The King & Queen

An Exploration of The Archetypes.

I’ve written before on the concept of the Archetypes of the masculine soul. Robert Moore’s framework for understanding a Jungian theory of the structure of the human soul consists of recognizing that there are 4 primary archetypes or potentialities of the masculine soul, balanced by 4 archetypes of the feminine soul. One of the tasks of individuation is for a man to recognize and integrate their repressed feminine qualities. Similarly for women, to recognize and integrate their repressed masculine side.

The archetypes are ‘The King, Warrior, Magician, and Lover’, and Moore has an excellent and accessible book by that title. These 4 archetypes have been an incredibly useful framework for understanding Norse Mythology throughout our episodes of Between Two Ravens podcast.

To understand what the gods and characters in the myth represent archetypically, also then helps to provide images and examples of what the archetypes look like within ourselves.

Moore’s system is particularly helpful because it recognizes the “shadow” forms of each Archetype. When we do not have a strong or secure connection to these “powers” or human potentialities, then it becomes a Shadow form. The King becomes the Weakling or the Tyrant. The person who refuses to acknowledge that he does have potential (maybe because it is “not good enough” so therefore refusing to see that he has any potential). Or the person who really believes he is a king, and thinks he gets to take power over other people without any limit or consequence. 

The theory is that The King is only The King when he is balanced by The Warrior, Magician, and Lover. Without limits the King becomes a Tyrant. 

The King is also not truly the King unless he has a Queen.

And this is not necessarily a human woman. Ideally, it should not be projected on a human woman. No human can live up to being an archetype for you. You need to find that power in yourself.

But what does that look like for a woman to find “The Queen within” herself or for a man to find “The Queen within” himself?

Moore doesn’t give a specific answer. For one, he acknowledges that he is a man, so he leaves it to women to better define the structure of their soul. But he also acknowledges that Toni Wolfe, a contemporary of Jung, gives an archetypal structure quite parallel to his. The Queen, Warrior, Magician, Lover. In her terms, the Queen is the Mother, The Warrior – the Amazon, the Magician – the Medium (or Seeress) and The Lover – The Hetaira. Moore also recognizes the contemporary analyst Jean Shinoda Bolen as describing a Jungian Feminist perspective, using the 7 Greek Goddesses as the 7 potentialities of the female psyche (‘The Goddess in Every Woman’).

The Child (Princess, Damsel), The Mother, and The Wise Old Woman are a common trinity of feminine archetypes in mythology and pagan spirituality. The Amazon Warrior is less commonly represented in the traditional stories of Western culture, but she does appear at times. Joan of Arc. Wonder Woman. Toni Wolfe and Jean Shinoda Bolen recognized that the female Warrior is not a woman being masculine, but rather a potentiality of Warrior within the feminine spirit. To me, the best representation of this is the Greek Goddess Artemis. The huntress and protectress of innocents.

In modern times, the feminine Warrior is often constellated, either in obviously ‘warrior’ type roles of soldiers or police officers, or in any “career woman”. It is an important archetype, but, as for any archetype, the extreme can be unhealthy. Moore identified himself and his “workaholic” nature as being too close to the Warrior. The risk is disconnection, from the wholeness of your true self, and disconnection from other people.

The King, as Moore describes it, has 3 primary characteristics.

  • He ‘stewards’. He has power, but it is not power for its own sake or his own sake. It is power actually used and preserved for the good of others. And not just the good of your few buddies and wealthy shareholders. For the good of “Cosmos”. 
  • The King provides order. Too much order feels like tyranny, but not enough order feels like Chaos. We might not like order sometimes, but if it is truly Justice, then it is for the good of the collective, even if it inconveniences us personally. It is the idea of tough love. I’m not giving you the answer that feels good, but it’s the answer that is actually for your own good.
  • Finally, the King blesses. Other than the religious sense, what does a blessing look like? It is when the King, or Father, sees you, and you feel seen. You have been noticed by someone who has power, and that gives you a certain kind of power and value. When you really feel seen you do not need to continually prove your worth to maintain their favor. They have seen a value in you that cannot be taken away.

Every child deserves to be seen that way. And if it is not by a parental figure, then maybe it can come from a teacher, coach, or mentor. 

The Mother comforts, holds, and protects. But the Father sees a value that gives a separateness and independence. In the modern world, it may often fall to mothers to express both the archetypal Mother and Father for a child. It’s very important for a mother to express this quality of seeing the value in their child. But there is still something unique, particularly for boys, in being seen as valuable by other men. It is also a question of boys seeing men and knowing, on a deep level, what is it that men do?

Robert Bly (who was both inspired by Robert Moore and an inspiration to Robert Moore), talks about one notion that masculinity has died as the Warrior has died. There is rarely an appropriate time or place to express aggression towards an appropriate cause. To defend one’s family or country. In modern warfare, thousands can be wiped out by machine guns, missiles, or weapons of mass destruction without ever having to look another person in the eye and see the humanity of what is being destroyed. In the best case scenario aggression is mostly sublimated into athletics.

There is a role for aggression, to stand up for one’s self, without the need to take power over others. But it is not just about glorifying aggression and the Warrior.

Bly’s second point, which I really appreciate, is that masculinity and fatherhood died with the industrial revolution. Boys no longer get to watch their father’s work on the farm or work in a trade. Men go to the city to work and boys go to school (often predominately taught by female teachers). There are a couple hours when the father returns home from work where he has an opportunity to share something with his child, and ask how their day was. But you don’t get to “see” the work of a man. You don’t get to feel what it is they do and how they do it.

Or dad comes home, eats dinner, cracks open a beer to relax and watch TV and goes to bed. 

On Between Two Ravens, Shawn asked me, “David, are you saying Masculinity is under attack?” As I finished reading ‘Iron John’ by Robert Bly I had a good answer for him. Masculinity isn’t under attack. It’s already dead. The modern controversial ideas about a war on men, or feminism making men the enemy. The enemy isn’t masculinity. If feminism means asking for women to have rights equal to men, then patriarchy is the enemy, if patriarchy is defined as the Shadow form of masculinity. The insecure masculinity, that lusts to have power over others. 

Robert Bly says, and I agree, that very few people know what mature masculinity looks like anymore. You might be able to intellectually explain it, as I am attempting to here, but have you seen it? Have you felt it? It is not enough to intellectually know it, but can you know it by experiencing it on a physical level? 

As Diogenes the Cynic would inquire about the streets of Athens: “Where can I find an honest man?”

Where can we in modern times find an image of a good man?

I don’t think I actually have an answer for you, other than that I think it requires balance (temperance). Much like the Virtues of Stoicism, courage is not Courage unless it is tempered by Wisdom. If it is truly Wise, then it is also Just. 

The Warrior is only the Warrior if he follows the King. The King is only the King when he is also The Warrior, Lover, and Magician. 

A man is only a full man if he is a King-Warrior-Magician-Lover. 

It also requires constant vigilance (Prosoche) and a commitment to self-awareness to remain in balance and not be consumed or possessed by an archetype. There are plenty of examples in the media of Shadow Kings, Shadow Lovers, Shadow Warriors. They can use the excuse “I’m a man, and this is what men do”, but they are not actually in touch with true masculinity if their actions are not for the good of the Cosmos, but rather for their own ego. If the actions are not done with love. The Shadow Lover is ruled by his passions. The true Lover is in touch with his passion, but ruled by The King. 

You can’t kill the Shadow. It is part of you, just as much as all of your good traits are a part of you. But you can balance it. You can be the one in charge.

But what of the Queen? As difficult as it is to construct a healthy King image, what is a positive and useful Queen image? 

Robert Moore and Robert Bly both acknowledge that it is a very important question, but one that they leave for another place and time. 

But if a mature man is a King-Warrior-Magician-Lover, and a mature woman is a Queen-Warrior-Magician-Lover, then a full self is made up of the marriage of the King and Queen (the hieros gamos as Jung would say). Difficult enough to imagine the King, and the Queen, but now also imagining a healthy marriage. 

The archetypal image of King and Queen from Greek Mythology are Zeus and Hera, and they are not an image of a happy marriage. Zeus is the King, inflated with power and he can do whatever he wants, and have any woman he wants. He is constantly shape shifting and seducing women and trying to keep it hidden from his wife Hera. Hera is the bitter wife who never holds Zeus accountable, but rather punishes and tortures the mortal women seduced by the King of the gods. It’s quite a shadow image that appears as Hera being powerless, and left to excuse her husband’s behavior because of the power she derives from being married to him.

There is a moment in the mythology where Hera has had enough and she is leaving Mount Olympus. Zeus realized he’s pissed of Hera for the last time and the kingdom will suffer without her presence. He stages a fake wedding to his latest “new bride”. Hera arrives to express her fury, only to realize Zeus staged the fake wedding as a gesture to ask Hera to marry him again.

Despite the perpetual stereotype which is the marriage of Zeus and Hera, there is also a message within the story. That the King does have to “submit” sometimes. The King is not all powerful. The true King is supposed to submit to God. Maybe he can first learn to submit to the Queen, the Goddess.

I’ve attended enough weddings to notice that men of an older generation really get a kick out of mentioning “You know, the bible says wives have to submit to their husbands.”

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

Ephesians 5:22-24

It’s interesting the same people usually do not mention the following line:

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Ephesians 5:25

I’d be curious how the words “submit” and “love” work out in translation, and maybe it’s a bit idealistic of me to read the second part as “husbands, also submit to your wives, just as Christ gave up his life.”

If there is anything positive I can take from Ephesians, it is that you need to learn to submit. You need an image of what it looks like to humble yourself. And someone has to go first. But you also have to trust that the other person will humble themselves in return. It doesn’t have to be the woman to go first.

Moore suggests that it may be best to look to women to define The Queen archetype. If it’s hard for a man to define The King, and equally hard for a woman to define The Queen, what hope does a man have of making sense of The Queen? I’ve learned a great deal reading authors like Toni Wolfe and Jean Shinoda Bolen. But I also want to give a stab at it, because it is the task of a mature individual to make sense of the contra-sexual archetypes within the self and try to make some sense of how to integrate them.

As I pondered on it, I found one image that I think helps.

Our human royal images rarely seem to have an equality of power between the King and Queen. The King is in charge and the Queen is at best second in command (except for chess, where the king limps weakly across the board trying to keep himself alive while the queen slaughters the masses from a distance, but I digress). 

For the Archetypal royal couple there is meant to be an equality where both are equally necessary. The King Archetype is closely related to the Father archetype, just as the Queen Archetype is closely related to the Mother Archetype. But there is something the Queen does different from the conventional image of the Mother. 

If the King is holding court and blessing the people, what is the Queen doing? The Queen is a standard to live up to. The Virtues are often described as female. Lady Justice. Sophia or Prudence (Wisdom). Andrea (Courage). The Norse have a whole line of goddesses representing virtues (although they rarely get speaking lines in the myths). Lofn for grace, Var for truthfulness and keeping oaths, Vor for wisdom and awareness, and Snotra for prudence and moderation.

In this scenario, the King has to strive to be worthy of the Queen. And just as the King blesses, and sees the value in his subjects, the Queen blesses the King and sees him as worthy. 

Just as with the King, the Queen looks at you and you feel seen. 

To step out of the archetypal realm for a moment, it is quite an image for a relationship where a woman looks at her man and sees something wonderful about him. To see his value. And not to see “what have you done for me lately” or a need to continually prove his value. See him in a way where he feels seen.

He needs to be a man who lives up to that expectation and has a value of character that is something to be seen. And she has to be willing and able to see it and know what she is looking for.

And you can take biological gender out of the equation for a moment. It can go both ways. That the King sees something similar in his Queen, what makes her worthy of being a Queen.

As with any Archetype, you don’t need to get this from another person. Ideally you don’t project that expectation on another person. It’s quite a burden to bear. But it is wonderful and terrifying when the archetypes show their faces for even a moment.

The goal then, as I see it, would be to understand that aspect of the Anima within yourself. Not just the inner Mother, to nurture yourself, but the inner Queen that sees your value as well.

And then the question is, when you see that gold within yourself. What do you do with it?

As I’ve found myself getting healthier, a bit less wounded in my soul. 

The goal of seeing the King within yourself is not just about seeing your own grandeur.

It is about gaining the ability to bless others.

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David Alexander

Psychotherapist | Writer

David Alexander is a practising psychotherapist based in New Mexico, USA. He started studying Greek Stoicism in 2020 as part of a journey of self-discovery and searching for answers about how to practically help myself and others endure the challenging times we are living in. He found Stoic Philosophy to be a useful jumping-off point to explore important questions: What is Human Nature? What is your Nature? It is towards this goal, to “know thyself,” that David started studying Carl Jung’s theories regarding the structure of the psyche (soul) and the workings of the unconscious mind. His goal in studying integrative disciplines of psychology, philosophy, and mythology is to better understand the self, thereby learning to better understand others.

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