The King Archetype
The following is a true story, paraphrased from Plutarch’s Life of Alexander.
Once Alexander the Great was leading his army across a waterless desert. The column was strung out for miles, with men and horses suffering terribly from thirst.
Suddenly a detachment of scouts came galloping back to the king. They had found a small spring and had managed to fill a helmet with water. They rushed to Alexander and presented this to him. The army held in place, watching. Every man’s eye was fixed upon the king.
Alexander thanked his scouts for bringing him this gift. Then, without touching a drop, he lifted the helmet and poured the precious liquid into the sand.
At once a great cheer ascended from the army, rolling from one end of the column to the other. A soldier was heard to say, “With a king like this to lead us, no force on earth can stand against us.”
I’ve been re-reading one of my favorite books, King Warrior Magician Lover, by the Jungian psychologists Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette. The title refers to (some of) the archetypes of the Collective Unconscious.
When you and I struggle to control our work habits, i.e. to confront and overcome our Resistance, sometimes the trouble lies in which archetype we’ve allowed ourselves to settle into.
For years I lived in the Lost Boy archetype. Needless to say, I didn’t get a damn thing done.
The archetype we’re aiming for, I think (at least short of the Sage or the Magician) is the King.
When the king is strong, the kingdom prospers. When the king rules with wisdom and justice, the land flourishes and the people are happy.
Can you and I lead like Alexander in the story above?
Can we embrace adversity and be willing to make the sacrifices necessary for our project to reach fruition?
Can we be the king (or queen) of our own aspirations?