Monthly Archives: March 2013

Dethroning the "Emperor"

Dethroning Our Inner Emperor – And Freeing Ourselves from Archetypal Dominance

The function of Emperors is to create empires.

That’s simple, isn’t it?

Their role in life – both as “external emperors” (in the “real world” of current events and history) and as “internal emperors” (our Emperor archetype) – is to create, build, and sustain empires. Their intent is to grow their empires, by whatever means possible. And to ensure that their empires “reign supreme” over all others.

Ghenghis Khan, creator and ruler of the Mongol empire, 1155-1227 AD

Think of some of the greatest Emperors that the world has known. Alexander the Great and Ghenghis Khan easily come to mind. Each of these built armies, waged war, and created empires that were – at that time – among the largest that the world has ever seen.

Successful emperors (those who build the largest and most solid empires) typically have not only an intense, committed, and long-term focus on empire-building, but also pursue their aims (as in the case of Genghis Khan) with “a combination of outstanding military tactics and merciless brutality.”

The relevance of all of this to ourselves, we might ask?

We might have various Emperor-personas in our lives. A boss or co-worker who is unapologetically ambitious. Someone in a non-profit who uses every opportunity to get the spotlight on him or herself. Even a much-loved – albeit feared – family matriarch. All of these are Emperors in their own right.

We treat these people with due deference and respect – and typically, give them as wide a berth as possible. Most of the time, we find it easier to avoid these people, to simply “not deal” – because we know that they are more focused, cunning, and downright more driven than we will ever be.

But truly, it’s not these “external emperors” that we need to worry about.

Our real concern should properly be with the Emperor that lurks inside each of us. In fact, the one that runs almost all aspects of our lives.

This is the Emperor that ruthless and merciless – to ourselves!

This is the Emperor that drives us to work until our health breaks; to ignore our own inner desperate pleadings for time for rest, for pleasure, for connection, for even a walk outside on a lovely spring day. This is the Emperor who chooses a life path of success, power, recognition, control – all, ultimately, based on ego.

We may think that we’ve managed to elude the controlling grasp of our inner Emperor – and some of us have. However, a lack of worldly success does not always mean that our inner Emperor is dormant or absent. Rather, it can just as easily mean that we have enough internal conflict so that our Emperor can push us to great extents – but is constantly being hampered by internal “palace revolts.”

So how do we discern our Emperor? And then, how do we “overthrow” him?

Even more, is “overthrowing” our Emperor what we really want? Or is there a way to “manage” our own internal Emperor, so that we are getting the “best out of the deal”?

Common sense, and a dose of practical wisdom, suggests that complete “dethronement” may not be entirely what we want.

We wouldn’t have such a powerful inner archetype as our Emperor if it (“he”) were not extremely useful.

What we’re desiring, though, is not just a sense of balance, but really something more.

Our Emperor comes from ego. And ultimately, our ego is fear-driven.

Our real goal is to live beyond our egos; to live according to a higher vision and sense of purpose. We design to align ourselves more with God’s will in our lives. This means changing our internal “power structure” somewhat.

Walt Kelly first used the quote “We Have Met The Enemy and He Is Us” on a poster for Earth Day in 1970.

There’s that well-known saying; “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Well, that “us” would be our own internal Emperor – the most powerful, determined, focused, and controlling of our six core power archetypes.

So how do we discern him? And how do we “dethrone” him? (That means – not remove completely, but get him into a useful and somewhat “subordinate” place?) That will be the subject of the next few blogs.

Yours with love –


Is Your "Emperor" Ruling Your Life?

Is Your Inner Emperor Ruling Your Life? (And If So, What Can You Do?)

A gentle tyrant.

Perhaps, sometimes, even not-so-gentle.

Matthias, Holy Roman Emperor (1557-1619), painted by Hans von Aachen (1625).

We each have an inner Emperor.

Our Emperor mode, or archetype, is our “Project Manager” self. When we deal with cognitive, rational, “get-things-done” types of tasks – tasks often involving budgets, deadlines, and deliverables – we call on our inner Emperor.

Our inner Emperor is one of our six core power archetypes, and is often dominant. He (along with is compatriot, the Magician) tends to be a “resource hog.”

We can’t blame him; not really. Any good Project Manager, CEO, or President-of-Anything will charm, co-opt, or just plain commandeer any and every resource that he (or she) can find to get the job done. That’s why they’re paid the “big bucks.” They get things done – and to hell with whose toes get stepped on in the process.

Our Emperor is all about – whatever he’s “all about.” This could be getting a law degree or a promotion at work. It could simply be getting a five-year-old’s birthday party to come off successfully. Regardless, our inner Emperor is highly task-focused. And because “his” role is to get things done, at all costs, when he’s in charge, no other archetypal mode gets much attention.

Our inner High Priestess wants to go for a walk, or even to get out of town for the weekend to simply chill? Sorry, but we’re staying late at the office until the report is done.

Our inner Hathor wants some spa time? Later.

Our inner Empress wants to connect with girlfriends, or stay at home and cuddle? Again, later. Her needs get deferred in the face of the Emperor’s overwhelming (perhaps even obsessive) task-focused nature.

Now don’t get me wrong. We need our Emperor mode. This aspect of our psyche is essential to our well-being.

The challenge is that – for too many of us – we’ve allowed our inner Emperor to really become an inner Tyrant – gobbling up all of our time, all of our resources, and all of our energies. And then we find ourselves exhausted, frustrated, and just downright depressed and angry.

So how do we deal?

That will be the subject of the next several postings.


Soloman, Presidential Address to the Eastern Psychological Association, NYC, April, 1963.