In every major religion there exists a concept of a sacred connection point between heaven and earth. It’s at this point of intersection that the divine realm interacts with the profane or human realm to give laws, impart knowledge, and provide blessing. And it’s around this center point—sometimes called a hub, pole, or navel—that all things are ordered and revolve. Such points of divine intersection have been called the “axis mundi,” which literally means “turning point of the world.”
The purpose and nature of these points of connection vary according to the tradition. For example, the Garden of Eden is the center point of creation in the Judeo–Christian and Islamic faiths. The Tree of Knowledge is seen in those same faiths as the source–point of conscience, understanding, or enlightenment. Certain cities have been viewed as sacred or as centers of civilization, such as Jerusalem, Mecca, Rome, and the ancient Chinese city of Chang’an. Places such as Mount Sinai and the Oracle at Delphi are, or have been, seen as points where divine revelation is received. For Christians, the Garden of Gethsemane and the cross on which Jesus was crucified are sacred places of redemption and reconciliation with God. Synagogues, churches, temples, mosques, and shrines continue to be recognized as sacred points where people commune with God.
Archetypally speaking, the King holds our axis mundi—our connection to divine or Higher Powers and the core or central hub around which our lives are organized. As a connection to divine power, axis mundi may be described as our gut wisdom or what we know in our hearts. It is sometimes called “the Spirit” and “Source.” For men of faith, it’s our relationship with God—it’s revelation and epiphanies.
As a central hub, the King archetype brings together and governs the powers of the Warrior, Magian, and Lover—balancing, moderating, and integrating their energies. King is the point around which all things revolve, and therefore it’s the archetype of wholeness. It could be said that the King is the blueprint of our whole self. King power is synergistic, making things work together and bringing grace from somewhere outside ourselves so that the value of the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. It’s the transcendent and organizing view from the top of a mountain. And it’s the light that dawns on us as we stand in such places. It’s the power that makes life work properly.
In this chapter we’ll explore the two essential functions of the King as described by Moore and Gillette. The first function is ordering, or creating order. This function begins with the King’s role as keeper of our axis mundi, which entails connecting with our deep, unchanging, essential Self and fostering a connection with our Higher Power. These connections create a strong Center through which we may access our own core wisdom and the wisdom of the universe. This strong Center also forms a reference point, enabling the King to create balance, moderation, and integration in our lives. The King’s ordering function also includes discernment, which means differentiating and making distinctions among things. It includes assuming the power, right, and responsibility of governing our lives as our internal “sovereign.” It entails keeping our lives logistically organized and conforming to natural laws. And it involves the work of civilizing us by promoting our progression, advancement, and development.
The King’s second essential function is that of providing, which is fulfilled through creating, inspiring and blessing others, and providing material means. Moore and Gillette refer to this aspect of the King as “the generative man.” Through acts of creation, the King gives form to intentions, thoughts, desires, patterns, feelings, impulses, and inspirations. What once was only in the mind becomes real and tangible. King energy inspires us to live our lives as authentic examples of wholeness, which in turn may inspire those around us to live their lives in similar ways. It also inspires us to truly behold and affirm the good in all, which may encourage others to be their best selves. The King blesses us, and others, through touch, words, and commitment. And the King provides the means for our material wellbeing and that of those for whom we have responsibility.
Following our discussion of the King in his whole form, we’ll consider what this energy becomes when it splits and goes into shadow. The two opposing shadows of the King are the Tyrant Usurper and the Weakling Abdicator. The Tyrant seizes authority that rightfully belongs to others. Those of us who are caught at this pole may become over–inflated, or too full of ourselves. We may be self–centered and constantly feel the need to prove our validity to others. We may be controlling of everything in our lives and narcissistically focused on advancing only ourselves. We might unfairly discriminate, rigidly demand uniformity and compliance, or act with arrogant disrespect for the boundaries of others.
The King’s passive shadow pole—the Weakling Abdicator—lacks a connection to our Self, leaving us deflated and uncentered. Those of us who are caught at this pole may be negligent in handling opposition, contradiction, and conflict. We may be sterile and unable to create anything. We might be confused and unable to discern. Our lives may be chaotic and disorganized. All of these manifold weaknesses may cause us to abandon our power and the responsibilities that we alone must fulfill.
This chapter is the longest and most involved in the book. This is so because—as the central or governing archetype—the King is the most far–reaching and complex of all the archetypes. So take your time reading and allow yourself to absorb it. You might even want to return to this chapter for a second reading after you have read the other chapters.