06: Archetypes cont’d

with 5 comments

And of course, one does not need to look to the pre-history of mythopoetic men’s movement literature to see this pre-occupation with violence, as Moore and Gillette’s book indicates. As I mentioned before, Moore and Gillette deal equally with the four archetypes of King, Warrior, Magician and Lover. However, when the book was first written, far more attention was given to the conspiratorially-flavored King and Warrior archetypes than to the Magician and Lover. Two decades later, mobilization of the Warrior archetype by far outstrips all other archetypes and can be found in a range of men’s movement contexts such as The ManKind Project, counseling and group work, and a range of alternative spiritualities, whether of an earthy nature (such as Paganism) or corporate nature (such as Integral Spirituality).

Moore and Gillette’s presentation of the Warrior archetype would be funny were it not intended so seriously, and it is no surprise that such literature was lampooned at the time by satirists such as Alfred Gingold and his book Fire in the John: The Manly Man in the Age of Sissification. The appeal to swords and sandals movie soundtracks and Yul Brynner genuinely make it appear as if they are playing for laughs, but it is a tragedy rather than a comedy, because so many men continue to take them seriously by appealing to the “Warrior within.”

I find it deeply disturbing that questions such as, “What accounts for the popularity of Rambo, or Arnold Schwarzenegger, of war movies like Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket and many, many more?” can be answered with the assumption that the Warrior archetype is natural in all of us. At the very least, equal consideration must be given to the answer that we have been systemically conditioned into violence by the conspiracy. Indeed, it seems like something of a conspiratorial cover-up that such a question is not given adequate consideration by writers with otherwise serious and clever backgrounds.

This is the way the conspiracy works: the blindingly obvious is routinely overlooked and replaced with what, on examination, are quite absurd suggestions that are commonly accepted as true. As I reiterate repeatedly throughout this text, when something appears to be natural, we are often witnessing the conspiracy conditioning our understanding of how masculinity is defined. In the current context, there is plenty of awareness that the Warrior is a problematic model to follow, as demonstrated by the need to routinely qualify it by such terms as “peaceful warrior” or “noble warrior.” But warriors are what warriors do, and that is facilitating violence and death. But such is the effective conditioning of the conspiracy that even those who identify a problem would rather soften or sanitize the Warrior than reject it out of hand, which is by far the most sensible thing to do.

What this qualification also suggests is that the task at hand for an individual is to identify with the “spirit” or “essence” of an archetype rather than fully embodying it, which can lead to problems, or what is referred to as the “shadow” of the archetype. However, there are no effective strategies provided for how to achieve this, and knowing when enough is enough: it relies on individuals knowing what is “wrong” and what sensibly resides in the “shadow.” However, given that everyone has different values, and even smart writers such as Moore and Gillette do not ask necessary and blindingly obvious questions about why things are the way they are, such “knowing” is rife with danger.



Written by Joseph Gelfer

July 5, 2011 at 10:38 am

5 Responses

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  1. Thank you for unpacking Warrior here, and refusing to allow “Spiritual Warrior” credence. I have been struggling with the notion for years now, since it seems every spiritual writer has embraced it. Even Debbie Ford, rest in peace, uses the Spiritual Warrior lingo.

    I attempted kung fu class with my husband and son, and both son and I had a hard a time willingly suspending disbelief that we could be Kwai Chang Caine, despite my girlhood crush on him.

    I also relish reading the First People books by Katherine and Michael Gear. There is warrior archetyping aplenty along with the rest of the pantheon; I wonder if you are familiar with these anthropological novels and how they depict the lives of the people who first populated North America. i tend to relate most to the Acolyte Shaman that every book in the series holds as protagonist, perhaps this is the Magician archetype? I don’t know, since I have only grazed the surface of that book but my interest was piqued when I first heard of it.


    July 12, 2013 at 9:21 am

    • No, I don’t know the the First People books: I’ll check them out.


      July 12, 2013 at 9:27 am

  2. “But warriors are what warriors do, and that is facilitating violence and death.”

    Are you sure you’re not throwing the warrior out with the bathwater? I would like to offer a counter-definition, that a warrior is someone who becomes entangled in war, and seeks to end it.

    Even the most committed pacifist sometimes finds themselves the target of someone else’s desire for war. The conspiracy claims that the only ways to end a war are to “win” by conquer (kill or enslave) the opponent or to “lose” and accept death (or slavery, or even just a beating), in either case tacitly supporting the ideology of “might makes right”. Surely to step outside of the false dichotomy offered by the conspiracy is to become a different kind of warrior, one that looks for non-violent and preferably zero-sum (win-win) ways to end such wars. The kind of warrior Greenpeace had in mind when they named their flagship the Rainbow Warrior. The kind of warrior Dan Millman writes about in the Way of the Peaceful Warrior:

    Of course such a warrior could be female or male, and is not necessarily masculine or feminine.

    Danyl Strype

    October 3, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    • Shite! I just had a proper look at that link I posted and realise it’s another example of an author who has turned into a Personal Transformation salesman while I wasn’t looking (I’m thinking of our email discussion of Ken Wilbur). I did find the Way of the Peaceful Warrior a touching and useful read while I was trying to integrate undergraduate university studies and tai chi practice 😉

      Danyl Strype

      October 3, 2011 at 11:43 pm

      • Damn those Personal Transformation salesman 😉 I have no problem with the counter definition of warrior you suggest in terms of function, but I would still reject the term. Why call it warrior when it is defined just as easily be something else, and when retaining warrior serves the majority who will use it to leverage conspiratorial themes? I would rather reject terms (with all their baggage) than try to salvage them.


        October 4, 2011 at 6:16 am

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