Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
Illuminating the Way: Embracing the Wisdom of Monks and Mystics will be released very soon! I am very excited to share this work exploring twelve monks and mystics and the archetypes they embody and invite us to live more fully into. This week I share another excerpt from the book, this time on the archetype of the sovereign from the chapter on King David:
There is a story about Sir Gawain and Lady Ragnell which expresses the heart of sovereignty well. Sir Gawain must decide whether he wants Lady Ragnell to remain beautiful by day and ugly by night, or the other way around. He finally decides to leave the choice up to her and thereby grants her sovereignty over herself and she remains beautiful all the time.
Sovereignty is about being centered in your own power and taking full responsibility for meeting your needs. Sovereignty sounds so archaic in some ways, and yet it is one of the archetypal energies we find within us. The reason so many myths and fairy tales speak of kings and queens is that these figures reflect back something of ourselves.
Sovereignty is in many ways a midlife word. We don’t really begin to live into our own power until we have grown wise enough to recognize our limitations as well. In her book Queen of Myself: Stepping Into Sovereignty at Midlife, Donna Henes suggests that the traditional stages of maiden, mother, and crone for women is incomplete as women’s lifespans get longer. She suggests the addition of the queen or sovereign archetype between mother and crone as a time to really live into a sense of your own power. In the book King, Warrior, Magician, and Lover, author Robert Moore describes the King as a primal energy in men’s spirituality as well.
The sovereign is not a victim of life. Another favorite story is that of Persephone who was abducted into the Underworld by Hades. She eats the pomegranate seeds which will end up requiring her to stay there for part of the year. She becomes Queen, a movement from her victim role to stepping into her own power and fullness.
The sovereign accepts full responsibility for his or her choices in life. One of our central questions in life is “what is my task in this world?” Living into what that is may take a lifetime, but the sovereign helps us to claim the call that is our birthright and step into life with confidence. That gift is then offered with joy as a blessing to the world. No apologies need to be made for offering this essential contribution. Our inner Sovereign knows that the world will not be complete without our part of the greater vision. We participate in the co-creation of a more just and beautiful future each in our own unique way. We manifest the sovereign’s energy through centeredness, confidence, and calmness.
When I live from my inner Sovereign, I act out of a sense of agency which is a willingness to take action on my own behalf for the benefit of others, to exert my power or influence. This is not what we think we should be doing for others, but emerges from the very deep and wise place within us. My task is never determined by “shoulds” or shame. I take full responsibility for choosing this path and there is a sacramental quality to this path as it is a response to a holy calling.
When we are living fully from our inner Sovereign, we embody a calm and assertive energy. It manifests as strength, centeredness, security, stability, vitality, and joy. It is the part of us that overcomes the disorder and chaos of life, allowing creativity to arise from places that feel difficult or challenging. Sovereigns rule from their true self, the deepest and wisest parts of their being. There they listen to the holy stirrings within already. The sovereign calls us to fully claim our path in ways that are not anxious, but steady and sure.
A true sovereign blesses others by his or her presence. When we live into our own power in healthy and life-giving ways, we witness to a different way of being that empowers those around us. When we encounter someone who is deeply in touch with their sovereign, it does not matter their wealth or status in the world, we listen because they are in touch with their own wisdom and are not afraid to speak it aloud. Sovereigns create safe and healthy spaces for others to grow and develop their gifts and are never threatened by others living into their own power as well. Our world needs people of maturity, centeredness, wisdom, and peace to help us move into the next phase of our evolution together.
Of course Jesus embodies the sovereign as he enters into Jerusalem, claiming what he needs, and fitting the prophecies of royalty. To become fully mature monks in the world, we would do well to welcome our own inner sovereign as well.
Stop by Patheos to read the next reflection in my series on Practicing Resurrection and the call to wander for the love of God.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Photo © Christine Valters Paintner