(Emperor, Ruler, Leader, Chief)
The King is an archetype of major proportions, representing the height of temporal male power and authority. Both benevolence and cruelty in their extreme expressions are associated with this archetype. (Classic to the cruel King is the collective hope of his kingdom that he should fall from his throne.) The King is associated more with the royal blood and inheritance, whereas an Emperor can arise from common society, as did Napoleon. The bloodline connects the King to the Prince archetype and to attitudes of “entitlement,” one of the shadow characteristics of archetypes associated with rulership. A resistance to criticism, questioning, and challenges in decisions about controlling his kingdom is also part of the King’s shadow.
Throughout history, the pendulum has swung from good Kings to evil, from benevolent, even saintly rulers to greedy, gluttonous criminals. King Louis IX of France-Saint Louis-combined the qualities of a just ruler, fearless warrior, and holy man. The thirteenth-century sovereign lived for the welfare of his subjects and the glory of God. Charlemagne, King David, and Akhenaton of Egypt were among earth’s most enlightened, if occasionally all-too-human, rulers. And then there was mad King George III of England who led the colonies to rebel; King Louis XVI of France, who was synonymous with decadence and excess; and Emperor Hirohito of Japan, who led his country into a devastating war.
This archetype maintains the same characteristics on an individual level, whether one’s kingdom is a corporation, a community, or a family. The need to rule and exert control over a kingdom is key to this archetype.
Films: Charles Laughton in The Private Life of King Henry VIII; Yul Brynner in The King and I; Richard Gere in King David; Paul Scofield in King Lear (1971); Christopher Walken in The King of New York (shadow extraordinaire).
Drama: Richard III, Henry IV, Henry V, Hamlet, and Macbeth by Shakespeare.
Fiction: King of the Gypsies by Peter Maas; The Godfather by Mario Puzo (shadow); The Once and Future King by T.H. White.
Religion/Myth: Priam (king of Troy); Daibutsu/Daibosatsu (Japanese meditating Buddha as world ruler); Sila or Silap-inua (divine ruler of the Eskimo seen as the air you breathe and the energy that moves both the entire universe and each of us individually); Amun (supreme Egyptian creator god, originally ruler of the air and the force behind wind and breezes); Chief Seattle (Native American ruler); Haile Selassie (emperor of Ethiopia, later deified by the Rastafarian religion).
Myss, Caroline. Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2002, 2003. 394. Print.