Masculinity is currently in a state of quiet desperation.
It causes me anguish to write that in my home country (the UK) suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45.
The causes if this are endlessly debatable. It may be that it's because men don't talk about their feelings. It could be because of the way men are conditioned. Maybe it's also because of the increasing complexity of todays world and the mounting pressure on men to find their way with practically no guidance.
As curious I am of the reasons, I am far more interested in what we as men can do for ourselves on an individual level to overcome what I call "the pull of the void" . To triumph heroically over the suffering of existence and live a life that truly matters.
I make no secret of the fact that I have sunken into the depths of the abyss. I have been through phases of viewing the world as a meaningless void of chaos and pain.
This sense of inherent meaninglessness has been echoed by even the greatest minds across the centuries. Even Shakespeare seemed to struggle with this same issue, as he wrote in Macbeth:
"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Time and time again, no matter how far I have sunk, I have found a way out and I will continue to do so until my last day.
It is one such way that I would like to share with you in this article in the hopes that it can guide you towards becoming a truly heroic man.
There are dormant powers that lie within you. Parts of you that reside so deeply within your mind that their existence is a complete mystery to you.
These parts of you are commonly called archetypes, a concept deriving from the work of swiss psychologist Carl Jung.
An archetype, is a pattern of human behaviour that, over the span of our collective human evolution has become deeply embedded within our psyche, usually represented as a figure or a symbol.
Almost all human behaviour is guided by archetypes.
“Archetypes,” Jung wrote in The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche,
“are the living system of reactions and aptitudes that determine the individual’s life in invisible ways.”
Examples include: Mother, Father, Child, Tyrant, Wise Old Man etc.
But for the purposes of helping you become a truly heroic man, we turn to only four of them as detailed through the work of Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette.
Your Four Hidden Powers
The warrior confronts adversity directly through acts of courage and bravery. The warrior, in a mature man shows up as powerful assertiveness, decisiveness & aggression. The warrior has a strong sense of purpose and direction.
The magician is a thinker and a creator. The magician can take a situation or set of circumstances and find a solution. The creative man who can make the seemingly impossible possible. The magician can find a way out when things are confusing and chaotic.
The lover experiences beauty, joy, feeling and passion. The man who can feel an inner connection to the world and those around him. The lover is deeply connected to his senses and feels deeply. I would guess that The Lover is the most likely archetype to be deficiently expressed in a man.
The king is the grounded, centred rock in a crisis. His actions provide for others and create order from the chaos. The king is the one whom others turn to for providence and protection. The king is the overseer of his kingdom and nourishes those within it. In many ways, this archetype is the most important to develop because it encapsulates the other three and serves as the mediator between them, much like a king who has many advisors in his council.
Now that we have a basic grasp of your four hidden powers, a question remains.
How do you make use of this knowledge to guide you towards being a truly heroic man?
Developing Your Hidden Powers
When I first discovered these archetypes, it didn't initially resonate with me. It felt too "out there" and impractical, possible how it feels for you in this moment.
But as time went on, I would find myself turning to them for inspiration and direction almost intuitively. Over time I have developed two key practices for developing these archetypes to their full effectiveness, which I will share with you below.
Practice One - Find Role Models For Each Archetype
We learn from emulating behaviour. To simply read about these archetypes is not enough, it's essential to actually see them being played out by people in real life and use their behaviour to guide and inspire us.
Contemplate each archetype deeply. Take out a pen/paper and write down some people in your life who embody that archetype. This can be a person close to you or a popular figure, provided it has some inspirational effect.
Practice Two - Find Actions That Exercise Each Archetype
A theoretical understanding of the archetypes is not sufficient to bring about a change in our lives. Remember, an archetype is a symbolised pattern of behaviour, not merely a concept or an idea.
In order to find the dormant warrior or the lover within you, real action and change in your behaviour is what is required.
Here are some examples of actions that may give expression to each archetype below:
- Take up a martial art.
- Set an ambitious & aggressive short term and commit to achieving it in a given time frame.
- Make a list of all the things that you are currently avoiding, and commit to confronting them head on.
- Begin consistently practicing assertiveness (don't take any shit from people).
- Take up a creative hobby such as drawing, painting or playing an instrument (I began learning how to make hip hop beats for this purpose).
- Begin a practice dedicated to self-knowledge (such as journaling or meditation).
- Find what problems need resolving in your life and accept responsibility for solving them.
- Read great books and contemplate what you learn.
- Remove sources of chronic sensory distraction in your life (social media, excessive video game use, junk food).
- Commit to the lived practice of mindfulness in your life. Derive joy and satisfaction from the small things (morning coffee is great for this).
- Listen to an album from start to finish (when was the last time you did this?).
- Go to a coffee shop and people watch. See the life buzzing all around you. People living complex and interesting lives. Know what a miracle it is to be alive at all (because it is).
- Find a mentor or support group (a good king seeks the council of others).
- Develop an understanding of your core values and commit to living by them.
- Establish an overarching plan or vision for your life that would benefit not only yourself but those close to you, strangers and the world as a whole.
- Strive to become independent, both financially and emotionally.
- Develop discipline by scheduling your day.
- Exercise resilience to the temptations of impulsive pleasures by remove these things for a controlled period (nofap for 30 days, no porn etc).
Closing The Book
There's a basic understanding of the archetypes and practical guidance for how to develop them.
For a more complete understanding, check out the Art Of Manliness Masculine Archetype Series or read King Warrior Magician Lover by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette.