Facing the Dragon | On Kings & Warriors (Pt. III)

This is Part II of a IV part series. For Part I click here & Part II click here.

The King energy is the representation of divinity on earth, a spirit we embody in our strive to bring a defined order to the confines of our kingdom i.e. our lives.

Quick to praise and slow to scorn, a King imbues a spirit of free flowing generosity, but more than anything they acknowledges true worth; filling the existential holes we burrow when we ask questions of ourselves like “What is my value?” or “Am I worthy?”.

Through the acknowledgement of this natural beauty, an example is set whereby the King is exalted; they’re no longer just an individual, but an inspiration.

“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown” and unfortunately, through this elevation, the flames of the Dragon’s fire are fanned.

The Shadow-King is a facade for the weakling; an individual with no centre or inner structure who requires a mask to contain an ego so inflated by it’s own transcendence, that it mistakes infantile grandiosity as mature greatness. The consequence of this is that the King becomes unable to fulfil their duty; the beauty expressed by others is an assault on the their own passive insecurity and so they lash out, fearful of that which threaten to expose their own failings — in short, they become a tyrant.

Staving off this shadow requires a complete disconnect between ego and desire; of recognising ones own mortality and in doing so, acting out of a responsibility — not just to yourself, but to those you inspire.

A King knows their time will eventually come and the sun will set on their reign; in the fight against the burden of this knowledge, they become an actualisation of a truth we all sometimes struggle with:

Life can be full of hardships and fear.

And, despite that fact, everything’s going to be ok.

The Warrior [2]

In a sense, nothing better represents our primeval roots than the Warrior; they connect civilisations and form the texture of our mythic history; this energy is one of the building blocks of our psyche.

Invoking the Warrior is to champion an assertion forged in crucible of life — of the right to live nobly.

In order to survive such tribulation, a Warrior must train. In the process of honing both body and mind, a newfound clarity of thinking blooms into skilled self discipline; the Warrior begins to understands their own limits and, more importantly, how to push them in pursuit of their ultimate goal.

The Shadow-Warrior manifests when the act of struggling in itself takes precedence over the reason for such struggle.

Take as an example the worst possible case of workaholism.

An individual may convince themselves that they must work around the clock to be successful; Their inner Dragon won’t permit them to stop — without their efforts, the entire enterprise could fall apart.

What drives this individual? Glory they may have no time to bask in? Fulfilment they feel they can never fully grasp in the face of an un-ending to-do list? They may not get enough sleep, eat right or have time to workout, but to support a family would surely be worth it? What if, in the pursuit of career success, they rarely see their family — and when they do, they bring their work home with them; their attention elsewhere.

In this scenario, external success has become the sole driver for internal value. There is a certain obliviousness to the fact that, in obsessing over success, they have already failed.

Before we rush for our pitchforks, we must consider the ‘Dragon Slayer’ fable; that is to say, the cultural belief that only in the pursuit of some ultimate goal — achieving a career title, having 100k followers on Instagram or, yes, slaying a Dragon — can we achieve ultimate salvation.

We live our lives dominated by western capitalism; it beats into us an understanding that there will always be winners and losers. In previous generations the worker was part of the idealised future of industry — in the modern era of AI, machine learning and automation, there is sense of being ‘left behind’ in all of us; we are unsure of our place in this new world, which contributes to the incessant monologue of internal unworthiness that characterises the modern worker. With this in mind, ask yourself — can the burden of failure lay entirely at the feet of the workaholic?

To truly embrace the Warrior, it is paramount to assert new narratives beyond this world view of an eternally black and white struggle. We must forge an acceptance that our truth, our own personal version of the Matrix, is but one of many.

The real tyranny — the one that chains us — is that of a dull, closed mind; in order to wrestle our liberation from its clutches, we must question our most precious assumptions. In doing so, we might find better reasons for holding them — helping us make friends of enemies, build bridges instead of burning them and come to terms with the opposing views without the need to impose our own concepts of good and bad — or, better yet,

we might find that we’re wrong.

“The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing comes in, and if you don’t make a conscious decision on how to think and what to pay attention to, you’re going to be pissed and miserable.

The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able to truly care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad, petty little unsexy ways, every day” [3]


This article was heavily inspired by:

“King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine”

and These videos by Youtube Essayist, Like Stories of Old:

[1] What Makes a Great King? Exploring the Archetype of the King in Movies and Television

[2] The Archetype of the Warrior — How Films Help Empower Us All

[3] This is my absolute favourite David Foster Wallace quote from This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life



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Aston Whiteling

Aston Whiteling

I'm a perfectionist with realistic expectations, a recovering Sales Engineer turned Product Marketer, and I'm trying to be more cynical about being cynical.