Claiming Your Queen
In my practice, I’m witnessing a revitalized version of the Queen archetype reemerging
Illustration Credit: Her Majesty by Kaley McKean
At the tender age of 51, I walked for the first time down the wedding aisle. That I said, “Yes!” to marriage seemed remarkable, at least to me. That I chose to do so publicly and with considerable ceremony truly baffled me until I began to understand that I was under the influence of the archetypal energy I now recognize as the Queen.
An archetype is an original pattern or prototype that can be reliably replicated. In Jungian psychology, archetypes represent patterned potentials of our collective unconscious. The diversity of archetypes is limitless, yet there are classic archetypal energies that naturally emerge through rites of passage such as birth, menses, marriage, promotion, loss, or death. In my case, I never longed to be a Princess; instead, my choice to marry marked a passage from my more familiar—and reclusive—archetypal roles of Healer and Sage to a more visible Queen status. As I gradually embraced this latent energy in myself, a new level of confidence emerged in me. I became less interested in what other people thought of me, more willing to assert my influence in service to my vision.
Claiming my inner Queen was both exhilarating and initially perplexing. Like many girls, and boys for that matter, I grew up with Queens that were marginalized or highly maligned. I knew England had a Queen, yet the message I internalized was that she was just an antiquated figurehead who inadvertently validated our more modern political process. Queens were passé and presidents replaced Kings in our more perfect union.
I was also raised with stories that vilified the Dark Queen. She was classically portrayed as a middle-aged, demonically beautiful, cunning power broker whose prime motivation was to destroy lovely innocents who reminded her of her wounded past (whose unhealed pain was obviously unresolved). “Evil” and “Queen” went together like “Prince” and “Charming,” and though the Dark Queen exercised a good deal of power, she was bitterly isolated and had only henchmen for lovers. Not an ideal role model.
But then it struck me that we have been subject to a collective spell that’s had us rejecting our majesty and sublimating our sovereignty to outside forces. We’ve been fed a poison apple of perception that has us equating powerful women with a hardened heart. We have been enchanted into going to sleep to our fullest potential.
Then again, perhaps I have read too many fairy tales!
What I understand now is that a true Queen knows how to hold court with others and, even more importantly, inside herself. Her sovereignty comes from no longer needing to look outside herself for validation, although she willingly receives wise counsel. She understands the parameters of her domain— whether it is in her home, her community, or her enterprise—and she is willing to assert her influence. Alas, there are still Dark Queens in our midst (think Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada). Yet, whether diabolical or benevolent in nature, every Queen is highly aware that her reign is granted through her supreme devotion to her dominion.
Maiden, Mother, and Crone have long been classic archetypes used to describe the stages of adulthood for women. Yet in my practice, I’m witnessing a revitalized version of the Queen archetype reemerging, as more women are being called to new levels of power. Many are Mothers who, once their babies are weaned or have left the nest, are ready to trade in their sacred, sweat-stained robe of motherhood for their Queen’s mantle. Some are able to enjoy a hybrid Queen-Mother status as they build a business while caring for their young. Others are Maidens who fall in love with a King and intuitively know that the longevity of their relationship requires them to take their power alongside him.
If a couple’s archetypal journey gets out of sync, their relationship can suffer. Most Queens are desirous of a King, although some, much like Guinevere in King Arthur’s tale, are more attracted to a warrior-consort like Galahad who meets them in their passion and is gallantly devoted to them. If a Maiden falls in love with a Prince and then becomes a Queen, she may find herself increasingly annoyed with his youthful folly and be tempted to turn him into a frog (at least in her own eyes.)
A true Queen realizes that there’s real work involved in “living happily ever after” and takes responsibility for her own happiness. She knows it will require all of her alchemical genius to dispel the distorted myths she’s inherited about beauty and power. She’s learned how to use her strengths, and she looks into her magic mirror to have her blind spots revealed.
Real-life Queens author their own lives, tell stories that inspire their youth and honor their lineage, and believe that happy endings, though welcome, are not as important as fulfilling one’s destiny.