The Hero’s Journey, As A Map To Find Your Life's Purpose And Follow Your Bliss.
"If you’re not the hero of your own novel, then what kind of novel is it? You need to do some heavy editing.” Terrence Mckenna
The hero's journey
The hero’s journey became popular after Joseph Campbell, one of the world’s most renowned researchers on comparative myth, wrote a famous book called “The hero with a thousand faces”. Joseph Campbell noticed that every story, every myth from around the world held the same pattern, a formula he called the “monomyth”, or “the hero’s journey”. The hero’s journey is present in books by JRR Tolkien, such as “The Hobbit” and “Lord Of The Rings”, The “Harry Potter” series by JK Rowling, Star Wars and many other books, myths and movies. It’s present in the story of Buddha, Jesus and many other prophets from religions around the world. The hero’s journey is the universal tale of mankind, being called to an adventure, facing his fears, slaying the dragon, and receiving that treasure, that authentic gift to give back to the ordinary world. It’s your story, my story and everyone else’s story on becoming who we are meant to become, extraordinary.
So I will give you a brief explanation of the hero’s journey. It begins in the comfort of the ordinary world.
1. Ordinary World
The ordinary world, is where the hero lives and it’s safe, comfortable and ordinary.
2. Call To Adventure
The Hero's adventure begins when he or she receives a call to action, which is a direct threat to his/ her safety, his family, his way of life or to the peace of the community in which he/ she lives. Perhaps the hero got a knock on the door, a phone call, or met a strange wizard... The hero is now faced with the decision of leaving home, or his comfort zone... But the hero doesn’t want to leave. The hero is happy at home.
3. Refusal Of The Call
The hero refuses the call, because the hero is afraid of leaving his comfort zone. But the problem or the adventure is to big and important. There is a direct threat to the ordinary world that makes it impossible for your hero to refuse the call...
4. Meeting The Mentor
The hero meets a mentor. An important guide that will offer advice, guidance and training... The Hero now feels confident and strong to go on the adventure and to solve the problem.
5. Crossing The Threshold
The adventure begins! The adventure may be a long physical journey, a spiritual or emotional quest. The hero has now crossed the path from home to a new journey into the unknown.
6. Tests, Allies, Enemies
Every journey has challenges throughout the path. It can be enemies that want to stop the hero from reaching his goal, it can be obstacles, challenges, holes that the hero may almost fall into... The hero’s skills are being tested along the way. There are challenges to be confronted and perhaps not everyone can be trusted along the way... The hero earns allies and meets his enemies, that are all preparing the hero for the greatest ordeal to come. With every challenge the hero changes and becomes stronger. Just like you and me when we have a problem in our lives. We solve it or we learn from the experience. We know who are our the friends we can trust and the ones we can’t. We discover are strengths and our weaknesses, thus we discover ourselves.
7. Approach To The Inmost Cave
The hero approaches the “cave” where danger, a conflict or an inner conflict is waiting for the hero. As the hero approaches he takes a moment to reflect on the journey, some of the fears from the beginning come back to the hero. The hero is tense. Does the hero has what it takes to defeat this final ordeal? The hero needs to take a deep breath to go on.
The Ordeal may be a dangerous physical test, a combat, or a deep inner crisis that the Hero must face in order to survive or for the world in which the Hero lives to continue to exist. The Hero needs to face death and all his fears... He must draw upon all of his skills and resources gathered upon the journey in order to overcome the most difficulty challenge or battle yet. The hero needs to face his biggest fear, all of his internal demons straight in the eye. A hero’s meeting with death is the death of all his fears. In the last moment, when we all believe the hero is going to take his last breath and die, the hero is able to call upon a magical object, a skill, a teaching, one last blow that will slay the dragon. This represents the hero finding all of the inner resources to slay fear.
9. Reward (Seizing The Sword)
The hero faced death and is now reborn into a “Hero”. The Hero’s Courage is victorious and now that the battle is over, the hero wins his or her reward. This reward may be: A medal, a treasure, gold, courage, knowledge, growth, reconciliation, love, a secret.
10. The Road Back
The hero starts his journey back to the ordinary world. But now with confidence.
One last danger is waiting around the corner for the hero. One last enemy needs to be defeated. The hero experiences a final moment of death and rebirth so he or she is pure when they reenter the ordinary world. Perhaps one last danger is faced, one last riddle is thrown... This represents the death of the Hero’s Ego. All the hero has to leave behind to come back home. This is a philosophical moment in the journey. What is your hero’s last lesson or what needs to be left behind, or learned in order to come back home as a great hero? Is the Hero ready to hone his power and shed ego?
12. Return With The Elixir
This is the last step of the Hero's journey in which the hero returns home to the ordinary world as a glorious hero. Your hero has learned skills, experienced threat, danger, life and death and has grown into a strong and powerful hero. Your hero’s return into the ordinary world brings an exciting new way of life, hope and brighter future to the community. A birth of a new era is welcomed, a new perspective filled with prospect and solution to a problem is now being shared with the whole community. The community also sees the glory of the new hero, that once was a misfit. Those who ridiculed the hero may apologise and make amends with the hero. The ordinary world will never be the same ever again.
So how can you use the hero’s journey as a map to navigate your life?
Whenever you feel excited about that call to adventure, that trip, that great idea or invitation, this is an indication that you are in the right path...Your ego, fears or some peers, will give you every possible justification why your adventure is an adventure to disaster. And they are right. What excites and scares you at the same time is a good indication of what truly matters and that you are following your bliss and living your purpose. Specially if the urge is more of a must, then a should. I highly recommend the beautiful book by Elle Luna, “The Crossroads of Should and Must”.
Every adventure has elements of disaster, as well as triumph. It’s the natural order of life. Life is about experiencing duality. In order to experience triumph, we need to experience failure. However failure is a pessimistic word, that our modern society shamefully labeled and is uncomfortable with. I prefer the word feedback, or experience. It’s more heroic to see failure as an experience that we can learn from rather then allow ourselves to be consumed by shame. How can we learn from our "failures", wounds and our pain? How can we heal them.
Once we face our challenges and our fears, we discover our resilient heroic beings and we can shine in our glory of being extraordinary. The only thing that prevents us from answering the call, is fear. But fear needs to be faced, or on our deathbeds we will be left with regret.
The Hero’s journey is a full circle of rediscovering the self, shedding away it’s persona, the mask we all unconsciously wear to feel accepted in society. It’s moving into the temple of Apollo in Delphi, in which one may only enter if they are prepared for gnōthi seauton, to “know thyself”. When we know who we are, we know what our purpose is. We know what gift we want to bring into the world and which legacy we want to leave behind. The best way to get to know thyself is through meditation as it helps you to identify with your true magnificent heroic self and helps to shed all those fears blocking your journey.
For more resources on meditation click here:
So if you feel that you have heard the call to adventure, know that the hero’s journey is a great compass to navigate your adventure and find your bliss. It can be a magnificent map when we are feeling lost or facing a challenge. You can write out in a journal your own hero’s journey, following the 12 steps, to know where you are and see where you need to head next. It’s also a great exercise to question, if you are really living your story, or someone else’s story. Sometimes we live the story we feel that our parents or society expects from us, which is not the story we truly want to live. This can be a great opportunity to do some editing and imagine a story that truly satisfies our souls. As one of my favourite thinkers, who inspired Joseph Campbell’s work on the monomyth, the psychoanalyst, Carl Gustav Jung, once said, “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are”.
Follow your bliss and share with your loved ones if this article has helped you!