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I haven’t dragged any Archetypes on stage in awhile.  I would to process the Wise Old Man.  Newer Spo-fans may not know I am a Jungian. I like to write about Jungian psychology. Writing out some basic “Jung 101” principals keeps me on my toes, and it fills my desire to teach.

On the reasons some figures are Archetypes is they are universal. The Wise Old Man is no exception. He appears in stories throughout history and in all cultures.  He is Masculinity and Wisdom combined. It is his job to guide and instruct others (especially the Hero) towards maturity.

King Arthur’s Merlin is a good example. If you prefer modern day examples there is Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, Dumbledore of Harry Potter, and Obi-wan in Star Wars.  They help shape the maturity of Frodo, Harry, and Luke into their mature selves. Understandably, when the Hero advances, The Wise Old Man withdraws, his task being done.

What is most important about the Wise Old Man is his wholeness.  He may be Masculinity but he in balance with The Feminine. This is often shown in ‘quaint’ attributes like Dumbledore’s fondness for warm socks or Merlin’s tea things.  The Wise Old Man seems magical; there is a sensation he is in touch with something powerful that is above and beyond common wisdom. In Jungian psychology Wholeness through individual maturity of The Feminine and Masculine does just that – it touches something collective and numinous.

The immature man or Hero is raw masculinity without direction. He is often a clod or bungler; sometimes without honor.  He needs the guidance of the Wise Old Man. Without, he will remain immature or (worse) become The Tyrant or a Dark Father.

By the way, this is probably the main reason why society doesn’t want gay men as teachers or in the Boy Scouts. The superficial reason: gay men will seduce the lads (a Shadow projection of straights of their own unconscious issues of seduction). The main reason is the unconscious fear of Wisdom from a gay Wise Man dissipates the power of Tribal beliefs.

Women can’t ultimately can’t raise boys into men. I mean this in no way to disparage single mothers doing their darnest to raise sons, alone and without resource. All the same, a boy needs mature men (emphasis on mature) to become a full man himself.  He needs a man – or men – with Wise Old Men energies.

I see this played out in my younger patients. They are starved for guidance. Sometimes I think half of my job is merely being there and leading by example. I’ve seen several young men ‘blossom’ into better men, simply through encouraging words and some tidbits of advise. But what is really going on is the subconscious playing out the roles of Hero and Wise Old Man.

Now I am (nearly) 50, I will allow this archetype to claim me, so I can (hopefully) channel The Wise Old Man for the younger generations.


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