Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine
By Robert Moore & Douglas Gillette
192 pp. HarperOne
$10.76 from Amazon.com
Moore and Gillette are Jungian psychologists, and explore the four archetypes of masculinity – King, Warrior, Magician, and Lover. An easy, but penetrating read, they drew me into a conversation about my past, future, and present. I began finding new ways to understand myself, a depth that I have longed to find. It meant at times understanding that I am a grown up boy in areas of my life, and at other times cherishing the growth I have made into a man – a mature man.
It’s a difficult row to hoe, though. In our society we use words like “patriarchy” to attack the male-dominated structure. As Moore and Gillette state, the system of patriarchy is nothing more than grown up boys. Mature masculinity takes responsibility, includes others, and attempts to work with others. “Real” men would be hard to find in many leadership positions today, because we’ve created a system that thrives on castigating others in order to reach the top. Fulfilling life, for men and women, is best lived in relationship to each other.
As I read this book I found two points that I continue to wrestle with. First, our society has lost any ritualistic sense of becoming a man. Our tribal ancestry has been lost. We’ve inserted fraternities at colleges that are not about becoming men, but about drinking until death. We’ve created a mentality that it’s fine for men to be ignorant about the larger issues in life. Simply put, there’s no initiation into manhood. Some find it through religious tradition, but on the whole, there exists no initiation process.
Second, there are fewer and fewer mentors for men. Men need leaders, inspirations to dig deeper into their lives and the lives of others. This is easily seen with leaders in Congress that would rather ditch responsibility than live into compassion. They are, it seems, old boys that “made” it – but hardly men. In our society men occasionally find leaders, role models, or mentors that inspire them.
Finding solutions to both of these problems will not be easy. It took us quite awhile to get to this point, and changing socialized beliefs will not happen slowly – but Moore and Gillette have inspired me to dig deep. I suspect it’s the “warrior” in me that is pushing forward in the face of social pressure to remain a boy. Yet for all those boys – young and old – out there I cannot sit idly by. Masculinity is not the only thing at stake – a greater humanity is too. If we can awaken men who learn about responsibility, compassion, and determination we might find that the oppressive structures will crumble too.
All this was sparked from this small book. I hope that whether you’re a woman or man, you’ll pick this book up from a library or store. Read it and allow it to work on you. When you’re finished, pass it on to another man or woman, and see what happens. We might find that if we become concerned about our deeper natures that transformation can happen.