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 If we keep growing, he becomes a restless, searching, ego-driven Son/Prince who challenges outdated standards and risks breaking old rules.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.
I too have suffered from despair since childhood. It began at the age of 11 when my father died. To this day there are many occasions in my daily life when I cannot get excited about something because I know it will not last and my pleasure will not last and I will die and nobody will care and nothing I have done will make any difference, and so what?