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King, Warrior, Magician, Lover

(KWML) archetypes of the

mature Masculine

Eivind Figenschau Skjellum

A brief introduction to the KWML archetypes of the mature


The seminal work by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette that underlies this article.
As any man with life experience knows, life is a constant struggle wherein the desired goal is our
attainment of inner peace as well as the ability to give and receive love fearlessly. On this journey of
discovery and growth, there are many forces within us that battle for attention. Our personality is not
a single entity with one homogenous voice as much as it is a variety of different voices that battle for
dominance. Sometimes unfamiliar voices may shock or delight, and sometimes worn out voices may
become so irritating, so jarring, so profoundly removed from what we want to hear, that we come to
hate ourselves.

One of the most important types of work we can can do in our growth into maturity is to identify and
befriend these voices, so that they find and relax into their rightful place in what becomes an
increasingly integrated psyche. Maybe we must tune some voices down, others a little up. Maybe we
must make the baritone into a soprano, the bass into a tenor. Whatever voices are within us, our
primary mission in life is to conduct them from being a cacophony to being a beautiful and powerful
choir. Such important work requires a powerful framework, a model for teaching, learning, and
living. That is why we will now dive into the deep waters of the archetypes known as King, Warrior,
Magician, Lover (KWML).
Jung did very important, revolutionary work on the archetypes and the collective unconscious. In his
work he speaks of the anima, the feminine within us, and the animus, the masculine within us. He
further expounds that the anima and animus have four stages of development. And while these
stages probably warrant an article unto themselves, Jung is merely mentioned in this context as a
facilitator for the discovery of the KWML archetypes. Jung described four stages in his model, from
immature to mature: Eve/Adam, Helen/Planner, Mary/Professor, Sophia/Guide as stages of an
evolutionary path whereby the last stage is more evolved then the first. The KWML-model, on the
other hand, attributes equal importance to all archetypes, claiming no superiority of one over
* However, depending on cultural conditions, some archetypes may be more needed than others.
However, as outlined in the book King, Warrior, Magician, Lover - Rediscovering the archetypes of
the mature masculine by Douglas Gillette and Robert Moore, there is a clear line drawn between
immature archetypes - boy psychology - and mature archetypes - man psychology. In boy
psychology, there is in the model a clearly delineated path of evolution, which yields to a more open
landscape with the onset of man psychology. Additionally, within each of the four archetype axises, is
not only an immature and a mature stage, but a pyramid structure of the boy and of the man wherein
we find the integrated archetype at the apex, and active and passive bipolar shadow aspects in the
left and right corners (fig. 1).

Fig. 1: The KWML model

It is important to recognize that when we are not in conscious relationship with an archetype, we are
automatically ruled by its bipolar shadow. And when we are ruled by the shadow archetype, we tend
to switch back and forth between the active and passive poles, completely at the mercy of events.
What we learn from this system is that healing and integration becomes possible when we recognize
that one archetype dominates too strongly in our psyche, and must be balanced by another, or when
we recognize that the archetypes we animate are sourced in the active or passive shadow poles, as
opposed to the integrated and mature aspect.
Now, let's take a brief look at what makes a boy before we look at the man and his archetypes up

Understanding the Boy

The differences between a boy and a man should be apparent, but in our current cultural climate, we
seem to have lost this understanding. Boyhood has come to dominate the male population of
Western culture, and manhood discarded as dark, destructive, scary, and problematic. The boy has
been pushed to occupy the space left behind by the man - something he is not ready for - and his
values of youth, physical vitality, and beauty come to dominate. He has been celebrated through
diverse cultural phenomena, such as the boyband, young, rebellious athletes, the irresponsibility and
don't give a damn-attitude proselytized by the advertising industry (look no further than Coca
Cola Zero adverts), the take-what-I-want-and-fuck-you-if-you-try-to-stop-me of parts of the music
industry, the self-serving ways of young stockbrokers and real estate agents etc, the wave of movies

in which immature men are turned into poster boys, the admiration of heroics, the celebration of
youth over wisdom etc. The list goes on.
The problem with this is that we end up with a very limited view of masculinity, one rooted in
insecurity and the desire for sex, fame, money, and power. We become so uprooted in ourselves,
separated from our true core, that we define ourselves through external factors. We must recognize
one basic fact: The boy is the slave of his ego. He often has little control over his nervous system,
and fries his life energy on pointless mental pursuits and drama. He is the guy who can't sit still and
can't tolerate silence. He is the guy who freaks out from prolonged eye contact. He is the guy who is
easily insulted, who tries very hard to be seen (or equally hard not to be), who fishes for love and is
easily hurt. He is the guy who has little structure and integrity in life, and who - despite his myriad
claims to goodness - won't stand up for a friend in times of need. It's not that he doesn't want to do
the right thing. It's that he is not able to. His life is in disarray and he is completely under the spell of
the feminine, and is happy only as long as mummy is close. This is the subconscious mother, the
archetypal mother, the feminine as a whole - not necessarily the biological mother. The purpose of
the Hero archetype, the last archetype of boyhood psychology, is to break free from this bondage to
the Feminine.
The first three archetypes of boyhood psychology are: The Divine Child, the Precocious Child, and
the Oedipal Child. These, as well as the Hero, will be featured in detail later on. For now, I choose to
focus on the man.

Understanding the Man

The hero's journey - the last step on the evolution of boy psychology - finally takes the boy into the
realms of the man. This, however, often comes at great cost, and is often preceded by a time of
existential crisis, what Robert Bly refers to as ashes work. In the legends, the story always ends
when the hero returns having slain the dragon, rescued the princess, and received the kingdom as
reward. It doesn't describe the enormous difficulty the hero has settling into his adult responsibilities
as king, and doesn't investigate his ability to stay faithful to his new queen, or his inclination to throw
it all away - all those nasty responsibilities - to ride into the world on his trusty stallion once more.
We said that the defining characteristic of the Boy is his enslavement to his ego. The defining
characteristic of the Man is his mastery of it. The Man has subjugated his ego and turned it
into an ally. This is impossible unless the crisis of ashes has first been lived or worked through. Any
boy who is to become a man must feel his fearful way through the utter pointlessness of everything to
serve the world. And it is of course exactly because our lives are so safe and comfortable that most of
us never grow up to serve, never leaving boyhood behind.

Let's look at the archetypes of the man, starting with the King, before we move on to the others. What
follows are effectively summaries of the chapters in Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette's book.

The King
The King is the source of order in the kingdom. If he is a wise and just king, the kingdom prospers,
people eat well and are safe from harm. In the kingdom of the wise king, laughter rings through the
lands, the crops shoot up high, joyful celebrations keep the woods awake, merchants travel with
overflowing carts to lively markets. The king is the harmonizing principle, the subjugator of chaos,
the uniter of opposites. He is the channel through which the gods communicate, and he channels
divine blessings to his people and the lands (to whom he is wed). He is selfless, and puts the good
of his people above his own needs. When the King grows weak, darkness threatens the borders of the
kingdom, the sun disappears from the sky, and the crops wither and die. When the king dies, he
knows, he is merely replaced by another in a lineage of divinely blessed kings, which humbles him
(remember the saying The King is dead, long live the King).
In the psyche of the man, the King archetype is the central archetype, around which the rest of the
psyche is organized. If the King energy in us is weak, our psyche falls in disarray, and chaos threatens
our lands. The man who is constantly overwhelmed by life - who can't seem to find harmony or order
- must develop the King energy, often in conjunction with Warrior energy to protect his borders.
The two main functions of the King are:

Live according to the Tao, the Dharma, the Word, and the lands will flourish


Bring fertility and blessing. The King is the masculine equivalent of the Great Mother,
and he is wed to the lands. The king's vitality and sexuality directly reflect on his kingdom.

The Shadow King: The Tyrant and the Weakling

The Tyrant is the active pole of the Shadow King. The Tyrant, unlike the King, is not the
harmonizing center of the kingdom, and his power is so fragile that he hates with a passion all new
life; the beauty and purity of a mere baby boy threatens the Tyrant's rule. He does not realize that a
King is merely a channel, and wants the power to be associated with himself. He will even develop
godly pretensions to cover up his enormous insecurity. His degradation of others and all beauty is
limitless, as everything good, true, and beautiful reminds him of his own shortcomings. He is
extremely sensitive to criticism, and will be deflated by the slightest remark, responding with rage,
when what he feels is fear and vulnerability.

The Weakling is the passive pole of the Shadow King. He is not centered in himself and lacks
inner peace and harmony, and is prone to paranoia. He suspects that those around him are disloyal,
and his fear of betrayal will inevitably cause him to switch over to the Tyrant to control them.

The Magician
The Magician is the wise man, the sage, the knower of secrets. He sees and navigates the inner
worlds, he understands the dynamics and energy flows of the outer. He is a master of technology,
engineering, mathematics, mysticism, and logic. He reads the stars, navigates the soul, and writes
the laws. In the legends, he is the King's close advisor, who stops the regent's anger with cool
rationality before he acts rashly and channels to him knowledge from hidden sources. The Magician
is the thinker, and all knowledge that requires special training is his domain. The Magician has the
capacity to detach from events - the chaos of the world - and draw on essential truths and resources
deep within him. He thinks clearly in times of crisis, and enables us to take a broader view of things.
He governs the observing ego, and is the meditator that reveals the truth of the universe, the shaman
who communicates with the ancestors and stars

The Shadow Magician: The Manipulator and the Denying

Innocent one.
The Manipulator is the active pole of the Shadow Magician. He works in covert ways to
undermine others. He withholds crucial information, and deliberately sets others up so as to appear
inferior to himself. The specialist knowledge he possesses makes him feel proud and gives him a
feeling of being better than. That feeling is all he lives for, so he is not prepared to share his
knowledge, unless the price is right (and even then probably withholding crucial details). He will
rather use it as a weapon, ready to strike when the impact is the most devastating.
The Innocent one is the passive pole of the Shadow Magician. He wants the status
belonging to a true Magician, but he doesn't want the responsibilities. He doesn't want to be
burdened with helping, of setting up sacred space for others' learning. His main focus is to learn
exactly enough to sabotage those who are trying their damndest to make a difference, so that no
other man will achieve that which he is too lazy to strive for. He is envious of the vitality of others,
because he is so flat himself. Whenever confronted with his elusive and destructive behaviour, he
responds who, me?. He is a master at manipulating others into thinking that it really wasn't his
doing, a carefully crafted puppet theatre conducted behind the smokescreen of the Manipulator.

The Warrior
The warrior is a powerhouse of energy, the source of which is a transpersonal commitment. He is
fiercely loyal to his warrior code - which is his honor - and to the king, who mythologically represents
his purpose. The warrior is not concerned about his own comfort and security in pursuit of his goal,
as his training teaches him to live with death as his constant companion. The domain of the Warrior

is the battlefield - be it a battlefield of war, of spirituality, or of moral ethics. The Warrior's purpose is
often to destroy, but the mature warrior destroys only that which is negative and harmful to the
world. He is a master tactician, knowing at all times his limitations, and finds creative ways around
them. The warrior is not a thinker, he is a doer. Thinking is his enemy, because it inhibits his ability
to act swiftly and with force. He trains himself not to think, and becomes a master of his mind,
attitudes, and body. The warrior is detached from life, with an almost infinite ability to withstand
psychological and physical pain in pursuit of his goal. He is a little unhuman, always chasing his
next big goal, always putting emphasis on his mission as opposed to his relationships.

The Shadow Warrior: The Sadist and the Masochist

The Sadist is the active pole of the Shadow Warrior. The Warrior's detachment from life
leaves the door open to cruelty. The Warrior is most vulnerable in the area of relationships, where he
must constantly stay vigiliant of his mind and emotions. They must not be repressed, but be under
control, lest cruelty sneak into him while he isn't looking. The Sadist hates weakness and
vulnerability, which is a projection of his hidden Masochist, and will take great glee in tormenting
those unfortunate souls that remind him of his shadow. The Sadist directed inwards has people
running themselves into the ground out of deep anxiety. They have low sense of self-worth, and will
endure great self-torment on their way to burnout.
The Masochist is the passive pole of the Shadow Warrior. The Masochist projects Warrior
energy onto others, and experiences himself as impotent and vulnerable in their presence. He is
unable to defend himself psychologically and allows others to manipulate and mess with him. A man
might endure enormous amounts of abuse until one day he might snap, and percolate back to the

The Lover
The lover is finely attuned to the realm of the senses and worships beauty. He is a musician, poet and
artist, and a lover of all things, both inner and outer. He is passionate, and delights in touching and
being touched. He wants to always stay connected, and does not recognize boundaries. He wants to
experience the world as one ongoing big orgasm of hearts uniting as One. He is the mystic who feels
everything as himself, and the source of all intuition. Through his feeling capacity, he is finely
attuned to people's energy, capable of reading them like an open book. His desire for love and
connectedness considered, feeling into other people and discovering dark intentions is a painful
experience for him. He is opposed to all structures that maintain separateness - of all law and order
that keep hearts lonely and isolated. He is, in other words, opposed to all the other archetypes. The
Lover is crucial in keeping the other archetypes energized, humane, and in touch with the ultimate
purpose of love. The Lover keeps them from turning dark.

The Shadow Lover: The Addicted and the Impotent Lover

The Addicted Lover is the active pole of the Shadow Lover. He is constantly searching for
the fulfillment of his sensual desires. A true hedonist, he throws himself into a neverending and
exhausting search for sensual fulfillment, without ever really knowing what he truly looks for. He is
pulled around by circumstances and his constantly shifting desires, never finding rest. A woman
here, a women there, then music, art, fine wine - whatever keeps his sensual side alive. The Addicted
lover has not solidified in his internal structures, and will forever hunt for the attainment of his
desire, helplessly shackled to the desire for union with Mother (the realm of sensory experience is the
realm of the Feminine).
The Impotent Lover is the passive pole of the Shadow Lover. He is chronically depressed,
and feels cut off from himself and others. He loses his zest for life, his energy all but gone.He is
sexually inactive, and will withdraw from all demands that are placed on him and his sexuality. If his
partner becomes too demanding, requesting a sex life from him he is uncapable to offer, his feelings
of imprisonment may propel him out of the relationship and onto the endless road of addiction that
is the domain of the Addicted Lover.

Working with the archetypes

A September 2010 addition to this article, this conclusive part on working with the archetypes is
needed for the reader who actually wishes to go further with this information. I have experienced
something remarkable in studying the archetypes where most conceptual learning has a tendency
to make me feel heady and intellectual, reading about the archetypes has an odd pull downwards
and inwards. It's as if these ancient voices of archetypal, mythical men wants me to descend into the
subterranean parts of my inner world. When I learned that the reptilian brainstem lights up when
the archetypes activate in a person, it made perfect sense to me; these energies are ancient.
The quality of tuning into this material is unlike anything I have ever felt before and I have studied
a lot by now. My experience is that if we let ourselves soak in this material let its wisdom seep into
our pores we will become prone to recognizing archetypal patterns in our daily lives. In that
context, it's vital to note, as previously suggested, that lest we have a conscious and mature
relationship to the archetype, we are ruled by its bipolar shadow. In other words, the man who says
such a thing as "I have no need for the Warrior archetype" is by default ruled by the bipolar
sadist/masochist. A peace-loving, Warrior-denying hippie may for example be really strong on the
masochist, touching his inner sadist on his more violent days.
Similarly, a stern, authoritarian patriarch faced with the challenge of expressing appreciation of
beauty may think that is "for faggots". Unfortunately, that will make him sexually impotent and/or
frustrated and then when he's tired of that, he may swing into the position of the Addicted Lover
(sometimes this is the point at which a homophobe may "come out of the closet", which may or may
not be an authentic expression of his sexual identity. See American Beauty). It's a painful fact that

anything that is not brought into light ends up controlling our lives from the shadows. What we resist
So in actually working with the archetypes, awareness of them is as always the first step. While an
information product on how to work on the archetypes in our daily lives is in the pipeline, I want to
outline a few practices and give some brief advice on how to identify which of your archetypes are
healthy and which ones aren't (we will often mature in the four archetypal quadrants in parallel, but
there may be some discrepancies).
If you draw a blank when feeling into any of these archetypes, chances are its bipolar shadow is
running your life. So that is the home work for now: pick one of the practices below (which facilitate
growth and integration) and use them to develop that archetype in you which is most in need of
growing up. And if you are so inclined, come back when more material is made available here. The
newsletter (signup form in the sidebar) will help you keep up to date.

King: Start a men's group. Host a dinner party. Do a presentation in which you care more
about the interiority of the members of the audience than looking good. Start seeing the impact
you have on other people's wellbeing and tune into the feeling that the people around you are
citizens of your very own kingdom. They are in your care.

Warrior: Take up martial arts. Exercise. Engage in a confrontation you have postponed.
Always tell the truth. Maintain perfect integrity. Work on maintaining good boundaries.

Magician: Do DIY engineering projects. Study the stars. Study the KWML archetypes. Study
anything. Build a small laboratory and get to know the world of chemicals. Take up spirituality in
order to penetrate the mysteries of the Cosmos. Teach something.

Lover: Express your appreciation of beauty. Take up dance lessons. Do sensuality practices.
Turn sex into your art. Listen to music that moves you (yes, move with it) and make really
enjoying it a practice of presence (many people who "enjoy music" use it as a distraction from life.
In practicing the Lover archetype, you should not). Start playing an instrument. Sing.

These are but a few ideas. Trust your intuition and get started. You cannot afford to let this
opportunity pass you by.