Joseph Campbell’s seminal work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, describes how he found the hero myth occurs universally (well, at least planetarily), irrespective of culture. He called it the Monomyth or “The Hero’s Journey.” I have always felt this is great news for the human race.
But what if we look at the Hero’s Journey more narrowly? What if we look at the Hero’s Journey from a personal, or microcosmic, perspective? What if we recognize that we each contain “a thousand faces” within ourselves? Can each one of those complete a Hero’s Journey?
I am/have been a daughter, student, wife, lover, criminal, shaman, avatar, soldier, writer, author, teacher, sister, volunteer, employee, business owner, philanthropist… This list could go on. What is your own quick list of identities?
I wrote about my own Journeys as a shaman, writer, and teacher in my book, Exploring the Magic of Your Hero’s Journey. My avatar identity certainly had a Hero’s Journey. I don’t believe my soldier identity did, but I know many others whose soldier identity completed a Journey. Some of my Journeys ran concurrently, although in different stages. Others could not have ever started if I hadn’t completed another identity’s Journey first.
It’s interesting to review my Journeys to become something in contrast to my Journeys as something. I can see that my Journey to become a shaman yielded a different reward than my Journey as a shaman will. What identity was I back then? A student? An explorer? I certainly know I was afraid. Fear marked that Cross the Threshold stage equal to compulsion. Now, as a shaman, amazement is usually my dominate emotion. I don’t yet feel worthy of the identity of Wise Woman. Maybe just the Crone label so far. (Ooh. Was that fear I just felt?)
Each new Journey undertaken, especially when set out on purpose, deliberately, yields so much more than I ever expected. More than all of my “I’s” expected. How about you?