Article #2 in the series “Making Love in the Time of the Apocalypse”
In the previous article, released in the summer of 2016, I explored archetypal possession as well as the Shadow King and his campaign of terror in the world.
Tolkien’s lord of darkness Sauron is one representation of this archetype that has left an enduring impact on the collective psyche.
From deep inside the barren lands of Mordor, Sauron’s great eye gazes to the four corners of Middle Earth, scouring the land for the One Ring and plotting the downfall of all who would oppose him.
Rising up against him are the brave men of Minas Tirith, the capital city of Gondor. And so, in the third chapter of the epic saga, the kingdoms of order and chaos clash in a great battle.
For almost a decade, I’ve dedicated my time to exploring how such stories relate to our lives, and increasingly, the collective of humanity.
In this article, I will attempt to share what I have found.
The archetypal Kingdom
A kingdom is typically defined as a territory united under a King and/or a Queen.
There’s more to it, however: A kingdom is an archetypal construct that lives in the collective unconscious of humanity1. It’s a psychological source code that runs whenever people gather.
So according to the common definition, the kingdoms of the world include the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Bhutan and Thailand (countries with actual monarchs).
The archetypal definition, however, includes all nations, no matter their form of governance, as well as your family, a social or political gathering, your workplace, even schools of thought.
In all of these, a psychological field constellates which affects all constituent members of the group. Many of our fairy tales, mythologies and fantasy epics explore what happens when the monarch of such kingdoms is weak, evil, insane or absent2.
By now, however, most of the actual kingdoms of the world exert very little power over people. The era of sacred kingship is long gone and monarchies are no longer power structures as much as they are cultural markers.
So in terms of understanding the dynamics of power, which is the core intention of this article, we are better served by investigating the archetypal construct.
Two Paradigms of Governance
Through my work with Reclaim your Inner Throne, I’ve identified that whenever the archetypal kingdom constellates, it does so within the context of the Inner or Outer Throne paradigms.
When it constellates inside the former, each constituent member has realized – or is encouraged to realize – that the archetypal throne (the seat of their power) is within them. They realize in turn that the archetypal kingdom is a context wherein sovereign beings gather to co-create.
As that breakthrough realization takes hold, we move beyond zero-sum power games, and a sense of harmony and trust combined with creative tension between polarities emerges.
In such groups, referred to in a new emerging business literature as self-managing systems3, everyone is entrusted with leadership and sovereignty and the privilege to be autonomous change agents inside the larger field. They lead in one moment, follow the next, and thus demonstrate humility as a core virtue of empowered leadership.
In most cases, however, the kingdom will constellate inside the Outer Throne paradigm. In such a paradigm, power is a zero-sum game, typically fought over by polarities such as conservative/liberal, masculine/feminine, west/east.
Going deeper with the political polarity, an Outer Throne kingdom governed by conservative values will typically give more power to the affluent in-group at the expense of the underprivileged. In a liberal Outer Throne kingdom, power is typically taken from the rich and given to the poor.
These (very broad stroke) examples demonstrate that power in the Outer Throne paradigm is always distributed as a finite resource, wherein individuals and groups can only be made more powerful if opposing individuals or groups are made less powerful.
This unjust system necessitates that the individuals and groups which lose power must submit themselves to their destiny under the authority of the prevailing Outer Throne monarch/ruling class. Stability will prevail for as long as the people who lose power shut up and accept their lot in life.
There is, however, a limit to how much self-interest any human being is willing to sacrifice in the name of peace and harmony, and so the forces of chaos will inevitably start constellating yet again as those oppressed and those hungry for power grow weary.There is a limit to how much self-interest people are willing to give up for the sake of stability.Click To Tweet
In the annals of human history, we typically call the impending fallout a coup when it’s carried out by those hungry for power and a revolution when it’s carried out by those less fortunate.
In both cases, from the perspective of the usurped King, “Sauron has just taken Minas Tirith”, and the seed for the next cycle of stability and chaos has already been sown.
Kingdoms at War
I don’t want to be crude here, but let’s call a spade a spade: If you don’t believe that negotiations of power are at the very core of your life, you are likely deluded and/or utterly dominated by those who are comfortable wielding it.
As professor of psychology Jordan Peterson points out, if you aren’t capable of being a little dangerous, you will be the serfs of those who are.
There is arguably no force in human nature – apart, perhaps, from the drive to procreate – that shapes our lives more than the struggle for power.
This constant negotiation of power can be very vulnerable, especially to the sensitive among us. And if you have liberal political views, you are likely prone to think that only the “little people” are feeling that vulnerability. It seems clear, however, that it’s equally alive in the people we typically recognize as “privileged”.
Because in the Outer Throne paradigm, nobody feels fully empowered. There is always some person, organization, religion or country out there that represents a threat to me. There is always someone who wants what I have, and who is willing to do nasty things to get it.
It doesn’t matter if I’m a janitor, a busker, a CEO, a Hollywood movie star, a King or a president; as long as I haven’t reclaimed my inner throne, I will not feel fully at home in the world.
And yet, we all deep down yearn for wholeness, blessing and harmony. This yearning – which seems to be hardcoded into our nature (and is often interpreted as a yearning for God) – is the same yearning that Tolkien captured with his Return of the King.
The profound impact the coronation of Aragorn typically has on us reminds us that we long for the miracle that will conquer the chaos of the world and set things right. We long for the archetypal meeting between the good King and his Queen. We long for the return of the Messiah or a new Golden Age. We yearn for peace and prosperity for all.
These yearnings look different for us all, but they unquestionably live in you as well. For these are archetypal yearnings, and they exert tremendous influence on our psyches.
It is this yearning to feel safe and at home in the world (united under a common cause) that rulers over the millennia have taken advantage of when they need to control the masses. How do they do it? By pointing to the forces of chaos outside or inside the kingdom and rallying the people against them under the banner of tribalism.
If a government is unpopular, all they need do is identify an enemy which isn’t them. If a corporation is struggling with their worker’s morale, the leaders can identify a competitor that is easy to hate or scapegoat someone inside the company.
And you know what? It works.
And so we come face to face with one of the greatest paradoxes of human nature: We go to war to feel united4.A great paradox of human nature is that we go to war to feel united.Click To Tweet
From the Trenches of a dying Paradigm
Let’s cover a relevant example of this dynamic, so that we can bring it home in our lives:
At a political gathering, one person after another walks on stage to speak about their leader. They speak with passion and force as their King waits somewhere in the room for the moment that his army of generals (warrior archetype) and advisors (magician archetype) have paved the way for his impressive entry.
Outside the walls of this “castle”, the “forces of chaos” are gathering with protest signs and aggressive cries. The people inside are deeply disturbed by this, and feel vulnerable and lonely, and desperate for someone to soothe them. The “King” finally walks on stage, to the cheers of the crowd. They have all invested their hopes in him, and eagerly await his leadership.
The King speaks impassionately about how dangerous the people who have gathered outside are. As the feeling of being united in their shared hatred of the enemy grows, their sense of being vulnerable and desperately alone in the world leaves them.
Having united against the “forces of darkness”, they feel at home in the world.
The Rise and Fall of Postmodernism
I want to take you towards the paradigmatic change that is underway in the world right now. But before we get there, I want to take you on a little side-quest to investigate why the last efforts culture made at bringing about the currently emerging paradigm failed.
In order to do so, we will time travel to the years following World War II.
The horrors of war had exposed the human shadow and the problems of the prevailing structures of power. And so, in the wake of the war, the United Nations was established. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, arguably one of the most important documents ever written, followed in 1948, and placed individual human dignity smack bang at the center of universal moral concerns.
It didn’t take long before Beatles came around to capture the zeitgeist with “All you need is Love”.
The coming decades saw postmodernism rise to power as the dominant philosophy of the culture’s leading edge. With WWII fresh in mind, postmodernism emerged from the mouths of French philosophers with an implicit understanding of the challenges of existing structures of power.
And so one of the dominant goals of postmodern thinking became the deconstruction of all these structures, as if to limit the potential for the elite to oppress the masses.
“One of the very basic ideas of Post-Modernism is the rejection of arbitrary power structures.” – Larry Wall, creator of Perl “the world’s first postmodern programming language”
In other words, there is a noble silver lining running through all of postmodernism, and it is the just distribution of power and resources.
Though there are glitches in the source code of this ideology. One dangerous flaw is that my sense of disempowerment as an individual is by definition seen as a structural problem and as completely unrelated to any of my own personal failings in life5 (important footnote).
Postmodern philosophy is a philosophical direction which is critical of certain foundational assumptions of Western philosophy and especially of the 18th-century Enlightenment. It emphasizes the importance of power relationships, personalization and discourse in the “construction” of truth and world views. Postmodernists deny that an objective reality exists, and deny that there are objective moral values. – Wikipedia
And people may well be oppressed; nobody spends their whole life in paradise. Yet, it’s a terrible disservice to give a person victim status without simultaneously showing him or her the way out of their misery. It’s about as empowering as telling someone they have cancer and are going to die.
(having a past of chronic health issues, I know first hand how destructive it is to build identity around my struggles; at one point it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that generates the very thing I am trying to cure)Building identity around your struggles enforces the very problem you are trying to cure.Click To Tweet
Postmodernism’s insight that all truth is relative and contextual was a momentous contribution to our cultural discourse. The correlating capacity to take multiple perspectives was important for growing our sense of compassion and togetherness in life.
With time, however, this insight that truth is relative came to mean that “your truth” is unassailable by mine, and that no one truth is more true than another. We just need a little additional mental gymnastics to arrive at this crazy stance: I am a victim as long as I feel like one.
Or put differently: I cannot be free until the whole world thinks and acts like I want them to, and that no structures remain in society that make me feel bad.
And that, my friends, is the birthplace of tyranny.
While it pretends to be a champion of tolerance, egalitarianism, and compassion, postmodernism in its shadow form has turned into a reality distortion field that presents violence as compassion, tyranny as tolerance, and silencing dissent as sensitivity.
It is as if Gryma Wormtongue and the witch from Hansel & Grethel have been hired to raise the children. The witch heats the oven while Gryma sits with the kids, telling them lies about the world that strips them of their power (rip apart their ego structure).
By the time he’s done, the kids will be too apathetic and ignorant to understand that they’re about to be eaten (by invading archetypal energies, leading with time to archetypal possession and possibly madness).
It’s a terrible tragedy that a philosophy that was (at least seemingly) birthed from a desire to prevent the abuse of power has now itself become a vehicle of archetypal possession.
It’s a chilling reminder of what happens when we wash our hands clean of any of our own flaws and limitations and place the blame solely on Other.
Sauron’s forces have claimed territory after territory, conquering not only the extreme political right, many of our corporations and financial systems, but also (arguably) most of academia and the political sphere.
Let me be as clear as I can: Minas Tirith is close to falling, and if we value our children and our future, we are in urgent need of waking up.Postmodern ideologues portray violence as compassion, tyranny as tolerance, silencing the opposition as sensitivity.Click To Tweet
Finding peace between Polarities
Let’s return now to a somewhat more joyful line of inquiry: The bridging of polarities. And as they are so in each other’s faces these days, I will use liberals and conservatives as my case study. Let’s look at what they stand for:
- While liberals typically relativise truth, religious conservatives typically see truth as absolute.
- While liberals typically want to break down boundaries and borders that separate us, conservatives typically want to maintain stability by defending them.
- While liberals typically feel ashamed of their culture, conservatives typically feel proud of it.
- While liberals typically want creativity and change, conservatives typically want order and stability.
- While liberals are typically open, creative and freedom-seeking, conservatives are typically private, conscientious and hard-working.
- While liberals typically see the ills of the world as arising in the structures of society, conservatives typically see them as arising in individuals.
And so I have to ask: Is it not obvious that we need one another?
And in a world of duality and polarity, can we extrapolate this conflict that’s building in the political realm to other parts of life?
Can we apply this thinking to masculine and feminine polarities? To build a better future, don’t we need the penetration and uncompromising truth of the masculine as much as we need the embrace and the uncompromising care of the feminine?
Can we apply this thinking to the polarity of East and West? Isn’t the meeting between Christianity and Buddhism the most spiritually significant event of the 20th century – bringing together the passion of the Christ (heart) and the enlightenment of the Buddha (mind)?
In a divided universe, and in a life of dualism, where does alchemy want to happen? Where is life inviting you towards greater wholeness in this moment?
These are the very questions we need to get busy with.
Because the wholeness and empowerment that comes from courageously confronting and considering the things and ideas which we fear and hate will begin the process of moving us from being a useless, reactive person towards being the sovereign ruler of our Inner Throne paradigm.
The Kingdoms of our Lives
The insights offered in this article into the archetypal fields that constellate when groups gather will hopefully help you see your real life group affiliations more clearly.
If you can recognize that a group gathers within the Outer Throne paradigm – which it is statistically far more likely to do – and you notice certain themes playing out among its constituent members, then in all likelihood you are in the presence of the unconscious of its leader.
In other words, you can accurately estimate the shadows of an Outer Throne leader by analyzing the psychological themes playing out among the people under their rule9.
And so if you want to engage with Outer Throne groups at all – which you will likely have to – use this insight to map out the psychological health of the “kingdom” (an Outer Throne group can be quite wonderful if the ruler/ruling class is fairly enlightened).
Also, as we start to live according to the logic of the new, emerging Inner Throne paradigm and begin reframing polarities from being enemies to being invitations to wholeness, might we discover that there are more things that unite us than separate us?
Might we discover that the conflicts we engage in are often desperate attempts at staying small and free from the responsibility of living into our true destiny?
I believe so.
And so I better ask myself: Where am I going to war because I am unwilling to become more whole? In what ways am I so attached to my worldview that I completely miss out on what’s actually going on?Where am I going to war because I am unwilling to become more whole?Click To Tweet
If you don’t think you’re doing this, you’re – pardon my French – most likely full of shit. (so tumble with me down the rabbit hole, why don’t you?)
You’re most likely way less pure and holy than you would like to think (I am). And so, at this stage, it becomes absolutely crucial to own the depth of our wickedness. Because we’re all wicked. And we’re all wonderful. But it’s in acknowledging our wickedness that we reclaim our power and our true light can start shining through.
“No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.” – Carl Gustav Jung, the father of analytical psychology
In the final article “Making Love in the Times of the Apocalypse”, I will go deeper with these themes.
In the meantime, stay vigilant, keep Sauron’s forces at bay, and follow the advice of a true spiritual master (a man so dedicated to facing his wickedness that he spent 40 days in the desert with it) love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Be well. And if you have any thoughts or comments, please share them below.
1 The deepest part of our unconscious, in which archetypes and mythological themes live. Wikipedia article
2 Examples of this include Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (Sauron: Evil), C.S. Lewis’ Narnia The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe (the Witch: Evil), Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood (King John: Weak/Evil) and Gladiator (Commodus: Weak/Evil), Braveheart (Edward Longshanks: Evil), Game of Thrones (King Aerys II Targaryen: Insane).
3 Self-managing systems and teams are proving to be increasingly popular in business. It’s a radical concept, but one the proves to be way more effective and profitable than the old command and control paradigm of leadership. The popular book Reinventing Organizations explores this theme deeply. And here’s one of many articles online exploring whether self-management is the way forwards: Why Self-Managed Teams Are the Future of Business.
4 This phenomenon relates to the tension arc between the Lover and Warrior archetypes. You can see it in tango or lovemaking. We need clear boundaries and separation to enable full union. It’s in our embrace of polarity – in leading/following, penetrating/surrendering – that we discover the deepest, most sacred intimacy. I believe – and I need to research this more – that deep down waging war is intimately connected with eroticism. That we are wanting, as we rise to battle “the enemy”, to find the wholeness from whence we came.
5 True to the rise of individual dignity as the most central moral concern, postmodernism strives to erase a unifying moral compass from society. Like their marxist ancestors, postmodernists believe that we’re all dominated by a ruling class, and that anyone who isn’t a part of that ruling class is by definition an oppressed minority (proletariat).
Since the ruling class (“Western white men”) is seen as inherently oppressive and self-centered (ignoring the historical fact that no force in human history has liberated more people from poverty and slavery than capitalism) and in control of everything, any social contract operating in society is seen as elements of a nefarious plot by the ruling class to dominate the masses.
In other words, morality itself is now construed as being oppressive, and so the moral compass – the most important social contract ever created to reduce the level of chaos and evil in the world – is replaced by a fairly arbitrary set of subjective beliefs about what I feel is best for me. (Sauron couldn’t be happier).
6 There’s a growing trend online of these people posting evidence of the imaginary transgressions made against them. This video documents it (I have no idea who the creator is and its presentation is too sensationalist for my taste, but the content is real). You will notice that they always ask for people’s names, in my estimation with the clear intention of defaming “the enemy” publicly online. It’s literally an archetypal witchhunt. And because these people – primarily women – are completely unable to see the insanity of their own ways, they are sharing evidence of it freely. It’s backfiring massively and leading to a surge in masculine and conservative values.
7 Russia has a very vibrant eco-village movement, connected in part to the Anastasia books. Russians are leading the way in living close to the land (video).
8 Americans, as far as I know, don’t typically talk about their country as their fatherland, though the country is clearly masculine in nature, with tremendous focus on the founding fathers, a patriarchal God etc.
9 When a King/Queen is in their power, a blessing field operates around them. That field tends to impart the gifts of the leader onto the people of the kingdom. Similarly, if monarchs are feeling disempowered without being humble, a tyrant field may constellate around them, cursing the constituent members. Blessing fields and tyrant fields can operate concurrently, with a leader being able to e.g. bless your relationship to money, but cursing your intimate relationships (unconsciously of course). It is thanks to the very real influence of this field that we can reverse engineer the unconscious of a leader by observing the people under him.