Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

The King and Queen: Archetypes of Ethical Social Behavior November 13, 2012

During this post-election time in America it is fitting that we honor the King and Queen archetypes, rulers of the social domain. I dedicate the next several posts to them.

Our ultimate goal in society is to nurture the flourishing of all by creating lawful order and moral virtue.  Whether we interact with two people or two million people, everything we say and do has something to do with our basic need to nurture or be nurtured.  Because others are always involved when our instinct for nurturance is engaged, our nurturing behavior has ethical import.

The commonly agreed upon standards and values that are passed on from generation to generation within a group represent the morality or ethos of that group.  Moral codes vary from group to group, region to region, and age to age.  The more isolated the group and the more closely its members identify with its rules, the more everyone in that group tends to believe that their particular moral code is sacred, universal, and inviolable.

The two poles of the social continuum represent opposite but equally valid dimensions of nurturing moral behavior. Our inner King represents the masculine logos approach in group relationships, our Queen represents the feminine Eros (or mythos) approach.  Each has different priorities and a preferred style that determines the way he or she governs and nurtures. Both styles are appropriate for some groups and settings and inappropriate for others.  The trick is to use both in balanced ways that do not overdo or neglect either one.

The word “morality” has taken on a negative connotation in recent years because of self-righteous individuals who have slipped into a masculine moral extreme in which they unconsciously equate morality with their personal religious beliefs. The reason this extreme is associated with masculinity is because it is based on abstract, perfectionist ideals like justice morality and not on compassion or a felt sense of relatedness to others.

These extremists unconsciously project their own fears and obsessions onto a similarly uptight, self-righteous masculine deity of strict rules and uncompromising sternness.  What they fail to see is that a God who lacks mercy is not an authentic, moral God;  it is simply a flawed God-image arising from a fearful, self-important ego.  A religion that lacks compassion is not an authentic, moral religion;  it is simply a collection of stern man-made doctrines.  Likewise, a person who cannot accept her or his own flaws or forgive the flaws of others is not an authentically moral person, but simply a stiff and fearful puppet.  Authentic morality is not exclusive, restrictive, inhibiting, or judgmental.  Authentic morality, like authentic religion, is always freeing, accepting, merciful, and compassionate.

The King’s regard for hierarchical legal systems that enforce justice and the Queen’s understanding, caring and mercy are all traditional values, but when either archetype is over-valued and obsessive, unethical behavior results. Failing to constellate the King and Queen is equally irresponsible. This extreme is seen in parents who neglect their children, narcissistic, self-serving couples who have no time for nurturing anyone or anything else but themselves, or apathetic citizens who sponge off society without making any positive contributions of their own.  By developing respect for both the King and the Queen, we bring balance to our personalities, behave responsibly, and respect the authority and individual rights of all with whom we come in contact.

Healthy partnership between the Kings and Queens who govern nations depends on the integration of our inner Kings and Queens: on our ability to be just and caring, to respect the need for both hierarchical and shared authority, and to be flexible, creative, and forgiving in the ways we nurture others.  When we succeed in creating lawful order and moral virtue within ourselves we will have a real chance of making a positive difference in the world.

You can purchase Healing the Sacred Divide at this Amazon link or www.Larsonpublications.com.

 

America’s Dream of Our Emerging Queen January 25, 2011

A new American conscience has been emerging for some time now. For my generation it began in the 60’s with President Kennedy who worked with Sargent Shriver to develop the Peace Corps because he dreamed of eliminating poverty and creating world peace. It hasn’t happened yet, but many lives have been changed for the better.

Dr. King had a dream about universal justice and tried to establish it through tolerance and non-violence. Many were inspired by his dream, and after the chaotic time during which his life was taken we began to realize it, especially in our schools and places of work. Sure, tolerance and justice and still don’t always prevail, but hey, when have they ever? Personally, I see promising signs. Look at the legal shows on television. Many of them treat complex issues about justice in very responsible, intelligent ways. As I see it, our collective vision of a more just society is getting clearer and we’re working harder to make it a reality.

The tragedy of Sept.11 brought out the soft sides of New Yorkers. A year later my husband and I were stuck in a New York traffic jam. Amazingly, no horns were blaring. Most amazing of all, our taxi driver apologized for the traffic. I couldn’t believe it. “You’re apologizing for the traffic?” I said. “You realize you’ve just trashed a national stereotype don’t you?” He said with utmost sincerity, “It’s because of 9/11. Mayor Bloomberg told us taxi drivers we’re ambassadors for America and we can change the world’s opinion of us by being more respectful to our fares and each other.” This guy and his crusty peers were dreaming about being nice!

Enter the tragedy in Tucson and the ensuing outpouring of compassion. We all have it in us, you know. It’s because of the Queen archetype which motivates us to bring about lawful order and moral virtue through caring. And our most conscious leaders, like Pres. Kennedy and Sargent Shriver and Dr. King and Pres. Obama and even that taxi driver who saw himself as an ambassador of kindness, have responded to our crises over the last 50 years by birthing her into our collective awareness.

Many of you are cynical about how long this will last, but the truth is, when humanity dreams of a better way we dig in our heels and go for it. It’s a law of nature, the way we’re made. Look at the worldwide changes since King John signed the Magna Charta. Sure, that was 800 years ago and a lot of truly nasty stuff has happened since, but once the seeds of democracy were sown they sprouted and flowered and spread around the globe like kudzu. They’re still spreading.

Humans are not irredeemably bad. We each have the capacity for good and evil, and sure, we can go either way. But beneath the messes our egos keep making, the Self, archetype of wholeness, prods us to keep growing, to become more conscious and morally mature. This urge bubbles up when crises lower our resistance to psychological realities. It’s why we create religions. Nobody makes us do that; we do it because we must. Nobody made Pres. Kennedy create the Peace Corps, or Dr. King advocate non-violence, or that taxi driver be nice. The Self gave these people dreams and they activated their Queens to manifest them.

And therein lies our hope: We can kill our leaders, but we can’t kill our Queen. Long may she reign.

You can find Healing the Sacred Divide at this Amazon link or at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Invoking Mother Justice November 9, 2010

Issues of right and wrong, good and bad, are core concerns of every seeker. Our ideas about how to handle moral issues derive from the psyche’s two primary archetypes: the King and the Queen. The King’s way to keep order, protect citizens and promote the flourishing of the realm is to create hierarchical systems of laws and penalties. The buck stops with the leaders — judges, dictators, presidents, imams, rabbis, priests, generals, CEO’s and gods — at the top of these systems.

Thus far in recorded history the King’s vision has predominated. However, when we look at civilization’s overall progress — from the Code of Hammurabi, the earliest written system of laws created in Mesopotamia in 1790 BCE, to the present — we see that our ideas about justice and morality have evolved dramatically: from ancient codes that self-righteously discriminated against slaves, members of lower social classes, women, minorities, and the poor; through elite monarchies and dictatorships where the leaders have absolute rule; to democracies founded on the principles of freedom and justice for all. Without a doubt we have made progress, but the daily news reminds us how far we fall short of our goals of lawful order and moral virtue.

What is at the heart of our growth toward moral maturity? The complementary vision of our Queen. Despite ignorance and repression, her ethic of shared authority, mercy, compassion, and care has manifested in shining moments throughout history and literature. For instance, in ancient Egypt the Queen’s interpretation of morality as a matter of the heart was considered one of the unalterable laws of life. The goddess Maat tested the weight of each dead person’s heart in one bowl of a sacred balance scale against the lightness of an ostrich feather in the other. If the heart was heavier than the feather, the soul was lost. Christianity was founded on this ethic, as was the legend of King Arthur’s Camelot and Victor Hugo’s fictional masterpiece, Les Miserables.

But no religion, nation, or era has ever been free of the influence of the shadow and never will. The shadow is our unconscious psychological underbelly, and our ignorance of it continually thwarts every effort to purge ourselves of all hardness and heaviness, all uncaring and mean-spiritedness, all selfishness, immorality, prejudice, hatred, and unforgiveness. Despite every fair law and good intention, our individual and cultural shadows will continue their ruthless reigns until we each accept personal responsibility for our moral failings.

Order and virtue rest on individual transformation. Balancing the Queen’s caring, understanding and forgiving with the King’s fairness and justice is key to that transformation. Maat’s scale judges the heart, not the head. She does not evaluate our god-images, ideals, the orthodoxy of our beliefs, the number of rules we know and keep, or whether or not our punishment fits our crime. Her concern is our capacity for compassion, mercy, generosity, kindness, and forgiveness. Moreover, her decisions are not based on her authority or the authority of the wisest leaders. Her decisions are based on internal evidence, and that is something we alone can judge. In Sophia’s ethic, the buck stops with our heart.

What does this mean for you and me? It means that all our hard work and good intentions will never make a lasting difference in the world until we take the first step of healing our own hearts.  If we’re not living with love, we’re still part of the problem.

 

 
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