King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine
Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette
This is an absolutely spectacular answer to a lot of societal gender issues–not the only answer, mind you, but an excellent tool to have in your self-development arsenal. This includes women, too (I’ll get to that in a minute).
The four archetypes in the title are covered both in adult and juvenile versions, in brief in the first chapter, and then the mature archetypes get an entire chapter dedicated to each. Both the positive, healthy aspects, and the Shadow aspects, are covered. The language is wonderfully easy on the eyes, conversational without losing content.
As I read, I found myself recognizing a lot of the traits of these archetypes in people I knew–and myself. I strongly urge everyone, not just men, to snag a copy of this. It’s not just so that women can finally “understand men”. It’s because this is also a map to the Animus, that within women which is male, and which is often lost track of. I found myself nodding in recognition at both Boy and Man traits of various archetypes that I found to be familiar within myself, and this has definitely given me more to chew on.
And, in the very back of the book there are several meditations that basically amount to what magicians know as pathworking and invocation for readers to use to work with their own archetypal selves. This is very much a valuable tool, and I’m surprised it hasn’t gotten more mention in the pagan community since I’ve heard grumbling now and then that paganism is too female-centric. This book has been out since 1990, and I think it would go a long way in helping not only pagan men, but (as I said before) people in general understand *human* psychology better.
I also like that it places responsibility at the foot of certain threads of feminism for some of the more recent anti-male sentiments in society, particularly that which blames all men for all the problems women have while vehemently denying that men actually have problems, thanks to their male “privilege”. My own approach to feminism had always been similar to Action Girl – Girl-positive and female-friendly — never anti-boy. While I think the work is far from being over, I’m less of a feminist these days and more of an “everyone-ist”. If we’re going to really bring equality into reality in any capacity, we have to extend that equality to everyone, not just women. I’ve talked to enough men who aren’t exactly happy with the bad conditioning and pigeonholes they get stuck into, and I believe that rather than trying to place the blame for the way things are in the hands of one sex or another, it needs to be directed at the culture in general that breeds insecurity. As the authors pointed out, patriarchy isn’t caused by masculine energy in general–it’s caused by immature masculine energy that is not only anti-female, but anti-mature male as well. This book is an excellent tool for deprogramming the destructive, immature masculine and helping to promote the healthy, creative masculine.
Okay, off my soapbox now….
For the bad parts–the authors refer to sadomasochism as “perversion” and male humiliation of women. Um, no. Ignore this part. It’s one of the few parts that does date the book. Also, I really wish they’d gone into more detail on how to work with the archetypes, instead of a couple of paragraphs at the end of each chapter. There are books for at least three of the four archetypes on their own, but they’re out of print and very expensive to get ahold of.
But, in short, really, really, really good book, recommended to anyone.
Five pawprints out of five.
Want to buy this book?