Yesterday we talked about the tradition of initiation rites to help boys mature into men, and how archetypes can be used to help modern guys (deprived of social help) to mature themselves.
Today, we’ll skim over the archetypes of boyhood:
- The Divine Child
- The Hero
- The Precocious Child
- The Oedipal Child
And we’ll clear up what makes them different to their manhood counterparts:
- The King
- The Warrior
- The Magician
- The Lover
First: The Anatomy of An Archetype
Think of a triangle.
The peak is the archetype it it’s fullness – fully awesome, integrated, and consciously expressed.
The bottom half is the “Shadow”. One corner is the “Active Shadow”, and the other is the “Passive Shadow”. That’ll become clear later.
Put these four triangles together, and you’ve got a pyramid, the whole masculine psyche.
Squeeze a smaller pyramid inside it, and you’ve got the boy psyche inside the man psyche.
The higher up, the more you are your “Higher Self” – compassionate, inspired, dutiful. The further down, the more you are your “Lower Self” – scared, weak, selfish.
The closer you are to the centre, the “smaller” your consciousness and vice versa. For example, a man’s consciousness is wide enough to grasp the goings on of the world, and how his actions impact it. A toddler can only see as far as his bedroom wall while he’s playing there.
1. The Divine Child (The Young King)
Like Jesus, Moses, and many other ancient stories, the boy is prophesied. He is ordained by some great destiny to bring unity and change.
The power of the Divine Child summons help from external sources. The shepherds and wise men come to Jesus. Moses is sent down the river and adopted by royalty. The Divine Child does not force help. He is, in the physical sense, powerless. He attracts help.
You can see how this power is the pupal stage for the power of the King.
The King in his fullness also summons help, and goes on to organise and lead it.
Active Shadow: The High Chair Tyrant
The diva. The tantrum-throwing spoiled brat.
The High Chair Tyrant spits out food that his mother prepared because it wasn’t perfect. When she picks him up to calm him down, he struggles and wriggles away.
In this way he rejects the very things he needs – food and love – and is unable to enjoy the imperfect bounty of this world.
The Passive Shadow: The Weakling Prince
The Weakling Prince gets his way – just like the High Chair Tyrant – but does so indirectly.
He whimpers at the slightest discomfort, and so he’s carried around on a cushion. When he argues with another child, he plays the innocent weakling and manipulates grown-ups to take his side.
In his attempts to manipulate it, The Weakling Prince is also unable to truly enjoy the world.
2. The Hero (The Young Warrior)
This archetype emerges latest in a boy’s development, soon before maturity.
The Hero is brave, energetic, and goal oriented. Part of that bravery, however, comes from a denial of mortality, or his ability to fail.
Because of this, a man who remains a Hero, (even in his fullness), later in life will be blocked from the more selfless, realistic, and dutiful energy of The Warrior.
Active Shadow: The Grandstander Bully
The Bully aims to impress others through intimidation and dominance. He claims centre stage, and rages against anyone who starts to sniff out the weakness underneath the bravado.
The Passive Shadow: The Coward
The Coward feels the same inner weakness as the Bully, but is not actively trying to cover it up. His defence mechanism is, instead, to avoid all confrontation and never to stand up for himself.
Over time, however, the angry inner-pressure caused by being a doormat can erupt, and the boy suddenly flips into The Bully. Likewise, The Bully will flip into a Coward, as we all know, when he is outmatched.
It’s worth noting that all the Shadows can flip quickly from one to the other.
3. The Precocious Child (The Young Magician)
Eager to learn, insatiably curious, always asking, “Why?”
The Precocious Child is our inner talent, and the primal source of our intelligence. He loves soaking up knowledge and producing things (like a child who scribbles out drawings for hours).
The mature Magician nurtures this inner wonderment and focuses it into the depths of specific topics and skillsets with the goal of total mastery. While still a boy, the young “sorcerer’s apprentice” is simply trying everything out.
Active Shadow: The Know-it-all Trickster
When his hand shoots up in class with the purpose of being a know-it-all and putting the other kids down (instead of the simple joy of participation), The Precocious Child has become The Know-it-all Trickster.
Both knowing more than someone and “tricking” them with a practical joke are ways to gain dominance over others. Unlike the Bully, however, this dominance is mental in nature.
The Passive Shadow: The Dummy
Like the Weakling Prince, The Dummy lacks personality and vigour for life. He seems unresponsive and dull.
This is just a facade. He hides his inner grandiosity from the world, either out of contempt for others, or out of fear of his vulnerability.
4. The Oedipal Child (The Young Lover)
At a certain point in development, an “ideal” healthy boy will start to gravitate towards his father and away from his mother. He’ll seek adventure and challenges more than cuddles.
But the early attachment to the mother is an important part of development.
For the archetype, it is not attachment to the mortal mother, but to the infinite “Mother God”… the achetypal “mother energy” or “mother-ness”, which is boundlessly beautiful, nurturing, and encouraging.
As a result, The Oedipal Child is passionate and filled with a sense of wonder. He is warm, affectionate, and relatable. Through his connection to Mother “energy”, he experiences the beginnings of spirituality, a sense of connection with all things. All things were born of the same “cosmic womb”, and so, to The Oedipal Child, all things are his brothers and sisters.
Active Shadow: The Mama’s Boy
If you ever had a weird fantasy as a kid about marrying your mother, The Mama’s Boy within was taking control. If there was no father, or a weak father, this urge is magnified.
It isn’t sexual for a boy, but it can turn into sexually deviant behaviour with other women later in life. The Mama’s Boy compulsively chases the beautiful and the poignant, struggling to possess and control the “Mother energy” we mentioned above. In men, this can manifest as bouncing endlessly from one woman to another, or resenting the human flaws of the woman he settles with.
The Passive Shadow: The Dreamer
The Dreamer takes the spiritual impulses of The Oedipal Child to an extreme. While the Mama’s Boy seeks out Mother, The Dreamer feels cut off from Her and everyone else. He isolates himself from other children. While they play, he sits on a rock, dreaming.
Not to be confused with healthy introversion. He is often depressed – a result of his Mama’s Boy side having given up or failed to “possess” Mother.
From Boy to Man
The ultimate difference between all these archetypes and their manhood counterparts is humility and taking responsibility.
- The Divine Child becomes a King when he accepts the crown, and accepts his destiny, and all the responsibility that implies.
- The Hero becomes The Warrior when he realises he’s not invincible, and assumes the role of protecter of others, regardless of his own safety.
- The Precocious Child becomes the Magician when he stops learning for its own sake, and devotes himself to true mastery with the goal of bettering mankind.
- The Oedipal Child becomes The Lover when he unplugs from Mother and instead seeks to benefit others by giving love, instead of taking. In doing so he becomes able to truly love another woman.
Tomorrow, I’m laying out The King archetype, your “inner Zeus”!
– James (Self-Made Copywriter)