Why are stories like Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter so unbelievably successful? Beyond their epic tales and masterful storytelling, is there something else that connects and captivates us?
I believe these kinds of adventures trigger something deep within, something about our own lives we are trying to express or perhaps remember. These stories are our stories; stories from other dimensions channeled by third-dimensional creators and birthed into this reality. We love them because they innately resonate with us, unlocking the secrets of our inner journey.
So what is the hero’s journey? In short, it’s the monomyth as written by the late Joseph Campbell, which tells the story of a hero who sets out on an adventure, faces crisis and emerges victorious.
The Hero With A Thousand Faces is Campbell’s book outlining the Hero’s Journey. It is dramatically simplified below. I highly suggest reading his book if you are a writer.
- Ordinary World – the safe place where our hero exists before the story begins.
- Call to Adventure – call to action which disrupts the safety of our hero’s existence.
- Refusal of the Call – the fears which our hero faces by accepting the call. This causes them to refuse which brings with it a whole other slew of issues as a result.
- Meeting the Mentor – a pivotal moment where our hero meets with someone who gives them the tools to start the journey, this can range from an object to guidance.
- Crossing the Threshold – whether pushed into it or walking it willingly our hero has crossed the threshold from the safety of their old world, into the world of unknowns.
- Tests, Allies, Enemies – our hero meets with people who will test their mental and emotional strength. They will learn from friends and enemies as both serve a positive purpose in their growth.
- Approach to Inmost Cave – another stop along the road of fear, as our hero must face their doubts before continuing into the most treacherous part of their journey.
- Ordeal – the final showdown so to speak. Our hero must face a crisis, foe, or even death in order to be reborn into the world of the unknown.
- Reward – whether it’s defeating an enemy, overcoming a challenge, or even death, the hero has emerged victorious and receives the reward for his perseverance.
- The Road Back – the hero must make their way back to the ordinary world, forever changed. The hero is faced with acclaim rather than danger yet they may need one final push into the ordinary world.
- Resurrection – the final brush with death, the climax of the journey where the hero must prevail or there may be far-reaching consequences for those they’ve left behind.
- Return with Elixir – the return to the ordinary world having been altered, emotionally, physically, or spiritually as a result of the hero’s journey. However the story plays out, our hero returns, their life is forever changed.
Why does this path resonate so deeply within us? If we look closely at this list, we might see something familiar. Our own lives follow a similar journey to the monomyth. Sure, there are varying degrees of pain and suffering while walking the path depending on our soul’s evolution, free-will choices, and contractual agreements, but nevertheless, the path is the same.
It is the one thing we have in common. As humans we are so focused on our differences we rarely stop to look at our similarities. These stories remind us that we are all one. We are bound by the power of myth which empowers us to set out on our own journey knowing that we are not alone in our quest. We may look different, sound different, and act differently but we are ultimately searching for the same thing.
We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.Joseph Campbell
The true quest is the journey back to our true selves, to uncover the spark of our own divinity. It’s quite literally finding ourselves in a technicolored world of unknowns befriending strawmen, melting witches, and unmasking charlatans, trying desperately to get back what we feared we’ve lost, only to find we’ve had it within us all along.
In my opinion, stories that utilize the path of the hero’s journey will always have a place in our world. It is the story of humanity, our reawakening to discover who we really are, why we are here and where we might be going.
You need not have superhuman powers (although humans are capable of unbelievable feats) to be a hero. No, the hero’s journey, is the soul’s quest for enlightenment, and we are all the heroes of our own story.
Enjoy the Journey,