How Are Your King and Queen Working For You?


Instincts wield powerful influence over us in all areas of life. For example, everyone has an instinct for nurturance: We all need food, water, clothing, shelter, love, and protection from others who would take advantage of us. As children we cannot give these things to ourselves so parents and caregivers must assume this role. Later on, leaders like teachers and coaches nurture our talents and skills and channel our instinctual needs in healthy ways so that we will ultimately assume responsibility for nurturing and protecting ourselves and others. Society also takes a role by establishing and enforcing laws and providing helpful services.
Carl Jung said the archetypes are psychological images of our physical instincts. My research has taught me that the archetypes of King/Father and Queen/Mother are the primary representations of the instinct for nurturance. In the psyches of babies these images are like the empty outlines of the kings and queens you would find in a child’s coloring book. As we mature we automatically fill them in with different shades of expectations, emotions, and ideas about nurturing depending on our early experiences. Our personal images will then control us in all sorts of ways.
For example, if we are neglected, unloved or abused as children, we “fill in” our King and Queen patterns with the attitudes and behaviors of our caregivers. These images will then create problems for us as we try to nurture others, and as long as we depend on others to take care of us, we will consciously or unconsciously expect them to be neglectful, uncaring and abusive. We might actively rebel against them and their policies, or we might simply find it very difficult to trust them, even if they are nothing like our early caregivers.
Likewise, if our caregivers are tender, fair-minded and quick to respond to our needs, we will expect to be treated this way by everyone and will behave the same to them. However, if we are coddled to the point of being “spoiled,” we might expect those who take care of us— loved ones, teachers, employees, bosses, bankers, salespersons, waiters and waitresses, ministers, politicians and even God—to be equally attentive and we will be disappointed and angry when they are not. We will believe our responses are reasonable and justified, but they are actually dictated by our shadow King and Queen.
When we project a dysfunctional King and/or Queen onto those from whom we expect nurturing, our behavior is confusing to them and problematic for us. When they don’t give us exactly what we want from them—and many of our wants are unconscious or conflicting—we will misinterpret their words and motives and believe they are flawed or don’t really care. We will judge, criticize and sever relationships. We will look for someone else to assume the roles we gave to those we left behind: to understand us, help us understand ourselves, make us happy, take care of us in ways we want and think we deserve. If we can’t recognize the flaws in our thinking or see how immature and unrealistic our demands are, we’ll sabotage every important relationship we have.
So how do we assume responsibility for taking care of ourselves? How do we empower our own King and Queen? By committing ourselves to a regular program of inner work that will help us understand and accept our shadows. We are so much more than our egos know. It’s time they accept the fact that they share the house of the psyche with entities far more powerful than their puny little selves. Chief among these are the clear-thinking, justice-seeking King and the caring, merciful Queen, the sovereigns of our psyche. Their goals of lawful order and moral virtue within and without are ours to claim. Whether we do is up to us.

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  1. Within
    The old man stumbled, fell, and lay in the snow-covered road trembling. His body ached. His head turned from side to side, gasping. His breath was barely visible in the icy evening air. No one saw him crumple. No one saw him breathe his last as the winter night descended like a black and blue shroud. No one saw the snowflakes fall onto his open eyes. And as his soul quivered from the cage of his ribs and ascended, like smoke into the sky, two other beings rose from the shell: a king dressed in a white ermine cape with a flowing purple train, and a queen dressed in silk threaded with gold. They stepped free of his flesh and moved a few yards away.
    “Well,” said the king to his bride as he straightened his robe, “where to next?”
    “We need to find a kingdom,” replied the queen, “one we can be sovereign over, one we can help prosper.” She looked towards the soul of the old man, which stood like a grey, naked tree.
    “Sir,” called the king, “eh, sir?”
    The old man stared into eternity, dazed, eyes and mouth wide open, utterly alone inside.
    “My dear he doesn’t know what’s happened,” said the queen.
    “Should you tell him?” said the king.
    “Me? Why not you?”
    “The news might come easier from someone as beautiful as you,” smiled the king.
    “What shall I say?” she asked, “How can I tell him he never even knew we were inside him. How can I tell him that he could have lived another ten years in great happiness and personal freedom had he only sought our counsel? How can I tell him he is trapped where he stands until he is taken to the underworld by the beasts which have grown in his soul and that are now spreading from his bitterness into the ground?”
    “My queen, you are reading too much into his face. He’s just in shock. The transition was sudden and he’s just a little disoriented.”
    “No my king, look at his feet.”
    The king looked down at the spirit’s feet. From them poured roots, like so many chalky grey claws into the ground. The soul of the old man began to shudder. He looked down and screamed a silent scream.
    “Can we not help him?” shouted the king.
    “I am afraid not. He never wanted us before. That’s why he doesn’t see us now. No dear, he will be pulled under soon…”
    And as she spoke, the soul of the old man was sucked downwards like water in a drain. He whirled around, in a ghostly pirouette, arms lashing like branches in a storm. The roots pulled him down and within a few seconds he was gone.
    The king reached for the queen’s hand. They both wept and held each other.
    “Wasn’t there something else we could have done?” sobbed the king, “I mean while we were yet within him? Couldn’t we have called louder, given more signs and blessings?”
    “You are so kind,” said the queen stroking the king’s face, “but no. We tried speaking to him every day. We called him to his destiny, we heralded him to his dreams, but he refused to listen. He wallowed in his fears, resentments, and criticisms of others. He worshipped his prejudices and his bitterness. Once these grew into beasts within him, there was no room for us and for service to the world. There was nothing else we could do.”
    “So we did not fail him?”
    “No, dear king, we did not.”
    “What will become of him?”
    She nodded her head and smiled towards the old man’s dead body and said, “Watch.”
    The king looked at the wind-blown, snow-dusted husk of the man lying in the road and suddenly he heard a cry come from within the dead body. It was the cry of a baby. It was a cry of rage and of wildness. And as the king watched, the queen moved towards the body and bent low, offering her hand into the shell. The king winced as he saw her hand lower deeper into the man. Then a baby’s hand emerged and wrapped itself around her fingers. She carefully lifted the child upwards and drew him close to her chest. The baby quieted immediately and after he did, the queen kissed his head, whispered something into his pearled ears, and then stood him up beside her. He wobbled on chubby legs but remained standing. He wiped his eyes–his eyes of moons and stars, his eyes of eternal summer, his eyes of everlasting hope. He looked up at the queen and laughed the laughter of brooks and of wheat fields, of crystal snow falling, of the dawn. His eyes met the king’s. The king bowed low to the child. The child nodded his head and then looked at the place where the old man’s soul had been dragged into the underworld. And with a deep breath he walked to the hole and began singing the song of the morning sun as he climbed downwards into the darkness and disappeared. They listened as his voice echoed into the vast distances of eternity and space. And when they could hear the child no more, the king and the queen took each other’s hands and turned and walked across the startling snow covered landscape in search of souls that wanted to be free.

    1. Oh my, Joseph. This exquisite story brought me to tears…as most of your stories do, by the way! I especially love the creative ending: the birth of fresh new life after death entering the depths to redeem the lost soul. This is an extraordinary image that speaks to profound wisdom and universal truth. Thank you for sharing it here. How much you have learned in your journey, my Wounded Healer friend!
      You might be interested to know that I’ve used the same story-telling technique in my new book (“Healing the Sacred Divide” coming out in June). Sprinkled throughout my personal stories and psychological commentaries are several “Cosmic Dialogues” between God and Goddess. I look forward to hearing your reaction to them!
      By the way, I wish you the best of luck with your new book. Would you mind sending an internet address in another comment so my readers can find it?

      1. Thank you Jean, I am glad my stories are a part of your healing tears…That is a great honor, tears of healing are so needed in the world. I eagerly look forward to your book…Your posts inspire so much in me–of dear, what will happen when read your book? I will have enough inspiration to last years. The Muse is thrilled at the prospects.
        Thank you for the offer to link my book…the only link thus far is my blog…Here’s the latest, shameless sales pitch-link:
        Blessings and cheers on your new year.

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