Even the most casual observation of men reveals that we want to have our Warrior energy stimulated on a regular basis. Some of us are more outward and physical in this pursuit while others channel our Warrior energy inward through more mental activities. Some men do extreme sports or join the police force or the military, while other men play violent video games and watch action movies.
Today many of us experience the Warrior mostly through our recreation. I suggest that this may be because our true Warrior is underdeveloped and underutilized. Many of us can make it through an entire workweek without needing to access any Warrior energy. Even worse, some of us work in situations where Warrior energy is consciously discouraged. But like all of the archetypal energies, Warrior is intrinsic to our masculine souls—men need Warrior. We will engage it somewhere in our lives. It is wise, in my judgment, to find positive and proactive ways to use this energy in our everyday pursuits. Otherwise, we run the risk of allowing this vital energy to be expressed only through its shadow poles.
Of the four archetypes, it’s the Warrior’s traits that are most commonly viewed in society as being “masculine.” And Warrior is the archetype that is furthest from the traits we stereotypically associate with femininity. When men describe the things that make us feel masculine, it’s usually Warrior traits we’ll list—traits like power, courage, discipline, awareness, aggression, and freedom from emotion.
The Whole Warrior uses his power to protect the weak and vulnerable things in the world. He does this through setting and enforcing boundaries. In our psyches, the Warrior stands guard and makes it safe for us to go back into our childhood wounds so that we can rewrite the destructive stories we have told about ourselves. It’s the Warrior who ensures that our wholeness, once retrieved, won’t be defamed nor destroyed by others. And it is he who commits his power to the King in service of something greater than himself—a Higher Power or higher cause. This is what gives rise to the Warrior’s mission.
The Warrior can be a powerful force for protection and progression. But his shadows can be equally powerful forces for destruction and regression. The passive pole of the Warrior’s shadow—called the Masochist—has no power, is overcome by negative feelings, and lives life as a coward and a victim. The active shadow pole of the Warrior—the Sadist—uses his power in excessive ways that are cruel and controlling of others, disruptive to society, and dangerous to himself. He acts out his anger in displays of rage, but is numb to most other feelings. He trusts no one, punishes the weak, and defies authority.
At the heart of the assortment of traits just described—both whole and in shadow—is a central dynamic, which is the interplay between power and vulnerability. The various functions, roles, and capacities of the Warrior all seem to be called forth and aroused by that dynamic. This interplay is vital in shaping the Warrior, but it’s also interwoven with the process of creating masculinity, which may be why masculinity and Warrior seem to be so closely tied together. Imbalances in the interplay between power and vulnerability cause the Warrior’s two shadows to emerge. Understanding this dynamic and its development is essential to comprehending our own Warrior with its shadowy potentials, as well as our sense of masculinity. We will turn our attention to this dynamic and to some other key processes in the development of Warrior before moving on to the archetype’s various functions, roles, and capacities.