The Hero’s Journey ~XI~

It is enormously difficult for a human being to develop into full potential. 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 to build up the pyramids of first boyhood and then manhood that constitute the core structures of our masculine Selves. The ancient Maya seldom destroyed earlier structures from their cities pasts. Like them, we do not want to demolish the pyramids of boyhood, for they were and will always remain generators of power and gateways to energy resources from our primordial past.

But we need to get to work laying courses of stone over those old terraces and stairs. We need to build, brick by brick, toward the goal of mature masculinity, until at least we can stand on the high platform at the top, surveying our realm as “Lord of the Four Quarters.”

There are a number of techniques we can use in this construction project. Analysis of dreams, the re-entering and changing of our dreams, active imagination (in which the ego, among other things, dialogs 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, magical ritual process with a spiritual elder, various forms of spiritual discipline, and other methods are all important to the difficult process of turning boys into men. 

The four major forms of the mature masculine energies that we have identified are the King, the Warrior, the Magician, and the Lover. They all overlap and, ideally, and rich one another. A good King is always also a Warrior, Magician, and a Lover. And the same holds true for the other three.

The boy energies also overlap and inform each other, as we’ve seen. The Divine Child naturally gives rise to the Oedipal Child. Together they form the nucleus of whatever will be beautiful, energetic, related, warm, caring, and spiritual in the man. The boy’s Ego needs the Precious Child’s perceptiveness to help distinguish itself from these energies. And all three give rise to the Hero, which breaks them free from the dominion of the “feminine” unconscious, and establishes the boy’s identity as a separate individual. The Hero prepares the boy to become a man.

There’s a saying in psychology that we have to take responsibility for what we’re not responsible for. This means that we are not responsible (as no infant is) for what happened to us to stunt us and to fixate us in our early years when our personalities were formed and when we got stuck at immature levels of masculinity. Yet it does us no good to join the chorus of the delinquents in West Side Story as they plead their case against society and leave things at that.

Ours is a psychological age rather than an institutional one. What used to be done for us by institutional structures and through ritual process, we now have to do inside ourselves, for ourselves. Ours is a culture of the individual rather than the collective.

Our western civilization pushes us to strike our on our own, to become, as Jung said, “individuated” from each other. That which used to be more or less unconsciously shared by everyone – like the process of developing a mature masculine identity – we now must connect with consciously and individually. It is to this task that we now turn.

~ Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine, p. 43-44; 45.

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