Warrior

(Soldier, Crime Fighter, Amazon, Mercenary, Soldier of Fortune, Gunslinger, Samurai)

The Warrior archetype represents physical strength and the ability to protect, defend, and fight for one’s rights. Whereas the Knight is associated with protecting Damsels, the Warrior is linked to invincibility and loyalty. Both the Knight and Warrior appear on the battlefield, but the Knight’s romance, chivalry, and abundant castle are not associated with the Warrior. Warrior energy is erotic for the male, representing the height of virility and physical power as well as toughness of will and spirit. To be unbreakable and to fight to the death is a large part of the Warrior archetype, which is also associated with the passage from boyhood to manhood.

The Mercenary and Soldier of Fortune are variations on the hired killer who sells his power on the open market, often with complete disregard for the buyer’s cause. These archetypes are much like the Prostitute in that, although they appear negative, in their favorable aspect they warn us when we are in danger of aligning our might with an unjust or purely self-interested cause.

The Gunslinger and Samurai represent a double-edged sword (pun intended). They appeal to our fantasies of independence and the power to defend ourselves and right wrongs, yet they also carry the historic weight of savage, predatory evil. On the one side are all the heroic characters portrayed by John Wayne, Gary Cooper and others–standing up to injustice and holding off the forces of evil single-handedly. The Lone Ranger and the figures of wandering samurai warriors in the films of Akira Kurosawa also epitomize this fiercely independent warrior that the American and Japanese past seem to share. And on the other side are all the selfish, evil thieves and killers who embody our worst nightmares of lawlessness and unchecked male dominance. Somewhere in between are the ambiguous Crime Fighters and lone wolf Gunfighters epitomized by Clint Eastwood, whose heroism is often tinged with anger, vengefulness, and more than a little sadism.

The shadow Warrior distorts or abandons ethical principles and decency in the name of victory at any cost. What can be a virtue–heroic indifference to risk and pain–becomes contemptible when the indifference is directed not at oneself but at others.

The Warrior archetype is just as connected to the female psyche as to the male. Women have long been defenders of their families, and the Amazon tribe of Warrior Women has become legendary because of their ability to engage in fierce battle–even sacrificing part of their female physique to facilitate warfare. Loyalty to the family and tribe is among the Amazon’s notable characteristics, along with nurturing their young and transmitting lessons of power and self-defense. In today’s society, the Warrior Woman has emerged in its glory once again through women who liberate and protect others, especially women and children who need vocal and financial representation.

The concept of the spiritual Warrior has been pioneered by Dan Millman (The Peaceful Warrior), the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa (Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior), Prof. Robert Thurman, and others. They direct us to use the classic Warrior virtues of heroism, stoicism, and self-sacrifice for conquering the ego and gaining control of our inner lives.