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“Man wearing a hat and backpack hikes away from the camera in green grass, toward mountains” by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

How To Follow The Hero’s Journey

Joseph Campbell — ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces.’

Harry J. Stead
May 10, 2018 · 6 min read

“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”

Joseph Campbell understood that to begin on the path of the hero’s journey you must follow your heart.

In today’s sophisticated and scientific world, such advice seems heresy and peculiar however, it is quite possibly the most important piece of information you are ever likely to hear.

The hero’s journey, as told by Campbell, is answering the call for adventure. Everybody at some stage in his or her life feels a calling for adventure.

This call is something one feels within their intuition.

It is not something that will present itself with written information and facts that will convince you to undertake the endeavour.

Instead, it will be a strange sensation within you, guiding you towards a particular decision.

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“A person's feet in sneakers on a railroad track” by Redd Angelo on Unsplash

This chosen decision is often illogical, it may even be unthinkable, but no matter how easy it is to think yourself away from the calling, it will still be within you.

The call to adventure is:

“a forest, a kingdom underground, beneath the waves, or above the sky, a secret island, lofty mountaintop, or profound dream state; but it is always a place of strangely fluid and polymorphous beings, unimaginable torments, super human deeds, and impossible delight. The hero can go forth of his own volition to accomplish the adventure, as did Theseus when he arrived in his father’s city, Athens, and heard the horrible history of the Minotaur; or he may be carried or sent abroad by some benign or malignant agent as was Odysseus, driven about the Mediterranean by the winds of the angered god, Poseidon. The adventure may begin as a mere blunder… or still again, one may be only casually strolling when some passing phenomenon catches the wandering eye and lures one away from the frequented paths of man. Examples might be multiplied, ad infinitum, from every corner of the world.”

It takes courage to come out of your mind and into your body. Education in Britain teaches children what to think and not how to think. People’s minds have become overstimulated with information and opinions that do not belong to them.

This information is cold and lifeless and cannot produce the creativity we desire. Because it is by sensations with which we experience the world, the body, warm and alive, should be our guiding light in deciding our actions.

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.”

The majority of people never answer the call for adventure. It is too difficult, too daunting, and too uncomfortable.

The future hero refuses to accept the call because of this. The uncertainty of the journey preys on the hero’s insecurity, fear and obligation.

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However, Campbell argues that you can never be at peace with yourself if you do not answer the call for adventure. Instead, he states you can only build up resentment in the knowledge that you missed the opportunity to pursue your purpose. You live life only ever able to create new problems for yourself.

“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

By following someone else’s advice, you also follow their footsteps, denying yourself the chance to put your foot forward and create your own path. Campbell writes that living life knowing you have been faithful to yourself is the only way to be truly at peace.

The Hero’s Journey is a testing path to follow.

One must overcome fear and cross the threshold into the unknown world. Often, something will try to prevent you from crossing the threshold. This could be parents, friends or responsibilities. You have to overcome this if you are to continue the journey.

After experiencing the unknown world, you find yourself in the Belly of the Whale where you are absorbed into the unknown.

It is the here where you move away from the known world and search within yourself. It is a point of no return for you have accepted your future.

You are aware of the mysterious dangers, but they no longer possess you as they once did. There is a willingness to change, to follow your heart and you have acknowledged the danger as a matter of fact that you cannot control.

The Hero must now overcome a series of trials and tribulations. These tests will require patience and mental toughness.

These battles target upon the hero’s fears, worries, or doubts. A belief in yourself and a trust in your intuition will allow you to push forward.

After each trial, the Hero gains new knowledge and wisdom to prepare him/her for the next trial. Eventually, after many trying years, the hero will achieve what they went on the journey to get.

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“A man wearing jeans and a backpack walking down a trail through the Muir Woods” by Caleb Jones on Unsplash

However, the journey is not finished as the hero must return to the original world and share what he has experienced.

For most people their purpose will not be to change the world in one way or another. It will be whatever the fire within directs them towards. Whether that is to become a builder, a painter or a bank clerk, the heart will guide everyone to whatever they are supposed to be. For the majority of people, their purpose will be to share love, compassion and enthusiasm to the wider world.

It is not for society to judge a man’s journey but, rather, it is for the man himself to lead a fulfilling life and become the man or woman he/she was supposed to be.

The hero’s journey is an interesting concept. Popular culture has used the cycle of the Hero’s Journey as a framework for many books and movies. George Lucas based his Star Wars series from Campbell’s book.

This is because the hero’s journey makes for special and fascinating stories. The joys and the struggles that the hero must go through are unique to the individual. No two hearts are the same and so no two journeys are the same.

There are many versions of the Hero’s Journey and even Campbell’s version is broad and open to interpretation. However, I think everyone can take something from his words and use it to navigate a great path for themselves.

The chief message is to follow your intuition for it will lead you on a great and uncertain journey. Embrace the unknown rather than fear it.

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”

There is a spotify playlist that contains 48 hours of Campbell’s lectures. It is called ‘The Awesome Mystery Of Being’. It is a brilliant listen and I would suggest it to anyone interested.

Thank you for reading!


Click below to read ‘Why You Should Cherish The Power Of Solitude’

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