The Warrior Archetype
In myth and legend, the warrior is depicted as the courageous hero, rescuing maidens in distress and doing the king’s bidding, even at the cost of sacrificing life itself to defend the realm and expand its territory.
In Shadow Work, the warrior archetype represents our power to defend and expand our territory. On the outer, physical plane, “territory” encompasses not only our home and homeland, but also our body and practical life in the world. On the inner realm of the psyche, “territory” refers to our sense of self, our ego. The warrior part of us is what we draw on to set and maintain appropriate boundaries around our own, inner territory, that is, to build and protect our sense of self. It is also what gives us the courage and strength to expand our territory of influence in the outer world by setting goals and taking action to accomplish them. Through our warrior energy, we are able to manage the boundaries of our life, both inner and outer. When this archetype is activated, it gives us the power to stand up for ourselves and to assert ourselves. It also gives us the ability to manage time, money, and the other tasks required to create a functional life. It’s our warrior energy that enables us to make choices, too, because a choice is like a little battle between two alternatives, one of which must win, while the other loses. Our warrior energy is the part of us that is down to earth, solid, pragmatic, and capable of performing the dynamic action necessary for success in the world. It is about commitment, action, and integrity.
A main gateway for accessing our warrior is through the emotion of anger. This does not mean that warrior energy is angry; in and of itself, the warrior archetype is just power. However, experiencing anger can often open up the warrior archetype inside of us and allow us to be fully in our power. When we feel angry, we can use that feeling as a signal that something is off balance with our boundaries, and we can then draw on our warrior energy to protect or adjust our boundaries.
When our warrior energy is deflated, or in shadow, then we are likely to be ungrounded and unfocused. We will have difficulty saying ‘no’ and setting boundaries for ourselves. We may be unable to make choices. The result is that instead of defending our territory or standing up for what is justly ours, we will tend to give ourselves away, going along with what others want and doing just about anything for anyone. We will probably be terrified of anger and conflict, and so we will avoid them at all costs. We can easily be taken advantage of, bullied, and victimized.
When warrior energy is in shadow in on the inflated side, then we tend to expand our territory in an unbalanced way. We become aggressive, intimidating, and possibly bullying. The offensive side of warrior energy runs amuck. Or, the defending side may run amuck, causing someone to be overly defensive and to put up boundaries so rigid that they are like a stone wall around the person, keeping other people out.
These shadows, both deflated and inflated, are exacerbated when the warrior core wound is enlivened. This wound is the shaming message that somehow we don’t really exist as an individual in our own right, separate from other people. We can take in this message if our boundaries are continually invaded and we are not allowed to have separate thoughts, separate actions, or separate physical space as we are growing up. As a result, the territory around our ego, or the boundary around who we are, is not clear. Consequently, we end up trying to find our boundaries and to prove ourselves, often through unbalanced warrior energy.
To help people develop balanced warrior energy, Shadow Work uses tools for boundary setting and making choices. This enables people to experience and express their warrior energy in a safe way. People are then able to feel the flow of their own power and access the warrior archetype within them.