Have you heard of The Hero’s Journey (sometimes called Monomyth)? Just about every beloved movie or story follows The Hero’s Journey. Star Wars, Harry Potter, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Odyssey, The Lion King, The Matrix, Finding Nemo, The Wizard of Oz, and on and on. The Hero’s Journey is a pattern that shows up and we (the world) love it! We watch it and read it over and over. Joseph Campbell identified this pattern. You could just Google or search in You Tube for discussion about The Hero’s Journey if you want more information. Here’s a good website that I think sums it up nicely.
What I want to talk about here is how you can use this to look at your life, and be inspired when you watch your favorite movies and read your favorite books. The Hero’s Journey can be rich in content and that would make this blog super long. However, two major categories to look at and identify in your own story: The Stages and The Archetypes.
The Stages are essentially the path of the journey. Depending on how you divide things up, there are 12 to 17 stages of the journey. The stages are divided into 3 meta-categories: Departure, Initiation, and Return. Not all stories will have all the stages (nor will they go in the same order) Departure includes getting a call to adventure, to leave their “ordinary world.” Sometimes this call to adventure is based on a choice the hero makes, not realizing the gravity of that choice. Sometimes the call is someone else’s choice that impacts the hero. Sometimes the call is an accident or life circumstance that throws the hero into the “adventure.”
In Initiation, the hero experiences many trials. This is usually the hardest part for the hero. The hero can be quite disoriented and resist the adventure. There is the Belly of the Whale and eventually The Ultimate Boon. The final stage is the Return. The hero accepts their path, learns life lessons, and masters “two worlds” (sometimes we call this “the new normal”).
Now, amidst the journey are a number of Archetypes. There are other heroes on their own journey we bump into, there are shadows (villains or enemies….this is sometimes within the hero, such as an internal conflict). There are allies along the way, as well as “tricksters” that feel like comic relief in the story. One of my favorite archetypes is The Mentor. Sometimes the Mentor is quite obvious, like Obi Wan, Mr. Miyagi, or Dumbledore. And then….there is Dory in Marlin’s journey in Finding Nemo. She has the most profound lines in the movie.
Where are you in your story….er journey? It can be helpful to look at your life and experiences from this perspective. Look for your allies and tricksters…..and mentors. If you are in the Initiation or Belly of the Whale, remember what Dory said! Just keep swimming!
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