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By Jeff Baugher
The four-direction model is one of the most useful concepts I have learned from Shadow Work®. This powerful system for understanding human dynamics utilizes four basic archetypes Lover, Warrior, Magician, and Sovereign. The idea is that we possess certain innate qualities by virtue of being human, and that adjusting one's archetypal awareness creates new possibilities for living life more fully.
The Lover corresponds to the part of us that connects by being small. The inner child lives here, with tendencies toward creativity, play, and vulnerability. The Warrior archetype represents the ability to set boundaries and hold an identity; the challenge is to deal with reality and to survive. The Magician detaches to get perspective and create options. He is not limited by time, space, or right-and-wrong. The Sovereign connects by being "big" through guiding, motivating, and care-taking. He or she assumes the role of authority the parent, boss, teacher, or leader.
Although I usually reserve this four-direction mentality for doing "carpet work," I recently saw a TV commercial that was so blatantly archetypal that I couldn't ignore it. It was a Burger King commercial in which a man wakes up to find a larger-than-life king sitting next to him in bed. This regal figure (the Burger King) gives the amazed man a piece of food while explaining, in a weird, Bob Dylan-like voice, the tasty ingredients of the Double Croissandwich. The desired effect on viewers is this: if you are currently starved for Sovereign energy (wanting someone to take care of you or tell you what to do), you may feel attracted to Burger King and its jingle, "Wake up with the King!"
After that, I began watching other fast food commercials for the "hook" they might be using. McDonald's seems to sell its burgers by activating our inner child (Lover archetype). Witness the symbol of the garish clown Ronald McDonald, playgrounds at stores, Play Meals, small toy giveaways, and an emphasis on fun. Even their jingle, "I'm lovin' it," is about connection (Lover). So, anyone with an inner child who is hungry for fun and play might be drawn to eat at McDonald's.
Rally's, a drive-through burger chain, projects a theme about cars, action, and refueling your body with 99-cent Rally Burgers. Their commercials feature people in gritty, urban settings who represent "being real" in the big city. Their tag line is, "You gotta' eat!" This focus on survival, ugly reality, and minimal cost would appeal to the Warrior in anyone. Their ads speak to the gang member (Warrior) in each of us by honoring the ability to survive on very little and to maintain one's turf in a tough, competitive environment.
Subway offers an alternative to burgers sandwiches that feature vegetables and variety, and that are lower in fat and calories. This chain's spokesman is Jared, a thoughtful young man who personally slimmed down from over 300 pounds by eating at Subway. Their ads ask you to detach from your feelings (Lover), from immediate survival instincts (Warrior), and from being told what to do (Sovereign), and then to use your own brain (Magician) to consider the health consequences of what you eat. It's interesting that friendly Jared is not much of a Sovereign authority figure, but more of an "average Joe." One commercial shows how three Subway sandwiches contain less fat than a single burger. This detached critical comparison and outside-of-the-box thinking corresponds to the Magician archetype. Even their tag line, "Choose well," suggests the magician's perspective of considering options.
Have the advertising executives been studying the four-direction model to influence and manipulate us? I don't really know. What I am sure of is that we live in a culture where extraordinary resources are poured into the psychology of selling products. My hope is that one day, the power of models like this are applied on a mass scale for something much more valuable than advertising for creating a healthier, more-empowered society.