Archetypes are elements that influence human thought and behaviour that gives rise to the similarities between the myths and religions of different cultures.
A book by psychologist Robert Moore and mythologist Douglas Gillette titled King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine, argues that masculinity is made up of four archetypal male energies which serve different purposes. The book argues that to become complete, a man must work to develop all four archetypes.
The result of striving to become complete is a feeling of manly confidence and purpose.
The archetypes of the masculine are:
These archetypes surface in mythology, folklore and in modern times film productions.
The warrior creates and supports stability. The Warrior uses his energy to face threats of violence from outside and threats of chaos from within. He must calm his own internal kingdom before he can face the predators that prowl outside.
With a calm mind, the warrior is able to act without hesitation or fear and maintain composure even as he stands under a barrage of missiles. It is his aggressiveness, his will to action, his mental alertness and strong stature that allows him to become the protector of his community.
The Magician drives us to understand hidden knowledge and truth. The Magician is grounded and present. He draws energy from his body rather than the commotion of his mind allowing his senses to enjoy the natural flow of the world.
He is deeply in tune with his intuition and is sensitive to his surroundings. He notices the vibrations of people’s thoughts and feels the change in their emotions. The Magician was known in ancient times as the mystic, sage or alchemist.
The Lover is the archetype of emotion, feeling, idealism and sensuality. His heart is open to the spirit of the world and he seeks to experience as many dimensions of life as possible, as often as possible.
The King is a balance of the other archetypes. The seat of the King is the heart. He directs and orders them so that he can become a divine channel of goodness to those around him. He is grounded and decisive. He lives with integrity, he provides order, he protects his realm, he inspires creativity in others.
Unfortunately, men today are indulging in the shadows of these archetypes. So, the word ‘toxic’ has been attributed to masculinity. But if the world is poisoned, it is no surprise that men have become poisoned also.
The male archetype consists of three parts described like a triangle: the full and highest expression of the archetype and two bi-polar dysfunctional shadows of the archetype. Each archetype has a mature and immature form. These immature archetype must fully develop to access the mature archetypes.
It is not masculinity that is toxic. Rather, it is the shadow expression of masculinity that is toxic. Brutalised children, born from cruel or absent parents who are not taught how to deal with the conflict between their unconscious and their emerging conscious will become, in one way or another, brutal adults. These ill-treated children will grow to be fundamentally insecure. They will not be able to maturely express their masculinity and will never outgrow the self-centred and egoistic impulses of the child, for they are merely boys pretending to be men.
Men and women possess both feminine and masculine archetypal patterns–this is the anima (feminine) and animus (masculine). The modern society suppresses the animus or masculine archetype within them and instead encourages men to get in touch with their “softer side” or their anima.
Problems seen with men today like violence, shiftlessness, indecisiveness, aloofness are a result of modern men not adequately exploring or being in touch with the masculine archetypes in them.