This is the transcript of an interview by Carolyn Clitheroe, a psychotherapy student who has developed an interest in shadow work and the archetypes. In relation to her studies she interviewed Marianne about the Warrior archetype.
The discussions are wide-ranging and a variety of topics relating to the Warrior are discussed – power, boundaries, commitment, protection, trustworthiness, integrity, trauma and more. Inevitably the other three archetypes – the Lover, the Sovereign and the Magician – are also spoken about, since all four archetypes are intimately related.
Below is a simple diagram giving a brief description of the qualities of each archetype. This diagram may help you to get more from reading the interview.
Each archetype also has a more modern day name and these are given in brackets in the diagram. Feel free to choose for yourself which name works best for you.
For a video giving more detail about each archetype please follow these links:
For a written introduction to each archetype please follow these links:
Marianne Hill interviewed by Carolyn Clitheroe (Sampritti)
1) Boundaries And Saying ‘No’
C: It’s lovely to be here again Marianne, and to have this opportunity to explore the Warrior archetype with you. Initially, to get us started, I just thought I’d ask you what’s in the Warrior corner here, and what the different objects symbolise.
M: Interestingly, the first thing that I’m drawn to in the Warrior corner is the rope. If I had to choose one word that represented the Warrior for me, then it would be boundaries. The rope is there to help represent a person’s boundaries. Someone can use it in a session and start to feel into:
‘Where do I stand on this?’
‘What’s my boundary?’
‘What’s okay for me?’
‘What’s not okay for me?’
They can make a circle with the rope around them on the floor and get a physical sense of themselves as someone separate from others – with their own boundaries and their own beliefs. We feel our Warrior side very much in our bodies, so there are a couple of pieces of rope here to help clients start to get a sense of that for themselves.
The next thing I notice is the sign that says,
‘What part of “NO” do you not understand!’
This really speaks to me – I’m naturally quite a Warrior person, so I have this reaction to people quite a lot of the time! For example:
‘What part of what we agreed was not clear?’
‘What part of tomorrow morning at 11.30 was confusing to you in some way?’ (laughing)
This Warrior sign is an example of a healthy Warrior statement and is useful for people who find it hard to feel in to their Warrior. It’s like saying,
‘I’ve made a statement – respect it.’
C: Or, ‘We’ve made an agreement and I’m not going to pretend you haven’t broken it – I’m not going to collude with that.’
M: Absolutely yes. No colluding.
We’ve also got a photograph of a lioness protecting her cubs. This is a very helpful image because Warrior is so difficult for so many of us in our society. It is often demonized and we can really be shamed for using our Warrior energy. But one of the places where it’s more acceptable and more respected is when we’re protecting others.
So this image of a Lioness, a mother protecting her cubs, is a way in for a lot of people to understand how important Warrior energy is. Most people are okay with using force and aggression and anger when it is necessary to protect those that are vulnerable. It’s a really beautiful picture because the cubs are behind her – they’re not at all scared of her – and she’s roaring at somebody or something that seems to be threatening them. She’s simply protecting them and that’s all her role is. She’s not attacking, unless required, she’s simply warning and protecting and defending her cubs.
2) Groundedness, Solidity, Truth
C: And what are the large stones in the Warrior corner representing?
M: The stones are representing the groundedness of the Warrior. The Warrior is a part of us that we can really trust and rely on. It’s about reality and truth, solidity, integrity and follow-through. Stones are solid things that you can stand on and that you can rest against. They are something that’s real, and they are there to represent these strong and trustworthy qualities of the Warrior.
Stones come from the earth, and earth is the element I associate with the Warrior archetype. Sometimes I actually have a bowl of earth there too, because it can be quite nice to get your hands in the earth, to get dirty. Part of what the Warrior is about is not being scared of getting your hands dirty, or of getting involved. Doing what needs to be done and feeling the solidity and strength of that.
C: Yes. I remember when I did a group with you ages ago you had a mirror as well in the Warrior corner….
M: Actually I usually put that on the Magician.
C: Ah – that’s on the Magician – OKAY. I think it’s because the phrase, ‘Facing up to things,’ just came to my mind when you were talking about the stones and the Warrior and getting down and dirty.
M: Yes – facing up to things – absolutely. The Warrior is about reality and facing and dealing with reality. The mirror is actually in the Magician corner because it’s about what’s not real, you know: a reflection in the mirror isn’t real. It’s about seeing and perception and the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined and what’s a reflection…
C: …smoke and mirrors …
M: Yes those are Magician qualities. But certainly the Warrior is about facing up and speaking the truth. Facing people with the truth, as you just said: When someone says, ‘We’ve made an agreement and….you’ve broken it’ they’re choose not to collude with the other person, not to hide from the fact that the other person made a commitment and that now they’ve changed their minds.
C: So I guess there’s something about accountability in that, holding yourself accountable where it’s appropriate. When you said ‘integrity,’ that made me think of accountability as well and holding other people accountable.
M: Yes, and as with all these inner qualities, we need to learn to do that within ourselves first before we can do it with other people.
C: Yes, actually I was wanting to ask you about how Warrior relates to our relationship with ourself – as well as with other people – because I think, generally, when people imagine something about war or warriors it’s in the form of an attack and a defence. What of the inner discipline and the almost martial arts kind of feeling – self-mastery?
M: Warrior is very much about self-mastery and self-direction, and includes keeping commitments we have made to ourselves. If we want to move forward with anything in our lives we need a strong Warrior so that we can stand by ourselves and stand by our decisions.
So, the Sovereign will make a decision for us – say we want to get a new job for example – and the Warrior will then carry out all the actions that are necessary for this to take place. It’s a purely internal dynamic, where we say to ourselves, ‘OKAY, tomorrow I need to phone the employment agency,’ and we put it in our diary, and we actually phone them. If they’re engaged we phone back, or if we leave a message and they don’t get back to us then we get back to them.
So internally our own Warrior is standing up for us and saying,
‘This is important to you, and I’m going to take the action necessary, and I’m going to stick to the commitment that you’ve made to yourself around this.’
C: So in that sense can you build up, over time, more capacity to have this kind of Warrior energy by sticking to your commitments to yourself or that kind of thing? Or is it just available to everyone and it’s a question of tapping in to it?
M: I think taking action in the world is a great way to build your warrior energy. However there can be deep wounds that we might carry that cause us not to be able to follow through with our intentions. One of these wounds is to do with our sense of how important we are – of how much we matter in the world, or whether we even exist as our own person.
C: And does that sense come from the Warrior or does that come from the Sovereign?
M: That one comes really from the combined work of the Sovereign and the Warrior. A sense of self-worth and self-respect comes from the Sovereign. What comes from the Warrior is a sense that we make a difference. Now, obviously, they’re linked, but what the Warrior does is take action that proves our self-worth. It proves that we matter to ourselves.
The Warrior also sets our boundaries with someone. If we don’t set our boundaries then another person is just not going to respect them – that’s just human nature. If people don’t know our boundaries then they’re going to do what’s right for them regardless of us, because we haven’t spoken clearly about what matters to us. If, however, we speak up about our boundaries and set them clearly and somebody respects that, then we get the message back that we matter and are important.
C: And that gives us ground to stand on.
M: Yes, that gives us ground to stand on and gives us actions in the world where we can say, in a very simple way,
‘Look, I did this.’ For example; ‘I phoned the employment agency and now I have two interviews. I took an action and something happened as a result of that.’
Without the Warrior we can believe theoretically that we matter and that we’re important, but it isn’t backed up with any action so doesn’t have much more than theoretical meaning. And we don’t get to see ourselves mattering – either to ourselves or to others.
If, during childhood, people have acted towards us in a way where we’ve started to believe we don’t matter, or we don’t exist, then this will have wounded our warrior side and we will find it very hard to use our warrior energy effectively in the world. We will probably need to do some deep internal work first to heal this wound.
3) Putting Ourselves First
C: When I look at the Warrior corner I see there are boxing gloves there and a sword. If I think of those symbols as something defending the vulnerable or attaining something in the kind of spiritual Warrior domain then I feel comfortable with that. But I can glance at it another way and see violence there too. And I’m guessing that’s where the bad rap for Warrior comes from – fear of violence and abuse of power in that way.
M: Yes, unbalanced Warrior energy can, of course, be very dangerous or abusive and many of us have experienced that kind of damaging Warrior energy. However it doesn’t serve us to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are times when it is necessary for us to fight – either psychologically or physically.
There’s a side of the Warrior that people aren’t so comfortable with but actually we all have that side, and it is about growth. As I said with the picture of the lioness, if we’re using our Warrior to defend and protect ourselves, or others, it is generally a little more acceptable. But if we’re using our Warrior to grow it’s a different matter.
We can think in terms of territory here – we all have, from our animal nature, a territorial instinct. We have a part of us that wants our own space, and wants to protect what’s within that space – whether we’re talking physically or psychologically. But also we want to grow. We want to grow our territory and we want to grow our sense of self and who we are in the world – and that means we can come up against obstacles. We will come up against people or things that are in our way, and we need our Warrior energy to work through that. To push through and be able to grow.
Wanting to grow can, if it affects other people, be seen as selfish, self-centred, or even as cruel – if our growth or success, for example, means that someone else isn’t successful. But it’s actually psychologically very important. If you picture a child who’s being trapped and restricted in what they can do, then you can see there’s going to be a natural impulse there for that child to grow, to want to do more things, and it’s actually cruel to keep them in a restricted situation. For example let’s imagine keeping a child in a single room for the whole of their childhood. Their Warrior energy will naturally want to break out of that room and to grow and to expand their experience of life.
Whilst people tend to be a little less comfortable with the idea that we might have a right to grow in a way that may clash with others, it’s really just as important as having our boundaries respected.
M: The Warrior is the part of us that can really put ourselves first.
M: And that’s not necessarily acceptable in our culture.
C: Yeah. There’s a lot of talk about compromise in our culture. It’s held as quite high value in my experience. But I think there are advantages to the authenticity represented by the Warrior. People know where you are and you know where they are, and then you’ve got something real to work with. Would you agree?
M: I absolutely agree – that kind of authenticity is a huge breath of fresh air. It’s a relief to everybody when things are spoken as they actually are, and are admitted and named. Then everybody knows what they’re dealing with. One of the things that needs to be admitted and named is the drive we all have, I think, to grow – whatever that means to us – and that we will hit up against other people in that process. There may well be conflict there.
It’s bound to happen at some point – you’ve got a lot of people in the world all wanting to grow. The important thing to remember here is that the Warrior is only one out of four archetypes, so it only represents a quarter of the skills and abilities that we need to live life. We’re not going to completely live our life from a place of, ‘Right, I want to grow. I want to do this. I’m putting myself first,’ but we do need to have this firmly in place as a part of who we are so that we can express it clearly and can navigate it along with other parts of ourselves so that we can grow.
C: Yeah. Conflict doesn’t necessarily have to be destructive does it?
M: Not at all. And what’s coming to my mind is the Marianne Williamson quote about this,
“We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?”
We’re not doing anybody a service if we keep ourselves small and don’t allow ourselves to grow. It is in growing that we can give our gifts to the world. Being able to expand and grow in the way that we want to can lead to us to contribute to the world in a very positive way. To get there we will need to use some Warrior energy.
There’s a real paradox for me here around the Warrior. At core Warrior is completely about us and what’s right for us – that’s the platform that it’s coming from. Obviously it can be judged as ‘selfish’, and yet if we can’t put ourselves first in that way, we actually don’t have anything to give to others.
For example, if we can’t put ourselves first we can’t be in a healthy relationship, because if we’re just sacrificing ourselves for someone else then the relationship is on very weak foundations. We’re going to build up resentment, and the other person is going to be able to tell that the authenticity that you talked about earlier isn’t there. In this situation we don’t have two separate people relating to form a relationship, we just have a kind of merger, which doesn’t serve either person, and there is likely to be resentment brewing under the surface. If we want deep intimacy we actually have to have a strong Warrior part that can put us first.
4) The Warrior And Other Archetypes
C: And in your work do you notice differences in how different genders relate to the Warrior archetype?
M: No I don’t actually. I don’t really notice very much difference between the different sexes when I’m working deeply with people. I see there are just as many men whose Warrior is wounded in some way as there are women. And there are as many different ways that people can be wounded in Warrior as there are human beings! So I can’t honestly say that I do see any generalisations there. Maybe at a surface level we see them, but when I’m doing deep work with people I don’t see any patterns.
C: When we talked about the Sovereign archetype you talked about a triangle that involves Sovereign, Warrior and Lover, and you also talked about different circuits.
M: Yes, there are circuits between the Warrior and other archetypes. There is a circuit between the Warrior and the Sovereign which we’ve referred to already, where the Sovereign has a vision or mission and the Warrior takes the action that is necessary to bring that vision about. Then you’ve got a circuit between the Warrior and the Lover, which is represented by the photograph that we have there of the lioness, where the Warrior protects the vulnerable Lover.
What this represents internally is that the Warrior protects the vulnerable parts of ourselves. This is particularly important in a relationship, but in lots of other situations too. Externally our Warrior protects vulnerable people. If we look at it in terms of society we may have the police protecting vulnerable members of society, or other organisations that are set up to protect and defend the more vulnerable. In a family the parents protect the children and so on.
C: And what’s the relationship between the Warrior and the Magician?
M: The Warrior works to reinforce the self-image of the Magician. The Magician has ideas and thoughts and beliefs about what kind of a person we are – about what’s real and what’s not real – and generates those kind of ideas. The Warrior then takes these ideas and makes them real.
So if I wanted to have an idea of myself as a tidy person my Warrior would have to do something about that. I can’t have an identity as a tidy person if my bedroom is a complete mess! So my Warrior would have to get busy. We probably all know people who have an image of themselves that doesn’t fit with the way they actually present. This is because they don’t have a strong Warrior to make real the self-image their Magician imagines for them.
The Warrior also checks out the fantasies of the Magician – she ‘reality checks’ them to see if they’re true or not. That’s a very important process in relationship. Our Magician tries to keep us safe in a different way to our Warrior, by being very vigilant and letting us know of any fears or fantasies she has around situations so that we’re pre-warned of things that might go wrong.
So imagine in a relationship our Magician might be saying, ‘Ooh, I can’t trust my partner, he was out late last night. I think he was seeing somebody else.’ At that moment this is just a fantasy in our head. What we need next is for our Warrior to be brave enough to bring that fantasy out, and reality check it. The Warrior will have the conversations that are necessary, or take the action that is necessary, to bring the idea out of the realm of fantasy and into something real. Once we have some real information we can take the action necessary from there.
5) Anger And Confrontation
C: So what’s the key emotion for Warrior?
M: Well, the key emotion for Warrior is anger.
It can be very helpful to see anger as something that we really need, as a key which opens the door to the Warrior side of ourselves. What this means in practice is that it’s an emotion we have to feel comfortable with if we’re going to be able to be authentic, accountable, solid and trustworthy – and if we’re going to be able to protect and defend ourselves.
It’s not that we’re in anger all the time when we have a strong Warrior – we can have a very healthy Warrior without ever being overwhelmed by anger. But we do need to know how to listen to our anger.
If for any reason we don’t have access to our anger – either because it’s in shadow and we’re not aware of it, or because we’re suppressing it because it’s scary for us – then it results in our Warrior being inaccessible, and we will find that we just can’t step up to things when we need to.
However, if we can notice our anger and listen to what it is telling us – that a boundary’s been crossed or that something isn’t right for us – then we can operate on that wisdom.
We can think:
‘This isn’t okay for me.’
‘How do I communicate that?’
‘What steps do I need to take?’
We don’t need to be in our anger when we stand up for ourselves or set a boundary. However we do need to know that place of anger. We do need to know we have that power within us, and we need people to know that we mean what we say.
This is a very good thing to experiment with in a therapeutic space, when you’ve got a ‘time out of time’ place where you can’t do anybody any harm.
You can then go into that anger and allow it out in whatever way it appears, so that you can get to feel that power in your body.
Full anger is an embodied experience as well as an emotion. It’s something that we feel, and when we feel it we then know we really mean it – we feel our power. Once we know it’s there we don’t need to use it at full force as we go about our everyday life.
C: Yes, I was going to ask you – what’s happening, in your understanding, with somebody who is using Warrior energy to abuse or dominate other people? What’s the imbalance? What’s happened there? Is that because their self-image, through Magician, is distorted in some way?
M: There are lots of different ways that the Warrior can get wounded, and come out in cruel or dangerous ways. However it usually results from receiving some kind of message that we don’t exist – that we’re not really separate from other people, or that we’re not respected as an individual.
Healthy Warrior is about having a healthy ego and knowing where our boundaries are – knowing where we end and other people start, knowing what’s us and what’s not us. If that sense of healthy ego has been wounded in some way then one thing we can do is really try and prove that we exist.
One way that we can do that is to be constantly battling with other people, because then we’re meeting some kind of boundary. We’re meeting an edge that proves we exist. What we might find is that we just squash and flatten those people, and it’s abusive, but what we’re looking for is a boundary and to be met, so that we can know that we exist.
C: And what about when people control others and are cruel and manipulative?
M: That’s probably more of a Magician kind of wound – playing around with somebody else’s reality and confusing and manipulating in that way. The Warrior is very straightforward. So the Warrior might abuse when it gets out of control, yes. But it will be with a straightforward thump. A straightforward flattening somebody, a straightforward steamrollering over somebody, that’s very clear about its intention and what it’s doing. This doesn’t mean it’s not cruel and not abusive, but mind games lie more in the unhealthy Magician territory.
This kind of behaviour can come from someone who has very low Warrior and doesn’t believe they can get their own way using clear communication, so they rely on manipulation and control instead. They may be frightened of a straightforward confrontation.
C: There’s a kind of story in our culture about how confrontation perpetuates violence, and perpetuates more confrontation. We were having a conversation before we started this recording where you were saying that your experience in setting boundaries and confronting people with a clear ‘No’ has often been a really positive experience, and that people really respect that. However there seems to be a common belief that if you confront somebody with something you’re only going to make matters worse and you’re only going to arouse their aggressive side and things will escalate. A kind of ‘don’t make a fuss’ mentality.
M: What we have to remember about the Warrior is that it’s there for a reason. It’s got a job to do. So if we just have confrontation and we don’t go anywhere from there, then of course that’s a very unpleasant place to be. Nobody likes confrontation, you know, it’s uncomfortable, but we’re facing the confrontation in order to achieve something. We’re doing it to set a boundary, or to hold someone to account for having broken a boundary. We’re doing it because we want something to be different and we want something to change and we want to see a result.
If our confrontation doesn’t get us any of those things then we haven’t completed our task, we won’t feel that it’s ‘done’. We’ve just had confrontation, if you like, for no reason, for no point. It will then come up again and again, because that Warrior impulse and that anger energy haven’t achieved what they’re there to achieve.
So we have to remember when we’re using our Warrior that we’re trying to achieve something. We need to ask what we are we trying to achieve, and then see if we’ve achieved it or not. If we haven’t achieved it we might want to learn from that.
So if we’ve gone in to a confrontational situation with somebody and we’ve been as clear as we can be and we don’t get the result that we want then it’s worth learning that with that person in that situation our Warrior isn’t being effective. We need to try something different next time, or we might want to move away from that situation or person. We might want to deal with it differently when we have more resources, or more support. The mistake that we often make is going back into a situation where we haven’t had a positive result from the confrontation and repeating the same unsuccessful strategy again and again.
Another difficulty is that if we’ve built up resentments from other situations in the past we may find we come at things with a desire to punish, or be cruel. So we’re not actually using pure Warrior because pure Warrior just wants to get something useful done. Punishing another person doesn’t actually achieve anything positive.
If we’re wanting to punish the other person, or to be cruel to them in some way, then there’s a web of feelings and motivations going on that we’re not clear about. In that case our confrontation won’t have the result that we want because we’re not really clear about why we’re doing it. There’s some unhealthy Magician driving us behind the scenes.
C: So Warrior doesn’t work well when it’s infected with shadowy Magician.
M: No, it certainly doesn’t. However it’s great to have some healthy Magician in the mix when working through confrontations. The Magician brings our ability to see clearly and to generate options. It can really serve us in confrontations because we can see all the different possible ways forward. Once we’ve got past that moment of holding the other person to account, or saying what’s not working for us, our Magician can then inform us of the options that are available for moving forward and we can suggest these new ideas to the other person.
6) Healing Warrior Wounds. Killing What Needs To Die.
C: Have you seen people healing wounded Warrior?
M: Yes, absolutely – it’s a process that I work through with a lot of people. It’s usually incredibly positive work. People can feel very liberated when they start healing their Warrior. They feel calmer, clearer and more confident in themselves and other people often feel safer around them because they know where they stand.
However, there will probably also be times when other people don’t like it – Just because you’re being clear and authentic doesn’t guarantee that people around you are going to respond well. Especially if they’re used to you being a particular way – maybe not setting your boundaries clearly and not making too much ‘fuss’ about things.
So there are real consequences, and real reasons why people don’t step up into their Warrior – because Warrior takes real action. We have to face the fact that maybe some people in our life are unwilling to respect our boundaries or to keep their commitments to us, and that can no longer be brushed under the carpet.
Some people in our life might not be able to face themselves in the way that we’re requiring when we step in to our Warrior. So they may even use their Warrior to protect themselves and to cut themselves off from us, because what we’re asking them to do or face is too painful. It’s quite a journey to start exploring having a clear healthy Warrior.
On the other hand, as I said previously, many people respond very positively to someone they know stepping in to their Warrior. They may find that they understand better what that person really wants. They may feel relieved that the other person is finally looking out for themselves, and that they no longer need to take care of that person so much anymore or worry that they might not be saying what they really mean. Many people feel held and safe in the presence of the Warrior’s honesty and clear boundaries.
C: Yes, I see that.
I’m interested to go from that very personal perspective to a wider social perspective. What’s the relationship between Warrior and war – actual war?
M: Okay. Well, for a country, war is very simply either protecting the boundaries or expanding the boundaries, so it’s very closely related to Warrior in that way. However, we can’t scale up the archetype mode – which represents an individual’s psyche – and use it to understand international relations! We can, though, find some useful analogies.
Our Warrior is prepared to kill what needs to die. This is something most of us are aware of – ‘I would kill anyone who tried to hurt my child,’ for example – but for most of us this violent side of Warrior is not a reality in our lives. We may, however, need to ‘kill’ things that are no longer serving us in our lives.
We may need to end a relationship, or leave a job, or cut ties with a community. People with low Warrior energy will struggle with making these kind of very final decisions.
For some people, the need for violence is very real. An abused woman may choose to kill her husband rather than allow him to continue to abuse herself and their children. A policewoman may choose to shoot a violent criminal to save a colleague’s life. A trafficked woman may choose to kill her pimp in order to escape.
If we can’t take these kind of drastic decisions when necessary then we may be allowing misery, violence, cruelty or abuse to continue unchecked.
War could be seen as a scaled up version of this, where the choice has been taken to use violence in a situation where it is deemed necessary. The question that’s interesting here is who’s making that decision….
C: …yes. Is it the healthy Sovereign…
M: Yes, what kind of a Sovereign do we have in our society that’s making that decision…?
C: Yes, a shadowy one or a conscious one…
M: Yes, because the Warrior is only doing the bidding of the Sovereign, and if we’re talking on an international level then the Sovereign is represented by a head of state. The Warrior is only doing their bidding in protecting boundaries or expanding boundaries. What’s interesting is what drives and motivates the Sovereign, the healthiness of the Sovereign and the way in which that person got put in to power.
For example, historically we have seen cases of soldiers who have pledged allegiance to the crown, coming back from wars in which they have fought and deciding that this is not what they stand for. They no longer want to serve a Sovereign who is making these choices. Their own internal Sovereign has decided this is a path they no longer want to take.
7) The Warrior And Trauma
M: I’d also like to talk a little bit about the role of Warrior in trauma as that’s an area I’ve been exploring recently. The understanding I’m developing is that in general trauma occurs when we’re not able to use our Warrior. It occurs when we would intuitively want to use the fight or flight response, but for some reason neither of those are possible, and we end up going into the freeze response instead. The freeze response is a bit more Magician. It’s like ‘Right, I’m just going to stay still and do absolutely nothing in the hope that everything turns out okay.’ There’s a little bit of magical thinking in there as well, almost like, ‘I can’t be seen, I’m invisible.’
C: … ‘I’m going to play dead.’
M: Yes, playing dead – and that freeze response blocks our natural Warrior energy, so it’s really wanting to be used but it gets shut down and trapped. If that energy isn’t ever released then we can carry on operating in life, in certain circumstances, as though we don’t have a healthy Warrior. In the moments we really need our warrior energy it isn’t available and we go in to freeze response instead.
C: And so does that then leave us more open to having our boundaries stepped over, because we’re not able to assert them?
M: Yes, in a situation where a person who hasn’t been traumatised would stand up for themselves, and say ‘No that’s not OKAY with me,’ a person who has experienced trauma might not stand up for themselves.
From an outsider’s perspective there may be no reason why they couldn’t say ‘no’, but inside they’ve frozen and their body is telling them it just isn’t safe. This happens instantaneously and is beyond our conscious control in that moment. So we can allow our boundaries to be crossed by freezing and not believing, deep down, that our Warrior is going to be able to serve us.
This can mean that someone may cross our boundaries without even realising what they are doing, because we have been incapacitated and unable to speak up. So a big part of healing trauma is learning to feel our justified anger – both about what has happened in the past, and also about current situations that aren’t right for us.
It’s important to learn to feel this anger because this is how we know our boundaries have been crossed. It is our signal to take action and stand up for ourselves.
8) Healthy and Unhealthy Warrior
C: I would really like to get more into this question of how we know the difference between healthy Warrior and not healthy Warrior?
As we’ve talked about it so far we’ve almost said it can be healthy for the person expressing the Warrior archetype, but it might not be great for the person on the receiving end of it. But whenever I’ve studied these kind of systems before there’s been some kind of amazing intelligence to it where it can work for everyone. I’m particularly thinking of NVC (non violent communication) where Marshall Rosenberg says there’s very rarely conflict on the level of need. There’s a kind of innate intelligence in a way that things can work out well for everyone, when things are done with integrity, or when things are done with the right intentions and with true consciousness. Can that be so for this model of the Warrior? I think that’s the question that I’m grappling with here.
M: Yes, that’s a very interesting question.
Firstly I would say that what you are talking about is a very ‘stepped back’ perspective. That’s a very Magician quality, to step back and see that things could maybe work out okay for everybody. It’s more of a spiritual perspective, and it’s a perspective I believe has a truth in it. Right in the moment, however, in a Warrior situation, we don’t have that perspective.
Let’s look at one person ending a relationship when the other person doesn’t want the relationship to end. In that moment their needs are in conflict. And the person who’s ending the relationship is putting their needs first. They’re saying “This isn’t right for me.’ … and the other person may be very upset. They may have needs that they want to be met from that relationship that they’re not going to get met any more… and there’s no way, in that moment of interaction, of making it ‘okay’ for that person. They’re not getting what they want.
But if we take a step back and look at it – we could ask if it would really serve this other person to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t want to be with them. Most people, when they can step back, would say ‘No, I don’t want to spend my life in a relationship with someone who doesn’t want to be with me’. In that way you could say they are being served by the decision. If we step even further back then we may see that they go on and find their needs met in a more fulsome way in a different relationship, or they continue on their own individual journey and that is rich and fulfilling for them. However, it is also possible that they could go on to be very lonely and unhappy. We just don’t know in that moment.
The Warrior is the part of us that will actually not worry about any of that. And this is the strength of the Warrior – because the Warrior can make the right decision just by putting herself and what she believes in first, by saying, ‘This is not OK for me.’ That’s her solid ground and what she knows to be true. This is where the earth element comes in. The Warrior gives us some solid facts: ‘This isn’t right for me. I’m going to end this relationship’. And at that point they’re not thinking, ‘Oh, in the long term this might also be best for the other person.’ They’re thinking about themselves and what’s right for them.
And of course, if the relationship isn’t feeling right for them then everything isn’t working out perfectly. Something is wrong. They would be sacrificing themselves to stay with things as they are.
This is where a wounded Magician can actually pull the wool over our eyes by making us think we should believe in everything working out, and we shouldn’t ever hurt another person. When actually we ourselves are hurting, so things clearly aren’t working out.
Our Warrior is the part of us that will have the courage to speak out and say that something is wrong. Of course this doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the relationship, but it does mean the end of the status quo. It means something has to change.
C: Yes if you describe that kind of scenario I can understand it. However, let’s take a much more brutal scenario where, for example, somebody robs a bank: So, they’ve stolen all sorts of money and jewels that belong to all sorts of different people and…. so they are going for their growth. (Laughter) …their economic growth! (Laughter)
I can’t see that ever having a long term or medium term benefit for anybody else, apart from, perhaps, the bank may change its security protocols or something!
I suppose what I’m really getting to is the questions of values. How much do values inform the way that we express the Warrior? How much does a sense of entitlement inform the setting of a Warrior boundary? Is the expression of Warrior ultimately a positive contribution to everybody, or simply abusive and destructive?
M: Mmmm. More good questions!
Let me answer your first question about robbing a bank. I would come back to the fact that the Warrior is a quarter of our whole being in this model. So it’s the Sovereign part of us that will have made the decision to rob the bank, and the Warrior is simply carrying that out.
For the person who’s robbing the bank that may genuinely be the best thing for them to do in that moment, or it may be that their Sovereign is not giving good guidance for some reason. It may be that their Magician isn’t able to see any other options for them… and if they had a stronger Magician they’d be able to see other possibilities for them. Or it may be that this really is the only way forward for them right now.
The quality of the Warrior is that she is willing to do what is best for the person. She isn’t considering in that moment what might be best for the bank manager, or for the people who’s money she has stolen. (Laughter) That’s the quality of the Warrior and in itself is neither good nor bad. The Warrior is willing to do what needs to be done.
The ultimate example is if it comes to killing someone. For example if someone’s attacking me, am I going to let them kill me, or am I going to kill them? If it comes to that decision the Warrior is the part that will say ‘I am more important. If it’s me or them, I will kill them.’
If we step back – again we may have to step back a long way – we might see a Magician perspective about, say, multiple lives, and what that person may have learnt from trying to attack someone and getting killed. Or we might take the view that if we hadn’t killed that person they would have gone on to kill many other people. There are different perspectives we can step back to. But we can’t see any of that from the Warrior place, and we don’t have time to work it out. The Warrior is just informing us of what’s right for us in the moment. It has this capacity to take these instantaneous decisions.
So ideally we would have time to check in with our Sovereign, our Magician and our Lover and make, perhaps wiser and more rounded decisions. Sometimes we don’t have that opportunity, and the Warrior is the part that will do something in that moment because it has to be done.
C: Yes, it seems quite clear in that example, but often I don’t know how much to trust the feeling of that anger to inform me as to whether or not my rights have actually been stepped over, or whether it’s my sense of entitlement that’s been stepped in to. I think that’s the kind of deeper question that I have about the relationship between anger and Warrior.
M: Yes, you mentioned entitlement earlier and I think that was a really important question. Let’s remember that it’s our Sovereign who is in charge of what we want for ourselves and where our boundaries are. It’s important for us to believe we can have some of the things we want – this is healthy self-esteem. However, our Sovereign also has morality and a sense of compassion for others, so she balances all of this up.
When we feel angry it nearly always tells us that a boundary has been broken. It’s a warning sign that we need to take action to stand up for ourselves. However, it can also be a chance to question what our boundaries are and why we have set them in this way.
If we feel angry because a friend forgot our birthday we may want to think about what rules we have about birthdays. Do we really think it’s not OK to forget a friend’s birthday, or is that something we can let go of – an old or outdated rule perhaps? We must listen to our anger, but we can also question whether or not what we feel angry about is really important to us or whether we want to re-evaluate.
If we feel angry that someone has stolen our jewellery from a safe in the bank then this anger tells us a boundary has certainly been crossed. However we might want to question whether or not it’s a sense of entitlement that leads us to believe that we have a right to own these jewels in the first place.
In the same way we could explore all our boundaries. If we discover that we have developed a sense of entitlement that our Sovereign no longer believes is right, then we might want to explore and re-set some of our boundaries.
Another reason we might want to reconsider our boundaries is if we have developed very reactive boundaries as a result of trauma. For example, if we were abandoned as a child we may feel our boundary is being crossed if someone we love doesn’t call us exactly when they said they would. We might feel extremely angry about this.
Once we have calmed down it might be helpful to think about our response and why it is so important to us that they call us at exactly the right time. If we can’t reflect on these kind of responses we may end up holding those around us to very tight standards that they don’t understand.
Our boundaries are not fixed ‘once and for all’ aspects of ourselves. Our boundaries change and evolve with us as we change and evolve.
In general we need to remember that the point of anger is to achieve something. The warrior takes action in order to defend us or to change something. If we find we are using our anger to punish others or to do or say cruel things then we can be sure our warrior isn’t serving us. This is unhealthy Warrior.
Sometimes we find ourselves angry about a situation that it is not possible for us to change. Take the example of our workplace getting closed down – we find ourselves without a job. We may feel very angry about what has happened and the mistakes or bad decisions that other people have made, but we can do nothing about that. We may want to punish those people in some way, but that wouldn’t get us our job back.
So another option is to use the anger we feel to energise our Warrior to go out and do something that serves us. We could send her out to find us a new job. An even better job! The best job we’ve ever had – a job we enjoy more, where we get paid more and have longer holidays… This is a really helpful use of our anger and our Warrior energy. We can channel this energy into a task that can really help us.
Overall we need to learn to acknowledge that we are angry, work out why our anger is there, and then decide what, if any, action our Warrior needs to take in order to help us.
9) Willpower, Follow Through And Creativity
C: I was just thinking that we’ve gone quite far in to the shadowy problematic side of Warrior and I was wondering about exploring more of the healthy side of Warrior.
C: The word that popped in to my mind was will. Are there different forms of will that you would associate with the different archetypes? Or would you say that the world of will lives more with the Warrior than with any of the others.
M: Mmmmm. I think, strictly speaking that will lies with the Sovereign.
C: Yes, that’s the deep sense of direction isn’t it?
M: Yes, and then the Sovereign tells the Warrior what to do, and the Warrior then has the courage to actually do that. I think it’s really courage that the Warrior has. We can know that something’s not okay with us and yet we can really slide off having that conversation, for all the reasons that we’ve discussed so far, and what speaking up for ourselves might lead to.
So there’s courage there and there’s also integrity. There’s a ‘not letting things go’… and being willing to stick with things and follow through. I guess you could see that as a kind of will, but it’s probably not the word that I would use…
C: Yeah. Would that be more willpower in a way? You know kind of sticking to your plans – not eat meat for six months or not drink alcohol for a year or whatever. Those are Warrior actions aren’t they?
M: Yes, yes. I think willpower is a good word. For example, ‘This is my path, this is what I’ve chosen to do. Now I need the willpower to follow through on this.’
For me, being a single parent is a good example of this. You need a huge amount of Warrior energy to follow through on that desire and wish to bring up your child – which involves getting up early in the morning, it involves shopping, it involves cleaning, it involves cooking, it involves difficult conversations with teachers and an endless number of other things that you have to follow through on from this one decision or desire to raise your child. You need a lot of willpower to keep coming back and following through on that commitment and the decisions that you’ve made about how you want to raise your child.
C: Yes, so similarly, in terms of creative projects – for example a community initiative – being the initiator or leader of something like that would also involve Warrior energy I imagine?
M: Absolutely. Along with everything else a creative project will, at some point, involve the exchange of money, and being able to handle this and talk about it openly requires Warrior energy.
Money is a Warrior issue – It represents our commitments and our agreements in the real world. It has value. A lot of people who are very creative aren’t very comfortable with dealing with the money side of things and they will shy away from it, but you can come unstuck in such projects if you don’t have enough Warrior energy.
C: Is that because a lot of creative things are associated more with Magician and Lover in our society?
M: Yes, I think it’s because we’ve separated out these different parts of ourselves and we feel we have to put ourselves into certain boxes.
C: Yeah – so either we’re creative, or we’re businesslike, or we’re caring.
M: Yes. I’ve had this kind of feedback from people about having a mathematical and scientific background and being a therapist. People don’t understand that I can be both. They’re often really surprised that I can have those two sides to myself. Whereas to me there isn’t a difficulty – and I have lots of other sides to myself too!
If you’re talking about community projects: if someone’s putting themselves in the box of being caring, supportive and nurturing then where does that leave them when they need to chase an unpaid bill? They need to use their Warrior energy to stand up around that. However, that may not go with the image of being caring, loving, forgiving and supportive. They will need to step in to a different side of themselves to achieve that.
C: Yes, and as well as perhaps not fitting with our self-image, there’s also something vulnerable about putting yourself out there as a Warrior isn’t there – initiating or being the first one to take a turn in a group or the first one to speak in a circle? There’s a vulnerability, isn’t there, in showing up?
M: Yes. You’re really putting your head above the parapet. This is why we need to know this Warrior energy in our body and really trust it.
When we speak up we may be making a small statement, but our Warrior has to be willing to follow through on whatever comes from making that statement. So if we’re the first person to speak in a group and we say something that someone else doesn’t like, we need to know that behind us we’ve got the strength and the power to deal with what might come from that, and the ensuing confrontation or difficulty or challenge.
C: We’ve got to trust that we can back up what we say.
M: Yes. We’ve got to have the Warrior energy to follow through.
This is what is so reassuring about people with strong, healthy Warrior energy. You can trust what they say and know they will follow through and you can feel safety in that.
C: If you feel like you just haven’t got access to that Warrior type energy in those sorts of situations how would you advise someone to cultivate that or to get in touch with that? What kind of things can you do? Is it literally about practicing setting boundaries or practicing following through?
M: I think it’s two things… and the first, and maybe less obvious one, is support. We need to feel we have a lot of support, which again is the Sovereign, in order to step up in to our Warrior. The second one is absolutely role playing, practicing this situation. Practicing ways of saying what you want to say. Practicing physically how you stand, what you look like when you say these things.
And it’s necessary to practice in a therapeutic setting, to really get into that anger and physicality, and your power and your willingness and ability to stand up for yourself. All of those are really useful. Learning to use your voice in a strong and confident way, learning to stand and embody yourself and your boundary and your Warrior, in a strong and empowered way. But a lot of people find that to do that to do this they need to have a sense of support. So often when you’re practicing using your Warrior it’s good to have somebody there who’s supporting you – who’s just simply saying, ‘Go on. I’m behind you. Yes, you’re right. I’m on your side.’
C: And is that Sovereign?
M. Yes, that’s Sovereign. It’s great to have an internal sense of that, but equally it’s wonderful to have an external sense of it, and that’s the way we start to believe it. There’s a lot of psychological research that shows the power of just having one other person who is on your side and what a huge difference that makes. So even if it’s only role play, it’s great to have that experience of someone saying ‘I’m behind you, I’m right here. I’m on your side. I believe in you. I believe in what you’re saying,’ … whatever words will work for you.
So there’s not a quick fix. But all of these things will help. And for some people who really have never had a sense of this, then practicing it in a fully embodied way can make a huge difference. It’s like going through some kind of doorway so that you really know that part of yourself, and also you don’t fear that it’s going to be abusive. Because that’s another thing that stops us stepping in to our power, if we think, ‘Help, I know there’s a lot of anger in me and what on earth would that do if I let it out?’ Then, because of our fear of letting it out we’re likely to go the other way and never show it.
C: Yes, and collapse it down.
M: Yes, and just let ourselves be walked over. So in a therapeutic space to let that anger out…
C: …to know its anatomy, to know how it ebbs and flows, how it peaks…
M: Yes, and so that you can take control of it. You know what it looks like, it’s done its thing. And most people find that when they see it and feel it they realise that it doesn’t have an abusive intent. It’s a power and an energy that they can use and be in control of. But if it comes out when they haven’t planned it or worked with it in that way, then it can come out in a way that’s out of their control that can certainly be abusive. And lots of people who use their anger abusively deeply regret it afterwards. It’s not something that they did consciously or deliberately. So we need to gain control of that side of ourselves, so that we don’t use it by mistake, by accident.
C: So it feels to me from what we’ve said that Magician offers up the different options that the Warrior can take, the Sovereign gives that real direction to the Warrior… I’m still not clear on the relationship so much between the Lover and the Warrior.
M: Well I guess we’re back to the idea that ideally the four archetypes are working together. So the Lover is keeping us in touch with our desire for connection. The Lover will mitigate against, if you like, the Warrior being abusive in some of the ways that you’ve described. Because the Lover is wanting connection with others, so will only want us to use the Warrior when it really serves, and not in a way that’s going to ultimately break connection. So in a relationship, for example, I tend to be very strong in the Warrior, and I need my Lover in my relationship to say ‘Hang on, remember, this is someone that you love that you’re dealing with.’ and to speak to me in that way so then I can decide how I’m going to express my boundaries in a way that isn’t going to compromise that connection.
C: I also feel a connection to grief in myself, when I’ve accessed my Warrior, and it’s easy for me to slip in to grief when feeling angry, and I don’t know if that’s a cultural thing, a gender thing, or a erm.. a human thing! But there’s something connected between those two energies for me.
M: If you think about what Warrior does, it protects.
M: If we need to protect ourselves there’s some vulnerability there that we’re needing to protect. So the two are actually very closely linked – our Warrior and our vulnerability. When we’re in touch with that need to protect and defend, or to grow – we’re at the same time then in touch with that vulnerability … What if we can’t defend ourselves? What if we can’t ever grow? And then there’s going to be some grief and sadness there around those really vulnerable parts of ourselves.
C: And I guess the other way around, we’ll never let ourselves be vulnerable and connected to people if we don’t trust our Warrior. If we don’t trust that we also have boundaries and can protect ourselves.
M: That’s it. They’re intimately connected.
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