Man &

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 month’s 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 it’s 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 procreators.

Great men manifest a selfless capacity for hard work, risk- taking, courage, and endurance.

  • Mature men embrace these roles in order to nurture their families and build their communities.
  • They are community bulwarks against natural and human foes.
  • Where able to accumulate wealth, they share it liberally.
  • 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 procreator—David Gilmore, in his Manhood in the Making, notes that the pattern is consistent.

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 we’ll be calling Generative Man. A generative man may be

  • communist or capitalist
  • industrialist or peasant.
  • an animal-rights advocate or a whale hunter
  • and is as much a poet as a soldier.

While a man’s 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, Gilmore’s “manhood” and Erikson’s “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 generativity.

According to Don Browning’s analysis of Erikson, Generative Man’s 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 world’s 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 Man’s 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 Gilmore’s 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 nature.

As Browning says, “To generate and maintain a world, but in such a way as to include and yet transcend one’s own issue, one’s own family, tribe, nation and race -- this is the essence of the generative man . . .”

A man who has accessed the King properly demonstrates Gilmore’s “manhood” and Erikson’s 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 man’s 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 within.

“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. Moore

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Contemporary man has rationalized the myths, but he has not been able to destroy them. - Octavio Paz

Dr. Robert 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, The Warrior Within, The Magician Within, The Lover Within, The Within Quartet: King, Warrior, Magician, Lover; The Archetype of Inintiation: Sacred space, ritual process and personal transformation; The Magician and the Analyst: The archetype of the magus in occult spirituality and Jungian analysis; and Facing the Dragon: Confronting Personal and Spiritual Grandiosity. Also an audio with Malidoma Some, John Lee and Robert Bly called Who Welcomes the Newborn to this World? African and Western Perspectives. His most recent book is The King Within: A revised and expanded edition Accessing the King in the Male Psyche.

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