The Myth of the Hero's Journey
The Myth of the Hero's Journey In 1949, Joseph Campbell, wrote in his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, about "the hero’s journey." Mr. Campbell proposed that all myths - across all time and cultures – contain the same basic ingredients and follow the same general formula and that there are never really any new stories – just the same stories retold. These “stories” contain one over arching theme, which is the blueprint for tales since humankind’s earliest days. This is the “hero’s journey,” which is the underlying story of our work. The “hero’s journey” has three main parts: Departure, Initiation and Return.
At the departure point, a prosperous, happy person, who is respected by all, experiences a transformative crisis of awareness of his or her situation and is told that he or she is unfit to remain. At first, the person denies change and resists. Eventually, he or she is ousted from his homeland and sent off and he or she willingly crosses over the threshold to enter a new world.
During initiation, he or she faces difficulties and hard challenges and stares with uncertainty into the unknown. As he or she travels adrift and alone along the challenging path – usually with the help of trainers, mentors, consultants or coaches met during this exile – he or she is given a divine gift. They acquire the capability to undergo a transformation into authenticity and then are able to become present and live in the now and to be at one with his or her new self. At this point, he or she vows to make his or her way back home.
Eventually he or she does return and is welcomed back into a place that is barely recognized but is still understood to be home. With this understanding, he or she can be at peace with the worlds of both the past and the future and hold a commitment to inhabiting and mastering the present. This common structure of departure, initiation and return underlies Homer’s Odyssey, the story of Buddha, the legend of King Arthur, Huckleberry Finn, Star Wars and The Matrix. Joseph Campbell felt that pattern existed in just about every other major human tale. Daniel H. Pink in his highly recommended book “A Whole New World” beautifully portrays this epic from a modern point of view.