The Challenge of Kingship for Contemporary Men
Kingship? How much a part of your contemporary
concept of the mature masculine has to
do with being a king? Kings have too
often gotten a bad rap.
As I presented a portrait of The
Generative Man in last months column, I
acknowledged that my description of Optimal
Manhood may have a somewhat culture-specific
coloring, but I have found that the underlying
manhood structures remain trans-cultural.
Indeed, my research has shown that the qualities
most cultures identify as masculine in
most historical epochs are remarkably consistent.
Whether its the kings of myth and history,
the big men of New Guinea, the muy
hombres of Spain, or the worthy men of
the Samburu -- all are protectors, providers, and
Great men manifest a selfless capacity
for hard work, risk- taking, courage, and
- Mature men embrace these roles in order to
nurture their families and build their
- They are community bulwarks against natural
and human foes.
- Where able to accumulate wealth, they share
- They are expected to be energetically sexual
and to foster the next generation.
While there are local emphases on one or another
of the different functions of this transcultural
understanding of manhood--protector, provider, or
procreatorDavid Gilmore, in his Manhood in
the Making, notes that the pattern is
The evidence from several other fields of study,
makes plausible, even compelling, the idea that
these traits of manhood are a transcultural
expression of the archetypes of mature masculinity
and, ultimately, of the incarnated King.
From Gilmore we can take a transcultural
perspective concerning the ideal mature masculine
Self, one well be calling Generative Man. A
generative man may be
- communist or capitalist
- industrialist or peasant.
- an animal-rights advocate or a whale
- and is as much a poet as a soldier.
While a mans lifestyle and work, under the
best of circumstances, will reflect his
generativity, Generative Man is the foundational
aspect of every man in every culture and the
closest parallel that modern psychoanalysis has
offered for the archetypal King.
Generative Man is a term
coined by the psychoanalyst Erik Erikson. In our
view, Gilmores manhood and
Eriksons Generative Man are two
similar ways of viewing the King. The man
appropriately accessing the King is the protector,
provider, and procreator for his people and his
world--whoever and wherever they may be.
Generativity is the true basis for mature human
being. Besides procreation in the biological sense,
generativity includes all the products of the human
imagination-cultural, religious, technological, and
ecological. For Erikson, as for Jung, there is no
inherent conflict between the instinctual drives in
human beings and their psychological and spiritual
aspirations. The so-called higher functions of
human being arise out of our animal roots. Erikson
calls the archetypes action patterns,
and when they are not distorted by psychopathology
of one kind or another, their push is always toward
According to Don Brownings analysis of
Erikson, Generative Mans virtues are love,
care, and wisdom. As Browning says, The basic
trust and hope of the generative man . . . gives
him the trust not only to continue his own
existence but to share in the generation of
succeeding generations and to help care for and
sustain their lives with hope.
All the risks taken by a mature man and all the
wealth he accumulates are finally designed to care
for and sustain his family and community.
Ultimately, this caring and sustenance are intended
for his children, the worlds inheritors.
Trust and hope are products of strength and
maturity. Out of strength and maturity, Generative
Man can draw upon inner resources of autonomy and
will. Out of his autonomy and will, he desires and
has the capacity for intimate relationships. In
personal relationships, as far as the social
hierarchy will allow, he beholds the true worth of
others. He provides what Erikson calls a
confirming face. In other words, he mirrors
and blesses. This is certainly the case in the
male-bonded egalitarian brotherhoods that Gilmore
examines. For Erikson, Generative Mans
relationships are not only intimate but societal as
well--he has the capacity and desire to make
meaningful contributions to the community.
All these qualities give a generative man a
viable identity. This identity incorporates
flexibility with integrity as well as with a
consolidated style of fidelity. Out of his
consolidated personality, a generative man is able
to make commitments to his family, to his society,
and ultimately to his God.
The initiated men of any society have
placed their personal concerns beneath those of the
larger social groups, and the social groups are
subordinated to a divine reality. To Gilmores
way of thinking, manhood can be either tribalistic
or universal in its general outlook and in its
visioning of its own tasks and duties. Real men,
for him, can function with a variety of definitions
of the greater good, from the most parochial to the
most expansive. However, Erikson goes a step beyond
Gilmore here. Erikson claims that Generative Man
must be a universalist. He must nurture his own
progeny, culture, and religion, as well as the
larger world of all human societies, and the
environment as an ecological whole. Generative Man,
for Erikson, balances the good of society with the
good of the planet by honoring both technology and
As Browning says, To generate and maintain
a world, but in such a way as to include and yet
transcend ones own issue, ones own
family, tribe, nation and race -- this is the
essence of the generative man . . .
A man who has accessed the King properly
demonstrates Gilmores manhood and
Eriksons Generative Man. The King calls every
man into an Ego-archetypal axial relationship. Men
who can achieve such a relationship are modern-day
embodiments of sacred kingship.
When a mans Ego is in the proper alignment
with the King, he achieves the humility of the
creature before its transpersonal source, its God.
At the same time he comes to realize that God is
If you knew me, you would know my Father
also, said Jesus. Jesus statement
illustrates an Ego in an integral relationship with
the inner King.
I will be talking more about the role of the
Ego, in partnership with the Great King, as we
struggle toward developing a balanced kingship in
our lives as contemporary men.
For more of the challenge of kingship for men
today see the newly released The King Within:
Revised and Expanded Text.
© 2007, Robert L.
* * *
Contemporary man has rationalized the myths, but
he has not been able to destroy them. - Octavio
Moore is an internationally recognized Jungian
psychoanalyst and consultant in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois, USA. He is the Distinguished
Service Professor of Psychology, Psychoanalysis and
Spirituality in the Graduate Center of the Chicago
Theological Seminary, where he recently founded and
become director of the new Institute for Advanced
Studies in Spirituality and Wellness. He is a
Training Analyst at the C.G. Jung Institute of
Chicago and Director of Research for the Institute
for the Science of Psychoanalysis. Author and
editor of numerous books in psychology and
spirituality, he lectures internationally on his
formulation of a Neo-Jungian paradigm for
psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. He is the author
of, among other books,
Archetype of Inintiation: Sacred space, ritual
process and personal
Magician and the Analyst: The archetype of the
magus in occult spirituality and Jungian
the Dragon: Confronting Personal and Spiritual
Grandiosity. Also an
audio with Malidoma Some, John Lee and Robert Bly
Welcomes the Newborn to this World? African and
His most recent book is The
King Within: A revised and expanded
edition Accessing the King in the Male
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