I sit on the throne and people gather ‘round, but first I must rule the desires of my heart.
Archetypes are recurrent symbols that offer spiritual advice to men and women as we travel the journey of life. This is the final chapter in a 12-part series, in which this ancient wisdom is made relevant both to ecumenical (book) religions and to the non-spiritual as well through real life examples and everyday application.
While I highly encourage a spiritual path, as it feeds the soul, this wisdom will resonate regardless because it is within our bones and sinew as men. Twelve is a very significant number in spiritual circles. There are 12 months, 12 signs of the Zodiac, Jesus had 12 disciples, 12 indicates a complete cycle.
As we complete our cycle through the archetypes, we will experience the ancient wisdom offered to us around manhood. Whether you are gay, straight, bi, curious, confused, trans, married, unattached, looking, or fearful, this wisdom has the power to meet you where you are and help you experience the slice of divine that is you, as a man.
In this final archetype, we come full circle in a way. I think most men wish to be The King and enjoy the associated masculine mystique. The King is often perceived as the perfectly in-charge man who has complete control over his domain and is in command in every sense of the word. That command, in return, creates respect and a deep sense of service from others. It seems like the place every man wants to be–the ultimate Alpha.
But to become that ultimate Alpha, there are certain things you must refine about yourself. One of the biggest things is learning to govern yourself and the desires of your heart. In the ancient world, the heart was used as a symbol for emotions. To curb “the desires of one’s heart” not only spoke to pesky and difficult emotions ranging from anger to passion but also to impulsive behavior in a variety of areas. Rather than doing what merely feels good, the ancients extolled virtues that required inner reflection and critical thinking. Not surprisingly, they realized that when actual critical thought entered the equation of any situation, the outcome was usually better for everyone involved. This age-old virtue remains true.
The King archetype is about maturity and how to handle one’s life and business with wisdom, grace, and ease. He is described as a great man who is in balance and a true master of the higher virtues that triumph over base human nature. He takes care of all areas of his life but realizes his imperfections. From this, he has created a good life for himself that is balanced, connected, whole, and present.
Usually, this archetype more fully emerges in a man’s mid-thirties. However, if you are younger, please do not skip over this because there are important lessons in maturity for you (and that includes me). For older men who may be struggling with making the transition to middle age or elderhood, this will hopefully provide solace, guidance, and context for how to settle into the excitement of the middle years.
Dominion Over Desire
The King has come to dominion over his desires; that is central to this concept. The King is man in control. He is hardly flustered or worried about trivial matters. By this time of life, a man understands that every little problem isn’t his concern. He keeps himself calm and centered so he can solve pressing problems worthy of his attention. Within this is a lack of impulsive decision-making and the discernment of what really requires his attention. In that way, a certain amount of very confident Zen is reached. He is ready for the big stuff, the things that will really matter. While it may seem easy or expedient to be tugged and pulled from problem to problem, he resists that urge.
For men over 35 this archetype also gives great council on how to handle the problems of middle age. Studies have no shown that we are less happy in the middle age then we are in our 20s and later. This has to do with several factors, including our aging parents, growing children, and bodily changes.
And while all this is going on the priorities start to shift. The words “the time I have left” seep into the vocabulary and the end of the line seems far more visible then before. However, herein lies the wisdom of the King. This archetype takes things in stride, and, using the mastery of life he has attained, is better able to handle life’s challenges using his trademark calm demeanor, intrinsic grace, and ease.
The King does not waste his energy. He has his priorities in order and handles each problem as it comes. He is far better equipped to “go with the flow” then his younger self might have been. The King is also conscious of his own impending elderhood. This is a time to gather wisdom, to examine his life, and to mentor the next generation of young men who are ascending.
At the end of this he is ready and confident enough to enter into the passivity of elderhood in his time. The King knows that his “reign” will not last forever and that at some point it will be time to let youth have at life’s problems. He passes on his legacy by making sure they are as prepared as possible. The preparation and mentoring are his true legacy.
Sex and Sexuality
The sexuality of the King has also matured. Sex becomes less about him and more about his partner. His sexuality is not nearly as focused on the sex act and the final intensity of orgasm but rather on the intimacy he shares with his partner as well as the real love between him and his mate. The King has mastered the sexiest trait of all in regards to bedroom prowess: confidence. He has been around the block. He knows how to use his body for mutual pleasure. He isn’t in a rush. Patience has replaced the boorishness of youth.
The Company You Keep
What is The King without quality friends and advisors? The King knows to surround himself with quality people. Many of us had terrible “loser” friends in our youth who weren’t doing us any favors. The King has replaced his unreliable friends and their constant problems and pleas for help with reliable people who know how to manage their lives with stability and discipline.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t excitement, but waking up at 2:00 in the afternoon, on your kitchen floor, next to a box of cereal, and with a hangover on a Sunday looks much less attractive at 35 than it does at 25. The King knows that this behavior is not helpful to his life or his family and has eliminated those negative people from his life in favor of people who help him do his very best.
All in all, The King is an idea; archetypal goal for men. For younger men, it is what to become. For men already in their middle years, it represents the possibilities of middle age and the refinement of character that is both empowering and incredibly fulfilling.
Image credit: Robbo-Man/flickr