Is Masculinity in a state of crisis?
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 potential causes of which are many.
It could 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 today's 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 the pull of the void & heroically 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, signifying nothing."
Time and time again, no matter how far I have sunk, I have always 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.
Your hidden allies
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 non-verbal symbolic representation of human behaviour. Certain archetypes, over the span of human evolution, have become deeply embedded within our psyche.
They are, as Jung wrote in The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche,
“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. An archetype is something we understand but we don't quite know how.
For the purposes of helping you become a powerful man, we turn to only four of them as detailed through the work of Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette in their outstanding book: King, Warrior, Magician, Lover.
The Four Archetypes
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. In my work as a coach, I have learned 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 on your journey?
Developing Your Hidden Powers
When I first discovered these archetypes, they didn't initially resonate with me. It felt too "out there" and impractical.
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.
For the warrior, you might take up a martial art or practice your assertiveness.
For the magician, take up a creative hobby such as playing an instrument. Start reading more and commit to integrating your knowledge to find creative solutions to the problems in your life.
To develop your lover, regain your sensitivity to the world by quitting sources of distraction for a predetermined period of time (30 days or so).
And lastly, to develop your king energy, work on becoming aware of your core values and commit to living by them. Find a few role models or advisors and regularly seek their council on the important matters of your life.
Closing The Book
In this article, I outlined a basic understanding of the archetypes and practical guidance for how to develop them in your life.
For a more complete understanding, read King Warrior Magician Lover by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette.