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Posted March 27, 2006

Book: Archetypes for Spiritual Direction: Discovering the Heroes Within
Author: Bruce Tallman
Paulist Press, New York, 2006, pp.241

An Excerpt from the Book:

Written by an experienced practitioner, this book offers spiritual directors a road map to becoming more fully conscious and proficient in their work, helps directees learn to discern the good director from the not-so-good, and teaches both director and directee how to cope in less-than-ideal spiritual direction situations. The author describes the four heroic archetypes — Sovereign, Warrior, Seer, Lover – and the antiheroic archetypes associated with each of them. Directors and directees alike will benefit from learning about:

– the nature of heroic and antiheroic archetypes and how they help or block spiritual growth

– how to activate the spiritual heroes (heroic archetypes) within

– the impact of heroic and antiheroic spiritual directors upon those under their guidance

– how to identify and benefit from heroic guides and cope with antiheroic ones if no other spiritual directors are available

An Excerpt from the Book:

The Goodness of the Warrior

. . . All of us have within us an inner hero called the Warrior, and this is a noble and good thing. The inner Warrior is what makes someone who is called to be a poet or artist hang in there when they are starving. It is what makes a mother fight for the well-being of her three children when their father suddenly leaves her. It is what made my handicapped father not just survive, but thrive, and become twice the man most nonhandicapped men are.

The Warrior is an essential element of the human race, that part of us that gives us our incredibly resilient spirit and the will and determination to overcome any adversity. It is the inner fighter that causes us to battle against “the slings and arrrows of outrageous fortune,” as Shakespeare put it. If Winston Churchill had not been such a heroic Warrior, we might now all be living under the rule of antiheroic Warriors, that is, the Nazis.

. . . The Bible proclaims in several places that “the Lord [Yahweh] is a warrior!” Yahweh was a Warrior-God who fought for the poor Hebrews against their oppression as slaves of the Egyptian establishment. This Warrior-God demanded justice for and from the people of God: they were expected to share their goods and live in equality together and take care of the widow, orphan, and stranger. Moses, the greatest figure of the Hebrew Bible, was a combination Warrior-Seer who liberated the Hebrews and gave the Law to them. King David was a Warrior-Sovereign-Lover who united the Israelite kingdom and gave us the psalms.

. . . The Warrior takes dreams, makes goals and plans, and provides the discipline to make them a reality. The Warrior knows how to work as an interdependent equal. The Warrior cares about the common good, justice, and defense of the weak. In ever widening circles, Warriors protect themselves, loved ones, others, cultures, the environment, and finally the planet.

The Warrior emerges when life is in imminent danger, either individually or collectively. Without our inner Warrior any of us would be constantly victimized. The Warrior allows us to be assertive and establish our psychic boundaries so that our rights are not ignored or destroyed. The Warrior archetype is the template for emotional resolve. It marshals our psychic and physical energies to do what must be done, battling onward against all odds.

Disavowal of the healthy Warrior is dangerous because the best psychic choice for men and women opposed to injustice and evil is the healthy Warrior. When there are no healthy Warriors, the unhealthy ones take over, without any mercy. Even the greatest exponents of nonviolence, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., were Warriors, but healthy ones.

. . . Spiritual directors as heroic Warriors commit themselves to a mighty cause: that everyone become a lover of God. They fight against the powers of darkness, nothingness, and destruction so prevalent in our culture. They fight for light and life, and they are willing to give up their own convenience and comfort and sacrifice everything so that others might grow spiritually.

Table of Contents:

1 Introduction.
Four “coincidences”.
The hero's journey.
The fourth coincidence.
Evolution, mysticism, and planetary salvation.
Re imaging men as spiritual heroes.
Heroic and antiheroic archetypes for women and men.

2. The Nature of Archetypes

3. In Defense of the Warrior and Sovereign
The vision quest.
The goodness of the Warrior.
The goodness of the Sovereign.

4. The heroic Sovereign, Warrior, Seer, and Lover
The heroic sovereign.
The heroic warrior.
The heroic seer.
The heroic lover.

5. The antiheroic Sovereign, Warrior, Seer, and Lover
The nature of the shadow.
The tyrant and abdicator.
The sadist and masochist.
The manipulator and fool.
The addict and frigid.

6. How Heroic Spiritual Guides Form Heroic Seekers
The sovereign director.
The warrior director.
The seer director.
The lover director.

7. How Antiheroic Spiritual Guides Form antiheroic Seekers
The tyrant and abdicator director.
The sadist and masochist director.
The manipulator and fool director.
The addict and frigid director.

8. Becoming a Heroic Guide or Seeker
The heroic archetypes: key characteristics
The antiheroic archetypes: key characteristics
Becoming a more heroic spiritual guide or seeker
Accessing and activating the archetypes
Questions for the aspiring sovereign, warrior, seer, and lover
Other ways of activating the archetypes
Men, archetypal leadership, and religious participation

9. Conclusion
Summary of the impact of archetypes on guides and seekers
How seekers can cope with an antiheroic spiritual guide
Implications of archetypes for spiritual guidance and planetary salvation