own self-interest. His degradation of others knows no bounds. He hates all beauty, all innocence, all strength, all talent, all life energy. He does so because, as we've said, he lacks inner structure, and he is afraid--terrified, really--of his own hidden weakness and his underlying lack of potency. The man possessed by the Tyrant is very sensitive to criticism and, though putting on a threatening front, will at the slightest remark feel weak and deflated. He won't show you this, however. What you will see, unless you know what to look for, is rage. But under the rage is a sense of worthlessness, of vulnerability and weakness, for behind the Tyrant lies the other pole of the King's bipolar shadow system, the Weakling.


The characteristics of the Warrior in his fullness amount to a total way of life, what the samurai called a do (pronounced "dough"). These characteristics constitute the Warrior's Dharma, Ma'at, or Tao, a spiritual or psychological path through life.

How does the man accessing the Warrior know what aggressiveness is appropriate under the circumstances? He knows through clarity of thinking, through discernment. The warrior is always alert. He is always awake. He is never sleeping through life. He knows how to focus his mind and his body. He is what the samurai called "mindful."

The Warrior knows the shortness of life and how fragile it is. A man under the guidance of the Warrior knows how few his days are. Rather than depressing him, this awareness leads him to an outpouring of life-force and to an intense experience of his life that is unknown to others. Every act counts. Each deed is done as if it were the last.

Part of what goes into acting decisively in any life situation, along with aggressiveness, clarity of thinking, and the awareness of one's own death, is training. The Warrior energy is concerned with skill, power, and accuracy, and with control, both inner and outer, psychological and physical. The Warrior energy is concerned with training men to be "all that they can be"--in their thoughts, feelings, speech, and actions. The Warrior never spends more energy than he absolutely has to. And he doesn't talk too much.

Yul Brenner's character in the movie The Magnificent Seven is a study in trained self-control. He says little, moves with the physical control of a predator, attacks only the enemy, and has absolute mastery over the technology of his trade. That is another aspect of the Warrior's interest in skill, his mastery of the technology that enables him to reach his goal. He has developed skill with the "weapons" he uses to implement his decisions. His control is, first of all, over his mind and his attitudes; if these are right, the body will follow. A man accessing the Warrior archetype has "a positive mental attitude," as they say in sales training. This means that he has an unconquerable spirit, that he has great courage, that he is fearless, that he takes responsibility for his actions, and that he has self-discipline. Discipline means that he has the rigor to develop control and mastery over his mind and over his body, and that he has the capacity to withstand pain, both psychological and physical. He is willing to suffer to achieve what he wants to achieve.

The Warrior's loyalty, then, and his sense of duty are to something beyond and other than himself and his own concerns. The man accessing the Warrior is ascetic. He lives a life exactly the opposite of most human lives. He lives not to gratify his personal needs and wishes or his physical appetites but to hone himself into an efficient spiritual machine, trained to bear the unbearable in the service of the transpersonal goal. He is emotionally distant as long as he is in the Warrior. This does not mean that the man accessing the Warrior in his fullness is cruel, just that he does not make his decisions and implement them out of emotional relatedness to anyone or anything except his ideal. He is, as Don Juan says, "unavailable," or "inaccessible." As he says, "To be inaccessible means that you touch the world around you sparingly," with emotional detachment. This attitude is part of the clarity of the Warrior's thinking too. He looks at his tasks, his decisions, and his actions dispassionately and unemotionally.

The Shadow Warrior: The Sadist and the Masochist.


The Magician energy is the archetype of awareness and of insight, primarily, but also of knowledge of anything that is not immediately apparent or commonsensical. It is the archetype that governs what is called in psychology "the observing Ego." The Magician, then, is the archetype of thoughtfulness and reflection. And, because of that, it is also the energy of introversion.

The Shadow Magician: The Manipulator and the Denying "Innocent" One. The man under the power of the Manipulator not only hurts others with his cynical detachment from the world of human values and his subliminal technologies of manipulation, he also hurts himself. 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 his 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 his 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.


We believe that the Lover, by whatever name, is the primal energy pattern of what we could call vividness, aliveness, and passion. It lives through the great primal hungers of our species for sex, food, well-being, reproduction, creative adaptation to life's hardships, and ultimately a sense of meaning, without which human beings cannot go on with their lives. The Lover's drive is to satisfy those hungers.

The Lover is the archetype of play and of "display," of healthy embodiment, of being in the world of sensuous pleasure and in one's own body without shame. Thus, the Lover is deeply sensual--sensually aware and sensitive to the physical world in all its splendor. The Lover is related and connected to them all, drawn into them through his sensitivity. His sensitivity leads him to feel compassionately and empathetically united with them. For the man accessing the Lover, all things are bound to each other in mysterious ways. He sees, as we say, "the world in a grain of sand."

What ways of life manifest the Lover most clearly? There are two primary ones--the artist (broadly defined) and the psychic. The businessman who has "hunches" is also accessing the Lover. So are we all when we have premonitions and intuitions about people, situations, or our own future. In those moments, the underlying unity of things is revealed to us, even in mundane ways, and we are drawn into the Lover energy, which connects us with realities of which we are not normally aware. Any artistic or creative endeavor and almost every profession, from farming to stockbroking, from house painting to computer software designing, is drawing upon the energies of the Lover for creativity.

The Lover keeps the other masculine energies humane, loving, and related to each other and to the real life situation of human beings struggling in a difficult world. The King, the Warrior, and the Magician, as we've suggested, harmonize pretty well with each other. They do so because, without the Lover, they are all essentially detached from life. They need the Lover to energize them, to humanize them, and to give them their ultimate purpose--love. They need the Lover to keep them from becoming sadistic.

The Shadow Lover: The Addicted and the Impotent Lover. What happens if we feel that we are out of touch with the Lover in his fullness? We are then possessed by the Impotent Lover. We will experience our lives in an unfeeling way. We will describe symptoms that psychologists call "flattened affect"--lack of enthusiasm, lack of vividness, lack of aliveness. We will feel bored and listless. We may have trouble getting up in the morning and trouble going to sleep at night. We may find ourselves speaking in a monotone. We may find ourselves increasingly alienated from our family, our co-workers, and our friends. We may feel hungry but lack an appetite. Everything may begin to feel like the passage in the biblical book of Ecclesiastes that declares, "All is vanity, and a striving after wind," and, "There is nothing new under the sun." In short, we will become depressed.


  • Active Imagination Dialogue

  • Invocation

  • Admiring Men

  • Acting "As If"