Four Archetypes – Part 2, The Warrior and its Shadows!
The Warrior Archetype is directly related to our sense of our personal power and our alignment with what we hold most dear. A healthy mature warrior behaves in alignment with values that have been tested and cultivated in the crucible of experience. These values are also aligned with an aspect of the “greater” society which surrounds the warrior. The pivotal question in exploring and discovering your core values is “Whom do you serve?” And that doesn’t just have to be a person, but it can show up as a set of principles.
I once had a conversation with a gentleman from India. We met casually one day at a local park. We were both Dads, and our children were off playing on the monkey bars and swings. It was a cordial conversation. In my naivete, as a middle American white male, I asked him, innocently enough “Do you have a guru?” Even after I spoke it, I felt self conscious that I may have projected my ignorance upon him. Gratefully, he was kind enough, and took no offense, and simply responded calmly. “No, I do not generally follow men. But I follow principles.” I nodded my appreciation for his kind reply, and our children’s needs variously swept us away.
The point here is that the mature warrior has contact with and is dedicated to a set of principles that are a guiding force in his or her life. Sometimes these will be principles and values that are espoused by others. One’s culture, ones lifestyle, ones choices all align around a set of values for living a good life. And the warrior stands for those values, is willing to fight for those values, and would even put their life on the line for those values.
A good test for your values is to use some form of “truth-0-meter.” This is where you test your values against what you consider to be your highest truth, the one which you hold most dear. There is a certain voyage of discovery to find out just what these are, but one of my favorite clues is to test something for its relative weight or light. If a feeling is heavy and dark, that is an indication that it is a non-truth. If it is light and airy, and gives a buoyancy to your step, that is an indicator that it is a truth. Truth will always lead to lightness, and buoyancy. Non-truth, to heavy darkness and a sense of suffering.
When a warrior aligns with such truth, there is no argument that can be made, nor that needs to be made. It simply is. Now there are many ways in which we will fight around on our journey to truth, fact, and the many stories that get made up along the way. The mature warrior sorts through the obfuscations to get down to the deepest truth that for them they hold most dear. That is a journey indeed. As one of my favorite quotes from Anon reads, “The road to truth is under construction!”
Add to this that our judgements and feelings do not actually derive from actual events, but rather from the stories we tell ourselves about those events, and then you have recipe for seeing that this is quite a large undertaking. The work you must do here, is to own your stories, to sort them out, and to see how you have been reacting to a clever story that you have told yourself. That is true warrior work, indeed!
Now, along the way to this truth, and the actions you need must take to stay in alignment with it, there are two likely shadow characters who show up. These are shadows of the mature warrior. They could be called immature warriors. They are the Bully and the Coward. Already, those terms may have set off lights in your consciousness. One person I shared this with even said, “Oh yes, and there are cowardly bullies, and bullying cowards!” Indeed the Bully and the Coward show up with some regularity and interchangeability in our worldly walk.
First, you can see that Bullies are likely in possession of only a half-truth, or an “alternative fact.” They tend to stick very strongly to their guns, and need to put up a large blustering front. They rarely walk easily and confidently, but rather cut through the air with a swagger and a demanding aspect, as they use a level of brute force, and prey on others fears or perceived weaknesses. If you are watching out for your own inner bully, look for a feeling of not being fully in alignment with a deeply recognized truth. You’ll tend to justify yourself, act defensively from fear, rather than love, and then use power in a way that doesn’t feel clean or good.
Now for Cowards, it is the flip side of that coin. Fear will tend to run the day. Standing in your truth, especially in the face of other strong figures who do not agree with you, causes you to slink away, and avoid conflict at all costs. As such, the Coward stands up for nothing. They are, in the words one friend once used “A fart in the wind!” Nothing there, spineless, retiring, non-combattive and ultimately you can’t count on them for anything substantial.
Now in many respects the Coward has a self preserving instinct that could save their life. “He who runs away, lives to fight another day!” In such instances, cowardice may actually be wisdom! And the bully, well they may unwittingly be moving the needle forward for a cause that may well be beyond their knowledge. There havoc a bully can wreak ultimately can lead to a level of reconciliation of some deep problem in society. Pain can be a powerful motivator for change. In either case, the grasp on a deep and enduring truth is essentially missing in the bully and the coward. If you do not know what you are fighting for, then your fighting will be anemic, and you may end up being brash and stupid. And if what you’ve been fighting for eventually proves to be false, then in the best of worlds, pray that a deeper truth may reveal itself.
Years ago I saw a PBS series on the history of the Western United States. The Indian Wars brought about the decimation of all but a remnant of Native American culture, and left deep scars across the land. In one particularly poignant interview, a native American descendant shared his experience of reconciling this terrible history. He told the story of his four-day vision quest, where he went up on the mountain to fast and pray for truth and insight into the pain of what his tribal family had been through and what his just response should be.
He reported wrestling with the demons of anger and vengeance, spending days plotting the violent acts he would commit to gain retribution for the wrongs done to his people. He shared that before he went up on the hill, he always wore a black hat. And his heart was black with the pain and suffering of this terrible history. Then, upon the dawning of the last day of his quest, he was reduced in tears, and when he saw the sun rising, he knew that he must forgive. The past was the past. What was done was done. Taking revenge would only lead to more suffering and perpetuate the cycles of pain and retribution. He must forgive, and dedicate himself to peace. He swapped out his black hat for a white hat.
That is warrior work! The work of a mature warrior is to wrestle with the great forces, to not act rashly out of reaction, from clever stories told inside your head, to watch out for the rising of the bully or the coward. To plumb deeply into the depths of your truth, and live from that place. “Whom do you serve?” Indeed. Here is where the work is to be done.
Let these stories inform you on your own Warrior’s journey. Added to the Lover’s shadows of Mama’s Boy or Addict that we explored in Part 1, you can begin to get a fuller picture of how various strong archetypal forces can be identified and worked with appropriately on your road to mature balance in this world.
Stay tuned for the next post in this series. Four Archetypes – Part 3, The Magician and its Shadows! In this next post, I will explore how the good magician serves the world, and how the Trickster and the Know-it-all can enter in and really mess things up!
And remember, this is not about judging these shadows as wrong. The work is merely to identify them. And the thing about a shadow is, that it is actually a natural result of a shining light. The trick is to not get lost in the shadow as if it were truth. Rather, you call it out, see it, turn toward the light, and put the light firmly back in the driver’s seat!
Until next time, keep your eyes open for the Bully and the Coward. Dig deep for the honest truth that resides and abides. That is the foundation for a true, mature Warrior stance in the world.