Catholic World Interview

Helping Men Discover the Spirit Within

The Catholic World interviews Robert Moore,
co-author of King, Warrior, Magician, Lover

May/June 1992 p.112-115

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Dr. Moore, in your book you discuss what you call "the archetypes" of mature masculinity. What do you mean by the word archetypes?

An archetype is an instinctually-grounded pattern for behavior, thought and functioning that is not based simply on cultural or social conditioning. I'm talking about masculine archetypes - a potential capacity which our species has within its "hardwiring" (not softwiring, not software). And when I speak of a "biogram," I mean that we have the potential to function in a certain way, a way for which there is a blueprint in the deep unconscious.

The "deep unconscious" - is this akin to what Carl Jung calls the "collective unconscious?"

Yes. Unlike many today, I'm one of those Jungians who really believes that there is an objective psyche; that is, that in the course of our evolutionary heritage, a human potential has developed which is very rich and very large. I have what we might call a "high anthropology." I mean that I have a high vision of the human that is not being realized today - in most men or most women.

You've discussed in your book how these masculine archetypes play out in "boy psychology" and in "man psychology." Would you elaborate?

This is really important because if we talk about spirituality today in general, and masculine spirituality in particular, one has to look at the way in which the issue of initiation is central. Tribal cultures all understood the importance of gender-specific initiations to help people reach maturity. Modern culture, when it started to depreciate the importance of ritual, lost that entire heritage, that is, the heritage of human wisdom developed over the centuries regarding how society should help to create a woman - help to create a man. Earlier cultures had that mature sense of responsible stewardship of the community. A radical thing happened when we lost that tribal wisdom.

When did this happen?

It didn't happen overnight. For thousands of years a lot of wisdom was accumulating about how to help our particular species reach its potential. The loss of ritualization and ritual process occurred very early, with the beginning of the "axiom religions" the Ewart Cousins talks about, (1) and it got rolling even more powerfully with the Protestant Reformation. Later, with the Enlightenment, there was a decline and depreciation of ritual. Ritual was seen as illness rather than as an important part of the human potential and the human culture. The point I'm trying to get across is that the loss of understanding of the role of ritual processes in helping members of our species become fully empowered and responsible adults has put modern culture into a terrible place.

Is this more true of men today than of women?

I don't want to get into talking about feminine psychology, but one could take about feminine psychology in a way that is parallel to what I'm saying about masculine psychology. I don't believe that there are a lot more mature women running around than there are mature men, but I'm focusing on the masculine side of this.

You mentioned "boy psychology"…

When I talk about boy psychology I'm talking about the situation we face today: there are a lot of emotionally and spiritually immature boys living in grown-up men's bodies, and they are determining the future of our planet. The arms race was a result of this. This malignant destruction that we're now seeing in the Easter European countries, the civil war that's going on now, the tendency of males to use their "warrior energies" and "king energies" in abusive ways - I believe this is a direct result of the loss of wisdom that used to exist in tribal cultures about how the community could help men and women grow up. If I'm right, this is a radical argument.

Has this any significance for our political parties in the United States today?

I don't believe that the problem is that there are not enough Republicans or not enough Democrats. The problems on earth are not caused because there are not enough Jews, or not enough Muslims or not enough Christians. Rather, the rise of these actual religions and modernization processes has made it extremely difficult for us to help the members of our species mature. So when we talk about "boy psychology," we're talking about an uninitiated man who uses his power in abusive ways. This is one of the characteristics of the boy psychology.

You mentioned that there are four masculine archetypes. What are the?

Throughout human mythology there was a tendency to see the world as having four sectors. Jung believes this had deep psychological significance and that there are four sectors in the psyche. We believe that we've decoded what these are, and it's not just psychological typology like Jung thought. We see four fundamental biograms that form the foundational corners of the human self in both men and women. In men this is the king program, the warrior program, the magician program or biogram, and the lover biogram.

Could you go into a little more detail on these?

It is the king biogram or archetype that carries the potential for inclusive nurturing and creative ordering. The warrior biogram contains the program for serving and protecting -

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for assertive, effective, constant, disciplined action. In other words, the warrior program is the program for the doer. The magician program, we believe, is the program for cognitive functioning - what Catholic mystics would call contemplation, or the capacity for reflection and awareness. This is the biogram for what is known today in scholarly circles as hermeneutics. It's also the locus of ritual leadership and understanding the processes of healing. It's the program under which shamans, physicists, psychotherapists, and priests operate. The lover program is the biogram for embodiment, the erotic dimension of life, and for joyful, passionate engagement with a physical world. It's the biogram under which sexuality - the appetites - really can be understood.

Do you see any of these as desirable or undesirable, as good or bad?

Our understanding of these four biograms is that each one of them has an immature expression - what we call a shadow expression - and that each also has a mature function in the psyche. So they're not good or bad. There are mature and immature accessing of these programs and the person ahs to be able to balance the four of them together to have a mature, fully-functioning human self - a masculine self, in this case.

As I understand your book, you believe that there are times when one archetype dominates over the other…

Usually, in all of us, one or two will be more dominant.

Yet it seems there are times in life when one can summon up one energy as opposed to another.

Exactly. I'd say that there are four couples within the "hardwiring" of the deep self. There is the male and female within; and thus there is the king and queen, the warrior couple, the magician couple, the lover couple. Men predominantly develop the masculine side, while women predominantly develop the feminine side. The key is to be able to acknowledge and affirm all of these energies in one's self and in other men and women - and to find cooperative, creative ways to relate these hardwired inner potentials.

I gather from the book that you believe that most of us aren't doing a very good job of acknowledging the existence of these four couples.

Most of us don't do well with this in our world. This is a system of thought that applies to couple relationships and to our public and moral responsibilities. We're trying our best to help people understand that our species is equipped to do much better than it is doing. Culture and ritual and spirituality has to help develop these potentials and facilitate them.

What do you think churches can do to help men to get in touch with these inner sources of energy?

I think there's a great deal they can do, but one of the things they've got to deal with first is that sexism is a two-way street. In a lot of religious communities in America the masculine gender of our species is being unjustly demonized. Douglas Gillette and I are among the group of leaders in men's work internationally who are trying to confront irresponsible use of masculine powers, but we don't feel that abuse of power is a male trait. In essence we believe that it's a mark of uninitiated, immature men. One of the things we have to get the churches to do, both Protestant and Catholic, is to not continue getting aboard this bandwagon of demonization of the masculine gender that has become so popular among some radical feminists, though by no means all.

Do you feel, then, that some feminists are working in opposition to your goal to help men - and women - achieve more of their real potential?

I see myself as an ally of feminists, because I think that the goal is to have a fully-empowered partnership between men and women which facilitates cooperation toward building a just and humane world culture. But first the churches have to realize that men are important to work with in the first place. It is amazing today how little is being done with and for men in ministries. I take a lot of heat because of my attempt to call the churches' attention to the importance of this topic. At the Chicago Theological Seminary recently I had a conference on the Men's Movement in the churches, and there were a lot of people who were disturbed because we were even raising the question of ministry to men! It is amazing, but it is something we have to face.

How do you go about discussing this with a feminist?

What I say to my colleagues, and particularly my colleagues who are leaders in feminist circles, is, "Look, you're right. A great deal of the evil on this planet has been done by powerful males, but you know we have to get beyond the 'ain't it awful' phase. We've got to find ways that will work to help men use their power responsibly for liberation and empowerment, and for making this planet a safe place for others species and for human beings - men, women and children." But I also say to them that we are not going to achieve this without men. Men carry too much power.

Why do you think the Men's Movement has been criticized so much in the popular media?

I talk a lot about boy journalists who think it's groovy to shame and humiliate and ridicule men. One of the marks of initiated men is that they are not into humiliating and ridiculing other men or whatever race, size, culture or religion. There has been a lot of immature, irresponsible bashing of

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the Men's Movement in the media. It's been amazing to me how they have trivialized the important issues that have been raised here. I'm not one who says that the work among men today has been what it needs to be, what it should be, or what it could become. But I am trying to help people have a vision of what needs to happen. I think we need to look. One of the main reasons I think the media has appeared so negative is that they are looking for the sensational, so they have zoomed in on the drumming and the sweat lodges - things like that.

If the media is supposed to be objective, how has this continued to go on?

We have a lot of journalists who have had no education whatsoever in the history of human culture. Therefore they don't know the role of drums and drumming in cultures around the world, among men and women. So we have all these people that are interpreting culture to the public who have insufficient education in anthropology and the history of culture to even begin to understand the phenomena that we're seeing among men today. We're seeing some exciting things happening. We're seeing cooperation between men of different spiritual traditions in a context of concern about community and ecology that a lot of people told us in the sixties was not possible. We're witnessing cooperation between men that come from Jewish backgrounds, Islamic backgrounds, Buddhist backgrounds, Sikh backgrounds, Christian backgrounds, Sufi backgrounds. We're seeing an enormous capacity to relate constructively emerging at the grass roots, and that should be seen as significant today in a world in which malignant tribalism and hatred is one of the greatest problems. To be able to witness the fact that men can communicate - now, that's news! It's important news for the future of the planet, if we're going to have a future.

In your book you encourage men to be individuals, to embrace their archetypes. Do whole societies take on archetypal characteristics, too?

You can always do an analysis of any person, group, or culture in terms of which patterns are blessed and which ones are not. For example, one of the reasons why Japanese culture is eating us alive commercially is that they have historically been organized around the samurai warrior modality, which calls for discipline and commitment, sticking to the mission and getting the job done. Increasingly in America our popular culture has pressed us more and more into a sort of magician/lover, in shadow form. MTV today is the highest part of our culture, and while that energy is wonderful and valuable, drug, sex, and rock and roll do not make us competitive in world markets. You could use that analysis to say that we've got too much shadow lover in America now, and the Japanese have a lot of shadow warriors, as well as positive warriors.

An economic recession is a difficult time for men. What could a man do to keep from regressing if, for instance, he's been laid off?

Men need to do more bonding as men. Throughout most of the history of the human species men have understood that they can't make it very well alone, so they bonded and worked a lot together. Today people ridicule men who want to bond together. But the fact is that men don't stay very sane without bonding with other men. I think this is an important time for us men to realize that we can't delegate all our responsibilities for well-being in our culture, in our society, and in our world, to other people. We can't delegate our king responsibilities, our warrior responsibilities, etc. We have to say to men increasingly, "Look, the buck stops with you. I know you are out of work now, but there are ways you can get involved in trying to be a leader and to be a part of the solution for your community, and for you nation, and for the world." Now, not too many people tell us that.

How do you feel that the 1992 presidential elections fit in with what you are saying about the modern man achieving his potential as man?

There are a lot of people infantilizing us by telling us if we just get the right presidential candidate elected everything will suddenly change. The fact is that things are not going to change until we can get men to realize that the word man is a loaded term. It's loaded with significance - cultural, moral, and spiritual significance. For example, I don't use the word man lightly. When I talk about somebody becoming a man, I don't mean a male. I mean someone who has been working seriously to get fully empowered and initiated as a man and to assume his yoke of responsibility as an adult male of our species.

So I think this is what men's work and the Men's Movement internationally needs to do. Whether it will do it or not is anybody's guess. My guess is that the odds are against it. But we have to provide a vision. We have to offer some leadership, and we have to see if people are willing to take a look at what we are trying to accomplish.

Note: (1) Cousins, Ewart. Bonaventure: The Soul's Journey into God: The Tree of Life, The Life of St. Francis. Classics of Western Spirituality. (Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1978.)