Man &
Mythology
 

July
Your Ego Is Not the Villain


The key to Optimal Manhood is not, as some believe, to abolish the Ego. Instead a conscious and effective Ego has a central role to play in reaching mature masculinity. An initiated man is one who has developed the ego consciousness needed to take moral responsibility for the great forces in his psyche.

Mature man psychology has perhaps always been a rare thing on our planet. It is certainly a rare thing today. It is enormously difficult for us males to develop to our full masculine potential as human beings. The struggle with the infantile within us exerts a tremendous “gravitational” pull against achieving that full adult potential.

Nevertheless, we need to fight gravity by dint of hard labor and to build the “pyramids,” first of boyhood and then of manhood, that constitute the core structures of our masculine selves. Each of us needs to build, brick by brick, toward the goal of mature masculinity, until at last we can stand on the high platform at the top and survey our realm. Central to this construction project is not only understanding the building blocks, but developing the mature ego consciousness that can serve as “project manager.”

Building Blocks of Mature Masculinity

I see every man as having within him four powerful archetypal forces: a King, a Warrior, Magician, and a Lover. These four major forms of mature masculine energies fit together like the four sides of a pyramid. They all complement and, ideally, enrich one another – if we learn to regulate them properly to be a whole person: a good King is always also a Warrior, a Magician, and a Lover. And the same holds true for the other three.

These four archetypes are mysterious entities or energy flows. They have been compared to a magnet beneath a sheet of paper. As iron filings are sprinkled over the top of the paper, they immediately arrange themselves into patterns along the lines of magnetic force. We can see the patterns of the filing on the paper, but we can’t see the magnet beneath the paper—or, better, we can never see the magnetic force itself, only the visible evidence of its existence. The same is true of archetypes. They remain hidden. But we experience their effects—in art, in poetry, in music, in religion, in our scientific discoveries, in our patterns of behavior and of thought and feeling.

All the products of human creativity and human interaction are like the iron filings. We can see something of the shapes and patterns of the archetypes through these manifestations. But we can never see the “energies” themselves. They overlap and interpenetrate one another, yt they can be distinguished from one another for purposes of clarification. Through our inner work, they can be brought into conscious dialogue and “remixed” so that we can realize the desired balance among their influences in our own lives.

The Ego as Chair of the Board

Jean Shinoda Bolen has usefully suggested that we think of this process --untangling and isolating the archetypes and then remixing them and blending them -- as a well-run board meeting. The chair asks each of the officers to speak his or her mind honestly and openly about the question at hand. After all opinions have been heard and the matter has been thoroughly discussed, the chair calls for a vote, and the decision is made. Often the chair must cast the deciding vote.

Our Egos are like the chair of the board. And the board members are the powerful archetypes within us. Each needs to be heard from. The input of each archetype--King, Warrior, Magician, Lover-- must be invited and welcomed. But the whole person under the supervision of the Ego must make the final decisions in our lives.

How does our Ego consciousness learn to do this? What used to be done for us by society through largely unconscious tribal ritual processes, we now have to take on as our personal moral responsibility. Our Western civilization pushes us to become, as Jung said, “individuated” persons. Any adequate psychology for our time must be a moral psychology that aids us in taking personal accountability for the great (often grandiose) archetypal energies within us and for consciously building a mature masculine self.

Construction Project Tools

A number of techniques can help us in this construction project. Analysis of dreams, active imagination (in which the Ego dialogues with the energy patterns within, thereby achieving both differentiation from and access to them), psychotherapy in a variety of forms, meditation on the positive aspects of the archetypes, prayer, ritual process with a spiritual elder, various forms of spiritual discipline, and other methods are all important to the difficult process of training our male Egos toward manhood.

King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine introduces you to these energies within you as well as to these techniques for learning to regulate them in a balanced way.

This is the challenge facing us as men today. We must step up to the task of becoming the kind of man we wish we had had in our lives.

© 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. www.robertmoore-phd.com



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