I Found The Hero I Was Looking For

Deb Maes - Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Joseph Campbell, in “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” said,

“Often in actual life, and not infrequently in the myths and popular tales, we encounter the dull case of the call unanswered; for it is always possible to turn the ear to other interests. Refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative. Walled in boredom, hard work, or ‘culture,’ the subject loses the power of significant affirmative action and becomes a victim to be saved.”

“WHEN the hero-quest has been accomplished, through penetration to the source, or through the grace of some male or female, human or animal, personification, the adventurer still must return with his life-transmuting trophy. The full round, the norm of the monomyth, requires that the hero shall now begin the labor of bringing the runes of wisdom, the Golden Fleece, or his sleeping princess, back into the kingdom of humanity, where the boon may redound to the renewing of the community, the nation, the planet, or the ten thousand worlds. But the responsibility has been frequently refused. Even the Buddha, after his triumph, doubted whether the message of realization could be communicated, and saints are reported to have passed away while in the supernal ecstasy. Numerous indeed are the heroes fabled to have taken up residence forever in the blessed isle of the unaging Goddess of Immortal Being.”

Joseph Campbell looked at the charters that show up again and again in the myths and legends and in our own structure – the way we’re built as human beings – in our dreams – in our psychology.

In many cultures, across the eons, the ‘Hero’ shows up consistently in stories.   The ‘Hero’ is not the only important character in stories.  However, when the ‘Hero’ does appear, the structure of his join follows the same process:

(except from the original text)…

The following has been taken from Youtube clip:


and Christopher Volger’s Writer Journey.

Phase 1: An uncomfortable moment – in the ordinary world.

We almost always start with a hero who is some environment where they know something is wrong and something has got to be done.

An example: The Matrix – Neo wakes up, goes to work resistant

Neo’s boss: “you have a problem with authority, don’t you Mr Anderson”

Phase 2: A call to adventure.

Something becomes clear … YOU must do something.

An example: The Matrix – Neo gets the call to go out of the building, along the window ledge.

Another example: Star Wars – R2D2 plays the recording that the galaxy is in danger. “This is our most hopeless hour.  Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You are my only hope”.

And yet another example: Harry Porter – letters come flooding in the fireplace, calling him.

Phase 3: Refusal of the call, learning the Truth & Gaining a Special Item

Refusing the call

The hero says, “No”.  Really, it is the fear comes up.  Everyone has a fear of change.  That is what it really is about.

An example: The Matrix – Neo is out on the ledge, but he decides not to go forward.  He is too scared.

Another example: Harry Potter – “I’m a what”?
Rubeus Hagrid, “A wizard.  And a thumping good one at that, once you train up a little”.

Harry, “No.  You have made a mistake”.

And yet another example: Star Wars – Luke, “I’m not going to Alderaan.  I’ve got to get home.  I’m late as it is”.

Obi-Wan, “I need her help Luke.  She needs your help.  I’m getting too old for this sort of thing”.

Learning the truth

An example: Star Wars – Luke finds out about his heritage.

“No. My father didn’t fight in the wars.  He was a navigator in the spice freighter”.

Obi-Wan, “That’s what your Uncle told you”.

“How did my father die”?

Another example: Harry Potter – discovers about his parents.

Harry to a friend, “You knew!  You knew all along and you never told me! You told me my parents died in a car crash”!

Rubeus Hagrid, “A car crash”?

Gaining a special Item

An example: Star Wars – Obi-Wan, “I have something here for you” …and gives the light-phaser. “An elegant weapon for a more civilised age”.

Another example: Harry Potter receives a tow thousand-year-old wand.

And yet another example: Lord of the rings – Frodo of the Shire is given a sword made by the elves. “The blade glows blue when orcs are close”.

Phase 4: Over-coming the fear and Meeting the Mentor.

An example:  The Matrix – Neo meets Morpheus

Phase 5: Crossing the Threshold.

Almost every story has a threshold, where you get that feeling – all the prep is over – all the packing is done, and now we are really setting out on the adventure.

An example: The Matrix – All are inside the matrix, standing waiting for the phone to ring, Morpheus, “We’re in”.

Phase 6: Tests, Allies and Enemies.

Here the Hero begins to explore with this new world, to find out what is really true, who is on their side, what can I eat, what can you eat and picks up some lessons.

An example: The Matrix – a young person in mental training says, “do not try to bend the spoon.  That is impossible”.

Another example: The Lord of the Rings – Frodo is invited by the Elven Princess, “will you look into the mirror”?

Frodo asks, “what will I see”?

The Elven Princess, “Even the wisest cannot tell, for the mirror shows many things”.

And yet another example: Harry Potter – In class, “In this room, you shall discover if you possess the ‘sight’”.

Phase 7: Approach and the Inner Cave.

Here the Hero is deeply into the new terrain and getting ready to face the big one – the big question or the big battle or struggle in that world.  The moment of preparation and rehearsal for that is going on.

Phase 8: The ordeal

The Hero must go through some severe test. That may involve facing death.

Phase 9: The Reward

If you survive, there is a pay-off.  The guy gets the girl. The heroes are acknowledged, or prized by the object of their affection. But, whatever has happened, there is a moment of celebration.

An example: Harry Potter – “Gryffindor wins the house cup”.

Phase 10: The Road Back

The Hero now must collect them self and start the finish.  Often there is a chase.

An example: The Matrix – Neo’s girlfriend asks, “what is he doing”?

Morpheus, “he is beginning to believe”.

Phase 11: The Resurrection – Return to Life

The hero must face one more time – in a more final way – at a bigger scale and a deeper level. So, they are really being tested about everything they have learned on the way.

Phase 12: Return with the Elixir

The elixir is sort of a magic thing that brings back life into the culture.

So, the idea is that the hero must go on a journey and learn some things AND bring something back, otherwise it is a waste of time.

NOW… to you the reader…

the most important question- the ‘Meta-message’ – who is the hero you are looking for? Is it actually you? You did get that, didn’t YOU?