Archetypes are psychic structures that live in team human.They’re part of human nature and we see them everywhere in old stories and just below the surface in new stories too. They’re as recognizably human inside as our arms and legs are recognizable outside.
While Carl Jung popularized the study of archetypal psychology earlier in the last century, a simple and practical classification for them was developed later on by American Jungian psychoanalyst Robert Moore with collaborator Douglas Gillette. Together they wrote the groundbreaking book King, Warrior, Magician, Lover. It was an introduction to the mature masculine psyche. While there are important differences between women and men, these four, the Sovereign, Warrior, Magician and lover are common to us all.
Both women and men can work equally well with these archetypes and develop natural abilities there. The coaching system I’m schooled in, 4Gateways, has a learnable and practical way to do this. Working with all four is useful because, like an individual in a family or team, each individual gateway reflects and contributes to the others. Together they form a psychic whole.
Right now I’m most interested in the Warrior aspect but because they’re a whole, each of the others has to be considered as well. Here’s how that looks in a session:
The seeker puts two pieces of paper or objects to represent two opposing sides of the issue; for example, I want to do X . . . but if I do then Y will happen. Then the speaker steps back so “he” can have a relationship from the perspective of each of the four archetypes: Sovereign, Warrior, Magician and Lover. He does this by physically moving around to each quadrant of a four quadrant circle. In each he asks questions that the mature side of that archetype is interested in and needs to know. Because they’re his answers, the seeker is teaching himself from the inside, evoking his own soul wisdom. This can be done alone but it’s helpful to have a buddy or coach along because we often can’t see for ourselves what is obvious to others. It’s one of the paradoxes of spiritual work that we do the work ourselves and are helped by others.
Typically, somewhere in the process of asking the questions and looking at the situation from multiple perspectives, a light goes on. The seeker sees something he hasn’t noticed, often in a quadrant he tends to ignore.
The quadrant that interests me most these days is the one I think is most overlooked in the world: the Warrior. It’s much easier to take in ever more information (which the Magician loves), to explore with others in heartfelt ways (which the Lover and the Sovereign like), to meditate and practice Presence (which the Sovereign relaxes into) than it is to move into the Warrior, take concrete action and change the course of our lives and the world around us.The various forms of consumption are easy and tempting diversions from Warrior work; they don’t ask you to seriously consider whether action is needed and what and when.
I’ve often stopped shy of Warrior work in my own life. My book, Evolutionary YOU is the Magician‘s perspective on what’s needed from the Warrior. It’s a wonderful book on the hidden loyalties that keeps us blind from seeing where we need to go. But it doesn’t take you there.
Activating the Warrior is needed though and in so many different ways. The Warrior is important for both women and men in the low-level gender conflict going on in most of the western world. (More about this in a separate post.) The Warrior’s skill at holding clear and non-blaming boundaries has a vital role in the political sphere and question of borders (think immigration and refugees), in questions of privilege and “decolonization,” censorship and free-speech. The ability to hold our ground and risk speaking (or deciding not to) is also a Warrior discernment. Young men and women need healthy warrior energy to find what’s true for them as opposed to doing what ill-informed but well-meaning adults would have them do.
The world of consciousness exploration often skirts around the issue of warriorship too. Standing in our Warrior is part of how we serve in a time of change, but its often treated as too hot to handle.