The LoverBy Paul Murphy and Tim Drown
There are many forms of love. Today we speak of loving anything from a significant person in our lives to our favourite food or TV show. As we dig a little deeper into the root meanings of the word, we form a much fuller picture of the concept of love.
The ancient Greeks spoke of agape, an unconditional, non-erotic form of love. Agape love was a love freely given without strings attached. It is given for the benefit of the receiver out of the abundance of the lover and has no need for reciprocation.
The Greeks also spoke of Eros as the bonding and uniting edge of all things. This is the union from which all separation arises. The oneness from which we emerge as individual identities. The concept of eros was later applied to the intensity of romantic love (Eros – erotic) because of the deep union between two individuals reflected there. The Romans spoke of Amor, the complete union of one body and soul with another body and soul. Love was not a term taken lightly but rather one that describes a powerful state of reality into which we are drawn, or from which we remain separate. These and all other forms of love are the living expression of the lover archetype in human life.
The Greek god Eros is well known, along with the Latin word “libido”. These terms are used to describe the lover energy. They are not used solely in terms of sexual appetite, but a general lust for life. The lover is the energy behind passion, zeal and zest for life. It lives through the great primal hungers of our species for sexual gratification, food, wellbeing, reproduction, creative adaptation and ultimately a sense of meaning without which human beings cannot go on with their lives. The lover is driven to satisfy these desires.
The lover archetype is primary to survival as it governs our sensitivity to the outer environment. It expresses what we would call the sensation function - the function that knows colour, and responds to sound, tactile sensations and smells. We can easily see the survivor value of this energy potential for our distant ancestors who struggled for survival in a dangerous world.
How does the lover show up in men today? How does he help us to survive and even flourish? What are the lover’s characteristics? The lover is the archetype of play. It draws us into the world of sensuous pleasure and allows us to live comfortably within our bodies without shame. Thus the lover is deeply sensual and sensitive to the physical world in all its splendour.
For the man accessing the mature lover, all things are bound to each other in mysterious ways. He sees the world in a grain of sand. He has a deep sense of the mystery, union and bond of all things. The lover energy is an open doorway to the collective unconscious - the shared mind of the human species that contains an energetic record (or memory)of all that has happened in history of humanity.
In earlier stages of initiation, the man influenced by the lover wants to touch and be touched. He wants to engage with everything physical. His emotions are overwhelmingly powerful and he is deeply and hopelessly moved by the simplest of marvels in the natural world. He recognises no boundaries and equally - no obstacles to his quest. He wants to live out of the deep bonding and connection that he feels with all things. Such naivete and even foolishness in the eyes of a callous world is an essential part of the lovers development and the rite of passage to maturity. Ultimately, the lover wants to experience the world of sensuailty in its fullness. The lover energy fuels the mysticism of the magician archetype and, as the lover is activated, becomes the magical ingredient that turns intellectualised religion into a deeply integrated and life changing spiritual journey.
In the mystical tradition, which underlies all the world’s religions, the lover energy brings the mystic into alignment with a sense of ultimate oneness of all that is. It actively seeks to experience that oneness in daily life, while it still dwells in mortal, finite man. The man under the influence of the mature lover does not want to be limited by socially created boundaries. He stands against the artificiality of such things and his life is often unconventional. Consequently, because he is opposed to intellectual rules, laws and culturally imposed customs, he lives in constant tension and frequent confrontation with conventional society.
As he lives from this higher consciousness, he transcends the dualistic tension between sensuality and morality, between love and duty and the range of dualistic opposites. For in ultimate union, opposing ideas meld into one. As the lover archetype guides a man deeply into the experience of mystical union, he begins to realise the full potential of agape and amor love. Where all is one, all is at peace. Rules, boundaries, laws and customs are no longer required where love reigns supreme.
The lover energy initially finds himself in opposition to the other energies of the mature masculine; his interest is the opposite of the warriors need for order and justice, the magicians attempts to define and classify and the kings concern for boundaries, containment, and discipline. As a man is gradually initiated into the mature lover, he finds this conflict expressing itself as the lovers intention to live in wholeness is in practise, dashed to pieces as the less mature archetypes wade in and exert their influence.
We can see this pattern of tension between the lover and other archetypes of the mature masculine in history. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have all persecuted the lover. Christianity has taught that the world, the very object of the lover’s devotion, is evil. That the god worldliness is the devil and it is he that is the source of the sensuous pleasures, the foremost of which is sex. The church has often stood opposed to artists, innovators and creators. Following the ancient Hebrew practice, the church also persecuted psychics and mediums, people who, along with creative artists, live very close to the unconscious and hence to the lover.
The energies of the lover are drawn on for almost every form of creativity. When we stop the “doing” and just let ourselves be and feel, without the pressure to perform, we draw near to the lover. Of course we feel him strongly in our love lives. In western culture this is the main way we get in touch with the lover. Many men live for the thrill of falling in love, or falling into the power of the lover.
In this ecstatic consciousness which comes to even the most hard boiled of us, we delight in our beloved and cherish her in all her beauty of body and soul. Through our emotional and physical union we are transported into a divine world of ecstasy and pleasure on the one hand, and pain and sorrow on the other. The whole world looks and feels different to us, more alive, more vivid, and more meaningful. This is the work of the Lover.
The Shadow LoverBy Paul Murphy and Tim Drown
A man living in either pole of the lover shadow, like a man living in any forms of the shadow masculine energy, is controlled by the very energy that could be his source of life and wellbeing if accessed appropriately. As long as he is possessed by the shadow lover, the lover energy works to his destruction and to the destruction of those around him. Allured by the shadow lover, a man cannot see the need or value of placing limits on his sensual and sexual experience and is drawn in to a fast-paced world of endless pleasures.
Therefore the shadow lover expresses itself in addiction, an affliction rife in our society. Over-eating, alcohol or drug dependence, smoking, the buzz of caffeine or other legal stimulants, adrenalin junkies, work-a-holics; the list of addictive behaviour goes on. The addict lives for the pleasure of the moment only, locking himself into a web of immobility from which he cannot escape.
Control of ones impulses, sexual or otherwise, has long been a problem for men. Excessive indulgence in sensuality is regularly condemned in public yet secretly pursued in private. As the world grows more and more sexually charged, men increasingly suffer from the excessive and uncontrollable sexual desire - a trade mark of the shadow lover.
The mature lover is free from this tyranny of lust to channel his passion into a monogomous relationship, should he so choose. He is also free to cast his net wide - yet he does so by choice, rather than being driven by forces beyond his control. He is not bound by external rules or wild impulse, but by his own inner structures, his sense of his masculine wellbeing and calm inner joy. But the man moving from one woman to another, compulsively searching for he knows not what, is a man whose inner structures have not yet solidified and he remains fragmented within. He is pushed and pulled by the illusory wholeness he thinks shall find in the world of feminine form and sensual experiences. For the addict, the world presents itself as tantalising fragments of a lost whole.
The restlessness of the man under the power of the addict is the energy that unconsciously drives his search for a way out of the spider’s web. Yet the frantic twists and turns as he seeks to hold his life together in the grip of his destructive passion only deepens his predicament and encourages the spider to draw nearer. This happens because what he thinks is the way out – the illusion of controlling his addiction - is really the way deeper in.
The man possessed by the addict and shadow lover has little awareness of boundaries. The lover does not want to be limited and when we are possessed by him, we refuse limitation. A man possessed by the additive lover is really a man driven by the unconscious. Lacking awareness, he is dominated by base instinct and his immature reactions, leading once more to chaos of enormous proportion. The man under the power of the addict must learn that his lack of masculine structure, his lack of discipline, his resulting affairs and his authority problems will always get him into trouble.
Another aspect of the shadow or immature lover is expressed by the impotent lover. When this shadow is active, we move through life devoid of feeling. Life loses its highs and lows. We may feel bored, have trouble getting up in the morning and going to sleep at night. The impotent lover becomes increasingly alienated from family, co-workers and friends. We may feel hungry but lack appetite. Life becomes a dull shade of grey in which meaning and passion are lost. The impotent lover robs the warrior of his zeal, the magician of his drive and the king of his purpose. We may fall into depression at times, but are more likely to move through life suspended in the joyless void, just above the pit of despair. Thus things never become bad enough to seek help and life takes on a colourless, repetitive monotony.
A man’s sex live goes stale and he is sexually inactive. Such sexual inactivity may stem from any number of factors: boredom, lack of ecstasy with his mate, smouldering anger, tension and stress at work or concerns about money.
If we are appropriately accessing the lover and keep our ego structures strong, we feel related, connected, alive, enthusiastic, compassionate, empathic, energised and romantic about our lives. The initiated lover gives us meaning and adds a dimension of wonder and spirituality. It is the lover that longs for a better world for ourselves and for others. The lover guides the other archetypes into a deeper initiation and expression in our lives. The king, the warrior and the magician remain unfulfilled without the activation of the lover energy.
We need the lover to energise and humanise us and to draw forth our ultimate purpose. The lover keeps us from becoming sadistic and embittered by life. The lover is balanced by the other archetypes as well. When he becomes lost in the chaos of his boundary-less world, immersed in emotion and sensuality, the lover needs the king to gently take hold of him, setting limits and providing structure to order his chaos. The order allows these untamed energies to be channelled creatively. Without limits and structure, the lover energy turns negative and destructive. He becomes an ungrounded idealist, easily distracted and unable to manifest his creative energy in the world.
The lover needs the warrior in order to act decisively, to detach from the web of immobilising sensuality with a clean cut of the sword. He needs the magician to help him back off from the ensnaring effect of his emotion, to reflect and gain insight. The magician’s objectivity broadens his perspective, empowering him to look beyond the presenting circumstances and counters the tendency to personalise the opposition he encounters.
Many men have so suppressed the lover that it has become very hard to feel passionate about anything in their lives. The trouble with most of us is not that we feel too much passion, but that we’re not passionate about much at all. We don’t sense our joy, we don’t experience the thrill of being alive. We try to keep life manageable and predictable. Feelings are annoying and uncomfortable, a threat to our security and inappropriate for a man. But let us not surrender our lives. Let us find spontaneity and joy and not only live our lives abundantly, but in doing so initiate other men into deeper maturity and fuller potential.