The Hero’s Journey

The Hero’s Journey

Recently I watched the film Finding Joe, an overview of the Hero’s Journey. This journey is a summation of the worlds great myths, as presented by the late Joseph Campbell. The Star Wars film series was developed using this model and you can certainly see the influence on many of today’s blockbusters.

The Hero’s Journey is the spiritual quest.

“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow [people].”
– Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, 1949, p. 30.

These are the three primary stages:
1) The Departure or Quest
2) The Initiation
3) The Return

Each of these stages can be further subdivided. Campbell is said to have defined 17 sub-stages, although it seems to vary how many people include.

A. Departure 1. Call to Adventure
2. Refusal of Call
3. Supernatural Aid
4. Crossing First Threshold
5. Belly of the Whale
B. Initiation 6. Road of Trials
7. Meeting with the Goddess
8. Temptation
9. Atonement with Father
10. Apothesis
11. The Ultimate Boon
12. Refusal of the Return
13. The Magic Flight
14. Rescue from Without
15. Crossing the Return Threshold
16. Master of the Two Worlds
17. Freedom

Consider Luke Skywalker. Call to Adventure, refuses the call, then somewhat forced into it. He begins the Jedi training, has a difficult ordeal, then bails on his training, temptation, more ordeals, then a triumphant return.

“Where we had thought to travel outward, we will come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the world.”
– Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, 1988, p. 123.

If you’d like to explore this idea in more detail and with related models, you may enjoy this article. The Hero’s Journey is also called the Monomyth. It’s an interesting debate. Some philosophers object to the synthesis and big picture approach. And some revel in it.

The advantage of the Hero’s Journey as a perspective is that it puts all of you life as part of this quest to overcome one’s limitations and rise to our potential. It is not an escape but a meeting life head on.

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One comment

  1. Funny – I can put my own life into these stages. Not exactly in the same order, as some observe. And not that I’m making myself out as some hero. And I wouldn’t have called it a whale. But there has certainly been calls to act that turned into grand adventures that where very evolutionary. With all of it, in some form or another.

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