Long live the king

Bly takes a chapter to discusses to idea of “the eternal king”, rather an idea about authority and order that pervades our thoughts. The political king derives his power from his figure or idea. Our existing leaders derive their power from him too, though it is more obscured.

The Sun King and his Moon Queen, in any case, held societies together for about four thousand years [in China]. As principles of order, tey began to fail in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Europe. Under the tittle of Kaiser, Tsar, Emperor, Maharajah, Sultan, Bey – one after another, the kings fell, all through Europe and then throughout its colonies.

During the Middle Ages, kings would take tours of their earthly realms. Hundreds of people waited in English village lanes, for example, to see the king go by. They probably felt a blessing coming from the Sacred King as the physical one passed silently by.

The problem is that when the political king disappears from the lanes, even for good reason, we find it difficult to “see” or feel the eternal King. I am not saying that the king-killing was an error, nor that we should resurrect the king and send him out along the lanes again, but we need to notice that our visual imagination becomes confused when we can no longer see the physical king. Wiping out kings severely damages the mythological imagination. Each person has to repair that imagination on his or her own.

-Robert Bly, Iron John, p.109

I think Gerard would have a lot more accurate things to say about the king (and his role as scapegoat), but I think what Bly is drawing attention to here is right on.