Dream Symbol: The King


Did you ever dream about a king or other powerful leader and wonder why? Throughout history kings and queens in the outer world have represented the mysterious force that creates and sustains life. This force has two basic drives: self-preservation (masculine) and species preservation (feminine).
The drive for self-preservation compels us to promote our individuality, protect our physical lives, and guarantee the prosperity of the “tribe” on which we depend for survival.  The King archetype is a symbol of this drive. In terms of our inner growth, Jung saw the King as a symbol of individuation, or becoming differentiated from our social groups.  Together, the King and Queen represent the masculine and feminine authorities of the psyche.
We enhance our chances for survival when everyone agrees to certain guidelines and standards that encourage orderly, responsible behavior. To that end we look to leaders with strong King archetypes to devise, enact, and enforce rules. Healthy King energy uses clear and logical  thinking to create fair and just rules in systems of hierarchical authority. Unhealthy King energy is either too obsessive or passive to truly care about others and therefore wreaks havoc in families, schools, businesses, churches, and nations.
Examples of men upon whom we project the King archetype include leaders at the top of social hierarchies such as fathers, school principals, CEO’s, generals, presidents, ministers, priests, and popes; historical kings such as Caesar, Louis XIV, and Henry VIII; mythical god-images associated with kingly authority like Zeus, Thor, Hades, and King Neptune; and kings in stories and legends like King Midas, King Arthur, The Fisher King, The Lion King and his negative counterpart Scar.
Women with well-developed King energy include Maat, Egypt’s goddess of justice, truth, and law; Themis, the Greek goddess of equity, law, and peace; the Cherokee’s Grandmother Spider; Japan’s Sun Goddess Amaterasu; and human women like Cleopatra, Catherine de’ Medici, Catherine the Great, Mary Queen of Scots, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, Janet Reno, Hillary Clinton, Judge Judy, and decisive, authoritarian, rule-oriented mothers.
Dream themes associated with our King address rules, crimes, morality, authority, order, leadership, and individuation. Two King dreams are especially auspicious.  An old King dying to make way for a new one says we’ve outgrown our childish dependence on outer authorities and are assuming our personal authority.  A wedding between a King and Queen suggests the conscious integration of our inner opposites.
Dream symbols that refer to our King include all the examples above plus other powerful authorities like dictators, governors, prison guards, police men and women, judges, lions (the king of beasts) and stallions. We learn more about the strength and health of our King energy by noticing the way these dream figures treat us and others, and by how our dream ego feels and behaves when we are in their presence or in positions of leadership ourselves.
In waking life, the problems we experience as leaders and the way we feel about and respond to those with authority over us can be traced directly to the maturity of our personal King and Queen. It is important to integrate both forms of energy into our awareness so we can choose the best possible leaders,and so we ourselves can live, speak and lead with wisdom and benevolence.
Has a King ever showed up in your dreams?  I’d love to hear about it.


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0 Responses

  1. I had a dream where the king was my favorite writer G.K. Chesterton and the queen was Mary the Mother of God the were both crowned and sitting on thrones side by side eachother. I then walked up the stairs to their thrones, and jenuflected before them. At the end of the dream some of my friends asked where I was; a girl then told then that I had been adopted by the king and queen.

    1. Hi Nick,
      Thanks for sharing your dream. If it were mine, I’d feel pretty good about it. I’d think that the fact that you adimire and respect these people suggests that the King and Queen archetypes are well developed in you and that you have a healthy relationship to issues about authority, leadership, and morality in your inner and outer world. I love it that they adopted you. I would think that the qualities you associate with Chesterton and Mary would be well developed in you; otherwise, why would those two specific people showup in your dream? It all sounds very positive.
      Sweet dreams,

  2. Does this in some way explain the malaise in our society right now? Do we need a strong leader to feel good about ourselves?
    It seems to me that Democrats are disappointed that the President has not been out in front seeming to make things happen—though many things have been happening behind the scenes.
    Republicans, on the other hand, cannot seem to find a consensus around a leader for their party.

    1. Dear Skip,
      This is a great insight, and a perfect explanation for the discontent experienced by many of us in today’s political climate. The King and Queen archetypes are about the need every individual, family, group, tribe, city, and country has for guidance and help in satisfying our basic need for nurturance. We all need food, clothing, shelter, safety, societal order and meaningful work that will help us acquire these things. It is very difficult to do it alone, so we expect our leaders to help us. This is why we choose them. When they cannot, we all suffer, not only as individuals, but as societies.
      Perhaps this problem, painful and difficult as it is, has an up side, however. In the face of a legislative system that is being rendered ineffective by polarized opinions and an inability to dialogue and compromise, perhaps we will be forced to become psychologically mature enough to activate our own inner Kings and Queens, thus assuming more personal responsibility for not only our own welfare, but for everyone in our groups. What we most need to remember at this crucial time is that we not only belong to family groups and political parties, but also national, international and planetary groups.
      My desire to do my bit to contribute to this outcome is why I write this blog. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment.
      My best,

    1. Hi Sierra, I have no way of knowing what this means to you personally, but on an archetypal level, the death of the old king in mythology means that an old form of masculine authority has died to make way for a new, healthier, more youthful form of masculinity. This could be a metaphor for something happening in your inner life, like a new attitude toward masculinity, or something in your outer life, like no longer being subjected to a masculine authority that once thought it was in charge of you in some way. The number two suggests conflict: two tombstones two dead kings, the death of some kind of conflict between opposing attitudes toward masculinity? Only you can know what this might mean to you on a personal level. I hope this helps. A man in a woman’s dream also suggests an aspect of her own masculine side, called the animus. Jeanie

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