The last blog post focused on the Hero’s Journey, the deep inner structure of most stories. The great mythologist Joseph Campbell studied the world’s myths and stories and found they followed this Hero’s Journey pattern, as referenced in his book Hero with a Thousand Faces. He felt that this pattern expressed the deep inner connections and symbolism of the human experience.
The Journey has a spiritual element: the quest to connect with the true self and find meaning purpose. This quest is the essence of your heroic life story.
The Hero’s Journey in a book or film has a definite starting point. The hero makes a Departure, leaving ordinary surroundings to risk moving into unfamiliar territory. In the Initiation phase, the traveler opens into a new world, meets a mentor, finds both allies and enemies, and moves through thresholds with dangers and challenges. In the Return, the traveler goes back home to enrich the community with the wisdom of the journey.
In living your heroic life, there might not be specific demarcations, so you can decide. Where are you in the journey? Are you departing, going through initiation, or returning? Sometimes there are clear divisions – leaving a job or relationship means departing from the unfamiliar into a new world. Moving from one town to another also begins a new journey.
Your journey can start at any time with a decision to embark on a heroic path, to live with more courage, to make a change. This is answering a deeper inner call. Where in your life do you want a change? How can you live with more courage? The difficulty is that change requires…changing. To transform, to be something different, more courageous, we must give up the old self, the old beliefs. What can you release about yourself, that no longer serves you?
We are not following a storyline; we are making a story with our lives. We are the hero, the main character. Through our intentions, choices, and actions, we move through obstacles and struggles to become the Hero. This transformed self is who you were meant to be, the fulfillment of your potential.
Once the decision is made to change, to be more, to do more, to serve the world, the journey moves you along. Rather than being a struggle, Joseph Campbell recommends that you “follow your bliss.” What do you really love to do? Follow that. He also said that in following your bliss, doors open where there were no doors. You surrender to allow the path to move you.
Living heroically means not being passive but fully embracing the challenges and obstacles. As well, it requires you to embrace both allies and enemies. The dragons and enemies you fight are fear, resentment, greed, hate, sadness, depression, anger or other limiting emotions. The journey operates on both inner and outer levels, in that the inner issues you are dealing with show up externally by way of people or events. As you face these inner and outer obstacles with courage and perseverance, they become healing.
Are you facing threshold guardians that are seemingly blocking your way? Perhaps that guardian is you, holding your own self back. Have you ever felt crucified by someone, going through the supreme ordeal? Something is being healed and transformed at a deep psychic level.
But you might ask, “What if I don’t have courage but am filled with fear?” The famous words are “Act as if.” Take a leap of faith into the life you want to live. For you are playing the greatest role of your life, so play it to the hilt. The act of moving through your fear is the smelter for your heroic life. Is your life fate or destiny? It’s said that fate is the cards you are given; destiny is how you play those cards.
See your life in bigger mythic terms as playing archetypes on the stage of life. We are living great archetypes: mother, sister, brother, father, sage, healer, teacher, survivor, as well as victim, villain, outcast and hundreds more. We look at the parts of ourselves or roles we play that we don’t like and come to accept them with compassion. We give all parts of ourselves a seat at the table. In this way we become whole and integrated and strong. We grow our courage as we do what is difficult, face dragons, and move past obstacles. The Journey is one of continual choices.
Each day is a fresh journey. You enter a new world, that has never been lived before. Each day you connect with mentors and allies, and face obstacles and challenges. Our misfortunes teach us; wounds transform us. We come to not just fight our demons but come to embrace them as teachers and channels for healing.
Each day is an opportunity to grow more heroic, to activate our courage, move past our fears, and to live big. We call someone a hero who has shown bravery and made sacrifices for others. As we move into our hero light and life, we are a greater service to the world.
The goal is to not only to win a great thing, but to become great, the greatness we were meant to be. The journey itself is the treasure.
Many books can help you deepen your heroic life journey. Do an Amazon search for what appeals to you. Some are listed below.
Joseph Campbell, Hero with a Thousand Faces. https://amzn.to/2uskVUX
Christopher Vogler, The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. https://amzn.to/2J3evy
The Power of Myth, PBS special. The six episodes include The Hero’s Adventure, The Message of the Myth, The First Storytellers, Sacrifice and Bliss, Love and the Goddess, and Masks of Eternity.
Craig, Will. Living the Hero's Journey: Exploring Your Role in the Action-Adventure of a Lifetime. Highly recommended. https://amzn.to/2uReyuz
I have a passion for stories and inspirational literature.