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Where are you on your Hero’s Journey?

If you haven’t heard of the concept of The Hero’s Journey, you will have most certainly seen it play out in books and movies.

Beautiful forest path with sunlight at end

The Hero’s Journey is a common narrative identified by the American scholar Joseph Campbell that appears in drama, storytelling, myths etc.  It describes the typical adventure of the archetype known as ‘The Hero’ - the person who goes out and achieves great deeds on behalf of the group, tribe, or civilisation.

It's stages are:

  1. The ordinary world. Some kind of polarity in The Hero’s life is pulling in different directions and causing stress.
  2. The call to adventure. Something shakes up the situation, either from external pressures or from something rising up from deep within, so The Hero must face the beginnings of change.
  3. Refusal of the call. The Hero feels the fear of the unknown and tries to turn away from the adventure, however briefly.
  4. Meeting with the mentor. The Hero comes across a seasoned traveller who gives him/ her training, equipment, or advice that will help on the journey.
  5. Crossing the threshold. The Hero commits to leaving the Ordinary World and entering a new region or condition with unfamiliar rules and values.
  6. Tests, allies and enemies. The Hero is tested and develops allegiances in the Special World. 
  7. The Hero and newfound allies prepare for the major challenge in the Special World.
  8. The ordeal. The Hero enters a central space in the Special World and confronts death or faces his/her greatest fear.  Out of the moment comes a new life.
  9. The reward. The Hero takes possession of the treasure won by facing his or her greatest fear.
  10. The road back. The Hero is driven to complete the adventure, leaving the Special World to be sure the treasure is brought home.
  11. The resurrection. The Hero is severely tested once more on the threshold of home.  He or she is purified by a last sacrifice, another moment of death and rebirth, but on a higher and more complete level.  By The Hero’s action, the polarities that were in conflict at the beginning are finally resolved.
  12. Return with the elixir. The Hero returns home or continues the journey, bearing some element of the treasure that has the power to transform the world as they have been transformed. 

With all the dramatics aside, we are all, at one time or another, called to go on our own Hero’s Journey (whether we want to or not) and sadly, we don’t usually have an exceptionally handsome, well-built demi-god to assist. 

At times, we’re expected to face things we never thought we’d have to and despite the pain, find a way through.  Through the fear, through the uncertainty, through every bit of crap thrown at us. 

Sometimes it’s not too bad and sometimes it is beyond tragic.  But like it or not, we work through each step of the Hero’s Journey until we find our way home.

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