We men love to feel part of something bigger. It provides us with a sense of connectedness with something beyond ourselves, a purpose in life, a sense of belonging in the world and an increased sense of confidence that we are not alone in the world.
Its the same for adolescent boys. The boys are naturally motivated to bond within peer groups and demonstrate through undertaking challenges that they are worthy of belonging to the adult world of men. That they have what it takes.
However in a world of increasing individual isolation and mobility, we often find we belong less. We often don’t know the people in our own street, our wider families are spread out across the city, country or the globe, we often don’t even live with the mother of our children. In the Western world, religion does not provide the same pervasive sense of belonging as it once did. Many companies aim to create a sense of belonging, but only until the balance sheet is challenged. We may support our local team with fervour and feel part of a bigger group of fellow supporters, but can we honestly say that a sense of belonging to a footie team is sufficient to define us?
C. G Jung believed that we all share a deeply buried set of instinctual patterns and energy configurations, probably inherited genetically throughout the generations of our species. He called this the “collective unconscious”. In their book “King, Warrior, Magician and Lover”, Robert Moore and Doug Gillette describe how these human blueprints, or archetypes, are present in us all today and pattern our thoughts, feelings and relationships.
The Art of Manliness provides some great male archetype descriptions, summarised as follows:
The Lover is the archetype of emotion, feeling, idealism, and sensuality. The Lover is alive with vim and vigour and connected to the world and those around him.
The Warrior embodies effort, energy, initiative and purpose. A Warrior is mindful, adaptable, decisive, skilful, loyal, disciplined, emotionally detached. He is the creative destroyer, making room for something new, fresh and more alive.
The Magician is the knower. His power comes from thoughtful reflection and meditation. He looks for ways to turn disappointing situations and setbacks into opportunities to learn, grow, and become a better man. He has the ability to explain complicated spiritual ideas in ways others can easily grasp and drives to obtain hidden knowledge.
The King is able to harness the power of the remaining three archetypes for the good of the world. The King is centred, remaining cool, calm, and collected. He makes decisions wisely, based on values and experience, demonstrates integrity, keeps his word, acts with honesty, and takes responsibility for his actions. He protects his family and employees, doing what’s right, not what’s popular. He provides order, through establishing rules, guidelines, and principles for others to follow.
Connecting with our male archetypes allows us men to experience both a connection with all other men in the world today, but also our ancestors through the history of mankind. The potential to be part of something much, much bigger. Men in the world today are simply the continuation of a long line of ancestors before us. Ancestors who led wisely for the good of their people, community or family, fought battles on our behalf , experienced the highs and lows of love and developed and passed on the hard fought knowledge which allowed us to be who we are today. We quite literally owe our life to our ancestors and it is our duty to these ancestors to prepare the next generation to do the same.