The King Archetype

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Card Meaning

The King symbolizes authority, establishment, a dominating male, masculinity, power, and control. In his right hand, he holds the symbol of life. His crown represents his authority over his pupil. What he says goes. He makes the rules because he is the ruler. 

How does the King see the World?

This value system likes order and control and is a response to situations in life that call for toughness, self-assertiveness, and the ability to fight one’s way out of a bad situation.

The King must be decisively individual, heard, and acknowledged as the sole authority.  Any power exerted by others or circumstances is “stubbornly resisted” by the King. Deep down, the King wants to be bigger than life. He sees himself as the hero, strongly asserts himself, and claims all power without shame or concern for others. The King fears failure and any associated shame.

The King acts on his impulses without thinking about other people. In the pursuit of immediate enjoyment, there is no sense of obligation or remorse. The King adopts the maxim, “If I want it, then I shall get it.” Respect and reputation start to take precedence above all other considerations. Without any sense of guilt or even concern for others, whatever must be done to avoid embarrassment or disrespect will be carried out.

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Characteristics of The King:

  • Impulses and displays of power
  • “I-orientation”, dominance, power & oppression
  • Strives for self-preservation and respect
  • Free from guilt or shame
  • Fast & Impulsive
  • Guts (Guts ‘n Glory)
  • Loyal to those who are considered friends
  • Decisive and energetic
  • Enforcement by way of sanctions
  • Passion “ We’re on a mission!’
  • No-nonsense “ If you are not with us, you are against us.”
  • Urgency: making your business or yourself important: “ Your playing small doesn’t serve the world!”

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What are the King’s Values?

Bottom line: Power and action.

Basic theme: Be what you are and do what you want, regardless What’s important: Power, spontaneity, heroism, immediate gratification; standing tall, calling the shots, receiving respect, and getting attention; being daring, impulsive, and enjoying oneself without regret; conquering, outsmarting, dominating

Where seen: The ‘terrible twos’; rebellious youth; frontier mentalities; feudal kingdoms; epic heroes; wild rock stars; gang leaders; soldiers of fortune

What is the King’s Self Identity”

Main focus: Own immediate needs, opportunities, self-protection

Description: First step toward self-control of impulses; sense of vulnerability and guardedness; fight/flight response is very strong; very attack-oriented and win/lose in nature; short-term horizon; focus on concrete things and personal advantage; sees rules as loss of freedom; feedback heard as an attack

How influences others: Takes matter into own hands, coerces, wins fight

Ego Development

The King has an emerging  2nd person perspective. They can see things from their 1st person perspective, and for the first time, they are inkling that other people are separate individuals who seek different things and vie with you for resources, territory, and authority.

At this stage of development, individuals are beginning to assert their autonomy and independence. They are discovering their own will and are learning to communicate their needs and desires through language and symbols. This newfound sense of agency can be empowering and lead to feelings of pride and accomplishment.

Self-protective individuals are also very savvy when it comes to navigating the social world. They are able to anticipate the actions and reactions of others, which can be a valuable skill in achieving their goals. They are often very aware of the power dynamics at play in social situations and are able to manipulate these dynamics to their advantage.

Furthermore, self-protective individuals are often very resourceful and adaptive. They are skilled at finding ways to protect themselves and get what they need in challenging circumstances. They may have a strong sense of resilience and perseverance, which allows them to overcome obstacles and setbacks.

Overall, while the self-protective stage can be challenging, it is also a time of growth and discovery. Individuals at this stage are learning to assert themselves and navigate the social world, which can lead to feelings of empowerment and confidence. They are also developing valuable skills and qualities that will serve them well as they continue to mature and evolve.

Expanded 2nd Person Perspective:

  • Morality: Kings and self-protective people tend to blame external factors and rely on luck tokens for protection, with some individuals in dangerous jobs exhibiting positive aspects of these stages.
  • Social: They like to work from a place of power and authority and deep insight into others. They have a general hostility towards negative feedback and readiness for fight or flight.
  • Feelings: They see the world as hostile and focus on avoiding trouble and grabbing opportunities for survival, with self-respect being based on control over others and a concrete, materialistic worldview.
  • Cognition: Their mind is simplistic and based on basic notions and global, sweeping judgments. Everything is so binary. Everyone else is either on my side or against me.
  • Preoccupations: Dominance, power, and advantage are frequently revisited topics, as are cunning ploys to get an upper hand. On the other side, those who are too concerned with protecting themselves believe that others are always plotting against them.
  • Truth:Truth is often seen as subjective and malleable, depending on one’s immediate needs and circumstances.

What are Healthy Expressions of the King?

Assertive, movement, show courage, acts immediately on what needs to be done in the here and now and in a respectful way. Set clear boundaries and indicate urgency. Express one’s own opinion.

What are Unhealthy Expressions of the King?

Over-simplified, impatient, harsh, blabbermouth. Too honest. Insistent. Impulsive, unreasonable. Have one’s own needs met or wants to be right at all costs. Dog eats dog. Only thinks of oneself.


Spiral Dynamics: Stage Red 

Ken Wilber’s AQAL: Stage Red

Cognitive Development: Concrete Operational 

Ego Development Stage: Opportunist (2 to 2/3)

Kegan: Imperial

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Stefan Speaks AI
Stefan Speaks AI
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