The hero's journey is a narrative pattern found in myths and stories from all over the world. Famously identified by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the hero archetype reflects the collective unconscious of all humans, appearing in literature, art, and mythology across cultures and time periods.
According to Campbell, the hero's journey is a metaphor for the journey of life itself, embodying the universal human experience of growth, transformation, and self-discovery. These stories express the common human desire for meaning and purpose, and the struggle to find one's place in the world.
The journey is more important than the specific goal or challenge being pursued. Along the way, we learn important lessons, such as the nature of good and evil, the importance of perseverance and courage, and the search for identity and self-knowledge.
The hero's journey always begins with the call to adventure. This call to adventure may come in many forms, such as a problem that needs to be solved, a challenge that needs to be faced, or a goal that needs to be achieved. — Joseph Campbell
The journey itself has several parts: the call to adventure, the refusal of the call, meeting the mentor, crossing the threshold, the road of trials, the deepest cave, and the return.
In the same way that we see activities like game-playing across human cultures throughout history, the hero's journey is a universal pattern that appears in stories across the world, both ancient and modern: the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Ramayana, the Odyssey, tales of King Arthur, and the Inuit myth of Sedna, for example. More recently, we see similar hero journeys in films such as Star Wars, Moana, the Matrix, The Hunger Games, and countless others!
The hero's journey is based on the idea of archetypes, which are universal symbols and themes that are found in everyone's collective unconscious. Carl Jung, a psychologist, said that archetypes are basic human experiences and behaviors that are shared by all cultures and societies — and the hero's journey is one of the most well-known.
The hero's journey is a powerful way to tell a story because it shows how everyone wants to grow and find fulfillment. It speaks to our desire to overcome challenges and obstacles, to achieve our goals and manifest our potential, and to find meaning and purpose in our lives. By following the hero's journey, we can gain insight into our own lives and our own personal growth and development.
The hero's journey is the journey all of us are on, whether we are aware of it or not, as we try to find out who we are, what we are here for, and how we can fulfill our potential. — Joseph Campbell
Here are some suggestions on how we can become the hero in our own journey, based on the stages of the hero's journey:
The Call to Adventure: To receive the call to adventure, you can actively seek out challenges and opportunities for growth. This could involve setting personal or professional goals, seeking out new experiences, or taking on new responsibilities.
Refusal of the Call: The next stage is resistance, reluctance, finding reasons not to take on the challenge. To overcome the refusal of the call, you can work on building confidence and self-belief. This can involve seeking out supportive relationships, learning new skills, or challenging negative thoughts and beliefs about yourself.
Meeting the Mentor: To find a mentor, you can seek out people who are knowledgeable and experienced in their field of interest. This could involve joining a martial arts gym! Or finding other ways to connect with leaders and people with the experience you are seeking.
Crossing the Threshold: To cross the threshold and embark on your journey, you need to take bold step towards your goals. Where is the call to adventure leading you? Make the commitment and put yourself into the adventure!
The Road of Trials: To face the road of trials, you must work on developing your resilience and problem-solving skills. This can involve seeking out challenges and opportunities for growth, learning from setbacks and failures, and seeking out support when needed.
The Innermost Cave: To reach the innermost cave, you must work on facing fears and overcoming your greatest challenges. This could involve seeking out professional help, such as therapy or coaching, or finding ways to face fears in a safe and controlled environment.
The Return: To successfully return home and triumph over your challenge, you can work on developing your sense of accomplishment and gratitude. This can involve setting aside time to reflect on your journey, celebrating your achievements, and finding ways to share your success with others.
Interested to learn more? Check out the video below from the classic documentary, Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth.