A Few Thoughts on Power


Paul Kane, “Mount St Helens Erupting at Night”

“Business has defeated everything in its path. Its last enemies are the oldest: it is still defied by the ancient Gods of blood revenge, territorial tribalism and the strangely recurrent death struggles between genders, as well as by the untamed divinities of nature – the oceans, the deserts, the magma at the earth’s core and the powers of storm and rain. They alone remain to affront and disrupt the power of business.”

James Hillman, “Kinds of Power”

Before I started reading James Hillman’s Kinds of Power I tried to ponder and intuit what power means for me. For me the most tremendous kind of power is the kind that is born in the darkest core of nature, the pulsating hidden geyser of power we all carry within, whether we are high profile politicians, businesspeople or celebrities or the powerless have-nots, victims of abuse, the discriminated ones. Empowerment is a key issue in our times: victims of glaring imbalances are realizing that power can never be really taken from anyone because it belongs to everyone and no human can claim to be its distributor. The roots of true power are indestructible and accessible to all.

As a society, we may be conditioned by the historical root of the word power, though, which, as Hillman explains, is poti, i.e. “husband, lord, master,” echoed in the word “despote,” which was used by Greek slaves to address their masters. What we need to learn right now as humans is to exercise our power without dominating anyone, without pathological control and oppression. The need for new kinds of power is emerging right now. In Tao te Ching power is thus described: “All streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are. Humility gives it its power. If you want to govern the people, you must place yourself below them. If you want to lead the people, you must learn how to follow them.” But this kind of transcendence of the shadows of power can only happen if imbalances, inequalities and injustices in our world are redressed.

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24 Responses to A Few Thoughts on Power

  1. Excellent! Your post just arrived in my email. As I read via phone. I just penned the start of a new post with the opening quote which is touching on Power! Great to be in Sync with you today Love Sue X


  2. I too am in sync Monika! Just prior to reading the first portion of your post, I was drawing in my Tao journal! I write a paragraph of the Tao Te Ching each morning and accompany it with an original drawing. I thought to myself, oh I would love to add what the Tao has to say about Power to Monika’s post…and Voila! You touched on it perfectly in your final paragraph! 🙂

    I am also reminded of Shiva/Shakti…a favorite story of mine tells of a sole Shiva worshipper, chanting “There is no other but Shiv, There is no other but Shiv” … and suddenly he finds himself motionless, completely paralyzed! Shakti appears to him and asks “What is it you were saying, silly man?” and the paralyzed man gazes up at her…unable to speak. She kindly reminds, Shiva does not move without Her, the primordial power behind all great action, innate to all!

    Much love to you!


    • Amanda,
      Thank you for your thoughts and your kindness. That journal must be a thing of beauty. I also felt I Ching to be worth exploring to learn more about power. The very first hexagram is already about primal power.


  3. ptero9 says:

    Hi Monika,

    Great post. I do love this:

    “Empowerment is a key issue in our times: victims of glaring imbalances are realizing that power can never be really taken from anyone because it belongs to everyone and no human can claim to be its distributor. The roots of true power are indestructible and accessible to all.”

    When I think about power, I cannot not think about fear. So much compulsion over “having enough,” whether it’s power or stuff or days left to our lives, I think, comes from fear in the present. In that sense, absolutely, “the roots of power are indestructible and accessible to all.”

    Amazingly, once this is known through the experience of being comfortably present, there’s no going back. When I see and feel beauty enough to shiver and cry, that is power at its finest and no one can take that away. Perhaps someday we will see that those we think have power, do not, even though they are doing a lot of damage chasing after what is right under their nose.

    Much love,


    • Debra, everybody is in sync with everybody today because I also thought about fear today. You surely have read that book by Hillman. It is extraordinary, isn’t it? Reading it is like experiencing the flow. I am so taken by it now.


      • ptero9 says:

        Yes, there has been a lot synchronicity this week for me too.

        I read the book quite a number of years ago. After reading your post I am thinking it might be time to revisit that book. Like many of his later books, they’re a little less scholarly and written more conversationally. I sense that Hillman enjoyed writing his last three or four books a lot. Soul’s Code, Kinds of Power, A Terrible Love of War and The Force of Character are all full of Hillman at his wittiest, sharp, most accessible ideas. He certainly had a clarity in his writing that is rare.


      • Yes, his writing in this book like a fresh mountain stream.


  4. Thanks for sharing those insights Monika~


  5. kimfalconer says:

    Reblogged this on The 11th House and commented:
    This post by the Symbolreader is perfect for today’s Transform with Transits call on Pluto – an archetype of hidden, and not so hidden power.
    “The roots of true power are indestructible and accessible to all.”
    Thank you, Monika!


  6. Kinds of Power is one of my favorite Hillman books. Hillman is one of those writers you can make one of those little “inspirational” books with little quotes for each day of the year.


  7. I always equate power with energy. Energy can be gathered, released, saved, or wasted. People can drain your energy or they can renew it. Energy can be dangerous and destructive, or it can be beneficial and constructive. And according to the laws of physics, energy (and hence power) can not be created or destroyed, it can only change form.

    As always, thanks for your post.



  8. I have often pondered what power means to me and eventually reduced to its core meaning ( my personal meaning). For myself, power is influence/ manifestation. When someone of something has power, it can create, manipulate, change, regulate, bring forth into being…

    Originally I attributed it with status, wealth, fame, glory, etc. Often power is accompanied by freedom because having influence can create more freedom

    excellent topic and great post per usual 🙂


  9. Pingback: A Few Thoughts on Power | lampmagician

  10. Pingback: A Few Thoughts on Power | Reason & Existenz

  11. Positive strength, potential, human capacity, choice, being aligned with spirit — these are what I see, feel and believe as power, Monika. It’s too easy for people to default to ‘traditional’ definitions of power that are actually misuses of power. You and other bloggers who share wisdom and insight exemplify power; the kind that prevails.


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