The Hero’s Journey

An author and a scholar, Joseph Campbell created what he referred to as “The Hero’s Journey”.  Campbell described the developmental cycle of mankind as an inner transformative journey, a myth that transcends time and place; a path that leads all humans through movements of separation, descent, and challenge-while circling back to do it all over again.

There are twelve points of decision that Campbell identifies on “The Hero’s Journey”-

1. the Ordinary World is what Campbell describes as the starting point.  A world that allows us to know ourselves (the hero) before the journey begins. This is a time of discovery, where you learn about the Hero’s hopes, desires, and challenges.

Every life, story, or myth experiences a challenge that disrupts the Ordinary World, and to restore balance, one seeks to find a resolution to the challenge. The Ordinary World (the hero’s home) and the Special World represent contrast.

2. The Special World signifies a call to adventure.  The call to adventure represents a challenge or a quest that one must experience.  Most people resist the call to adventure but there are consequences of rejection. The Special World is one of uncertainty and unbalance, the unknown.  The Hero may reject several calls but the only way to escape is to meet the challenge.  There are times when the Hero must choose between two Conflicting Calls.

3. It is human nature to resist what we fear, the unknown, and facing our insecurities. Campbell calls this the Refusal of the Call to Adventure. The safety of the Ordinary World without risks, danger, or failure is preferred but with each Refused Call, the stakes increase until the Hero has no choice but to accept the Call.

4. Your Mentor is someone that helps navigate your journey and is not always someone you meet in person. A Mentor guides The Hero towards confidence and insight, offering advice and training, to overcome fears of the adventure. The Mentor may be a person, an object, or an inner strength and has the experience and wisdom to survive the challenges of the Special World.

5. When the Hero accepts the journey, he has Crossed the Threshold between the Ordinary World and the Special World. This phase is about confronting fears and challenges. Facing fears and accepting challenges force the Hero into acting.

6. The Hero is tested in the Threshold phase, by learning how conditions and people change. The Hero is challenged to identify who and what can be trusted. The Hero prepares for the what is yet to come is this stage.

7. The inner conflict with the treasure payoff as The Hero breaks through to the other side.  The Inner conflict stage is what The Hero fears most.  This stage, The Hero utilizes all that he has learned to overcome his greatest fear within the Special World.

8. This stage is when The Hero engages in the Ordeal, the life-or-death crisis, facing his greatest fears and confronting his biggest challenges. The Ordeal is central and essential to any Journey.

9. The Reward can be physical, knowledge or love, it is achieving inner change. Whatever the treasure, the Hero has earned the right to celebrate.

10. The road back and the decision to return to the ordinary world. A Hero’s success in the Special World may make it difficult to return to the Ordinary World. 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 may be an internal decision that must be made by the Hero

11. Resurrection- death and darkness are addressed one more time. Transformation. Enlightening experience.

12. Return with the treasure with a new understanding. The Hero uses the lessons learned in his adventure; personal growth, love, wisdom, freedom or knowledge. 

Overcoming this final challenge shows The Hero what he must know and do to survive, and he takes that back with him when he returns to the Ordinary World. The Hero’s Journey repeats until he has what it takes to overcome any challenge. 

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