The Hero’s Journey, originally coined by Joseph Campbell, outlines the common patterns of myths and stories woven through diverse cultures around the world. This is how it starts and ends.
The Ordinary World
You started out in the Ordinary World of your life, with nothing but a nagging notion that things could be better than the status quo you saw all around you, that there must be something more to life.
The Call to Adventure
That nagging feeling built up until you couldn’t take it anymore, and you received the Call to Adventure. Finally, a chance to change things!
Meeting the Wise Mentor
When you finally committed to making that change, you found help and information. A Wise Mentor appears to guide you before you set out on your journey, whether through the advice of a friend, a paragraph in a book or the lines of a song.
Crossing the Threshold
Whether it was the pain in your life that pushed you away, or a goal so enticing that you knew you had to move forward, you Crossed the Threshold into the New World, facing down the Threshold Guardians, in search of your Treasure.
Meeting your Helpers & Challengers
In the New World, you began to meet Helpers & Challengers. All sorts of tests and challenges came your way in the New World as you struggled to be the master of it. At the same time, you built friendships and allies that aided you on your Hero’s Journey.
Into the Innermost Cave
The closer you came towards your Treasure, the more difficult the challenges became, until you had no choice but to face down your most difficult challenge of all. You travelled into the heart of darkness, you went into the Innermost Cave of the Evil One, the bane of your journey who would do anything to see you fail.
The Supreme Ordeal
Deep into the lair of the Evil One where he was strongest, you faced the Supreme Ordeal. This was the darkest point in your Hero’s Journey, where everything seemed bleak and all hope was lost. Yet, it was also the point towards which all your efforts had been preparing you for. This was the final test, it was time to make it or break it. Facing the worst of your demons, you pushed beyond your limits, and triumphed over the the Evil One.
Seizing Your Treasure
In doing so, you Claimed Your Treasure. But the Treasure wasn’t the only reward that came with the Hero’s Journey, the journey itself has strengthened you. You’ve grown wiser with experience and knowledge, with the battle scars you’ve earned, and the alliances you’ve forged. You’ve been reborn, from an inauthentic beginning into a true Hero.
The Journey Home
You begin The Journey Home to the Ordinary World, not as the potential Hero you were, but a true, realized Hero. And you find a way to use your Treasure and experience to help the people in the Ordinary World, many of whom have no idea just how much they could accomplish if they took their own Hero’s Journey into the New World. But a few are inspired, just like you were, and thus you become their Mentor, or even Threshold Guardian, just like someone was for you.
The Next Call to Adventure
And yet, you know that for you to continue to grow and expand, you can’t stay stagnant. You have to pick a new goal, a new Treasure, and cross a new threshold into another New World, one where you’ll meet new friends, face new challenges, conquer other Evil Ones and earn more Treasures to bring back on your Journey Home. The Hero’s Journey never really ends, and a new one is just beginning …
Where Are You on Your Hero’s Journey?
The Hero’s Journey is a marvelous reflection of the different stages in our lives, and a great tool to help us on our own journeys. Setting out into a New World? Who are the Wise Mentors you could consult before you go? Facing a roadblock? You might be facing a Threshold Guardian who’s testing your commitment.
Facing tough Challenges? Who are the Helpers who could help? Feeling like all hope is lost? Sometimes it’s darkest before the dawn, and you just need to commit to taking that next positive step.
Just as your life can be a Hero’s Journey, so can it also be full of many different Hero Journeys overlapping at the same time. You could be in a different point in your journey at work, compared to your journey in starting a family, a new skill you’re learning, a side business you’re starting.
Reading through these posts on the Hero’s Journey, were there any posts that struck you more than others? How did it help you better understand where you are on your current journey? And how could you use this learning to make your journey even smoother?
At the end of these series of posts on the Hero’s Journey, I’m curious as to what you think of it. Thoughts?