Quote of the day


Joseph Campbell

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Hero's Journey

The Hero's Journey is a term coined by the famous mythologist and philosopher Joseph Campbell. I just watched a film about this called "Finding Joe" and thought it was absolutely fascinating so I wanted to share it with you. I will do my best to explain what it is and how it can be applicable to all of our lives.

The Hero's Journey is a circular algorithm, a metaphor really, for life. I think of it as Joseph Campbell's version of the circle of life.   It's core or center point for rotation is living a life in which we follow our bliss.

In the Hero's Journey there are 3 phases: Separation, Initiation and Return. Because it is a circular algorithm, when you have reached your first return you go back to a point of separation. And the cycle starts again.

In the Separation phase there is a call to adventure. The phone literally rings, we hear it and eventually, if we don't ignore it (and you know when you've ignored this call), we answer it.  Once we are open to the idea of separating (i.e. when we get the courage to answer the phone), we then begin the initiation phase. Essentially we are catapulted into the next version of ourselves.

In the Initiation phase we become part of new adventures in which we face our fears head on; we are tested, moved to a crisis point, struggle with internal conflicts and then, at some point, we come out on the other side. Some equate the Initiation phase to entering a dark forest of our deepest fears.  After facing trials and tribulations, turmoil and strife we, eventually, come out into the light in which we have conquered our fears. This is the point at which we can and will "return".

Somewhere between the initiation and return phases there is a death of part of our old self. We shed our old skin because its no longer of use to us. With our transformation comes a new meaningful life at which point we enter the Return phase where we return to tell our stories to others. We have thus completed the hero's journey.

In order to go through our hero's journey we need to be willing to accept the challenge, endure the pain of discovery and be willing to shed our old skin. Campbell says that when you are willing to delve into this journey, "doors will appear for you where doors will not appear for others". Each of us has a unique adventure to face, a unique fear to conquer so that we can all return to tell our story to others.

Campbell believed that each of us is born with a seed of potential that wants to be actualized.  Unfortunately, we live in a society that puts us under a hypnosis so that we forget that "life is the fruit of (y)our own doing". Instead, we become conditioned to listen to what society tells us we should and shouldn't do. This prevents us from discovering our true selves and, instead, most people end up on the treadmill of life and never get to the point of actualization.

The story of myth allows us to go beyond what we thought was possible; to explore and unearth our potential as it was when we were born, before society covered it with layers of false reality and false expectation. 

What I learned from Joseph Campbell is that the mythical life is part of each one of us. The challenge we face is the unearthing of our potential. We need to transcend most of what society has told us we should and shouldn't do so that we can live our very own Hero's Journey of self discovery and therefore live the life we were intended to live .

We can only be the hero of our own life when we decide to stop being the victim of our own life. So I challenge you, today, to go find YOUR adventure (answer the phone!), face your fears, shed your skin, separate, initiate, come out stronger on the other side and most importantly return, so that you can tell your story. 


  1. Hi Emi,
    I like this "Follow your Bliss" I am in the midst of following my bliss.I am just try to let things happen and allow. giing in to control and trusting that it will be ok is a big deal for me.I really like what you wrote about..

  2. Hi Karin,
    Thanks for your comment! I totally love the idea of following ones bliss. Trick is to know what your bliss is. Then take a chance- answer the phone- separate, initiate and follow your bliss until you return.