A journey to discover yourself
The hero’s journey, a journey of self-discovery. “Life has no intrinsic meaning. It is up to us to give it meaning “
This phrase, pronounced by the scholar Joseph Campbell, one of the greatest experts in mythology and a great connoisseur of Jungian analytical psychology , contains a great and precious truth.
All of us in life are called to make a journey in stages. Through many experiences, strong emotions (be they very beautiful or very bad!) And quiet periods we move towards our realization as individuals.
In his most famous work, “The Hero of a Thousand Faces”, which has engaged him for twenty years, Campbell underlines the infinite similarities between the heroes of the mythological tales and the stories of each of us.
Let’s see better who is a hero according to the canonical definition: “a person who, due to exceptional virtues of courage or self-denial, imposes himself on everyone’s admiration”.
If we think of the stories we have read and studied, from the Odyssey to children’s fairy tales, passing through the famous Star Wars and Harry Potter sagas, we find a path that winds rather precisely.
The hero initially lives in an ordinary world, but is not happy. Cradle the desire to leave for an adventure , but infinite motivations push him to wait and maintain the status quo.
The hero becomes aware of another possibility, another way of living, working, etc …
It can come in many different ways: a meeting, an announcement, a contact. Now it is no longer possible to ignore the matter and the hero finds himself torn. He has had a vision and knows that things could be different.
Rejection of the call.
The hero is afraid. The call imposes to leave the old and known (perhaps unsatisfactory, but still known) for the unknown. Fear of failure and uncertainty can be so great that the call is rejected.
Meeting with a mentor.
Thanks to the meeting with a mentor, an ally who has already traveled a path similar to what we fear to undertake, the hero finds the courage and support to accept the call.
Cross the threshold.
Here begins the new path, the hero leaves behind what is familiar and known to take a new road, full of uncertainties and possibilities.
Trials, allies, enemies.
After taking the new path, the hero must understand what the rules of this path are. He must know and identify allies and be on guard against enemies he will encounter. By testing himself in new experiences he can learn a lot about himself and his vision of things.
Acquisition of new skills and teachings.
Doubts and frustrations will be experienced, the road taken with fear and enthusiasm could also prove to be very difficult. It is a period of strong growth and the skills learned will change the hero forever.
It is the “test” with a capital P. It may happen that the hero curses the path taken because this event for which he prepared himself from the first day can cost him a very high price. In the stories it is represented by the great battle, from the central battle to the whole story. In the life of all of us it can be an event that marks us and tries a lot, especially emotionally.
If the hero manages to stand the test, he gets a prize. It is the discovery of a treasure in the stories, which represents a new level of self-knowledge.
The return home.
The hero, after his adventure, prepares to return to the place from which he started.
The litmus test.
On the way back, the hero encounters a new ordeal. It is a test, where he is called to demonstrate that he has truly learned new skills that will lead him to face the situations he encounters in a new way.
The way back with the prize.
Once back to the starting point, the hero is no longer the same. Not everyone will understand it, but he has made a journey. This adventure took him to unknown territories and learned new skills and a new vision that will help him in his life.
A journey to self-discovery
Many, too many times, we fail to understand our path. We happen to feel at the mercy of events and we seem destined to always repeat the same script, as if there was only one possibility of making things go.
Yet if we went to look with a more accurate eye, we could see that the events were very different from each other and it was our way of dealing with them that produced a certain result.
This reflection makes us understand what are the common points for which we recognize and identify in certain types of stories. But above all, it can help us understand that, just like the heroes we met in mythology and stories, we are the protagonists of our life stories.
We face fears, doubts, uncertainties, but we also have the opportunity to discover new “treasures” and resources that are waiting to come to light.
“The Journey of the Hero is basically an Inner Journey,
a journey to depths where dark resistances are overcome
and long forgotten powers resurrect to be made available to the transfiguration of the world …
The perilous journey does not aim to conquer, but reconquest, not the discovery but the rediscovery.
The Hero is the symbol of that divine and redemptive image which is hidden within each of us and which is just waiting to be found and brought back to life “- J. Campbell