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The Time for the Hero’s Journey is Over
I realised today that the hero’s journey has had its day. It’s a masculine framework, coined by Joseph Campbell and based on the idea that you must go on a journey to find yourself, to face your fears and to experience growth. It’s been presented as “THE” journey of spiritual enlightenment, and is where the idea of a ‘spiritual path’ comes from.
The stages of the hero’s journey are: Departure – leaving the ordinary world/never feeling part of it in the first place Initiation – the challenges of an unknown territory placing pressure on the hero to create great, irreversible change Return – coming home to see it with new eyes, holding a treasure of the new way of being.
There are more than 3 stages of course, some say there are 12, other’s say 8 but that’s too much to go into here. Perhaps I will talk more about it again as I pick this idea apart further.
The hero’s journey is the basis for many mythologies – namely the Wizard of Oz, the Narnia stories, Star Wars, Harry Potter, any Marvel movie….. Anywhere there is a hero in the making, someone that steps up to live authentically and be on the side of goodness, truth and justice for all. It’s so embedded in our culture that this mythology has become a part of us now. I believe that’s why the super hero movies are so popular in this day and age. We are waiting for our hero to come and save us, or we live with the possibility that we can be the hero in our own lives.
Bayo Akomolafe writes that the hero’s journey is a white supremacist point of view. He quotes China Achebe who said “Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” Bayo adds “There are stories where the triumph of the hero (and the death of the monster) turns out to have been part of the monster’s scheme all along”. The monster has grown perhaps, and we have not. Funnily enough, these are the stories that have always leave me thinking – I always did have an affinity for Darth Vader. Maybe that’s my outlier mind in action.
So I ask you – who is the enemy now? Perhaps we ourselves are the enemy? What about framing Covid-19 as the saviour of this planet, as Bayo suggests? Look at how the Earth recovers when we are forced to stay at home, to put down our machinery, to stop burning fuel. Perhaps we need to rethink what a monster/villain actually is.
We are growing and changing globally. We are hearing more black voices singing, more abused women shouting, more people are stepping up and telling their stories. These are the voices of the hunted lions. I have always disliked history, for history has always been told in the eye of the beholder, a fact that was conveniently left out of any class I had at school. I quote my father who says “There are three sides to every story, yours, theirs, and the truth.” I am blessed to have always had his influence nearby at so young an age. To be able to question my own truth as not being ‘The truth” has brought me many an insight. Many people have questioned the truth behind the stories that are being told by these young lions, but perhaps these very same people need to question themselves and ask if what they have always believed to be true, really is, in fact, The Truth.
I digress. Let’s go back to my argument that the hero’s journey is an old way of thinking. The more I mull on it, the stronger is my belief that it is no longer needed, in fact the more I think upon it the unhealthier I believe it is. For it always paints a hero and a villain. We are not so straightforward, we are made of darkness AND light, to heal we must claim both aspects of ourselves. And, if we are all the same, in oneness, then we are all hero’s, but we are the villains too. Maleficent and the Joker, both wonderful movies which show the growth of a so-called villain, we can understand their point of view. And Wicked, the story of the witch from Oz, is a far richer story than the story of the wizard; and Elphaba is a much more interesting 3 dimensional character than Dorothy ever was.
Astrologically, all the changes that we are experiencing right now are the handing over from the masculine to the feminine. The deconstruction of institutions and belief systems that no longer fit the new paradigm of 5th dimensional living. The new way is about being not doing, acceptance, forgiveness, compassion and love. We sit with our pain and we honour it and it transforms from our loving attention. We don’t have to go anywhere to do this, other than inwards. Through love and compassion we transform our pain into an ally, a creative force, into our strength and power.
Meister Eckhart, according to John O’Donoghue, suggested that there was no such thing as a spiritual journey, instead it is a coming home to ourselves (I don’t have the exact quote here). No enemy to vanquish, no new lands to conquer, just a homecoming to the landscape of our heart. Which was there, all along.
And if we can return to our hearts, to our being-ness, then we cannot but heal ourselves. And then, just perhaps, through the filter of our heart, through self-forgiveness, self-compassion, self-intimacy and self-given unconditional love, we can see the other in their pain, their anger, their fragility, their vulnerability and authenticity, and provide a space for them to heal, too. Simply by being there, with them, without running, just being.
This is where we are going and it is what we are becoming, I truly believe this. And the pain comes from holding on for dear life to the idea that there is dark or light and that your truth is The Truth. Writing this makes me want to cry because I know that it is as close as I can get to the absolute truth. Which, we will never know. But I feel it in my bones, in my soul, in my heart that we are moving towards something new. We have been experiencing the breakdown of what is true and false and we are just finding the words for it now. And all I can tell you today, is that we have no further need to travel to the land of Oz to realise that there is no place like home.