gestalt • myths • vitality -------

The hero's journey

The steps  of the hero's journey

From “the call to adventure” to “the return”, the hero grows in acumen and maturity.

Having perceived "the call to adventure" the hero goes on a journey into the unknown, encounters allies and opponents, crosses the threshold that takes him or her from the secure and familiar into the unfamiliar and mysterious. S/he undergoes various trials that inspire growth and transformation and crosses the threshold back to everyday life empowered with renewed clarity, will, and courage.

The call to adventure

At the beginning, the hero — woman or man — lives according to the norms of his/her social environment. However s/he yearns for “something else”. Some event then happens, which is an invitation to go out of one’s way and go after what is missing. This is the call to adventure.

Answering this inner call means that the hero gives up the comfort of responding to external expectations. A decision must be taken, and the hero will is ready to bear its consequences.

Blog Experiencing The hero's journey : The call

The allies and the guide

On his/her path, the hero meets allies who offer information and advice. One of them, the guide, provides the hero with an instrument of power which will help him/her through the encounters to come. Just like Odin, who, in the guise of an old unknown man, helps Sigurd to choose his horse. Merlin  who guides Arthur towards Excalibur. Or Apollo who gives a lyra to Orpheus.

Blog The hero's journey : The guide

The threshold and the confrontation

Further on the road, the hero reaches the point of no return, the threshold of adventure: a gate, a cave, the edge of a forest. A dragon, a warrior or a three-headed dog is there, guarding the entrance. Whatever the cost, the hero has to confront this being so as to go further. The time has come to use all that s/he’s learned from his/her allies and to use the instrument of power s/he got from her/his guide. Now’s the time to make the best of those, at the risk of her /his life.

Blog The hero's journey : The threshold

Blog The hero's journey : The confrontation

The road of trials

Having freed oneself of the threshold guardian, the hero reaches the Mysterium, a supernatural world ruled by laws that are unknown to the mortals. Luckily, s/he’s partly ready to face them, thanks to the tests s/he has already gone through. From encounter to encounter, sometimes beneficial and sometimes conflictual, the hero goes on her/his path, growing in capacities…

Blog The hero's journey : The road of trials

The supreme ordeal and the atonement

… Until s/he reaches the supreme ordeal, the most dangerous one of all. A confrontation, that is initiatory by essence, with one’s primal fear, which is the origin and fertilizer of all his/her other fears.

This confrontation is about experiencing death and resurrection:  letting go of what the hero still adheres to, but that is old and obsolete, and opening up to a new life, that is utterly different from the previous one.

In the course of this ordeal, the hero conquers the trophy (grail, treasure…) which symbolises what was missing in her/his former environment.

Blog The hero's journey : The supreme ordeal

The return

The hero is then faced with a new choice: either to stay in the Mysterium forever, enjoying the supernatural powers s/he gained there… or to leave them behind and go through the threshold the other way around in order to come back to the ordinary world.

If the hero was able to propitiate the forces at play in the Mysterium, the return is easy. Otherwise, all s/he can do is flee. In both cases, going through the threshold of return means that all magical powers have to be left behind.

Blog The hero's journey : The return

Life among one’s people

Once the hero is back to daily life, s/he has only… what s/he is: a human being who’s been through an initiatory experience, thus gaining an expanded awareness of life and openness to others. The inner limits that had led to one’s departure no longer exist. And the hero now lives among his/her people, fully, simply.

Blog The hero's journey : Renewal

Images:  1. Gérard Dubois / 2. Arstist unknown / 3. Keith Haring / 4. Arstist unknown / 5. Robbie Jack / 6. Eusebio et Christina Saenz / 7. Tsuyoshi Tane