The Hero’s Journey
Joseph Campbell gave us this theory of the archetypal hero, which once known is easily recognised in the human experience. This Journey of Vision, Quest and Return has given me insight into my own experience as a human and the cycle of suffering and growth that I have experienced and continue to experience. It is a common thread between humans both in reality and in imagination through the stories shared in films and books and other creative mediums.
The Hero’s Journey:
A journey of initiation, where in the beginning, all is well with the ‘hero’ (you). You are going about your life happily, albeit within your own limitations, but then something happens and the you hit a crisis point. You are challenged and the only way out is to find some new inner resources; you are facing your dragons and you need to reach beyond your own limitations and achieve some personal transformation in order to survive. At this point, you - the hero - realise that your percieved reality had in fact been an illusion and you need to dig deep and find courage to let go of what you knew in order to return from a state of fear, back to love.
This is a story of self acceptance, where the true gift of life is to overcome fear and relearn the love that we were born with, that its ok to be scared; and that courage will arise out of you so you can face the fears and find a new sense of self beyond those fears. The Hero’s Journey is that journey of courage, where we lean into the pain in our lives and work with it rather than fight it to keep it suppressed and it limits us and our experience in the world.
Do you recognise this journey in yourself? At a micro level perhaps....or maybe more generally? Do you see it in stories? The classic story where it is illustrated is in Star Wars, but understanding the Hero's Journey brings it into focus within most stories.
The Hero's journey provides a template that is at once light hearted and mindblowingly filled with truth. It casts light upon our own experience of being human and presents an opportunity for compassion towards others as they are consumed by their own unique experience of the same journey. I also appreciate it for the sense of connectedness I feel at the commonailty of it as we all experience our own version of the Hero's Journey in our own different ways.