Nobody can describe the archetypes with any certainty because they are deeply unconscious. However, there are many theories based on research and careful observation of human nature. Mine is largely based on Jungian psychology. I see four main masculine archetypes—King, Warrior, Magician/Scholar and Lover—which serve our “masculine” drive for self-preservation and individuation. While the basic patterns of energy they represent are the same in every soul, their details differ across cultures. The way we see and manifest them matures as our egos grow through three phases of self-awareness and self-knowledge.
In the first phase we see our King as a cultural Father figure, protector, and preserver of law and virtue who leads us with clear thinking and hierarchical order. He is authoritarian and tradition-bound and questioning his law is taboo. If we keep growing, he becomes a restless, searching, ego-driven Son/Prince who challenges outdated standards and risks breaking old rules. In turn, the Prince can become a mature and wise masculine sovereign of the psyche who, like the legendary King Arthur, actively promotes healing change, order, virtue and justice in himself and society.
Our unreflective Warrior proves himself and acquires power and success by influencing others without concern for their feelings or questioning his motives, methods, employers or personal values. In the Son phase he struggles to channel his dynamic manifesting activity into work that uses his real talents and ideals. And in his final phase he is like a Hercules, Samurai Warrior, or Star Wars Jedi master who uses his expertise, self-discipline, courage, caring, and moral maturity to heal the broken, protect the vulnerable, defend human rights, and preserve every form of life.
The unreflective Magician/Scholar seeks release from delusion by processing information with focused consciousness and logical thinking. He prefers the objective to the subjective and the known to the unknown and keeps the two sharply separated. In his Son phase he questions tribal wisdom and pursues unorthodox ideas and ways of thinking. The mature Magician/Scholar is a reflective Wise Man like Hermes or Professor Dumbledore whose “magical” understanding of the visible and invisible forces of life enables him to be an effective thought leader who can transcend boundaries between people and worlds.
Finally, the Lover is the idealistic and passionate dynamic principle in relationships. In his unreflective phase he seeks emotional release and physical love and pleasure with little compassion or moral responsibility. As Son he treats his Beloved with less selfishness and moodiness and more responsiveness to her needs. The mature Lover is a playful, romantic, aesthetically aware and psychologically balanced lover of life. Like Dionysus, Lord Byron or William Blake he appreciates the beauty, worth and inspiration of femininity and honors it in himself and his partner.
The negative poles of the masculine archetypes can be as contemptible as the positive are commendable. The shadow side of the masculine drive for self-preservation abuses and destroys otherness. Whether in a male or female, a negative King is a morally rigid, biased, rule-oriented and uncaring tyrant; a Warrior is an abusive invader and wanton destroyer; the Magician/Scholar is a manipulative, duplicitous, and critical know-it-all; and the Lover, a perverted, hedonistic addict. But when all four are fully developed and partnered with equally mature feminine archetypes, the result is a profoundly powerful, uniquely creative, psychologically whole and spiritually enlightened being.
Next time I’ll address the basic feminine archetypes. Meanwhile, if you’re in the mood for a little inner work you might reflect on which of the masculine archetypes are more fully developed in you and which ones could use some growing.
Ego and God-Image: Part VI
[T]he most important relationship of childhood, the relation to the mother, will be compensated by the mother archetype as soon as detachment from the childhood
Hi Jean – how can we be sure that we ‘identify’ accurately if they are deeply unconcious? I think I know which I am … but… Can we know on a concious level? and do we change archetypes or just mature within an archetype over our lifetime? Thanks for this info. P.
Good question! Using the four basic archetypes as guides, we can begin to observe our attitudes, behavior, and peoples’ responses to us for clues as to how we’re using their energies. For example, if you avoid conflict to the point of letting others “walk all over you” because you’re afraid or unwilling to assert yourself, you can assume your attitudes about your Warrior need some balancing: i.e. you need to see and embrace more of the Warrior’s positive energy and make a conscious effort to avail yourself of it. You can also talk these things over with a dear one who loves you and will tell you the truth.
One of the best ways to get past your ego’s illusions about you are is to observe your dreams closely to see the words, attitudes, and behaviors of your dream ego and the men who show up. For example, if you have dreams of aggressive, obsessively ambitious, uncaring men that you don’t like, you can assume there’s a bit of your Warrior that’s like them!
So yes, you can train yourself to become more conscious of certain patterns of behavior that are associated with the basic archetypes. With this awareness—for example if you notice you’re starting to feel very angry and are in danger of exhibiting some destructive behavior toward another person—you can ask yourself why your Warrior is feeling or acting this way and choose to back off until you’ve figured out what’s really going on and then take care of the situation in a healthier way.
So I don’t think it was quite accurate of me to say that the the archetypes themselves actually mature. As images of our basic instincts, they will always be with us no matter how much we try to civilize them, and we’ll always be capable of acting on their destructive potential. But I do know that as I become more adept at noticing negative patterns of thought and behavior and making making thoughtful, healthy choices, my behavior becomes more balanced and mature. So yes, I would say that we can mature within an archetype over our lifetime.
Thanks for the thoughtful questions!
Thank YOU Jean for taking the time to respond with so much thought. I appreciate your shared wisdom. With love.
How does a doctor or a musician character fit with these masculine archetypes? I’ve dreamed of both and considered them animus characters or symbols of the Self? A wee bit confused here….bett
Another great question. I would say that the very attractive and positive men in our dreams are images of our animus (unconscious masculine) in general more than any specific masculine archetype. If the animus is made up of all four archetypes, then as our egos become more conscious and accepting of them, and as we make healthier decisions about how we use their energy, dream characters like this can be general statements about how we’re manifesting our masculine side. I’ve had doctors and musicians in my dreams too. I’ve interpreted the doctor as a symbol of my growing ability to tap into the healing potential of my animus, and the musician as a suggestion that my masculine side is manifesting more balance and harmony. Likewise, an artist would suggest that I’m making better use of my creativity, and so on.
Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger when it comes to being confused about archetypes! As I say, this is deeply unconscious territory and I’m certainly no expert. I’ve been working on this for years and still have many questions and misunderstandings about them. So I just keep trying and hoping I’ll get a bit clearer about them with time and experience.
Thank you for stimulating more thought about this!
After I’d sent my question, I reread your previous reply in which you said that archetypes are “images of our basic instincts” and the proverbial light bulb came on! I didn’t really get it before though when I looked back to previous posts you had said it, just not in those exact words!
My second lightbulb came in your reply to me with the words that “the animus is made up of all four archetypes” Now I get it even more! (You might have figured out that I’m the scholar most times!)
My next question is does each of the four masculine archetypes refer to a specific one of Jung’s instincts-nurturance, activity, creativity, reflection, sex- or does the archetype refer to different instinctual energy, and maybe more than one, in different dreams? The Lone Ranger(chuckle!)
I worked a long time to figure out the connection between the archetypes and instincts because I couldn’t find anyone else who’d come up with a theory about it. So I’ve created one that makes sense to me. I’ve written a little about it in my new book, but it won’t be out until this summer so I’ll give you a brief answer here.
As I see it: the King (and Queen) represent the instinct for nurturance (they nurture the healthy growth of societies); the Warrior (and Mother) represent the instinct for activity (his specialty is the activity of self-preservation, hers is the activity involved in species-preservation; the Magician/Scholar (and Wisewoman) represent the instinct for reflection; and the Lover (Beloved) represent the instinct for sex. I see the instinct for creativity as becoming more available to us as our ego becomes more conscious of our true interests and skills, and makes healthier choices about how to use the energies of the four other archetype pairs in healthy ways. For a longer answer I’d suggest you check out my book when it comes out! 🙂
I intend to do just that! Thank-you so much! bett
Hi, Jean, I appreciated this blog on the masculine archetypes. When you mentioned the Lover having the instinct for sex, could you not also include the instinct for spiritual connection/transcendence to what some refer to the Divine Lover or Beloved also? Gratefully Julie
Your question is right on. Yes, the ecstatic transcendent pleasures derived from sex and spiritual connection are essentially the same. This concept seemed a bit too complicated to expand on in this post, but I’ll happily devote another to it one of these days! Thanks for noting this unusual relationship; it’s not common knowledge. Julie