“Good Will Hunting" & the King and Magician Archetypes
The King is the central archetype around which the rest of the psyche is organized. The King in all men provides order, structure, integrity, authority, orderly growth and nurturing to his kingdom. Regardless of whether he leads himself, a family, or a nation, the King takes great pleasure and responsibility in his job as a leader. He embodies sacred energy. His mission is to selflessly ensure safety and prosperity, peace and stability to those around him. As such, he is the mediator between the mortal and the Divine, the closest to God of all four archetypes.
The King is the energy of the Father, who looks upon the world with a firm, but kindly eye. He promotes talent and effort, and gives good men his blessings. Initiation of younger men by older men has been celebrated as an important rite of passage by many cultures, and documented and acknowledged by historians and psychologists all over the world for ages. Blessings are healing when coming from a mentor. Men in our society are starving for blessing from older men. In a culture that celebrates the feminine much more than the masculine, the King - the Father - has become increasingly weaker, and men increasingly more shut down. They carry around deep wounds that feminine ways are not adept at healing.
When a man is not in touch with his King archetypal energy, he is said to fall under its shadows, the Tyrant and the Weakling, which end up controlling him. When not fully matured, the King energy remains the boy Hero, and his shadows are called: the High Chair Tyrant and the Weakling Prince.
“Good Will Hunting” portrays beautifully both the King and the Magician archetypes. Will is a brilliant young man with a wounded heart. He is, in the language of Robert Moore, a “Precocious Child” with genius-level math skills. The professor who discovers his talents wants him to become a full “Magician”: actualize his potential and use his knowledge to inspire and help others. However, Will is not quite ready to take on the world. He has childhood wounds he needs to heal first.
Sean, the only therapist who is able to withstand Will’s tricks and defenses, sees a hurt and unloved boy under Will’s touch, macho exterior, and accepts to work with him. In Sean we see all archetypes of the masculine in their power, fully integrated. He is a man who has processed his pain and “eaten his shadows”. He is a peaceful, calm man, but he is not afraid to access his Warrior and stand up for himself and for his wife when he needs to. Fully connected to his inner and outer world - feelings, art, music, nature - his mature Lover finds perfection in his deceased wife, whom he still honors. Sean has also mastered the art of psychotherapy, and we get to see the Magician at work with Will as the patient. In his compassion and his commitment to heal the wounds of a hurt young man, in spite of the challenges this brings about from his mathematician friend, Sean is a powerful King. King energy is truly powerful only when all the other archetypes have fully matured.
In Will the King and Lover are weak and immature, while his Warrior is overdeveloped. He oscillates between the two shadow poles of the boy King - the High Chair Tyrant and the Weakling Prince. Magician archetypal energies combined with Warrior archetypal energies in a man whose Lover and King energies are weak result in a very dangerous psyche.
The High Chair Tyrant is the boy who has a superiority complex that covers his real sense of vulnerability, weakness and inferiority. He is self-righteous, proud and arrogant. He is demanding of oneself and others in ways that cannot be satisfied. We see this side of Will when he is forced to go to therapy. He masterfully uses his Precocious Child energy to outsmart and anger all therapists before Sean.
The Weakling Prince is the passive shadow of the boy King archetype. He lacks centeredness and security in himself. He gives away his power over his life to other people, external circumstances and substances. He feels impotent, incapable of acting and leading. This is the part of Will that holds him back from actualizing his full potential, the energy that keeps him living in the same old neighborhood, with the same old friends, working a job that demands nothing of him. When love requires a deeper opening of the heart and loss of control, the Weakling Prince in him runs away from Skylar’s embrace, and the Oedipal Child in him does not have the opportunity to mature into the Lover.
A Magician archetype without the integrated King becomes someone who can argue anything convincingly, but believe in nothing. This is what Will does with all the therapists before Sean, and attempts to do with Sean in their first session. However, Sean knows Will’s deep wound, and does not waver.There are two powerful, healing scenes in the film. The second therapy session takes place outside, by the lake. In this scene, Sean fully embodies the King archetypal energies when he offers Will authentic, loving and authoritative fatherly feedback: “I look at you, I don’t see an intelligent, confident man. I see a cocky, scared shitless kid.” This is the first time Will remains speechless. The second scene is towards the end of the film. Will finally lets go of his defenses after Sean, at a very vulnerable moment, tells him “It’s not your fault”. This is the moment when Will’s Warrior lets go of the need to defend the boundaries of his fake kingdom in order to discover and embrace the healing truth, releasing the repressed mounds of childhood grief and anger.
Often times, when older men - fathers, mentors, spiritual teachers - hold space for younger men, healing takes place. Sean gifts Will his presence, guidance and wisdom, by modeling strong archetypal energies. As a result, Will gets in touch with his mature King and Lover, integrates his Magician, and decides to get a job and go “see about a girl”. Free from his prison, having descended into his heart, Will is inspired by Sean’s aspiration to find real love, and takes off to find Skylar.
How to get in touch with, and balance your King:
Set up 3-5 short-term and long term goals.
Organize your room, your desk, your computer, your calendar. Clear out the clutter.
Look at a task you've been procrastinating on, write down 3 actions you can take towards its completion, and implement one every day.
Keep your promises. Follow through. ALWAYS. Especially when it hurts or it inconveniences.
Identify distractions, and learn to say "NO".
Take responsibility for your actions. Next time you feel criticized, take a deep breath, find something you are responsible for in the situation, apologize and come up with a way to make it up immediately.
Have that dreaded conversation you have been putting off with a coworker or your boss. Draft a few notes, practice getting centered and owning the room, and speak your mind with unaffected calm.
Next time you find yourself in a frazzling situation, take a deep breath, send roots to the center of the earth, and summon your King from your center. When you feel yourself getting calm, it has come.
Practice getting present and holding space for someone who is having a wild emotional roller coaster. Don't say anything. Just drop your mind into your belly button, send roots to the ground, and send love out from the heart. Then just observe.
Contribute for no reason. Find a younger or less experienced man (friend, coworker, nephew), and offer your guidance. Give yourself an hour a day to just do something for another without expecting anything back, even if it is just a phone call.
Offer to mentor a child. There are various organizations around the country that pair adults with children who are in need of support and guidance.
Host a movie viewing or a party for your friends. Provide all the accommodations. Step back and take pleasure in seeing them happy and connecting.
Start a Meetup group/ motivate people to come together as a group to help each other, or serve a purpose.
Take the lead in a group where there is chaos and indecision.