What Is The Inner King?
Well, it’s a primal energy; it underlies the rest of the archetypes. Our Inner King is the leader in our lives, a visionary, planning for our future, and seeing the world from a perspective of wisdom, acceptance, joy, and blessing.
He knows when to intervene and when to leave people alone to find their own truth. A simple word or glance is all it takes to let people know of his awareness of what is. And when needed, he will take hard decisions for the greater long-term good of his Kingdom.
Ultimately he is the one his people turn to when times are hard, and he is the one whom the people celebrate when times are good, fruitful, and the kingdom prospers (whether that be the internal Kingdom, or the Kingdom of family, business, the world).
Yet the harsh truth is that for most of us, our King comes “online” last.
That’s not too surprising: the basis of the emotional wound in the King Quarter is the self-belief that “I am not good enough”. Children have plenty of opportunity to learn they are not good enough as they grow; many are directly told or shown, with greater or lesser degrees of force, that they are not good enough, that they are not worth much.
And even when Kingship is bestowed up on us by benevolent parents and teachers, it only fully develops into a mature expression of Kingship when we have gained enough life experience, the kind of experience which teaches us about wisdom and sound judgement.
It’s no wonder that becoming a mature, balanced King takes time! This is one reason why balanced King energy has always been incredibly important to the human race. That’s because the King that can be immensely organizing, ordering, and creatively healing.
(At least, that is, when the King is in balance, and not inflated into a tyrant, or deflated into a weakling King – both corruptions being symptoms of emotional wounding.)
Indeed, it’s the functions of King energy which make the transition from boy psychology to man psychology possible. The good King sits at the centre of his world, and from this central place all of creation radiates his being, his values, his energy, and his essence out to the very frontiers of his world.
It’s no different for each of us: no matter what we see as our realm, our inner King is the one responsible for ordering and directing, for making things happen, and for choosing what is best for all of the citizens of our realm – including ourselves.
In fact, this is the function of the King: to receive and to take all his people, including all the other parts of yourself, where they need to go. That’s when the kingdom flourishes.
But when the King doesn’t live in balance, nothing will go right for his people, or for the kingdom as a whole. The realm will languish, and the centre, which the King represents, will not hold – the kingdom will be ripe for rebellion, invasion or destruction.
Many of us probably grew up in dysfunctional families where there was an immature, weak, or absent father – and as a result mature King energy is not sufficiently present: in situations like this, the families very often succumb to disorder and chaos.
Even when the mother takes over with her own sovereign energy, which can substitute to some degree for the King energy, at some level the boys in the family suffer because they have no role model to teach them how to develop their own inner King.
(In passing, let’s remark on the fact that civilisations have always seen the culmination of kingly energy as a creative partnership with the Queen – and indeed, it has usually been seen as the royal couple’s duty to pass their creative energies on to the kingdom in the form of children.)
Perhaps one of the most critical roles of the King throughout history has been to bestow blessing. Being blessed has enormous psychological consequences for us. Research has actually shown that our bodies change chemically when we feel valued, praised, and blessed.
And young men today are starving for blessing from older men – starving for blessing from the place of older men’s King energy. Indeed, this is one of the reasons why so many young people can’t make their lives work.
Yet they should not be in this place. What they need is to be blessed; they need to be seen by the King, and when they are, something inside them comes together and “switches on”, so they can evolve into mature adult men.
So a question comes up at this point for me: how much blessing did you receive from your father or other Kings during your childhood?
Most likely none. Perhaps a little. But most of never received enough blessing to make us believe that we were good enough, and this absence of blessing gives us a lifetime’s personal work of reparation and self-exploration.
This is the emotional work we must do to recover who we were always meant to be, before the world got in the way.
To quote again from Moore and Gillette: “The King archetype in its fullness possesses the qualities of order, of reasonable and rational patterning, of integration and integrity in the masculine psyche. It stabilises chaotic emotion and out-of-control behaviours. It gives stability and centeredness. It brings calm. And in its centeredness, it mediates vitality, life force and joy.
“It defends our own sense of inner order, our own integrity of being and of purpose, our own central calmness about who we are, and our essential stability and certainty in our masculine identity. It looks upon the world with a firm but kindly eye. It sees others in all their weakness and in all their talent and worth. It honours them and promotes them.
“It guides them and nurtures them towards their own fullness of being. It is not envious, because it is secure, as the King, in its own worth. It rewards and encourages creativity in us and others. In its central expression of the Warrior, it represents aggressive might when that is needed when order is threatened.
“It also has the power of inner authority. It knows and discerns from its Magician aspect, and acts out of this deep knowingness. It delights in us and in others from its Lover aspect and shows this delight through words of authentic praise and concrete actions that enhance our lives.”
This is the energy that allows you to serve your kingdom from a place of strength. In fact, it’s the energy that allows you to express yourself calmly when everyone else is losing their heads in times of chaos and struggle.
This is the place from which you can make clear decisions that cut through the mess in the family, at work, even in the nation and the world. And it’s the energy of blessing that seeks joy, growth and nurturing for all people, and for the environment and the natural world.
The Tyrant And The Weakling King
But, as we know, things don’t always go according to plan. It’s certainly true that most of us have experienced moments of integration, calmness, and centredness – and perhaps we’ve even experienced blessing from a kindly uncle or grandfather, a boss, teacher, a priest, a therapist. But the truth is most of us have very little experience of the King in its fullness.
Which is why this positive energy is sadly lacking in so many male “leaders” – just think of the politicians we see around the world today! Instead, what we experience, in them and in ourselves, is the Shadow King. He can take two forms: the tyrant King or the abdicating King.
The tyrant, one aspect of the wounded and undeveloped King, is not creative. He is destructive. He never knows when it’s time to step aside and give way to others.
He exploits and abuses others, behaving ruthlessly, mercilessly, and without feeling. He pursues what he thinks of as his own self-interest but degrades others as he does so.
He does not respect beauty or innocence or strength or talent or life energy. And he behaves in this way because he lacks structure and he is afraid – terrified, really – of his own hidden weakness and his underlying lack of potency and strength.
In fact it is the Shadow King who makes war on his sons’ and daughters’ joy and strength, who diminishes their abilities and vitality.
Perhaps he fears their freshness, or the newness of their being, or the life force surging through them – whatever, he seeks to kill it. As you may know from your own experience, he does this with verbal assaults, and deprecation of their interests, hopes and talents.
Or he may do it by ignoring them by turning his back on them when they are disappointed, or by registering his lack of interest when they offer something of themselves to him.
And of course his attacks aren’t always verbal or psychological: they may include physical abuse. Any father possessed by his tyrant archetype may exploit his children physically or sexually.
To what extent, I wonder, is the tyrant playing out in your life? And if it is, what are you doing about it from the place of the mature masculine?
For even if the place of the mature masculine within you is a potential energy rather than a reality, at some level you can still make a choice to step into your inner King.
Any man who is possessed by the tyrant is very sensitive to criticism – and will, at the slightest remark, feel weak and deflated. But he may not show you this. Instead you will experience rage, his rage which covers his sense of worthlessness, vulnerability and weakness.
Behind the tyrant hides the other pole of the King’s shadow – the weakling or abdicating King. And when the weakling cannot identify with King energy, or doesn’t feel it, he believes he is nothing. And then he projects his own inner weakling King upon those who he sees as weak.
One example of this was General Patton in the Second World War: praised widely for his virtues of strength and fearlessness, courage and leadership, he too had a weakling King.
On one occasion he was visiting a field hospital going from bed to bed, congratulating wounded men, giving out medals – something the King in his fullness would do. But then he came across a man suffering from shell shock. When Patton asked the man what was wrong with him, and the soldier replied that his “nerves were shot”, Patton flew into a rage and slapped the soldier across the face, calling a coward and sending him from the hospital to the front lines.
Though Patton did not know it, what he had seen in this man was the face of his own hidden fear and weakness, projected outwards onto another. He had glimpsed his own inner weakling.
And of course the inner weakling lacks centredness and calmness and security within himself. This can lead him into paranoia. He sees threats where they do not exist, he is tormented by fears of disloyalty. And in some ways he does have much to fear, because his oppressive behaviour, including cruelty, are powerful provocations which may lead to a similar response from other people.
Such thoughts and feelings lead to increasing tyranny and dictatorial behaviour, the accumulation of more and more power around an individual.
The Development Of The Tyrant
It’s so hard for parents who were not blessed themselves to bless their children right. Moore and Gillette point out that to offer a child just the right amount of adoration and affirmation is difficult. Perhaps the parents mollycoddle them, and adore them, producing a “highchair tyrant”.
In fact a parent needs to allow the child down off the “highchair” easily and gradually into the real world, because childhood gods cannot live as mortal humans. If parents adore a boy too much and don’t help the boy’s ego form, then he may never get down from his high chair, and remain inflated with the power of his infantile grandiosity.
That’s one way that the Shadow King is formed – and the other is when the parents abuse the baby or the boy, and attack his grandiosity and gloriousness from the beginning.
In these cases, the grandiosity gets split off and dropped into the boy’s unconscious for safekeeping. Later, in “adulthood”, functioning primarily from the place of the weakling King, his repressed grandiosity may explode to the surface, raw and primitive, unmodulated and very powerful.
Sometimes a man seems very nice and rational, but suddenly, perhaps when promoted at work, or such like, explodes into a different personality, a little Hitler. This is the Shadow King – a man for whom the saying “power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely” is entirely correct. (Here, I again think of some “politicians” in our world today.)
So on the one hand, where a boy was badly treated in childhood and disassociated from his King energy, he can become caught in his own King’s dysfunctional shadow and feel starved of King energy. This is the man who has no ability, no control, no power – or so it seems – to change his life.
On the other hand, a man may come to identify completely with kingly energy – but of an immature kind. He identifies completely with King energy, and has no commitment to others. He is his own priority. The true centre of the system is lost: and grandiosity rules, along with tyrannical kingship.
Projecting the King Outwards
Of course, what we don’t, can’t or won’t experience in ourselves, we may project outwards onto others. And so it’s possible that anyone who has lost contact with his own inner king may seek it out in others.
He might experience himself as impotent, as incapable of acting, as incapable of feeling calm, without the presence and the loving attention of another person who carries his King energy projection. This can happen with children when their parents don’t allow them to develop sufficient independence of will and action and purpose, and the children remain forever bound to their parents. It can happen at work, when we become too dependent upon the power of the boss.
And it can happen on a national scale too. In the 20th and 21st centuries we’ve seen many examples of countries where people saw themselves as powerless and turned all of their King energy over to some kind of Fuhrer. This abdication of one’s own power is just as damaging as the tyranny that it fosters.
Another way in which men can deal with their own lack of King energy is to become “King killers”. This means a man attacks and tries to bring down the people who he sees as Kingly and successful. Maybe it represents an attack on their own inner King energy, which they repress, fearful of expressing it in the world.
The King In His Fullness
When we access our King energy correctly, we will manifest the qualities in our lives of the good and rightful King, the King in his fullness.
Our warriors will drop to their knees, appropriately, before their Emperor within. We feel our anxiety level drop. We feel centred and calm, and we speak from an inner authority.
We have the capacity to bless ourselves and others, and care for others deeply and genuinely. We see others as the full persons they really are. We have a sense of being a centred participant in the world, creating a more just, calm, and creative world.
We have a transpersonal devotion to our families, our friends, our companies, our causes, our religions, and indeed to the world. We will also have some kind of spiritual belief system, and we shall indeed love our neighbours as ourselves.