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.

 

Partnership Between the Lover and Beloved October 23, 2012

Marc Chagall
The Lovers

Our goal in the emotional domain is to feel and sustain the positive emotions of love and pleasure. This need arises from the instinct for sex. For primitive humans whose struggle for survival must have consumed almost every waking moment, sex was one of the few activities that took them away from the daily grind of work and provided emotional satisfaction, if only briefly.  Even today, most people still find it extremely difficult to separate their desire for love and pleasure from their desire to have sex with another human being.

Interestingly, the two parts of the brain responsible for emotions and instincts adjoin one another.  The so-called reptilian brain at the top of the spinal cord is the bottommost portion of the brain. This brain stem appears to be the source of our instincts.  The limbic system, the portion of the brain that processes emotions, is the next higher level which flares out and over the brain stem.

These two parts appear to have developed very early in our evolution at a time when the primary task of the human species was to survive. The cerebral cortex is a more recent addition. This is a wider, double-hemispheric mass that rises above the brain stem and limbic system. Psychologically, we can say that the two lower parts of the brain contain the most basic and deeply unconscious aspects of our mental functioning and correspond with the unconscious self, or other.  Likewise, the cerebral cortex is the realm of conscious selfhood, or ego. Because our emotions and instincts “lie beneath” our conscious awareness, it is extremely difficult for us to understand or deal with them in controlled, rational ways.

The emotional energy of our instinct for sex fuels not only sexual passion but also spiritual passion.  The archetypes which represent it are the Lover and the Beloved. One way to see them is as personifications of self and other, our conscious and unconscious emotional lives.  From this perspective, the Lover represents our ego’s sense of selfhood and concerns about self-preservation:  our desire for self-development, our longing for fulfillment, our passion to become individuated and enlightened.

Lover and Beloved
Image from a Greek Vase

A strong, heroic Lover feels great passion;  a weak one fears and represses emotions, especially tender ones.  A brave Lover recognizes his desires and honors his powerful appetite;  a deeply wounded one barely allows himself to want anything at all.  A mature Lover understands the dangers of excesses and maintains some discipline and self-control;  an immature one cannot control his emotional life, develops addictions, or swings from one emotional extreme to the other.

The Beloved can likewise be awake or asleep, strong or weak, brave or cowardly.  An immature Beloved is not open, authentic, or intimate with Otherness, including the Great Mystery, other people, our shadows, or our contrasexual opposites of anima or animus. In this unconnected state we project our disowned emotions onto people and activities that we expect to satisfy our deepest emotional needs, and when things go wrong we blame them. But the true culprit in dysfunctional relationships is our fear of opening emotionally to Otherness, both human and divine. It is our ego’s lack of feeling that creates problems with the very people in whom we invest our hope for love and pleasure. The antidote is to know and feel compassion for our rejected selves.

How are you doing in the emotional realm?  When do you fail to feel love for yourself?

Please note:  Syndicated talk show host Al Cole is airing a radio interview with me about my new book, Healing the Sacred Divide, on his show “People of Distinction.”  You can listen in at this link.  I hope you enjoy it.

 

 
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