There is a disturbing amount of unhealthy information out there about what it means to be a man. I recently saw an article that essentially described American males as emotionless, lonely, tough, disposable robots. I took it as a wake up call to recognize the humanity inside and release some of the pressure put upon men. It struck me as being pretty brutal.
Perhaps this stereotype exists is because we live in an age where we don’t cultivate healthy males. Many households are fatherless due to death or absence. The absence is most often due to incarceration, abandonment, working long hours, or emotional estrangement. So fathers are not rearing healthy males. Mothers may either encourage unhealthy male stereotypes or make our boys into pseudo women. Or worse yet, our young males are molded by pop culture.
Consequently many males are in a state of arrested development. They live as perpetual boys who celebrate youth, vitality, and beauty. They lust for power, fame, sex, and money and become slaves to the ego. Or perhaps they are just adrift and directionless. This leaves deep insecurity, loneliness, and separation from themselves, other men, women, and the rest of creation.
There is a healthier model out there. Let’s take a look at the masculine archetypes.
The Green Man
The ultimate natural man is the Green Man. This archetype goes back thousands of years and existed in many cultures. He is Nature personified. The leaves and vines about his face, depict birth and rebirth. This form of masculinity is balanced. While he has strength, he also lives in relationship with man, land, and beast. He also embodies caring, husbandry, and stewardship.
As we will see in a moment, he’s the perfect blend of Lover, Magician, Warrior, and King. He cares, creates, protects, provides, relates, expresses, dies and is reborn. He cooperates instead of dominates. He’s wild, uncultivated, and authentic. He’s never been domesticated or lived in the prison of shoulds. His compass is his soul. The Green Man is the complete man. So let’s take a look at his components.
The Lover Archetype
The Lover is the energy that experiences through the senses. He is the creator and feeler. Exploring anything and everything, he has no limits. It is this energy that brings joy to existence and makes life worth living. The Lover brings beauty, meaning, balance, and purpose to all other energy.
All archetypes have a shadow side. The Lover’s *low side expresses himself as cut off from love, beauty, sex, creativity and excitement. He’s depressed and withdrawn. There is no connection or energy for life. The Lover’s high side is the hedonist. There is an abundance of energy and a drive to experience and do everything to the extreme. He’s addicted to the high and searches endlessly for more and more sensory satisfaction.
The Warrior Archetype
You can think of the warrior like a ninja or Navy SEAL. He’s trained to do battle against anything or anyone that is harmful or negative to the world. He doesn’t think of his own discomfort. He doesn’t think at all. Thinking is the enemy of action. The warrior is a doer who acts on instinct. Death is is constant companion. He has no others as he’s not a relational creature. His purpose is to destroy.
The low side of Warrior energy is passive and impotent. He may allow others to abuse and manipulate him. He sees fighting as “bad.” The high side despises weakness and vulnerability and delights in exploiting it in others. He’s often cruel. Although he doesn’t project this outwardly, he has low self worth and may self-destruct.
The Magician Archetype
The Magician is thinker, creator, weaver of sacred space, visionary, and intuitive. He uses his detached, rational thought to navigate the inner and outer worlds. His energy is associated with mystery, alchemy, and transformation. He is the bridge between potential and reality, the inner and outer worlds.
The low side is a wanna be. He wants to be all that the Magician is without the doing the work of acquiring wisdom or using it to help others. He may sabotage others’ success because he doesn’t have his own. The high side uses his knowledge to keep others down or put them in a position of worshiping him for his expertise. He likes the illusion of power and position.
The King Archetype
Lots of people think that we men go through stair steps. We grow from one archetype to another until we grow into kings. In actuality, all of these energies reside in males. One archetype dominates. This means that all males are not meant to be kings. “Heavy is the head that wears the crown,” so this is a good thing.
King energy is combines all the healthy best energy of the Lover, Warrior and Magician to serve the land and people. He provides order, harmony, and acts as a mediator for opposites to coexist. Under his influence, life flourishes.
The low side of king energy is weakness. He is governed by fear of betrayal and disloyalty. This suspicion uncenters him and keeps him paranoid. The high side of king energy shows up as tyranny. He wants to be responsible for all that is good and beautiful and can’t stand for anything or anyone else to be lovely. This can show up as proclaiming himself as God, going into rages if anything threatens his ego, or degrading or rejecting what’s good in people or things.
So, you can see that a healthy man is a good man. He’s moral, connected, loving, protective, creative, peaceful, a doer, and adheres to the natural order. He is free to be himself, yet allows other the same freedom. If you want a template for what it means to be a healthy man, you can use these masculine archetypes to help you know where you are and where you want to be. Don’t settle for life in the shadows.
Note: “low” refers to a deficit of energy while “high” means a surplus. This doesn’t mean bad and good.