“The way out of the Labyrinth is thoroughly known, we have only to follow the hero thread that Ariadne gave us to escape the Minotaur.” Joseph Campbell.
These stories are the thread out of the labyrinth of daily life, they are signpost left for us by those who went before us. Is it your time to pick up the still burning feather? Is it your time to heed the call?
Why are these stories important? Firstly, mostly they deal with the second half of life after ego, identity, and personality have formed and we are competent within our bodies and in our environment. Secondly, these stories in metaphor show us the way home. In the West, the values of individuation and the individual dominate the collective psyche, unlike the east where the removal of Ego is the dominant theme. Mixing these two ideals together causes much confusion and misunderstandings as well as unnecessary tensions.
Who is this Hero? It is the Ego, our Ego, yours and mine that is going to be the new hero. The one who is required to go on a perilous journey to confront the demons that guard a great treasure, save the kingdom, find the magic elixir, and in doing so transform ourselves along the way. Not only saving the kingdom but marring the princess, live “happily ever after” and inherits the Kingdom. The princess is our own Soul for men anyway. These stories came down to us from a time of gender certainty, times change and new questions are being asked of us around gender issues, especially now we are not totally dependent on men to provide and women to create a home. However, the beloved is still the beloved and in the Sufi and other traditions, the beloved is a code word for the divine, that glorious transpersonal part of ourselves.
The Hero referred to here is our Ego, for both men and women, it is not only an invincible male but also the female who makes great sacrifices to sustain life. When there is a lack of proper initiation the formation of Ego and personality came at a cost to soul. That to is part and parcel of the incarnating process. Free will is given absolutely. Soul like Kingship is sacral, sacrifice is the verb form of sacred, the act of making sacred. Sacrifice is the ultimate expression of the Nobility of mankind.
The lost mentoring moment. The old idea was that other older members of the community would hold our spiritual birthright until we were ready to receive it at about 14 years old. This would limit the damage to the ego soul duality or the head heart duality. Like when birds get ready to migrate they flock together to get ready for the journey. Our children flock at the Malls often just standing around not relating much to each other standing shoulder to shoulder looking outwards. What are they waiting for? Their birthright, who is supposed to carry that for them? the older members of the community. Not the parents. Where are they? not at malls where the children are apparently. While the children are not conscious of the need to get away from the confines and limitations of the parent’s house, including the education system, the children flock instinctively, waiting and open. Looking and searching for who or what might fill that void. A dangerous time for them and a damaging time for the soul, as the Ego is given free rein and encouragement to deny the Soul. Nobody wants to be accused of still being wet behind the ears or a woos. The mall has these elaborate hair dryers. So much pretending is going on, trying to be worldly, that teenage sneer of disdain. I’m feeling hollow unfulfilled waiting anxiously, on the outside I’m pretending to have my act together and I don’t need anybody. Boring. Boring is a code word for please talk to my soul, bring me toward an understanding of my purpose in life, see me, hear me, welcome me let me know what I bring is valuable.
Imprinting. There are times in our development when doors open and things get activated within us. Like the geese who follow the rugby socks around because that the first thing they saw when they hatched, they imprinted on that particular colors of socks. Like the wild geese in this image of this movie “Fly away home” the microlight pilot is teaching them to fly south for the winter. Waiting for our birthright is one of these imprinting times. When this Birthright does not appear that hole, that expectation within the being, gets filled with whatever is around, what is around, what is at the mall what’s in the media what the peer group thinks. This is the age of the primary initiation for boys anyway. For girls, it’s a little more involved as the physical body has its own timetable. So consider for a moment our first sexual encounter, a door opens for us and we become sexually aware, who is available for sexual instruction? the embarrassing parents “No way” the media, pornography, our peers? not a great situation along with sexual taboos prejudices.
However, when it became fashionable to put our elders in old age homes, out of sight and without the inconvenience of having to acknowledge and witness the trials of an aging body. In such a fantasy of the body beautiful, out of sight out of mind is good. Through that idea, Soul became subject to the tyranny and the imperialism of an overblown uninitiated Ego. So the idea of the intellect is born and thinking appears to happen in the imperialism of the head. The colonization of the body by the ego intellect axis now dominates. not only the body but the whole western world. The kingdom is sick because of wounds to the soul to the deep emotional self.
The Ego as the Heroic. It is the Questing Ego that is the new hero, that now needs to go on the return journey to recover the split off and regressed parts of Soul to make the kingdom whole again. The antidote to the wasteland. The end of this process is called the “Mystical Marriage” This marriage is where the ego and soul are equal partners in the great dance.
These stories describe the process in metaphor how this soul retrieval may take place. Sometimes the process is called many different names squaring the circle or the Journey from the head to the heart among them. This may take a lifetime or as they say in stories “a short time or a long time or however long that takes.”
The Hero’s Journey. On Utube, there are excellent videos on the hero’s journey from Joseph Campbell to many others I have asked Marco Aslan if I could post this here and he graciously agreed.
The 12 Stages of The Hero’s Journey
A popular form of structure derived from Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth from his book The Hero With A Thousand Faces and adapted by Christopher Vogler is the Twelve Stage Hero’s Journey. This is essentially a more detailed Character Arc for your story’s hero which is overlayed onto the more traditional three-act structure that many successful Hollywood movies such as Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz when analyzed appear to follow.
- Ordinary World
This is where the Hero’s exists before his present story begins, oblivious of the adventures to come. It’s his safe place. His everyday life where we learn crucial details about our Hero, his true nature, capabilities and outlook on life. This anchors the Hero as a human, just like you and me, and makes it easier for us to identify with him and hence later, empathize with his plight.
- Call To Adventure
The Hero’s adventure begins when he receives a call to action, such as a direct threat to his safety, his family, his way of life or to the peace of the community in which he lives. It may not be as dramatic as a gunshot, but simply a phone call or conversation but whatever the call is, and however it manifests itself, it ultimately disrupts the comfort of the Hero’s Ordinary World and presents a challenge or quest that must be undertaken.
- Refusal Of The Call
Although the Hero may be eager to accept the quest, at this stage he will have fears that need overcoming. Second thoughts or even deep personal doubts as to whether or not he is up to the challenge. When this happens, the Hero will refuse the call and as a result, may suffer somehow. The problem he faces may seem too much to handle and the comfort of home far more attractive than the perilous road ahead. This would also be our own response and once again helps us bond further with the reluctant Hero.
- Meeting The Mentor
At this crucial turning point where the Hero desperately needs guidance, he meets a mentor figure who gives him something he needs. He could be given an object of great importance, insight into the dilemma he faces, wise advice, practical training or even self-confidence. Whatever the mentor provides the Hero with it serves to dispel his doubts and fears and give him the strength and courage to begin his quest.
- Crossing The Threshold
The Hero is now ready to act upon his call to adventure and truly begin his quest, whether it be physical, spiritual or emotional. He may go willingly or he may be pushed, but either way, he finally crosses the threshold between the world he is familiar with and that which he is not. It may be leaving home for the first time in his life or just doing something he has always been scared to do. However the threshold presents itself, this action signifies the Hero’s commitment to his journey an whatever it may have in store for him.
- Tests, Allies, Enemies
Now finally out of his comfort zone, the Hero is confronted with an ever more difficult series of challenges that test him in a variety of ways. Obstacles are thrown across his path; whether they be physical hurdles or people bent on thwarting his progress, the Hero must overcome each challenge he is presented with on the journey towards his ultimate goal.
The Hero needs to find out who can be trusted and who can’t. He may earn allies and meet enemies who will, each in their own way, help prepare him for the greater ordeals yet to come. This is the stage where his skills and/or powers are tested and every obstacle that he faces helps us gain a deeper insight into his character and ultimately identify with him even more.
- Approach To The Inmost Cave
The inmost cave may represent many things in the Hero’s story such as an actual location in which lies a terrible danger or an inner conflict which up until now the Hero has not had to face. As the Hero approaches the cave he must make final preparations before taking that final leap into the great unknown.
At the threshold to the inmost cave, the Hero may once again face some of the doubts and fears that first surfaced upon his call to adventure. He may need some time to reflect upon his journey and the treacherous road ahead in order to find the courage to continue. This brief respite helps the audience understand the magnitude of the ordeal that awaits the Hero and escalates the tension in anticipation of his ultimate test.
The Supreme Ordeal may be a dangerous physical test or a deep inner crisis that the Hero must face in order to survive or for the world in which the Hero lives to continue to exist. Whether it be facing his greatest fear or most deadly foe, the Hero must draw upon all of his skills and his experiences gathered upon the path to the inmost cave in order to overcome his most difficult challenge.
Only through some form of “death” can the Hero be reborn, experiencing a metaphorical resurrection that somehow grants him greater power or insight necessary in order to fulfill his destiny or reach his journey’s end. This is the high-point of the Hero’s story and where everything he holds dear is put on the line. If he fails, he will either die or life as he knows it will never be the same again.
- Reward (Seizing The Sword)
After defeating the enemy, surviving death and finally overcoming his greatest personal challenge, the Hero is ultimately transformed into a new state, emerging from battle as a stronger person and often with a prize.
The Reward may come in many forms: an object of great importance or power, a secret, greater knowledge or insight, or even reconciliation with a loved one or ally. Whatever the treasure, which may well facilitate his return to the Ordinary World, the Hero must quickly put celebrations aside and prepare for the last leg of his journey.
- The Road Back
This stage in the Hero’s journey represents a reverse echo of the Call to Adventure in which the Hero had to cross the first threshold. Now he must return home with his reward but this time the anticipation of danger is replaced with that of acclaim and perhaps vindication, absolution or even exoneration.
But the Hero’s journey is not yet over and he may still need one last push back into the Ordinary World. The moment before the Hero finally commits to the last stage of his journey may be a moment in which he must choose between his own personal objective and that of a Higher Cause.
This is the climax in which the Hero must have his final and most dangerous encounter with death. The final battle also represents something far greater than the Hero’s own existence with its outcome having far-reaching consequences to his Ordinary World and the lives of those he left behind.
If he fails, others will suffer and this not only places more weight upon his shoulders but in a movie, grips the audience so that they too feel part of the conflict and share the Hero’s hopes, fears, and trepidation. Ultimately the Hero will succeed, destroy his enemy and emerge from battle cleansed and reborn.
- Return With The Elixir
This is the final stage of the Hero’s journey in which he returns home to his Ordinary World a changed man. He will have grown as a person, learned many things, faced many terrible dangers and even death but now looks forward to the start of a new life. His return may bring fresh hope to those he left behind, a direct solution to their problems or perhaps a new perspective for everyone to consider.
The final reward that he obtains may be literal or metaphoric. It could be a cause for celebration, self-realization or an end to strife, but whatever it is it represents three things: change, success and proof of his journey. The return home also signals the need for resolution for the story’s other key players. The Hero’s doubters will be ostracized, his enemies punished and his allies rewarded. Ultimately the Hero will return to where he started but things will clearly never be the same again.
Other links for Marco Aslan’s video links.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xOT2kLphyA