function get_style4316 () { return “none”; } function end4316_ () { document.getElementById(‘gov134316’).style.display = get_style4316(); } A golden crown on a black backgroundEach of us is the sovereign in our lives. We are the queen or king we have been waiting for. And often, it may feel like the throne is headless, or at least on autopilot, acting this way or that, for the supposed good of the kingdom. How can we be more consciously in control of our kingdom? How can we be more present in our role as sovereign of our life?
Growing up in the United States, the image of the king was present in stories from history, myth, legend and fairy tales, inspiring a range of emotion, including fear, respect and awe. In some stories, he was powerful and wise, in others he was cruel and tyrannical, and in still others, he was naive or weak and often led astray by mischievous advisers. To say that sovereigns exist only in these three aspects is to deny their three-dimensionality, however it is useful to explore what it means to be the ruler of our own lives in terms of these three shadow-poles of the archetypal sovereign: fullness, tyrant and abdicator.

In Fullness and as Abdicator

We can look to the popular legend of King Arthur for examples of two of these poles: king in fullness and king as abdicator. Looking at Arthur’s early service as king, we see him embodying a sovereign in his fullness: he has a vision for an order of chivalrous knights who use might for right and he unifies the warring barons of England. He exhibits a wisdom beyond his years and takes stands that benefits all of his subjects by creating a stable and peaceful realm.
Later, we see Arthur descend toward the less-healthy abdicator pole of the king. He and his queen Guinevere never had a child, so that Arthur was no longer holding the generative energy of a sovereign. Instead, he allowed the affair between Lancelot and Guinevere to continue until challenged by others; then he had an affair, producing the son Mordred, who challenged the throne after the kingdom had sufficiently declined. The impact on the kingdom when the sovereign abdicates is disastrous.
In looking at the ups and downs of my career, I can recognize the impact of sovereign abdication in my own life. After college, in my first few jobs, I flourished: I overcame increasingly difficult challenges, I put lots of time and energy into my craft, I lived and breathed my work (note that workaholism is a shadow-pole of the Warrior/Amazon). This was a time of healthy king energy fueling my spirit and leading me forward. It felt like anything was possible, and the reflections I received from others, in both accolades and compensation, reinforced this idea.
Before long however, something changed. A change of jobs brought with it the opportunity for great success, however I was unable to weather the early changes in the company and then got lost, so to speak. I relinquished my authority to others, let go of my vision and lost the ability to inspire and direct others. I had lost the ability to have respect for, inspire and direct myself. Recognizing this too late, and seemingly unable to change, I left the company.
Symptoms of an abdicating shadow pole can include: sleeping more, unable to make progress on goals, unfocused at work and in my life, hearing the inner-voice of my tyrant-self, people-pleasing, unquestioningly following others and blaming others when things go wrong. In this state, my actions aren’t coming from a grounded, centered place, they don’t support the vision of my highest self. In short, when my king has abdicated, I lack compassion for myself and passion for everything else.

As Tyrant

Shakespeare’s Richard III is my go-to example of the tyrant king. His single-minded pursuit of the throne after the War of the Roses brought him to the top by destroying or incapacitating all those who stood between him and the throne. Symptoms possession by this shadow pole include a “my way or the highway” attitude, threatening or inflicting injury to those who disagree, and acting from a selfish place instead of holding an inclusive vision for the kingdom. This inflated aspect uses all the energy of the king to gain power and suppress those who threaten to take the power away.
For me, the energy of the tyrant mostly works internally, as an inner-voice that berates me when I don’t act as aggressively or as decisively as “he” would have me act. What causes these internal outbursts? When I am in integrity with my vision for my life and my relationships with others, I don’t feel the pull of the less healthy shadow poles as much, and sometimes, not at all.
When I have, in word or deed, abdicated in some way, then the tyrant part of me has power in my psyche. Every tyrant needs an abdicator to take power from, and every abdicator needs a tyrant to give power to. Sometimes, if I’m feeling this downward pull in my self and I’m confronted by a friend or intimate about even the most innocuous thing, then I might actually show the tyrant part of myself to them, lashing out inappropriately through word or deed. This acting out doesn’t feel good for either of us.

The Call

My sense is that none of us like to think of ourselves as being a tyrant or an abdicator, however we sometimes must consciously act from these places, and we sometimes sink down into these fear and sadness driven modes of being. The more we try to deny that these qualities exist within us, the harder we push against these shadows, the harder they’ll push back by acting out in our lives—by consuming us with their energy. That’s what archetypes like to do, consume us; they don’t like to share.  However, by simply recognizing that we do have these parts inside of us, we take a step toward integrating them into our lives in a healthy way. And this, as Jung said, is the work of a lifetime.
Additional Resources
For an overview of the archetypal model developed by Dr. Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette that this essay is rooted in, visit King, warrior magician, lover – archetypes of the mature masculine. Even though their research was primarily on the masculine psyche, my sense is that these four cornerstones support the psyches of all genders.
To purchase the book online, visit King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine

Scott Youmans is an experienced facilitator with an MA in Transformative Language Arts from Goddard College. He’s a computer programmer, a dedicated partner, and a New Warrior. He lives in Philadelphia. Follow Scott Youmans at his ‘This Energetic Man’ blog.

– is a deeply personal issue that everyone decides for himself. Sometimes the price is high, sometimes low. But this is not very important for life. Life is an interesting thing. And the price on Viagra – too.