Words for the Hero’s Journey

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” –Martin Buber

We have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us — the labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.” –Joseph Campbell in The Hero With a Thousand Faces (1949)

Eternity isn’t some later time. Eternity isn’t a long time. Eternity has nothing to do with time. Eternity is that dimension of here and now which thinking and time cuts out. This is it. And if you don’t get it here, you won’t get it anywhere. And the experience of eternity right here and now is the function of life.” –Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth (2001)

Follow your bliss” –Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth (2001)

The Path of the Hero according to Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey (2007)

  1. Ordinary World: “The Hero’s home, the safe haven upon which the Special World and the Journey’s outcome must be compared.”  The Journey begins in the Ordinary World, travels to the Special World, and returns to the Ordinary World.
  2. Call to Adventure: The Call to Adventure sets the story rolling by disrupting the comfort of the Hero’s Ordinary World, presenting a challenge or quest that must be undertaken.
  3. Refusal of the Call: “A Hero often refuses [or is reluctant] to take on the Journey because of fears and insecurities that have surfaced from the Call to Adventure.  The Hero may not be willing to make changes, preferring the safe haven of the Ordinary World.  This becomes an essential stage that communicates the risks involved in the Journey that lies ahead.  Without risks and danger or the likelihood of failure, the audience will not be compelled to be a part of the Hero’s Journey.”
  4. Meeting with the Mentor:  “The Hero meets a Mentor to gain confidence, insight, advice, training, or magical gifts to overcome the initial fears and face the Threshold of the adventure.  The Mentor may be a physical person, or an object such as a map, a logbook, or other writing.”
  5. Crossing the Threshold: “Crossing the threshold signifies that the Hero has finally committed to the Journey.  He is prepared to cross the gateway that separates the Ordinary World from the Special World.”
  6. Tests, Allies, Enemies: “Having crossed the threshold, the Hero faces Tests, encounters Allies, confronts Enemies, and learns the rules of this Special World.  The Hero needs to find out who can be trusted.  Allies are earned, a Sidekick may join up, or an entire Hero Team forged.  The Hero must prepare himself for the greater Ordeals yet to come and needs this stage to test his skills and powers, or perhaps seek further training from the Mentor.  This Initiation into this Special World also tests the Hero’s commitment to the Journey, and questions whether he can succeed.”
  7. Approach to the Inmost Cave:  “The Hero must make the preparations needed to approach the Inmost Cave that leads to the Journey’s heart, or central Ordeal.  Maps may be reviewed, attacks planned, a reconnaissance launched, and possibly the enemies forces whittled down before the Hero can face his greatest fear, or the supreme danger lurking in the Special World.”  The Approach may be a time for some romance or a few jokes before the battle, or it may signal a ticking clock or a heightening of the stakes.
  8. Ordeal:  “The Hero engages in the Ordeal, the central life-or-death crisis, during which he faces his greatest fear, confronts his most difficult challenge, and experiences “death”.  His Journey teeters on the brink of failure.  The Ordeal is the central magical Stage of any Journey.  Only through “death” can the Hero be reborn, experiencing a resurrection that grants greater power or insight to see the Journey to the end.”
  9. Reward (Seizing the Sword): “The Hero has survived death, overcome his greatest fear, slain the dragon, or weathered the crisis of the heart, and now earns the Reward that he has sought.  The Hero’s Reward comes in many forms:  a magical sword, an elixir, greater knowledge or insight, reconciliation with a lover.  Whatever the treasure, the Hero has earned the right to celebrate.  The Hero may have earned the Reward outright, or the Hero may have seen no option but to steal it.  The Hero may rationalize this Elixir theft, having paid for it with the tests and ordeals thus far.  But the consequences of the theft must be confronted as the Shadow forces race to reclaim the Elixir that must not see the light of the Ordinary World.”
  10. The Road Back: “The Hero must finally recommit to completing the Journey and accept the Road Back to the Ordinary World.  A Hero’s success in the Special World may make it difficult to return.  Like Crossing the Threshold, The Road Back needs an event that will push the Hero through the Threshold, back into the Ordinary World.  The Event should re-establish the Central Dramatic Question, pushing the Hero to action and heightening the stakes.  The Road Back may be a moment when the Hero must choose between the Journey of a Higher Cause verses the personal Journey of the Heart.”
  11. Resurrection:  “The Hero faces the Resurrection, his most dangerous meeting with death.  This final life-or-death Ordeal shows that the Hero has maintained and can apply all that he has brought back to the Ordinary World.  This Ordeal and Resurrection can represent a “cleansing” or purification that must occur now that the Hero has emerged from the land of the dead.  The Hero is reborn or transformed with the attributes of the Ordinary self in addition to the lessons and insights from the characters he has met along the road.  The Resurrection may be a physical Ordeal, or final showdown between the Hero and the Shadow.  This battle is for much more than the Hero’s life.  Other lives, or an entire world may be at stake and the Hero must now prove that he has achieved Heroic status and willingly accept his sacrifice for the benefit of the Ordinary World.  Other Allies may come to the last minute rescue to lend assistance, but in the end the Hero must rise to the sacrifice at hand.  He must deliver the blow that destroys the Death Star (Star Wars), or offer his hand and accept the “magic” elixir of love.”
  12. Return with the Elixir: “The Return with the Elixir is the final Reward earned on the Hero’s Journey.  The Hero has been resurrected, purified and has earned the right to be accepted back into the Ordinary World and share the Elixir of the Journey.  The true Hero returns with an Elixir to share with others or heal a wounded land.  The Elixir can be a great treasure or magic potion.  It could be love, wisdom, or simply the experience of having survived the Special World.  Even the tragic end of a Hero’s Journey can yield the best elixir of all, granting the audience greater awareness of us and our world (Citizen Kane).”

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