The Warrior Archetype


The Power of the Warrior
By Paul Murphy & Tim Drown

We live in a time when people are generally uncomfortable with the warrior form of masculine energy, and for some good reasons. Women have been integrating this energy into their psyche in the modern era, at times more effectively than men. However historically, they have frequently been the victims of its shadow form. On a global scale, warfare has reached such monstrous and persuasive proportions that the active masculine energy of the warrior, now closely identified with violence and aggression, is looked upon with deep suspicion and fear.

Some psychologists believe human aggression emerges out of infantile rage - the child’s natural reaction to neglect and abuse on a massive scale. There is much truth to this. However the aggression that rises out of the unresolved child is the realm of the highly prevalent shadow warrior. When a man carries the unmet needs and unresolved wound of the child into adulthood, he functions primarily in the shadow aspects of his life. The qualities and glorious potential of the light warrior remain dormant and unrealised until the needs of the child archetype are fulfilled.

The warrior is a basic building block of masculine psychology.  Warrior energy often goes a-rye with devastating consequences. The resolution of the child and the proper initiation of the warrior are essential in order for men to turn this potentially destructive energy toward the betterment of themselves and society.

So what are the qualities of the Light Warrior and how can they help us in our lives, our work and relationships? We have already mentioned aggression as one of the warrior’s characteristics. Raw aggression is an energy that rouses, energises and motivates. It pushes us to take the offensive and to move out of the passive, defensive positions we so easily slump into.

Aggressive energy served mankind on an evolutionary level as he struggled to survive amongst the very real threats encountered in the wilderness. Today, this impulse that has served us so well is easily aroused when a man's work, reputation, comfort or that of his family or home appears to be threatened. But does the raw aggression that helped us navigate the wilderness still support us in our contemporary environment?

The answer is largely no. The shock-wave of aggressive energy frequently rebounds with painful consequences. Men have been under pressure in recent generations to repress and control their aggression, or risk losing respect and reputation. The damage of unbridled aggression is so clearly seen in cultures around the world today, that it is no longer tolerated. Though a part of our historical make-up, the warrior’s aggression is more recently being tempered by the rise of feminine energies in the masculine soul. The warrior is no longer defined by aggression – his mark is that of assertion.

The assertive energy of the warrior is solution orientated and requires the acknowledgement of emotion and the desire for all parties in conflict to be victorious. It is free of the need to dominate or control and combines a mutual acknowledgement of boundaries with an acceptance of personal limitation. The warrior, in the modern era, learns to assert himself by clearly stating his needs and desires and honestly expressing his disappointment or anger when these remain unmet. However he has no need to control the outcome, but is able to accept life on life’s terms.

This is the energy that enables us to take a stand, confront injustice and challenge the obstacles to our growth and maturity. However the aggressive tendency of the warrior does not easily leave us. The passion, desire and impulse to right wrongs, stand against injustice, to protect ourselves and our loved ones from perceived dangers is as strong as ever, making it all the more important for the warrior to come under submission of a king and to know when to lay down his sword.

This calls for a greater clarity of thinking and discernment in men than ever before. Society demands from us something we are often not equipped to deliver, and we remain as controlled by the shadow warrior as our role models and predecessors have been.

We must find a way to unleash and refine the potential of the Light Warrior. In the light, the warrior is alert and knows how to focus his body and mind. Don Juan, the American Indian warrior says “a warrior knows what he wants, and he knows how to get it … as a function of his clarity of mind, he is a strategist and a tactician. He can evaluate his circumstances and adapt himself to every situation. The warrior knows when he has the force to defeat his opponent by conventional means and when he must adopt unconventional strategies. He accurately assesses his own strength and skill.  Here is the difference between the warrior and the Hero.”

The Hero, as we have said, does not know his limitations and romanticises his vulnerability. The warrior, however, through his clarity of thinking, will realistically assess his capacities and his limitations in any given situation. Many warrior traditions affirm that in addition to training, it is living with the awareness of his own imminent death what enables a warrior to achieve clarity of thought.

The warrior knows the shortness of life and its fragility. A man under the guidance of the warrior knows his days are few. This awareness leads him to an outpouring of life force and to an intense experience of life that is otherwise unknown. He makes every act count; every deed is undertaken as if it were his last. The imminence of death energises the man accessing the warrior to take decisive action. He engages life, never withdrawing from it. He doesn’t over-think his life because over-thinking leads to doubt, doubt to hesitation, hesitation to inaction and inaction to defeat.

The initiated warrior is rarely self-consciousness. He disciplines his mind and body so that his actions, carefully chosen and refined, become an unconscious reflex. The warrior passionately develops his skill, power, and accuracy, practising self-control in his physical and psychological worlds. Unlike the hero, the warrior is never dramatic. He has a fearless, unconquerable spirit, great courage and takes responsibility for his victories and defeats. He is willing to suffer to fulfill his chosen quest and achieve his goals.

The initiation of the Light Warrior naturally follows the resolution of the child. The child must grow to psychological maturity through exploring his unresolved wounds and the dysfunctional strategies he has developed to navigate life. As the pain of the past is resolved, the warrior emerges in the present and a man enters into a new maturity, confidence and balance that has been painfully, though not obviously, absent.

Why not book a mentoring session or attend a Rites of Passage Retreat to initiate the Light Warrior within yourself.

This article is an extract from the soon-to-be published novel The Lightworker, by Tim Drown.

“So what’s another way?” Jake asked.

“The way of the warrior,” Mel replied.

“Now that sounds interesting,” said Jake, imagining himself in medieval armour, his muscular frame silhoutted against the blue sky, hands grasping the hilt of a long-sword that extended proudly in front of him. “What does that mean?”

“Have you heard of archetypes?” Jake nodded, remembering his discussion with Callie and a brief summary he’d read in the dream book.

“There are traditionally five male archetypes that form a part of the male psyche. They are the King, Warrior, Lover, Wild Man and Magician – six if you include the child. These archetypes are energies and aspects of our personalities and psyche that are innate within us. To be psychologically balanced and healthy as men, we need to draw on and integrate all of these energies into our daily lives. Ultimately, we grow to become the King – a wise ruler of significant influence. The kingdom we govern is primarily ourself. From here it overflows to our relationships and the greater world.

“If we fail to nurture the archetypes within us, they begin to express their shadow side. Your warrior has been repressed, for many years. Your mother’s message to you was ‘it’s not good to take a stand,’ so your warrior has been kept hidden in the dark. But I suspect he emerges when you least expect it and comes out fighting like a wounded lion when your anger is triggered. I had just a small taste of that recently,” Mel smiled.

Jake nodded. “I think you’re right,” he said. “I have all these fantasies about taking on the world and sabotaging large corporations who are damaging the environment, or how I’m going to get people back when they cross me or rip me off.”

“That’s the shadow warrior!” Mel exclaimed. “He hasn’t been allowed his rightful place in your life so the warrior energy is forced to express itself less productively. The warrior energy in us can’t be denied – but we have a choice to express it consciously or unconsciously.”

“So what’s this got to do with my mother and taking responsibility?” asked Jake.

“Simply put, you need to channel your warrior energy conciously. You need to re-introduce the warrior into your life and allow yourself to walk the warrior’s path. Draw your sword – stand up for yourself. Hone your battle skills and enter into conflict.”

“Rape, pillage and steal,” exclaimed Jake, in a lame attempt to imitate a pirate.

“Whoa!” Mel exclaimed. “That’s the shadow warrior again. If you want a guide to the way of the light warrior, look up the knight’s code from the Arthurian legends. Explore the values and principals of the round table. Now there’s a story worth owning!” Mel chuckled.

“So how do I channel this warrior energy?” Jake asked with growing enthusiasm.

“The warrior is the most grounded of the archetypes,” Mel began, “He is practical, down to earth and helps us achieve what we need to achieve in the world. Warrior energy is the energy of action – or as the Buddhists might say – ‘right action.’” Jake was a little surprised. He had never heard Mel refer so directly to other religions before. Mel continued “The Hindu traditions teach energy points in the body known as chakras. The body has many chakras, but the five main energy points run down the centre of the body, beginning at the base of the body between the legs.” He paused for a breath, “Are you following? I’m jumping around spiritual frameworks a bit.”

“Ah, sure” said Jake. “I don’t know much about chakras, but I have heard of them before.”

“I want to focus on the first chakra, or base chakra,” Mel continued. “Drawing on the energy of this chakra grounds you. This is warrior energy. When you can shift your awareness to your base chakra and draw deeply on its energy, you will begin to feel the warrior surging through your veins. It may feel a bit sexual to begin with, as this chakra is also associated with the sexual organs. But push through and search for the warrior. Allow him to rise into your body. Draw on his energy and the warrior will give you strength, courage and direction.” Mel glanced at his watch. “I’m going to have to leave, I have an appointment to attend.”

“Ok,” said Jake, surprised as it was usually he who had to run off from their lunch meetings.

“Try channelling the warrior at home tonight. See where he guides you.”

“I’ll give it a go,” said Jake, “Where do I start?”

“You’ll work it out,” said Mel, rising to his feet. “It’s always good to meet with you Jake.”

“You too,” Jake replied.

The Warrior's Calling
By Paul Murphy and Tim Drown

The warrior energy entails a transpersonal commitment. His loyalty is to a cause and a king. In the Arthurian legends, Lancelot is fiercely devoted to Arthur,  committed to the ideal of chivalry and the values of the round table. 

The legend tells how the passion of Lancelot’s lover over-ran the discipline of his warrior through his love for Arthur’s wife and queen, Guinevere. As a result, Lancelot unwittingly brought destruction to the object of his transpersonal commitment, Camelot.

The transpersonal commitment reveals a number of other characteristics of the warrior energy. First it makes all personal relationships relative. That is, they become less important than the higher calling of the warrior. As a result, the psyche of the man who is accessing the warrior is organised around his cause.

This commitment eliminates a great deal of human pettiness. Living in the light of lofty ideals and spiritual realities such as democracy, freedom, a divine being or any other transpersonal ideal so alters the focus of a man’s life, that petty squabbling and personal ego concerns are greatly diminished. Thus the saying arises “without a vision (transpersonal ideal) the people perish”.

There is a story about a Samurai attached to the household of a great lord. His lord had been murdered by a man from a rival house. The Samurai swore to avenge his lord’s death and tracked down the assassin at great personal hardship and cost. As he raised his sword to strike the death blow, the assassin spat in his face. The Samurai stepped back, sheathed his sword, turned and walked away. Why? He walked away because he was angry that he had been spat on. He would have killed the assassin in that moment out of his own personal anger, rather than out of his commitment to the ideal his lord represented. The murderer’s execution would have been tainted by ego and personal rage. In that moment, he would have ceased to serve a higher cause and acted instead toward his own ends. This is an act of the shadow warrior who lives for himself. To be true to his warrior calling, the Samurai walked away and allowed the murderer to live.

The warrior’s loyalty and sense of duty are to something beyond and other than himself. The Hero’s loyalty, as we have seen, is primarily to himself. He is driven by the need to impress others, build his ego and gain accolade. The man accessing the warrior stands apart from the crowd. He lives not to gratify his own personal needs and wishes, or his own physical appetites, but to bare the unbearable in the service of the transpersonal.

We see the transpersonal ideal of warrior represented in the wisest and gentlest of men in history. It is present in Jesus of Nazareth as he endured the temptation in the wilderness, and in Buddha as he faced the three temptations under the Bodhi tree. These men embodied the spiritual warrior.

The man who is a warrior is devoted to his cause - even until death. This level of devotion to the transpersonal ideal leads a man to another of the warrior’s characteristics. He is emotionally distant as long as he remains in the warrior archetype. This does not mean that the man accessing the warrior in his fullness is cruel, just that his plans and decisions are not emotionally driven. He lives in the world with a healthy level of emotional detachment. He is the master of his emotions and is not mastered by them.

The devotional aspect of the warrior is most prominent in youth. The warrior is the first archetype to be initiated once the child archetype is resolved. The transpersonal ideal provides the leverage required to leave behind the self-obsession of childhood, allowing the expansion of the psyche necessary for adult maturity. The early stages of the warrior can be almost obsessive, but as the warrior matures and other archetypes are initiated, balance is established in a man’s life.

As the warrior is the first archetype of masculine maturity to truly emerge, the influence of men who have not ventured beyond this initiation is clearly evident. Beliefs such as “men should not cry”, the over-emphasis of logic in decision making, the mocking of feminine emotion and the emotional unavailability of many fathers and husbands is the result of the maturation process stopping at the warrior.

It is essential for the lover, the magician and ultimately the king to be initiated and equally active in order to bring balance to a man’s world. The man who does not move beyond the warrior sacrifices his life for the ideal, can be emotionally unavailable and struggles to maintain healthy relationships or enjoy life beyond the quest.

The strength of the warrior’s ability to detach emotionally is in the clarity of his thinking as he assesses his tasks, his decisions and his actions dispassionately. The shadow warrior is compulsively destructive, driven to battle by anger, control and revenge. In the light, the warrior only destroys that which needs to be sacrificed in order for something new and virtuous to emerge.

Many forces exist in the world requiring the warrior’s clarity, detachment and assertion. Corruption, oppression, injustice and despotic systems of government, stagnation of life, periods of inertia and obstacles to personal growth all require the warrior to step up and take new ground. The immature warrior will often come out, his sword swinging, wreaking havoc and destruction at cost to himself, his allies and his opposition.

The wise warrior however, is a strategist. He knows that wars are won battle by battle, skirmish by skirmish. He is aware of his strengths and limitations, making decisions and sacrifices for the sake of a higher cause rather than personal gain. 

When the wisdom of the magician unites with the warrior’s assertion and tact, the mature warrior waits to be invited to negotiation and he celebrates a peaceful victory, won with little hostility and few causalities. When the mature masculine energies unite, magic happens and something splendid emerges.

Balancing the Warrior Archetype
By Paul Murphy & Tim Drown

The warrior archetype, shadow or otherwise, is the first to develop as a boy moves through adolescence and into manhood. The power of the warrior can be enticing.  While the archetypes of lover, magician and king linger in the background, contributing unconsciously and frequently in the shadow, the young man is likely to be seduced by the experience of his power. 

Power alone, always leads to being overtaken by the shadow warrior, and without the active presence of the other archetypes, many men fall deeply into the shadow aspect of themselves, characterised by anger, aggression, dis-empowerment, fear and depression.

The warrior matures into the light as he serves a king and a higher cause. He has much to gain through the activation of the remaining archetypes, that all too often, remain dormant.

When the warrior works alongside the king, he is consciously participating in the growth and maintenance of the kingdom. His decisive actions, clarity of thinking, discipline, and courage are creative and generative. The warrior’s interface with the magician archetype enables him to achieve mastery and control over himself. It is what allows him to channel and direct power to accomplish his goals. His relation to the lover energy gives the warrior compassion and a sense of connection to all things. The lover is the masculine expression of the feminine energy that brings a man back into relationship with human beings in all their frailty and vulnerability, balancing the power-lust of the shadow warrior.

The lover balances the warrior’s detachment with compassion. When the warrior operates alone in isolation to these other archetypes, the results can be painful. As we have said, the warrior in his pure form is emotionally detached. His commitment to the cause re-prioritises the importance of his human relationships. This is apparent in the warrior’s attitude towards sex. Women, for the warrior, too easily become objects of sexual gratification rather than a partner with whom to share intimacy. This attitude explains the prevalence of prostitutes around military camps and the horrific tradition of raping conquered women.

The warrior’s devotion to his duties often leads to marital problems and the phenomenon of the absent or emotionally unavailable father. The same thing occurs in the relationships and families of men whose professions call for a great deal of transpersonal devotion and long hours of disciplined work. Doctors, lawyers, politicians, ministers and many others often have emotionally devastating personal lives. Their partners can feel alienated and rejected, competing hopelessly with the man’s true love - his work. In addition these men, true to their warrior’s sexual attitude, often have affairs with their nurses, receptionist, secretaries or women they admire from afar.

In the movie The Great Santini, Robert Duval plays a marine fighter pilot who runs his family like a military marine corp. His remarks and behaviour towards his wife and children are deprecating, critical and commanding, distancing him from the family members who want to relate so lovingly.

Through his destructive way of relating it eventually becomes obvious to everyone, especially to his eldest son, that Santini’s violent behaviour resulted from his inability to be tender and genuinely intimate.

The great Santini, under the power of the sadist, has his emotional sword drawn and is swinging at anyone who draws near to him. His daughters, who need their femineity affirmed and respected, his eldest son, in need of loving guidance, and his wife, longing for companionship are all wounded by his imbalanced mascu-linity. Although detachment in its self is not bad, it has painful consequences if not held in balance.

Because he is vulnerable and ill-equipped in his relationships, the man under the influence of the warrior needs to have his mind and his feelings under control. When this is not the case, cruelty often emerges.

The warrior comes to us as a vengeful spirit when we are afraid or angry in the same way a blood-lust comes over men under the stress and emotion of live combat. Along with this cruelty goes a hatred of the weak, of the helpless and vulnerable. We see this kind of sadism displayed in boot camp in the name of supposed ritual initiation, designed to deprive recruits of their individuality and put them under the power of transpersonal devotion. Too often, the drill sergeant’s motives are the motives of the sadistic warrior, seeking to humiliate and violate the men put in his charge.

It may seem at first unlikely, but the sadistic warrior’s cruelty is directly related to the hero energy. Unlike the image of the hero depicted in our movie sets and television screens, the presence of the hero in the adult male equates to the shadow warrior. The hero is motivated by an adolescent insecurity, violent emotionalism and the desperation for dominance and recognition as he resists the emergence of the other masculine archetypes.

So often the hero of our modern day drama is self-centred, incapable of mature, balanced relationships with the people around him, but wins the admiration of all through his incredible feats, despite leaving a trail of destruction in his path.

This disconnected individualism has been promoted and aspired to by a generation of fragmented, dis-empowered men who struggle to find their place within society. Although the hero appears to win the day, he is called upon again and again in sequel after sequel to achieve the same amazing feat, archetypically indicating that he progresses no further in his quest but constantly finds himself embroiled in conflict and war. This is the reality of the man driven by the hero archetype. In movies, he makes money. In life, he suffers the break-down of relationship after relationship as he battles but never defeats the tyranny that constantly emerges from within.

We don’t have to look far to see this destructive warrior operating in our lives. It can be observed in the work place, whenever a boss puts down, harasses, unjustly fires or in many other ways mistreats his or her employees. We must also acknowledge the sadist in our homes in the appalling statistics of wife beating and child abuse where men still attempt to rule their homes and discipline their children with fear, rather than in love.This is the mark of the immature masculine evidenced in the irrational demand for respect by the hero, the absence of the compassion of the lover and the control and dominance of the shadow king.

Although we may all become vulnerable to the sadistic warrior at some time or another, there is a particular personality type that has this energy in excess. This is the compulsive personality. Compulsive personalities are workaholics, constantly with their noses to the grind stone. They have a tremendous capacity to endure pain and are frequently high achievers. However they are driven by deep anxiety - the Hero’s desperation.

The compulsive personality will have a very slim grasp on their own worthiness. They don’t know what they want, what they are missing and would like to have. They spend their lives attacking everything and everyone, dedicated to their careers or projects and soon reach burn out.

They are the managers who stay at the office long after everyone has gone home, and when they do finally retire they seldom have a good night’s sleep. They are the ministers, social workers, therapists, doctors and lawyers who work literally day and night, trying to plug the physical and psychological holes in other people. They sacrifice their own lives for the sake of saving others. This is often the mark of the hero.

The heroic and compulsive tendency invariably leads to harm, both to themselves and to those others who can’t measure up to their impossible standards. These men cannot, of course, measure up to their own standards, so they mercilessly berate themselves for their shortcomings, often projecting their frustrations onto their most familiar relationships.

The man who is obsessed with succeeding has already failed. He is desperately trying to repress the masochist within him, yet he is already displaying masochistic and self-punishing behaviour. We all know the saying “quit while you are ahead,” or “learn to cut your losses.” The compulsive personality however, digs in and works harder, disregarding the danger signs.

Possessed by shadow warrior, we will experience him in his sadistic form and inevitably abuse ourselves and others. If the warrior is not initiated within, we will be possessed by the passivity of the shadow warrior. We will dream, but we will not be able to make our dreams come true. We will be depressed and unable to endure the pain of our unrealised goals.

If we access the warrior energy appropriately we will be energetic, decisive, courageous, enduring, persevering, and loyal to some greater good beyond our own personal gain. At the same time, we need to be balancing the warrior with the other mature masculine forms - the king, magician and the lover.

If we are accessing the warrior in balance with these archetypes, we will maintain the ability to be warm, compassionate and generous without being emotionally driven. We will discover the ability to be lovingly assertive, to give love without giving up ground. We will care for ourselves and others, weathering battles wisely and patiently with a larger perspective of the war. The warrior’s goal is peace, not conflict and in the light, he works to make the world a better and more fulfilling place for everyone.


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