In my life coaching work with clients, two archetypes continually show up to guide us on this inner journey.
The two archetypes can go by many names: The Ruler & The Magician.
The King & The Wizard.
The Queen & The Priestess.
These two archetypal images symbolize our capacity for sovereignty and transformation, power and wisdom. Together, they help us take our proper place in both earthly life and in the life of the spirit.
Our inner King/Queen/Ruler is the part of our being who knows how to stand in our power and use that power for good and noble ends, who creates proper order and structure in our lives, who offers blessing and protection to our friends, family, and community.
Our inner Magician/Wizard/Priestess is that aspect of ourselves who is deeply connected to spirit, who opens our being to a dialogue with the sacred, and who, based on the wisdom of that deep listening, masters of the arts of inner transformation and spiritual healing.
Together, these two archetypes offer us a compelling image of the fully realized Self - wise, empowered, and whole.
One of my favorite representations of this pair in film & literature is Aragorn and Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings.
A major plot line of Tolkien’s story is the transformation of Aragorn’s identity from when we first meet him as Strider, the rough ranger from the North; to Aragorn, Isildur’s heir and leader of the Fellowship of the Ring; to the crowned King Ellesar, ruler of Gondor and the protector of Middle-Earth.
Throughout that journey of transformation, the wizard Gandalf is by his side, offering wise counsel and reminding Aragorn of who he really is and the King he must become if Middle-Earth is to be saved.
At his eventual coronation, Aragorn asks Gandalf to be the one to place the crown of the King on his head. When Gandalf sets the White Crown upon Aragorn’s head, now officially King Ellesar, he announces “Now come the days of the King.”
What inner meaning does this have? And what do these figures of The Wizard and The King say about the life coaching journey?
The story points towards the essential partnership between our inner Ruler & Magician archetypes. These two powers - one earthly and the other spiritual - need one another if the realm is to prosper and be protected from malevolent forces.
Our inner King needs the Wizard to offer wise advice, to serve as his spiritual conscience, to present intuitive, “magical”, soul-based solutions to problems when rational, logical, and often ego-based solutions have been exhausted. The Magician is open to the possibility of the miraculous, when all other voices inside us are loud with doubt and doom. The Magician urges us to dive into the depths of psyche, encourages us to step inside the caves we fear to enter, and to bring forth the golden treasure awaiting us there. It is towards the Magician that we look for the tools of transformation and guidance on the path of inner growth.
But the Magician needs the Ruler to make these inner truths a living reality in the world, to manifest the gifts of spirit in the tangible forms of everyday life. The Ruler takes responsibility for the unfolding of the Magician’s vision, making the miraculous real. The Ruler creates a stable order so that these spiritual blessings can be shared for the benefit of all.
The hero-turned-Ruler importantly needs the spiritual mentorship of the Magician for the fulfillment of his journey towards true sovereignty. The Magician facilitates the King coming into his power, symbolized by Gandalf’s crowning of Aragorn. This image reminds us that stepping into our sovereignty on earth is built upon a spiritual foundation. The same lesson emerges from the legends of Merlin and King Arthur: magicians are king-makers, guiding future sovereigns towards their proper place on the throne of their own lives.
All of this is an apt metaphor for the deep inner work that happens in the coaching process.
Recently I’ve been working with a man ready to take true responsibility for his life, to really step up and make big changes in his marriage, his work life, and his relationship to self. In one session, I guided him into a meditation on the King archetype, inviting him first to sit up tall, as if he were sitting on his own personal throne. I asked him to connect with the power of the King he finds within himself and to describe what he discovers there. He spoke of the capacity to stand up for his deepest values, to be powerful in his words and deeds, to be a protector for the ones he loves, to own his mistakes and take full responsibility for his actions.
This is the work of a man stepping into the energy of his inner King and the changes this work have manifested in his life so far have been incredible to witness.
I have continually found that this inner journey of life coaching is an interplay between Ruler and Magician. Great coaches are great magicians, wizards, and priestesses - facilitating a sacred space for the work of inner transformation, the alchemy that turns a budding hero or heroine into a reigning King or Queen.
I archetypally view my work as a coach as holding the space of the Magician, the role of the mentoring Wizard figure on the hero’s journey - as well as modeling the qualities of the good Ruler - to facilitate the client’s journeying into their own empowered sovereignty and their ability to effectively access both archetypes in their own lives.
The end goal of every coaching journey is the client sitting on the throne of their own lives, embodying the strength of their inner Ruler and the sacred wisdom of their own inner Magician.
When the crown of the true Self rests on their head at last, my work as a coach is done.
If the hero’s journey towards a truly empowered life is calling you, I invite you to book an introductory Pathfinding Session with me to discover how a life coach can help guide you through this process of self-discovery. Together, we will call upon the archetypes of Ruler & Magician (along with other archetypes, coaching strategies, and spiritual tools) to facilitate change within yourself and in your life.
To book a Pathfinding Session today, click the "Book Online" link at the top of the screen.
I look forward to joining you on your journey.
- Matthew Foley