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Excerpt: The Six Archetypes of Love

How the Archetypes Work

by Dr. Allan G. Hunter

Chapter Three

How the Six Archetypes Work

Love makes anything and everything worthwhile. Without love a mother is mere conscripted labor. Without love a father might be simply a stranger who appears after the workday is over. Take away love and marriage is just another financial arrangement. Without love siblings are merely murderous rivals, like Cain and Abel.

Understanding love is a bit like understanding gravity: we can pretend it isn’t there and still function, but it takes noticing it and seeing how it works to be able to feel the full majesty of its power. The Wright brothers knew all about gravity – and how they could use it to their advantage to explore an entirely new dimension. And for a while, those who thought the brothers were impractical dreamers ridiculed them for their efforts.

It’s time we, too, understood love a little better and to do that we need to understand the six archetypal stages of human development.

Stories We Need to Know showed that the six levels of spiritual development work as a series of archetypes. These are The Innocent, The Orphan, The Pilgrim, The Warrior-Lover, The Monarch, and The Magician.

We start as Innocents, as babies, as newcomers. We don’t know the rules, but we do want to attach to others and trust them. This is what a baby does in successful mother-child relationships. The child learns how to feed and to cooperate while being fed, and extends total trust and love. In return the mother feels love that is commonly described as “unconditional.” Mother doesn’t care if the child is a little crotchety or homely, she loves it just the same, without reserve. Ask any parent of a disabled child, or one with Down’s syndrome.

Unfortunately the complete trust the child has in the world is not a realistic stratagem to live with. Children are warned not to trust all adults, and especially not strangers with candy. All is not well in paradise. Parents are not perfect, and mother and father can’t always make everything better. This recognition is the start of the Orphan phase.

The Orphan realizes that all is not perfect but agrees to attach to others anyway, for safety, and so she seeks to be ‘adopted’ by people she thinks are safe. In Nick Hornby’s novel About a Boy, Marcus is deeply frightened when his erratic mother tries to kill herself and so he resolutely sets about adopting and being adopted by as many friends as he can manage to secure. It’s a delightful book and shows the Orphan at his twelve-year-old best. Safety, for Marcus, is in the number of people he can gather around him who are reliable supporters. As he works to introduce all the people in his life to each other he finds he is, unwittingly, getting them to care for each other, too. And love grows.

Adoption is fine for a while, of course, but everyone feels the urge to explore beyond themselves. We all have to leave school, leave our parents, leave home, or we can’t find who we are when we are on our own. This can be frightening and some people can’t manage it for very long. They scurry to the safety of the secure job, making sure they get themselves adopted by the group, the organization, or the expectations of those around them. They settle down and fit in. The Orphan has looked around, seen what the challenges are, and has decided to go back to being an Orphan.

Yet if we do venture beyond the conventional, and stay on that path, and if we do decide that it’s worth seeking for something more, we can become Pilgrims. As Pilgrims we leave behind conventional comforts, we take to the road looking for meaning, which often means we go looking for the sense of purpose that we hope will come with love. The Hippy movement (“Make Love not War”) was famous for pilgrimages of various sorts. The thousands who flocked to Woodstock, to Altamont, to all the open air concerts of the time - all of them were on some sort of search, whether they knew it or not. Perhaps they just wanted the experience, or the drugs, or the free sex. But they wanted something and they wanted it badly. So hippies traveled to Marrakesh, to Katmandu, to Cairo, to Yogis in India, to communes in Nevada, to surf beaches in Hawaii. On the way quite a few forgot what they were searching for and simply wandered around until, Orphans again, they found a home.

A few knew what they were looking for, and found it.

When they did so they made a claim that transformed them into people who had taken on a real cause. They became Warriors. And just as one cannot fight for something one does not love and respect, they became aware of love.

This stage, which we will call the Warrior-Lover, is when the individual commits to another person, or a cause, or sometimes both. This is the point at which the person who loves makes a real commitment to a relationship, and in a way that accepts the other person as one who will change and grow. This means that life will be a challenge sometimes, as each partner will have to understand the other person and the changes each of them goes through, and each will have to adapt accordingly. How different this is from the old paradigm of the man telling the woman who she was supposed to be.

Yet as we know, commitment and energy in a relationship are not always enough, and just as, for example, gifted teachers discover that they can be of more use passing on their knowledge to other teachers rather than teaching every class, so too the Warrior-Lover begins to want to nurture on a broader scale. Whether that means the energetic executive gets promoted to be a director of other executives, or perhaps it means mom teaching her kids how to do their own laundry and take care of themselves, the effect is the same. The hands-on Warrior-Lover begins to allow more space for others. Trust is born of that – and what love can flourish without trust? I give trust to another person; she respects that, enjoys the feeling of being trusted, and returns the compliment. When trust is established the Warrior-Lover ceases to be a one man or one woman army and becomes, instead, a Monarch.

Perhaps the easiest way to understand this transformation is that the Warrior-Lover tends to be committed to a special relationship with another, and at a certain point this relationship has to open to include a wider sense of what one can do with one’s life. The Warrior-Lover might start in a strong loving relationship with a significant other and devote huge amounts of time and energy to that. There comes a time, though, when each person is going to want a wider acquaintance, a greater role within society. The loving duo, typically, might find that their children lead them into more connection with their neighbors and society, or with the local school system for example, and this awareness of new issues may prompt them to take on leadership roles within their newer, larger social circle. This is the point at which they can become Monarchs.

Monarchies are almost always paired, man and woman. This archeptype is a symbolic representation of the fusion of the stereotypical ‘male’ executive power with the ‘female’ virtues of nurturing and compassion. This fusion must happen within each individual, just as ying and yang together make up a complete circle. To reach this level we have to know when to be strict and when to be compassionate. Just as the populace relies on the Monarch to do the correct thing for the whole kingdom, so too the Monarch has to be responsive to the needs of the people around him or her. When this contract of loving interdependency fails the Monarch will not last long. Just before the French Revolution Marie Antoinette’s famous statement when told that the poor had no bread to eat was, “Let them eat cake.” She simply couldn’t imagine that anyone might be hungry because she never was, and she did not bother to make an effort to ascertain what was really going on in the kingdom. And so the French Revolution swept her and many others to the guillotine; tyranny, which is rule without love or compassion, seldom lasts long.

The Monarch’s task is to get better and better at trusting, nurturing, instructing, guiding, and building love relationships. This love may well be extended to the idea of the state, or the Empire, or something similar but not in a blind, jingoistic way. It is a deeper love based not in wishing to be attached to something but rather in a profound sense of being responsible for that attachment. The truly alert Monarch is always aware that it is his or her duty to prepare the kingdom so that it can carry on successfully after he or she is dead. If this duty - and again it is a loving duty - is carried out successfully the leader will hand over more and more power to others in the actual execution of tasks, and will become a respected repository of wisdom. Such a Monarch transforms into the sixth stage, the Magician. Just like the Magician in the Tarot pack, this figure respects the customs and rites of what is holy, will uphold laws and agreements, and will do so in the same way a priest does. A priest of any denomination, merely by existing, can be a reminder to all of us as to how we should behave and what the highest expectations are for all of us. The Magician doesn’t need to say much; the magic gets worked by the actions of the people and their belief in what is good, which really is, of course, another form of love.

And so we see how love grows. We are invited on a journey during which we can move from Innocent, to Orphan, to Pilgrim, to Warrior-Lover, to Monarch, and finally to Magician. Each stage represents a fundamental re-adjustment of the self to the outside world, and no stage can be skipped. At every stage we have to reappraise what love might be. Indeed, whenever we start something new, like a job or a relationship, we’re likely to begin as Innocents and work our way up. Sometimes we can get through the first stages quickly because we know ourselves and are alert to what we are doing, but sometimes we can’t.
Dr. Allan G. Hunter is a counselor and a professor of literature at Curry College in Massachusetts. He is the author of two books that use writing and literature for self-exploration: Life Passages and The Sanity Manual; of Joseph Conrad and the Ethics of Darwinism; and of Stories We Need to Know: Reading Your Life Path in Literature. He lives in Watertown, Massachusetts.


From Innocent to Magician

By Allan G. Huner

Findhorn Press/September 2008


ISBN- 978-1-84409-142-3

Findhorn Press is distributed by IPG (Independent Publishers Group)


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