Greetings on your journey!
I’d like to share some of my thoughts with you about the COVID-19 collective experience we are all going through and how that relates to a Hero’s Journey. But first, I’d like to give you a little background.
I’ve devoted many years learning about and applying the Hero’s Journey process to my life and the lives of all of my clients, family and friends. I first began this journey around 1991 (that’s almost 30 years ago) when I was introduced to Joseph Campbell through a series of videos with Bill Moyers about the Hero’s Journey called The Power of Myth. In fact, I still have the book today……. That discovery of the Hero’s Journey literally changed my life and has continued to have an impact on me 30 years later.
For years, I have been leading people on transformational Hero’s Journey retreats around the world, and facilitating Hero’s Journey retreats in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and other locations. And, now, my husband, Michael, and I have developed online courses all based on the Hero’s Journey.
One thing I’ve learned from all of this is that the Hero’s Journey is an archetype. Using the word, archetype, I mean a collective knowledge that all of us, not just individually but COLLECTIVELY, know what it means. No one really has to explain it. Because the Hero’s Journey is an archetype; it lives deep within each of us- it is inherent within us- and once we are aware of the Hero’s Journey process- we can use it in our daily lives in a very profound way. It becomes a navigational tool for living our lives consciously with awareness.
There are many clues that tell us that the Hero’s Journey is an important archetype. One clue is that the Hero’s Journey structure is everywhere. The structure is in every movie, in every book, in every TV show, and it’s in all of the stories that make up our lives. It’s also true that every story has a hero or heroine and every hero goes through the stages of the Hero’s Journey. So, it makes sense that we go through these same stages in our own life stories. And, because of this, if we are aware of the Hero’s Journey and how to use it, we can learn to be the hero of our own story and not the victim. This decision becomes a conscious choice.
Joseph Campbell describes all personal transformation as a Hero’s Journey. The hero must enter the darkness, face challenges, slay the dragon, retrieve the treasure, and emerge stronger. Those are the basics. And, that journey is what appears in all of the movies, TV shows, novels and our lives.
And, most importantly, this opportunity for personal transformation shows up when we understand that challenging life events (like the impact of COVID-19) can serve as a call to enter the Hero’s Journey and begin the process of becoming a hero.
As I became more and more aware of this process and how it worked, I was inspired to create a 5-step process based on the Hero’s Journey model (that was more than 20 years ago) and it has given me (and anyone who will listen to me!) a transformational guide to finding meaning and purpose in life.
When Joseph Campbell discovered the Hero’s Journey process; he identified 17 stages which seems a bit unwieldy to understand so I condensed these 17 stages into 5 steps – being careful not to leave out the essence of the process.
Those five steps are:
The Call to Journey
Recounting the Tale
And, this is how the five steps work.
First, when the Call to Journey shows up, you may feel as though you have been thrown into an abyss and you instantly know that something is definitely changing, or something needs to be changed or addressed.
Secondly, you begin to realize that the dragons you must slay are really your own inner demons and it’s important that you are well equipped to do that by being very well prepared. That’s called The Preparation step – a time to decide what you literally want to keep and what you want to let go of as you move into the next step. It’s kind of like packing a bag for a trip and deciding what you want to take and what you want to leave behind. You know that feeling, right? This preparation prepares you for the next step.
This next step is called the Encounter and a time when you, as the Hero/Heroine, will walk into the darkness and face your obstacles in order to retrieve the treasures that exist within you.
Which leads you to the next step – The Homecoming. Finally, you emerge with an enhanced sense of meaning and purpose and your life begins to change, for the better, because you are making more conscious decisions based on what you have learned.
And, you then realize how important it is to share these new gifts that you have with the world. I call this step Recounting the Tale and it is the last step of the journey. You know, it’s like going on a long trip, taking a lot of photos and then wanting to share that experience with your friends and family when you return.
So, how does knowing the steps of the Hero’s Journey relate to what we are all going through right now?
I’ll start with the Call to Journey and focus, primarily, on the first three steps because, I believe, that’s where we are right now.
The Call to Journey:
Covid-19 has led many of us around the world to experience feelings of shock and confusion. This collective crisis has disrupted our orientation to the world as we have known it. We have been thrust into a process of self-discovery and a redefining of our lives. It is impossible to go back to the old ways of living. So, using the Hero’s Journey steps, it’s truly been a wake-up call- a Call to Journey, which is the first step of the Hero’s Journey.
I’m sure you remember when you first began hearing about the Coronavirus (before we even knew or, at least, I knew, to call it Covid- 19). Everyone began to prepare. We really didn’t even know what we were preparing for, but we knew that we’d better be prepared for what was to come. At least, I did. All of us began to stock up on food, medicine, water, and a variety of supplies (yes, even toilet paper). And, many did this with a great deal of fear and others went about it with a sense of urgency but with a bit more kindness and compassion. You know what I mean, I’m sure. And, I believe that, in a way, many of us are still in that preparation stage and have been given a great opportunity to take a good look at our core values, our unlimiting beliefs, and our underlying issues. In other words, we’re facing some questions like “what’s working in my life and what needs to be changed? And, very importantly, who do I really want to be?”
The Encounter step may have occurred for some of you in a variety of ways. Maybe you’ve had a friend, family member or a loved one who has faced the virus and may have lost the battle or suffered greatly, as a result. Or, maybe you have encountered your own inner demons of fear, depression and anxiety and have felt the depths of despair. If so, by knowing the steps of the Hero’s Journey you can readily use it as a navigational tool. On a Hero’s Journey, a mentor and ally always show up to assist the hero. By being conscious of this, you can utilize the mentors and allies that are available to you; such as a friend’s help or a therapist’s assistance or other sources of strength and comfort.
By using the strength of your values and beliefs that you have identified in the Preparation stage along with the help of others, you can transform your pain into a source of wisdom and hope and be the Hero/Heroine you were meant to be rather than the victim of your story. Truly, you have the opportunity to be a “Hero at Home” and become the best version of yourself.
The next and fourth step is The Homecoming. Many of you may have witnessed the Homecoming step in action when watching the media present a person who has recovered from the virus and is returning home. These people often return a changed person and their lives and the lives of those around them will never be the same. That’s what happens in the Homecoming stage. This is when you have conquered your demon and have received the treasures or gifts of your quest such as inner strength, wisdom and hope and you can begin to apply them in your life.
Which takes us to the last step or stage of the Hero’s Journey:
Recounting the Tale
This is an important time for you to share what you have learned on your journey with others. By sharing the journey with others, you will have come full circle and have completed the journey. And, by sharing the journey you will get a clearer perspective of what your next steps will be.
Knowing that this is the last step of the journey, I have just one question that I’d like to ask in closing.
What story do you want to tell about your experience during the COVID-19 crisis? Do you want to tell a story of a Hero or Heroine or that of a victim? It truly is a conscious choice.
I’d like to end with this quote written by J.R.R. Tolkien in the Lord of the Rings, a Hero’s Journey story, and am looking forward to any comments that you’d like to leave. I’d love to hear from you about your experience.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
— J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
Blessings on your journey,
P.S. One of my next steps on my own journey is to continue my work as a Psychologist in offering psychotherapy sessions online. If you are interested, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I will also continue offering online courses based on the Hero’s Journey and the Enneagram. I would love to help you make your life journey one of continued increase of happiness, fulfillment and satisfaction…More information can be found at: https:/lifepathmasters.pageable.com and on our website at https://lifepathmasters.com.