Shadow Work and Society

How To Be Truly Alive In Your Lover Energy

What is wrong with the world today? Could it be, perhaps, a deficit of archetypal king energy in men? A short look at recent cultural history may help us answer this question.

The 1980s was a decade which saw the development of considerably more lover energy in men, albeit in an unbalanced form. For that was the decade of the “New Man”, a popular concept among both men and women. For a while, anyway.

The New Man was a man who rejected sexist attitudes and traditional male roles (whatever those may have been!) in favour of a caring, sensitive and non-aggressive nature and a willingness to meet women on their own ground. This was a popular concept in the 1980s, particularly with women, perhaps because new men were supposed to take responsibility for their share of childcare, cooking, and cleaning.

Nowadays parents who naturally split childcare between them might find this idea strange. Many strongly masculine fathers expect to look after their kids these days. But back in the 1980s male roles had been defined along the lines of “provider” and “worker” for a long while. Then in the 1990s traditional heavy-duty male jobs such as mining, shipbuilding and construction declined rapidly in the western world with jobs being exported to developing countries in very large numbers. Traditional male roles were very much in flux, perhaps even under attack.

Many men found themselves disempowered and lacking a clear sense of identity because of this shift. So perhaps becoming more Lover oriented, or if you prefer softer and more feminine, was a natural response. Or perhaps what was really happening was simply the disempowerment of men. Whatever the origins of the shift in male identity which gave birth to the idea – and the reality – of the New Man, the end point certainly wasn’t popular with women, who very quickly found that “New Men” didn’t match up to what they really wanted in the masculine.

What went wrong was not the development of the Lover archetype in men but the weakness or even absence of Warrior and Sovereign. Certainly a lot of the territory men were exploring in those days – childcare, sensitivity, awareness of feelings and such like – is now widely accepted as part of a man’s life and relationship.

What seems to be the real problem around masculinity, a problem we still face today, is a decline in the energy of Warrior and Sovereign. While there’s nothing wrong with Lover energy in men, it needs to be matched by a capacity to be firm (i.e. to form boundaries and be resolute) when that’s what is needed.

Should you feel the need to develop your Lover energy, here are some suggestions. Remember that your Lover is both the source of your ability to connect with others and your access point to the expression of grief. And that, strange as it may seem, is the route to joy.

First of all, get in touch with the Lover within you by fully engaging with everything your senses have to offer you and simply taking more time to really enjoy the things which bring you pleasure.

You could, for example, schedule time to be with your partner or children, making sure that you are fully present with them so you can truly share the experience. You might also choose to spend time with yourself or indulge your own inner child in some way.

Being sensual means appreciating what your senses offer you, and being fully open to receive and enjoy those sensual experiences. Being fully present in your life is an important way to moderate the endless cycle of using external events or substances to feel better. However, as any addict can testify, it’s not a remedy for the Lover’s pain and neediness.

To move comfortably in and out of your Lover archetype by choice, you will certainly need to heal the emotional wounds which lie deep in your shadow unconscious. This is the province of the wounded inner child. And every single one of us carries, to a greater or lesser degree, wounds in our inner child.

So you could do some healing work on the emotional wounds of your inner child. This could be by working with shadow work or emotional process work. But also, you might like to find ways to develop a strong internal Sovereign who can hold the wounds of your inner child. These are, after all, wounds in your Sovereign’s Kingdom and you, as Sovereign, are responsible for holding them.

This is essential, I believe, because some inner child wounds seem to be too primal, too deep or too early to ever be healed completely. While the pain can be soothed with Healing the Shadow work, a form of shadow work, sometimes what’s also needed is an internal parent or leader – the Sovereign in you – who is strong enough to hold that part of yourself and comfort it.

If you feel your energies in these areas are out of balance you can work on your emotional wounds in appropriate workshops and bring them back to a healthy balance, especially around the development of Sovereign energy. You can see more details of these possibilities in the resources section of this book.