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|
|9. Atonement with Father|
|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|
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.