Title: King John
Author: Edmond Manning
Series: The Lost and Founds, #4
Publisher: Pickwick Ink Publishing
Release Date: September 10, 2015
English attorney Alistair Robertson can’t quite believe an astonishing tale of kingship and transformation he hears at Burning Man, the annual counter-culture art festival in the Black Rock desert. Who are the Found Kings? Is “being kinged” as magical as it sounds?
Determined to find the mysterious garage mechanic named Vin who helps men “remember who they were always meant to be,” Alistair catches his quarry amid the extravagant sculptures, fire worshipers, mutant cars, and lavish costumes. After searching for three years, he’ll finally get to ask the question burning inside him: “Will you king me?”
Wandering together through the desert, Vin Vanbly and Alistair explore Burning Man’s gifting culture and exotic traditions, where they meet the best and worst of their fellow burners. Alistair’s overconfidence in Vin’s manipulative power collides with Vin’s obsessive need to save a sixteen-year-old runaway from a nightmarish fate, and the two men spiral into uncontrollable, explosive directions.
In this fourth adventure of The Lost and Founds, beneath the sweltering summer sun and the six billion midnight stars, one truth emerges, searing itself on their hearts: in the desert, everything burns.
The Masculine Archetypes
In a few different guest posts on my King John blog tour, I’ve casually mentioned the four masculine archetypes: lover, warrior, magician, and king. But as a friend recently pointed out, I haven’t really explained them in any detail and never fully described the power they offer the common man.
Why haven’t I done that?
Allow me to rectify.
Before getting too specific, I wish to point out that the feminine archetypes are just as powerful and nuanced as their male counterparts: lover, amazon, crone, and queen. I’m not as familiar with their unique gifts, though I do understand that sometimes the feminine archetypes apply to me more than the masculine archetypes and vice versa. Face it—humanity is a big ol’ mix of sloppy gendery goodness, which means you take whatever meaning applies to you and skip worrying whether that makes you more masculine, more feminine, or whatever. When you explore the archetypes within yourself, and seek deeper understanding, it makes you more human.
These archetypes are nothing I invented. They are not recent constructs of modern psychology.
In fact, these models are present in all our stories, from Melrose Place to A Tale of Two Cities, from Shakespeare to Jesus to Greek myth to stories so ancient they are scratched into cave walls. These are the stories of power—personal power, shared power, community power—these are the stories of how we come to identify as human. As men. As women.
Although I have researched these archetypes for years, and today I pull together my thoughts from any number of diverse sources, one source I must mention (for fear of coming across smarter than I am) is an excellent piece of non-fiction titled King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine. I don’t need to describe the book’s contents, do I? Didn’t think so. The two authors accumulated and articulated much of what we know about the archetypes and their role in history. If this topic interests you, you’ll find this book fascinating.
Let’s jump in, shall we?
The Golden Lover
Everyone wants to believe this is the kissy-face lover, the one who holds hands on beaches and delights in wrapping Christmas presents. Uh, sure. That’s one facet of the lover. But there’s so much more. The lover is how we face ourselves. Do you face yourself with compassion? Can you forgive yourself? Attributes of the Golden Lover are openness, vulnerability, ability to grieve, and welcoming new light. In fact, you might say the lover welcomes the dawn. Knowing the pain each day might bring in the world, the Golden Lover faces the East and says, “Yes.”
In some ways, this is the hardest archetype for men. Men think they’re already displaying lover qualities because they love their favorite football team and they laughed hard at Mall Cop II. After all, how can someone whose heart is shut down laugh that openly and hard?
The Golden Lover shows mercy when hard justice is deserved. The lover shows vulnerability when furious, not only when it’s convenient. When faced with the death of a child, the lover weeps hard and admits, “I am destroyed. I am destroyed.” If men close off their Golden Lover, they are likely to embrace the negative counterpoint to this archetype…
The Shadow Lover
Either overly-weepy or stone-faced and unable to cry, the Shadow Lover spends his time mystified by the strong emotions others feel. “Sorry about your dog’s death, but what’s the big deal? It’s just a dog.” The Shadow Lover might smile and be friendly to your face. And that’s genuine. But in his heart of hearts, the Shadow Lover doesn’t get the big deal about all these feelings. He’s fine without them, thank you.
In King Mai, a secondary character named Chris typifies the Shadow Lover. When circumstance demands he tell a “sad story,” he refuses. He says, “I won’t. I can’t.” Truly, he can’t. When shamed by his friends who bully him (Shadow Warriors hard at work!), he finally confesses that at the age of nineteen he was responsible for “putting down” his childhood dog at the end of the dog’s life. Chris immediately walks away to go cry in the men’s room.
Shadow Lovers aren’t without emotion. In fact, denying the Golden Lover has created a dam within them that will explode in potentially unhealthy ways unless someone figures out how to touch the sacredness of their Golden Lover. They are often desperate to be found and freed from this self-created prison—and they would never, ever admit that. Admitting it would be weak.
The Golden Warrior
Men love this archetype because they think it means they get to hold a sword and cut things. And, well, that’s true—metaphorically at least. But the Golden Warrior doesn’t swing wildly, and he takes no pleasure in the slicing and dicing. The Golden Warrior serves a bigger mission. He serves integrity. He serves vision. He will do what it takes to serve the king’s mission (the Golden King) and if that means using his sword, so be it.
You might recognize a Golden Warrior in real life: a man who keeps his word. A boss who—when delivering difficult feedback—is honest and specific, makes eye contact, and does not apologize for what he must say. He must say it.
The Golden Warrior looks out for others. He serves as a protector, and very often the person needing protecting is himself. Golden Warriors can say, “No. This is not healthy for me. I’m out.” He has to say that—he knows it’s the only way to keep his sword clean.
The Shadow Warrior
Prepare to be ripped a new one.
The Shadow Warrior fights blindly, slashing his mighty sword (i.e., words) in every direction. If you give him constructive feedback, he will cut out your eyes—not because what you said was untrue or unkind, but because you hurt him, and every hurt is an attack, so he attacks back. The Shadow Warrior serves himself, because there are no kings worth following. Do you have a Facebook friend who is nothing but critical of everything in the world? The Shadow Warrior thinks he could run the world better than it’s being run now, but will never try because… fuck you, that’s why. The Shadow Warrior doesn’t want to make things better. He wants to attack from the shadows.
A Shadow Warrior often protects a wounded lover. Protects—but more likely, overprotects. Bullies are often Shadow Warriors, terrified of the gushing pain their wounded lover feels, bleeding over everything. To convince themselves this is normal, they try to make others bleed, too.
Honestly, I think of Donald Trump as a Shadow Warrior. He swings his sword wildly in every direction. In his own eyes, every woman wants him, every detractor is wrong and misinformed. Everyone’s vision is clouded but his own. Trump will slash his way to the throne, and will undoubtedly have a stinging, insulting speech ready for “you stupid Americans” when we don’t elect him president. Shadow Warriors with real power in the world can be quite dangerous. Don’t underestimate the damage they can do.
The Golden Magician
In college, I had a Shakespeare professor who regularly corralled two dozen bored English majors and tricked us into debating words, concepts, and intentions in every possible character and setting. When class was over, we bitterly complained that we didn’t have enough time. In the classroom, he was a Golden Magician. He asked questions. He related the plots to our lives, and each character’s sorrow to our own deep sorrows. He tricked us into deeply relating to Iago, Katherina (the shrew), and those crazy teens from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We would leave class scratching our heads saying, “How did he do that to us? Again?”
The Golden Magician uses all kinds of tricks to better love you. He lies when necessary, but he’s more skilled at showing the truth—the beautiful truth of yourself—at the moment when you’re most likely to believe it. He uses stories, a quiet voice, a hand on your shoulder. He screams. He points at some random tree and says, “That tree reminds me of you. Look at it. What do you see?” He’s not above bonking you on the head to wake you up. The Golden Magician is laughter and light, and then you look down and realize you’ve been giggling your way over hot coals. The Golden Magician believes in the greatness of you and is determined for you to see it as he does.
Vin Vanbly. ’Nuff said.
The Shadow Magician
That same Shakespeare professor was one of the meanest people I’ve ever encountered. On one of my research papers he awarded me a B+ and wrote, “Honestly, if I didn’t know you from class, I would assume English was your second language because you’re so poor at written communication. Doesn’t that bother you? Aren’t you ashamed of that?”
Yes, I was ashamed. I’d never been so humiliated. I wasn’t the only one who shed tears over his utterly devastating feedback.
The Shadow Magician understands your weaknesses, and he has no problem exploiting them. Honestly, this archetype terrifies me. It whispers softly in your ear, mixing truth with lies, and cooing, “I’m only saying this for your own good. You know that, right?”
No, it’s not for your own good. The terror of the Shadow Magician is that he’s not acting in your best interests, but it feels like he is. The Shadow Magician loves exerting his power and whether that’s for good or evil, it makes little difference to him. Bullies yell and berate. Shadow Magicians say to a woman who was just raped, “What were you wearing? Did you bring it on yourself?” Fuck you, Shadow Magician. Fuck you.
I remember fighting with a friend—years ago—and I was worked up into a boiling rage over some wrong he had done me. He got very sad in his eyes and said, “I can’t fight with you, Edmond. You always win. You’re better with words than me.” His openness and vulnerability made me realize I was being a complete dick. My Shadow Magician wanted to win the argument. The better side of me stopped fighting immediately, because I wanted his friendship more than I wanted to win. His vulnerable Golden Lover defeated my Shadow Magician. We talked quietly and worked things out.
The Golden King
I’ve written four books about the Golden King, so I’m not sure what to add. The Golden King values his community—whoever they are. He loves them. He wants to protect them. He does so by serving them. He is one of them, yet he is not one of them, and he feels this burden and connection. The greatest assets the Golden King bestows upon others are blessing and inclusion. Come in. You belong here.
In King John, toward the end, the title character is almost ready to cross over into his greatness—he’s ready to become a king. How do we know? He can’t help but bless those Burning Man attendees gathered before him. Consider this short speech of his. (Context: those listening to his speech have been asked to raise their hands if they feel empathy for what he says, or if it also rings true for them.)
“I come here, and I see all the amazing, beautiful people, and it makes me sad. I’m not one of you. I’m not…I don’t belong. I’m not creative enough to make art. I’m not brave enough to wear elaborate costumes. Or go naked. When you’re boring and small, it hurts to know you’ll never be remembered.”
A large number of hands rise for this comment, more than half. More than three-quarters.
This makes John cry.
After a moment, he says, “No…no, it’s not true. You guys are…you guys are amazing. You’re so beautiful. I watch you. I’m envious. So big. So joyful and strong and…”
He puts his hands on the top of his head. Oh good. Classic sign of giving up. John is ready.
The Shadow King
The Shadow King likes to build kingdoms, too. It’s just… those kingdoms are not nice places to live. He “builds” by selectively including and excluding others, sometimes based on personal whim. He’s the guy who cuts down others from his position of power. He doesn’t bless, he curses. He gets Shadow Warriors to do his dirty work, often inspiring them by implying that their way of life is threatened, and they should “protect themselves.”
The Shadow King likes his power. He craves it. He wants more. Anyone else having power—even their own personal power—is a threat to his own. Think of an abusive father. He is king of his miserable household and uses his fists to act as his Shadow Warriors. While beating his own kid, he might say, “You shouldn’t make me do this,” a Shadowy Magician statement if ever there was one, potentially convincing a child he is complicit in deserving this abuse.
Shadow Kings aren’t necessarily that extreme. A Shadow King can write a one-star review on Goodreads and try to convince others how worthless the author is, probably as a human being. These reviews are just flat-out mean-spirited. There’s a difference between a well-constructed one-star review (some books really are just that awful) and someone who needs others to believe—BELIEVE—this author is a wreck. It’s not an opinion, it’s a fact, and the Shadow King wants everyone in his kingdom to witness and believe in this “fact.”
The Golden and Shadow in us all
It’s important to remember that these archetypes are not isolated, external qualities. Every man possesses golden and shadow qualities of the warrior, lover, magician, and king. He also possesses golden and shadow qualities of the amazon, lover, crone, and queen. Women are not exempt from this mess of qualities swirling around inside. We are all a giant swirl of all these archetypes, trying to separate our own gold from the shadow.
Recently, a Facebook friend posted a nasty two-sentence, friendship-ending rant against me. I was shocked. I was tagged in this post and saw the exact words in my email Inbox, but by the time I followed the link to Facebook, he had already removed the post.
We chatted via private message, and I asked him why he had written what he did.
He apologized. He was very sorry. His explanation (without using these words) was that his Shadow Warrior had taken over, and he’d swung his sword, hard. Soon after, he regretted what he had done and removed the post. (A Golden Lover—a mutual friend—had said to him, “Hey, what’s going on? Why are you doing this? Edmond is kind.” She’d helped bring him into the light.) He and I had a beautiful conversation, and it wasn’t hard to remember why I liked this friend.
We are all combinations of golden and shadow, trying our best to stay in the light. Some days are harder than others. Personally, I worry about people who deny their shadow archetypes. The people I trust are the ones like my Facebook friend who sometimes lets the shadow out and then says, “Oh, crap. What have I done?” He owned his shit, apologized, and we repaired any damage.
To know your archetypes and confront them—the best and worst in yourself—is to give yourself power, the power of being who you were always meant to be.
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EDMOND MANNING has always been fascinated by fiction: how ordinary words could be sculpted into heartfelt emotions, how heartfelt emotions could leave an imprint inside you stronger than the real world. He is the author of King Perry, King Mai, The Butterfly King, Filthy Acquisitions, and contributor to the bear anthology, A Taste of Honey.
In addition to fiction, Edmond enjoys writing nonfiction. You can pick up a copy of his Indie-publishing-finalist-award winning book, I Probably Shouldn’t Have Done That. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook under his name, Edmond Manning.
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King John Blog Tour:
Mon, Sept 7 My Fiction Nook
Mon, Sept 7 AJ Rose Books pre-release excerpt #1
Tues, Sept 8 Thorny, Not Prickly pre-release excerpt #2
Wed, Sept 9 Love Out Loud pre-release excerpt #3
Thurs, Sept 10 Edmond Manning.com
Thurs, Sept 10 Facebook Release Party, 7p-9p Central, hosted by Bike Book Reviews
Fri, Sept 11 Reviews by Amos Lassen
Sat, Sept 12 Vanessa North.com
Tues, Sept 15 MM Good Book Reviews
Wed, Sept 16 The Novel Approach
Thurs, Sept 17 Purple Rose Tea House
Fri, Sept 18 Posy Roberts.com
Sat, Sept 19 Zipper Rippers
Tues, Sept 22 Joyfully Jay
Wed, Sept 23 Boys In Our Books
Thurs, Sept 24 It’s About the Book
Fri, Sept 25 Lou Harper.com
Sat, Sept 26 Love Bytes Reviews
Sun, Sept 27 Sinfully Addicted to Male Romance
Mon, Sept 28 Josephine Myles.com
Tues, Sept 29 Molly Lolly
Wed, Sept 30 Coffee and Porn in the Morning
Wed, Sept 30 Stumbling Over Chaos
Thurs, Oct 1 The Blogger Girls Reviews
Sat, Oct 3 Because Two Men Are Better Than One
Sun, Oct 4 The Hat Party!
Fri, Oct 2 Jessewave
Mon, Oct 5 Prism Book Alliance
Tues, Oct 6 Jaycee Edward.com
Wed, Oct 7 Hearts on Fire Book Reviews