The Hero’s Journey is perfectly legitimate myth with a valid place among many others in the pantheon. However, it is not appropriate today as a primary guide for civilization.
There is a story to be told about the journey of the Post-patiarchal hero. We need to hear this. Feminism cannot afford to ignore the importance of heralding the growth of a post-patriarchal masculinity. It is the story of a man who falls apart, (Rick Tarnas epilogue, Passion of Western Mind), who faces the heart crushing elements of his conditioning as the inheritor of the western tradition and as a child conditioned into patriarchal masculinity (bell hooks). All that he knows and values in himself falls apart - an all too ordinary marriage with no connection? a wife who gives up, a chronic illness? A fallen athlete? He is forced to slow down - he learns to listen - to really listen to that which is not commonly known - to his heart and then to women.
Listen...to his wife, to his mother, to his daughter, like men haven't listened in thousands of years. And from listening to his inner boy (before the love was beaten out of him) and listening to the women in his life with ever growing reverence, a mature man is born who understands a new leadership - one that partners, that empowers, that slows down, watches and learns, one that empowers, understands, and quietly honors.
This man's journey is inward, it is taken at home, and the grail he finds holds the gifts of truly-local, humble action and relational self-expression.
The compelling narrative here is a love story. The love story of our times: A man learning to love his deeper 3 and 4 dimensional self who LEARNS to SEE and HONOR and ELEVATE the women, or a woman in his life supporting her healing and the healing of thousands of years of imbalance, through his love.
The story of our times carries all the wisdom of all the subjugated women of the last several thousand years and turns patriarchy on its head through the True power of Love.
What to Remember When Waking
What you can plan
is too small
for you to live.
What you can live
will make plans
for the vitality
hidden in your sleep.
To be human
is to become visible
what is hidden
as a gift to others.
the other world
IN this world
is to live in your
Very relevant for where I'm at.
I can say I lived my hero's journey as thoroughly as I could for some years. Traveling, wandering, farther and farther out, learning tons, becoming a 'very cool guy', lone cowboy kinda fellow.
Recently I returned home at the stern call of fate, and the return has been far from heroic; broken, sobering, grief-soaked, soul-fatigued, sitting among the ruins of never having built something rooted.
I'm visited upon by a monumental grief of leaving that former phase, for I had convinced myself fully it would be by following that path only that I would 'manifest my destined life' or whatever.
I long for a new, more mature myth to seize / be seized by, and yet I often see myself wondering if there's any way back into that adventurous way of being, and so I simply find myself in a composting phase. And if you're composting human shit, you need a long time before it turns into something you'd want to use in the garden...
Grief, raw grief. At first it seems like a monstrous curse, and it slowly turns into a loyal, wise, humbling companion.
I suggest looking into the traditional Chinese-Korean-Japanese four-act literary structure whose Japanese name is Kishōtenketsu. This name is sometimes translated into English as "Plot without conflict," though that's an oversimplification. Kishōtenketsu story-dramas can include conflict, but if they do, it's not the main propulsive vehicle of the plot, as it is in The Hero's Journey and (nearly) all other stories.
One article with a detailed description of the four parts of a Kishōtenketsu story, with several examples: https://mythicscribes.com/plot/kishotenketsu/
One of the examples is the plot of the animated movie "Kiki's Delivery Service," directed by the same Hayao Miyazaki whom Charles finds inspiring.
I am heartbroken. The myth of the hero's journey is - I believe - one of the most important ones of our times. Especially when you are searching for an ecological ground in our stories. Admitting that Joseph Campbell himself perhaps never realized it, 'leaving home' stands for the deeper ecological law of life: we all need to 'leave the body of the mother'. This challenge is more dangerous and difficult for boys. Girls' separation from their mothers into adult individuation, is less a life threatening proces. That is why we live in a world rule by non-adult boys who actually never really got away form their mothers. That might well be the reason why we live in a world of separation, ruled by the anger and frustration of those boys. Separation that is being violently demanded and created, becáúse it is not a free and natural experience in most of the modern grownup men in western society. Boys who try to turn their backs on love, on care, on feelings in general, on everything that reminds them of the body of their mothers. Boys who live in a revengeful way towards life and towards nature. If there is one important story that helps us to realize this, it must be the Hero's journey. Which by the way never originally was supposed to talk about a courageous child to reach succes or victory, but was supposed to talk about the maturing child (girl and boy) who would transform courageousness into bringing home their lessons learned and in that way, bringing their unique contribution as their free gift to the community that gave birth to them.
I hope you're exploring the Magician and Lover in the female character too!
There's no better hero's journey than that of Frodo.
The stage is a special place for creating reality for a moment in time. It’s an invitation to exit your current framework and reprogram your emotions; to become alive in a dream. The silence in the house is thunderous, a nervous sensation in your stomach reminds you how impermanent everything is and then the curtains pull back and the dust gets caught in the spotlight.
Your endeavour sounds challenging. Have fun! (That’s why they call it a play!)
I appreciate the reflection on the hero's journey. As you mentioned this is often a journey of youth. Part of the story that calls to the soul in these journeys is the process of awakening and overcoming the obstacles. The hero's journey is sort of like a trip to the ER, the ends are usually resolved by the end of the story like neatly wrapped in boxes. We like things neatly wrapped in boxes, good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, etc.
Replacing a male hero with a female misses the point. We have come to a place in our growth that there is a need to stop replacing one for another. This is simplistic. Both male, female, or whatever need to be able to stand together. The Old paradigm is one group being raised up in order to succeed while pressing down on another. Patriarchy happened on the heals of matriarchy, neither are balanced, neither should be idealized. Success is in the collective rising together, leaving the ease and well trodden path of separation & division that is on loud speaker throughout the talking media heads. Substituting one hero's gender for another re-enforces this separation. Children and animals don't know property lines, they recognize the whole. It takes a lot of work and conditioning to break beings of acknowledging the whole. The new paradigm, new structure, is a wholistic myth, a collaborative dreaming. This collaborative dreaming might even be groups all having different dreams and functioning as individual pods. We do not all dream the same dream but all dreams can stand alongside each other. There are technocratic dreams that will come into being and there are earth based dreams that will bloom. The autonomy of each must be respected for a new myth to be born.
Innnnnteresting! If you are researching the "Call to Adventure" archetype I suggest reading "The Luminaries - The Psychology of the Sun and the Moon in the Horoscope" taken from the seminars by Liz Greene and Howard Sasportas.
I really like how Liz says that most of us are fulfilling the Moon side of our Selves until our 30s or so and then it's usually sometime after our Saturn Return that we get that "Call to Adventure" and start on our true Hero's Journey, that is represented by our Sun. I don't see it as a Feminine or Masculine journey but a Universal journey.
My "Call to Adventure" (some people use the word 'Awakening' but the Sagittarius in me prefers Call to Adventure 🙂 ) came when I was 33 (magic/mystical year) having just gone for my first astrology reading. Unbeknownst to me transiting Pluto (planet of death and rebirth: transformation) was sitting just one degree away from my Sagittarius Sun about to engulf it/me! Perfect timing, of course! It was time for the old Me to die and the new Me to be reborn....and so it happened...my mom remarks that before 1999 I was really completely different! Pluto will do that for you 🙂
From the book:
"This awakening of the Solar principle may coincide with the beginning of a period of inner exploration, and this in turn may be precipitated by a crisis of some kind which leaves depression and discontent in its wake.
The Sun is not really concerned with the concrete world as its final destination. Material reality is the domain of the Moon, and often what we think of as goals in the first half of life are really the lunar security needs translating themselves into mundane terms. Solar goals are inner, and are concerned with self-realisation and experiencing one's life as special and meaningful. These goals are very difficult to define, and they differ from one person to another in the kind of outer expression they need. Socrates called this mysterious inner driving force his daemon, the destiny that impels an individual toward becoming his or her own ideal. The Sun says, "But I am not just any old mouse or rabbit or cabbage. My life means something, I have potentials that I have not yet fulfilled." You can see why we ignore this solar drive at our peril, for if we do not take the heroic leap and make a unique creative contribution in some way, however small, we are doomed to the nagging torment of an unlived self. Then we have every reason to fear death, for we have not truly lived.
.....The young hero-to-be has to develop realism, since envy is a fact of life and an indelible part of human nature. He cannot always run home bleating when his specialness is attacked or called into question. And he must aquire toughness, self-sufficiency, insight, intelligence, and loyal friends in order to survive as an individual. Otherwise he might as well quench his solar light and crawl back into the womb again. This is in fact what many people do, for they find mother surrogates such as unfulfilling jobs or stifling relationships to protect them, and suppress their own individual potentials to avoid the competitive world outside.
At some point in his growing-up process, the hero receives what Campbell refers to as "the call to adventure." this can come in a number of forms. The divine parent may appear in a dream or vision, saying, "All right, son, pull your finger out, it's time to grow up and go after the treasurer hard to attain." In other words, the call may come from within us - a sudden intuition of meaning and destiny - which frequently occurs under major heavy planet cycles such as the Saturn return at 30, or in midlife coincident with the Uranus half-cycle or the second Saturn half-cycle. The hero's call in myth may also come through apparent external upheaval or disaster - the crops are failing, or a plague or invasion has struck, or the old king is dying and there is no known heir.
The mythic call to adventure can thus express itself in our lives as a major crisis which, unlike our usual everyday troubles, challenges us to plunge into the unknown and discover new resources that we did not know were there. I believe this is how the majority of people experience the solar call to adventure which, as well as being signaled by heavy planet cycles, is often reflected by a major transit or progression involving the Sun.
We all get many transits of heavy planets to the natal and progressed Sun during the course of a lifetime. Unlike the hero, we are given more than one chance to respond to the call, and it may come in separate segments, disguised as disparate life situations linked by a single meaningful thread. The hero's journey does not occur for us once and for all. It seems to operate on many levels, and repeat itself throughout life."
I just love these books and, as you can see (I hope) they are not just for astrologers! There is a series of 4 in the series. They are SO GOOD.
I posted an expanded version of this post four years ago in a Jungian group and asked for people's birth dates and the dates they felt their "Call to Adventure" and I found a very trippy synchronicity - many of us had experienced this Call when transiting Uranus (planet of personal freedom, radical change, individuation and movement 🙂 ) was in aspect to our Moons! Either conjunct or mine was Inconjunct. Faaascinating!! I believe, like Liz, that this Hero's Journey never ends...it spirals up and around and we dance with the archetypes....each of us unique...but Universal...so here's to movement and the excitement of Adventure!!
I am an organic beekeeper. The bees have taught me how to rethink the Hero‘s Journey. Each (female) worker bee goes through her life in two or, possibly three stages. The first stage is in the hive where she has many different roles. The second stage is as a forager bee. The third and most Interesting stage is as part of a swarm. The lessons from the bees are over 50 million years old and are timeless. They are gendered, but also non-gendered. They have drones (male bees) as well as Queens as archetypes. They include separation as one of three forces of nature. There are two other forces just as important You need look no further for your story arc!
I love this - it is well time to go beyond the hero/heroine myth
More feminine archetypes to write from, in line with the masculine version are
maiden , wild woman, queen (mother) , crone
Regarding other female archetypes, I wonder if there is a Midwife archetype? Jizo, in Japan midwives souls from life into the after life. Women being the actual bearers of new human life into the world, may hold the central though not exclusive psychic space of this archetype. It has definitely been stripped of potency in Western culture, as we have relegated both birthing and dying to medicalized (thus largely hidden away from real life) environments.
Best of luck on this new endeavor, Charles -- I'm so looking forward!
It is the same dilemma over and over. The more removed from reality one becomes, the more disconnected they become. Rather than living in reality, they instead live in an abstraction, sometimes twice or thrice removed. One who plucks their own chickens has a different take on reality than someone who thinks chicken nuggets somehow magically show up in the store. As one lives closer to reality, masculine and feminine energies come to the fore when appropriate rather than confined to stereotypical role models. Necessity brings clarity. What was important is suddenly seen as superfluous or even counter productive.
While the Heroine's journey is the inner journey of self-ownership, leaving the Father's House and regaining a connection to her instinctual nature (which the religions of the book have demonized) so that she can express her truth and her gifts, the masculine journey now is about supporting the feminine imagination and helping to manifest it in the world. Like the warriors who supported the grandmothers to stop the Keystone pipeline, and like King Arthur, men need to learn to protect life and to sacrifice their need to 'make something of themselves' -- meaning join the money-making machine. We all need to step away from this patriarchal mindset. Isn't it time to re-think what makes life worth living? the Green Man is a great archetype for us all. We all have to reconnect to Mother Earth's biosphere and become the stewards of the Earth we are meant to be. I think lots of young men are learning this when they have children. They are beginning to value life instead of money.
Hi Cary. I like your drawing. Complicated like most things in nature with many repeated shapes. I am especially fond of spirals. Thanks for sharing. 🦋Diana Robbins
But l see The Hero’s Journey as a metaphor of growth, time and time again…inner work not outer.