Male Roles and Archetypes
Much has been written regarding Paganism about female archetypes. Some is discussed within Wicca, and there have been several sets of archetypes discussed in writing, but there is no real agreement. Hinduism has a great deal on male archetypes. These are in the Bhagavad Gita as well as The Ramayana. In drawing from both sides of my spirituality, both the Wiccan and the Hindu, I have the following writing on male archetypes.
Male Mysteries and Archetypes
By Rudrananda


The masculine has several sets of archetypes. Within European Paganism, often these are seen as Son, Warrior, King, Lover, and Magician. There are other archetypes too, such as the Green Man and the Lord of the Wild Hunt. In the Eastern Paganism, He is seen as Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer. He may be seen as Student, Householder, Forest Dweller, and Sage as well when viewed from a different way.

Some of these are more or less difficult to see for different people. In general, in modern society, there are no male archetypes or figures. There is one view of a “man”, who has created this “dog-eat-dog” world of brutality. It’s not sure of itself, and creates a machismo façade to hide its insecurity. This archetype has no consort, and women and children are viewed as merely excess baggage. Maintaining this archetype is not good for anyone. It is not good for men of any age or position in life, it is not good for women, children, the environment, animals.

It is easy at this point to blame this single, machismo male archetype in use to patriarchal religions, but it is clear that is not the source. Even the patriarchal religions as are common in this society, namely Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have Sophia, Mary, and Lilith. Yet, these feminine archetypes from that faith are all but forgotten except for a few scholars.

My point is not to denigrate any belief or point fingers at anyone, culture or any religion or societal model that may be the source, or a partial source of the loss of our masculine archetypes and positive male role models. No single source is the complete cause, nor did it ever need to be. I will not focus on how this came to be. That is often a useless exercise and merely promotes hatred in many cases. Instead, I am going to focus on the solutions for ourselves, particularly as we can use them as individuals. One cannot heal “society”. Society is made up of individuals. We need to heal the individuals, and from there will come healing of society. Of course, this single writing cannot heal anything either. All I can hope to do is to look at things a bit differently.

Indeed, the machismo figure contains some elements of the positive figures. He is violent, but a Warrior, King, Protector, Householder, or Destroyer may have to use violence in their roles too. The machismo figure is violent without any purpose. The other archetypes are exhibiting violence under certain conditions for a purpose and for a reason. The machismo figure seduces women and so does the Lover. However, the more mature archetypes can also exhibit qualities of gentleness, compassion, understanding, love, and guidance as well as taking full responsibility for all of his actions. In many or most of these he can exhibit the more “feminine” qualities of nurturance and care. For instance, in his role as creator or as Green Man, he can help nourish things as they grow to maturity. In their mature state they will give whatever he wants. He must do what he can to allow and help these things to reach maturity. It may not be “macho” to care for plants or guide young animals to what they need to do, but the mature man knows that by being gentle he will reach his goals. It may not be “macho” to hold a crying, frightened child, but the mature man knows that this will allow his children to mature into healthy adults, having children of their own, and will thus propagate his genes MUCH more effectively than merely finding a woman he can have sex with one time for his own pleasure. Likewise, the macho man cannot nurture and help his sick consort, but the mature man knows this will strengthen the bond between them, and better allow for everything about him to better mature and be propagated in a manner that is helpful and will succeed. The macho man finds his children doing something wrong and beats them. The Householder, Father, King, or Green Man guides his children away from the wrong and toward something right, and allows them to grow. Any of these more mature archetypes are much more likely to be long-term successful in the gene pool and his offspring in the evolution of society. His children will have the advantage of his wisdom and knowledge, then can add to that from what they learn throughout life. Having had this functional role model, they can then pass it on to their own children, who will then further add to it.

Part of this confusion has to do with age-appropriate roles. A child or young man must have the roles as son and student. It is time for him to gain knowledge from older people and from society as to how things work and to gain his own sense of ethics from them. It is also at this time the young man is to look at his own abilities along with societal roles available, and choose what role he will take in society. Then, he will be helped by his elders to find appropriate schooling or education or experiences to allow this to happen. Instead, it is often the case that a young man will view himself as no longer a student or son as soon as he has lost his virginity or has impregnated a girl. It is really upside down and backwards to view a period as completed because some component of a subsequent period has been started, albeit without everything needed from prior phases to adequately accomplish. Instead of having loving, nurturing, 2-parent families, we often have 1-parent families where the father cannot be identified or located, we have abusive families because someone resents the other parent as well as the children, we have children attempting to rear children. We have young men who attempted to grow up and be “men” too soon without the skills to function in society and cannot possibly support a child going to prison for failing to pay child support. We have young men going to work rather than complete their education in order to support these children. A greedy middle-aged person tries to be a “magician” and create money for all of their wants through “creative accounting”. An immature person with a little knowledge may become a know-it-all rather than a sage. A sage is ignored, put into a “senior care facility”, and drugged so no one “has to” listen to his blathering. No group trusts any other group. The elderly are stereotyped as cranky and demented. The middle-aged are viewed as either irresponsible or greedy. The young are viewed as being violent, dangerous, and “weird”. Women are stereotyped into the “dumb blonde” or as the “cranky old meddling biddy”. While all of these stereotypes are no doubt true in a few cases, it is a grave error to dismiss anyone for falling into some stereotype that merely boils down to “not us” or “different from us”.

This is not to say that all previous roles and archetypes must be abandoned. A householder may need to go back to school to improve his skills in some area. A sage may need to learn new things to improve his knowledge base. This elderly, wise sage may learn from listening to his students as well as anything else.

A mature but young man may choose a partner with whom he will spend his life and perhaps rear his children. He has learned the basics for life in society. He has found his role in society. He has completed learning what he needs to learn to fulfill his role in society, or is at least well on the way to learning it. He already knows who he is, and now he wishes to share that with someone.

In modern society, it is not nearly of so much importance that every person reproduce. The human race is not on the verge of extinction due to underpopulation! If we are to become extinct, it is more likely to come from overpopulation and mass violence on the part of an unwise and excessively violent person in the role of a King. It has to do with knowing yourself, and knowing what sorts of things in life you want, knowing that you cannot have everything. One person may really be driven to produce and rear children. Another may not wish to give their time, energy, and everything else to a child who is not yet born, but prefer to devote themselves to another cause. Someone else may discover that a woman is not for him. Someone may prefer the single life in some role, and another may prefer life with a man. Even in these cases, it is possible to care for a child that was unwanted or orphaned by his or her natural parents, or those parents wisely determined that they were not able to care for the child. Those are all part of knowing who you are, and accepting yourself for that. Trying to lead a life that does not adhere to your own abilities, interests, and preferences will only lead to heartache. That heartache extends to everything and everyone with whom you come into contact. It is best for EVERYONE for each person to correctly assess himself or herself and to live their life in the framework of who they are. It is not good for anyone to live the life best for any other person. That is true no matter how respected the person being imitated is.

This is all well and good for a child or young man who has not yet started on a wrong or ill-thought-out plan for life. It can still be put into action by a mature man, or even an elderly man. Even if someone is at midlife of having lived in the single “macho” stereotype, and wants to change that into a more mature archetype, that still can be done.

Just like a youth, a person has to figure out what their skills, abilities, interests, and everything else is good for… or what it is bad for. Then, modify what you are doing with life toward a positive use of just who you are. Instead of living blindly as you always have, move toward one of the more positive roles. The obvious thing is to stop the blind violence and take a more gentle stance until or unless violence becomes the ONLY way to fulfill a role as protector or such. Become more gentle, compassionate, and loving toward everyone and everything. Think before you act! Part of the macho figure is to act impulsively, always innately “knowing” what the “right thing” is which will promote his own macho image. Yet, those things may not be what he wants to best further his goals. Likewise, a thoughtful response is more likely to allow you to reach your own goals, whatever they may be.

There will certainly be repercussions from this! Anytime someone makes a change in their life, there is a lot of pressure from their friends, family, and associates to change back. The old image was at least familiar. The new one is completely new and different. Everyone likes the familiar, even if whatever was familiar was harmful. It is important to avoid doing anything just for image or to please some view of “others”. Part of the maturity of any of these archetypes is that of independence. It is of little importance that everyone around you like, accept, and look up to you in any particular aspect. Indeed, there is nothing that is possible that everyone will equally appreciate. Your changes and goals may not be liked or accepted by everyone you know. If those people are not important to you, just ignore it. You can’t please everyone. Indeed, if you are universally liked by everyone that is one sure sign that something is very wrong! That would mean there are no unique, distinct, identifying features about you. Further, it would mean that you are changing to try to fit the view that everyone has or wants to have about you. It would mean that you have no integrity of self.

If those who are not accepting your goals are important to you – for instance, your parents, your spouse, your children, your teachers, it is important for them to understand your goal, and why you have chosen it for a goal. You may have to explain this a lot. In the end though, they will at least understand why you have done it. You are doing it for you. You do not demand or expect that they will follow you in all parts of your endeavor. Those with whom your life is intertwined may have to have some parts of it effect them. Some roles may have to change with some of these people, and that will be much easier if there is understanding on all parts. Change only occurs easily from a base of knowledge. A base of emotion hates and resists change of all types. Hopefully, these changes will be for the better in all of these relationships. Superficial friendships may have to change altogether. The friends of the past may not want this change in the present. Different people may prove to be more appropriate as friends, from whom you can exchange your new ideas, and get help from them as well as helping them in their own similar changes. Indeed though, these changes are necessary in life.

The Magician archetype may come in a few forms. Indeed, it can be as an occult-based magician. At the same time, Crowley defined Magic as “change in conformity with the will”. The Magician does cause changes to take place as he wants. It can be through occult means, but often these changes are through mundane means. Obviously, to produce the change from the machismo figure to any of the more mature archetypes involves use of the Magician archetype to produce the change. A lot of this is hard work rather than a magical change of any sort.

The Lord of the Wild Hunt is possibly the hardest to accept. His job is to see that justice and what we call “fate” is carried out. He sees to it that those who break the Lady’s Laws are ultimately stopped and brought to justice. He is the Lord of Death. He is the Grim Reaper. He is the Lord of the Underworld. He helps the Lady with her job of recycling – both of the physical body and that of the soul into its ultimate rebirth.

Of course, it is nearly impossible to achieve any of these archetypical roles completely. No one will just naturally have them adequately. It is nearly impossible to reach anything close to adulthood without something happening that makes it difficult. It can be the deliberate act of another person, it can be an accident, it can be a natural occurrence, it can be a random occurrence. While it is important to acknowledge those incidents of the past, it may not be helpful to dwell on them too long. Yet, it is important to go through them and be sure those things have been felt though completely, acknowledge all of the feelings involved, and move forward. If a trauma occurs that is not acknowledged, people often get stuck in the situation and are unable to get out. Yes, it happened. It happened the way you think it did. It was that bad. You were hurt in some ways, and you may have to figure out what those all were. Get mad, get sad, or do whatever you need to do, but you can and will get through it if you allow yourself to. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are or will be stuck in your own pity party! You can be, but only if you allow it. Once you have thought it through and felt it through and see what happened as a result, change the results. Act, but do not react. Do not work completely backwards from whatever the problem was. That will no doubt merely cause another problem. Decide which way you want to go, and go there. You will need the role of Magician to do this, partly. The role will more than likely be of making mundane changes occur. It might have to do with the supernatural. You can decide that.

As with any magical act, you must first decide on the result. What will it look like, feel like, be like, act like, sound like, smell like, etc? The more detail you can put into this, the more successful it will be. If you can, it might be helpful to use any artistic ability you have to create the whole situation. What would you have to have to get from where you are now to where you want to be? Do you really want to do that? If you don’t want to do everything involved, you probably don’t want that goal. Find another goal and refine it until you have a goal that is what you want to have. Then, change things such that the goal can be obtained. You may need to do something differently. You may need to learn something, you may have to do something, you may have to make some other changes so that can happen, but do it. It probably won’t happen overnight, but you can get to where and what you want to be. The more you desire it, the harder you will pursue it, and the more certain it is to succeed.

First though, you have to envision it, and move into what you’ve envisioned. If you really don’t feel you belong there – that you are not (something) enough to have that, all those feelings will do is sabotage you. Why do you have those feelings or beliefs? Did you borrow them from someone else? What was the person’s purpose for giving you those beliefs? Is it someone you think enough of to really accept what they offered you at face value? What do those who are close to you, who you respect, who mean you the best and who love you think of any of this? Do they think you are as bad as you think you do.

One way might be to use affirmations to change these erroneous beliefs. You can use them to change the feeling of you not belonging or not deserving to have something. They can change the belief of “I can’t” to “I can”.

Perhaps it is something about yourself you want to change. There are many things that you can change about yourself – anything from your education level to your hairstyle. There are other things that may not be changeable – perhaps a physical or mental disability of some sort, perhaps some difference. No matter how you change your attitude, you will not become taller, for instance. That is going to go into acceptance and ways of working around, with, or through the issue or the “uniqueness” you have.
Links
Shaman's Cave The Mystery of the Green Man The Green Man and His Ways
4 Life Stages Dharma Dharma Sutras
Copyright 2004 by Elizabeth Harper
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