The Hero Cycle as Rites of Passage

water-1759703__340
The Return is a significant stage of achievement in a Hero Cycle adventure, marking the hero as ‘bringing home’ the strengths and wisdom s/he has attained through facing life’s arduous challenges and fulfilling their Quest. As the Hero returns, s/he benefits all Life and the family and community s/he serves more selflessly after having individuated as a mature, dynamic Self.

sunlight-166733__340

But there is more to the story. Keep in mind that the Hero Cycle represents the mythic structure of a Rites of Passage ordeal which the individual (or group) undergoes to bring about a transformation of his/her/their Identity or to rebalance a situation tending toward decline. The three phases of a complete Rites of Passage cycle include rites of Separation, Transition, and Reintegration. These three universal phases of Rites of Passage cycles are mirrored in the three primary stages of a Hero Cycle adventure: Departure, Fulfillment, and Return.

The Return phase of a Hero’s Adventure involves a Reintegration back into the web of relations, roles, and aspirations of the hero’s Home Base; yet the hero returns to bring bounty to the Whole from having achieved individuation as a powerful, more loving and self-actualizing Self.

aec-1782427__340

images are from pixabay.com

Reintegration means rejoining a community you had departed from in order to gain maturity and to refine your talents. You rejoin this community with a higher order of Identity, from which you can better serve the growth potentials of the Whole.

Thus when Dorothy returns to Oz as a Self-integrated, mature Person, somehow we know that Toto is going to be okay. Dorothy brings back with her the integrated strengths of Courage, Heart, and Wisdom that she had lacked, and in this more aware, empowered Self she expresses the ultimate realization:

“There’s No Place Like Home!”

There’s No Place Like Home!

duck-2824378__340

The completion of a Hero Cycle adventure brings the traveler Home. The hero returns to their point of origin yet it is not the same place, because the hero is a changed person from before their adventure began.  S/he has come into her own strengths and gained maturity from having overcome the obstacles and ordeals inherent in the adventure of living. Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With 1000 Faces aptly notes that what the hero returns with are strengths not only for that individual but as well for the good of the whole.

“The presence of a vital person vitalizes,” says Campbell in his film documentary with Bill Moyers called “The Hero’s Adventure.”  This is the whole point on one level of the Hero Cycle: persons depart from their too comfortable environments to challenge themselves, to strengthen their whole assemblage of archetypal sub-selves; in Jung’s terms to “individuate” by integrating and developing the full range of their individually focused human capacities.

tourist-2641575__340

The Prodigal Son is a big picture or covering myth that expresses a fundamental unity of most religions: Soul departs from Its divine origin to experience life in the worlds of duality, so It can eventually face the weaknesses of the human consciousness. From encountering ordeals and learning the value of divine love, eventually Soul surrenders human passions of the ego and recovers awareness of Its Divine nature; then It can return to the Godhead to assume a greater responsibility to Life Itself with a fully spiritualized consciousness. In a way, all of human experience can be thought of as subsumed under this greater mythic motif that permeates our lives, at least from a spiritual perspective. (BTW by mythic I do not mean a false narrative but rather a vital tale of profound scope and consequence!)

relaxing-1979674__340

One of my favorite movies with a slight comic twist of the Prodigal Son/ Daughter theme is Defending Your Life with Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep.  Daniel and Julia, two recently deceased individuals, find themselves–and meet each other– in the afterworld purgatory city called Judgment City, amid a thriving throng of others recently deceased.  They are assigned attorney angels to represent them at a trial before a panel of judges, whose verdict will determine whether the defendant Soul will need yet to reincarnate or they can “go on” to higher planes.

auction-2891804__340

Daniel and Julia fall in love. Julia (Meryl Streep) is a shoe-in for transcending to higher planes as she is a bright, heroic sort already. Her trial lawyer shows images of her having soared through her previous life: rushing into a burning house to bring out children, then going back in to bring out a cat! Daniel, on the other hand, has a more challenging trial. His lawyer–played by Rip Torn as a rather querulous defense attorney—shows images from Daniel’s his former life that reveal how he often came up short when it came to taking risks; so it becomes very likely Daniel will need to return to earth to finesse his character a bit more. I won’t give away the ending, but you might imagine what Daniel could do to in order move on with Julia.

Defending Your Life conveys important messages about the Hero Cycle and particularly regarding the Return. WHY ARE YOU HERE? What sorts of challenging experiences recur again and again in your life as if to teach you well? What are you here to learn as your most vital life lessons?

aec-1782427__340

images are from pixabay.com

Have you learned your specific lesson(s) well enough yet? How might you take your lesson one step further? Another way of asking this is:

WHAT ARE YOU HERE TO GIVE?

What could bring YOU Home from your ordeals, for the good of the Whole?

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

The Sacred Marriage

 

wedding-2506868__340

This month let’s focus on the stage of the Hero’s Cycle known as the Sacred Marriage.    To Joseph Campbell, drawing from Jung, this is that stage by which the masculine and feminine energies of the Hero are merged, allowing the Hero to go forth as a more integrated Whole Self as s/he continues to pursue their Quest.

wedding-photo-2490158__340

To Jung more directly, this is a union of the Animus and Anima and brings about a major transformation of character.  If it represents the actual goal of the individual, it can even be seen as an alchemical achievement of the highest magnitude: Mysterium Conjunctionus!   Masculine + feminine (both energies coexisting within both men and women), or Soul + Spirit, or even Earth + Heaven/ Human + Divine: this is the apex of integrated unity, gold out of lead.

circle-971475__340

While the Sacred Marriage is often depicted via an actual Marriage of two characters, ultimately it is an internal achievement, as the individual attains a balance within of their animus and anima traits. Because of this, it can occur within anyone as a solo accomplishment or it could manifest as a relationship union.

Integration or even fusion as the Sacred Marriage represents is a significant spiritual development for it allows the Self to emerge as fully formed, as an expression of Soul.

ballet-534357__340

images are from pixabay.com

A CONTEMPLATION AND JOURNALING PROMPT:

Can you relate to the topic of the Sacred Marriage?

Do you feel you have achieved this INTERNALLY, whether or not you are partnered with your spouse or a significant other?

If so, what does this open up for you in terms of pursuing your greater goals? If not, how shall you achieve this; again, internally?

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

When Your Dream Becomes a Nightmare? Adapt!

nutshell-2122627__340

June brings our new monthly theme at Better Endings for Your Life Path (see Monthly Topics); the next stage as we proceed forward with the Hero Cycle process is:  TRIALS AND REVELATIONS.

I can certainly relate right now at this juncture in my own life’s journey.  This past month, while blogging here about “Descent into the Belly of the Whale,” I sank into a deep contemplation one day while sitting in the center of an outdoor stone labyrinth. I asked my Inner Guide:

“What is it you/Spirit would ask me to improve upon or change as I proceed forward into the next phase of my journey?”

I received a clear answer:

“Adaptability”

glowing-1884274__340

This answer has lingered in my consciousness.  Adaptability is certainly an important TOOL for me to employ as I approach retirement next summer and the release of my book, Your Life Path, next March.

A few days ago, I had a breakthrough with regard to adaptability. I have been conceiving of one and only one destination for retirement.  Yet when I visited that location through the month of March into April, I encountered a terrifying series of ordeals in the form of an invasion of my very body (and my dog’s and car) by parasitic insects. It took six weeks and a heavy load of new credit debt to clear that scourge, and I find myself left with PTSD around these ‘bug issues’ that I am still working on. When I think of that truly wonderful location, it now brings forth a sense of dread: how could I ever feel entirely safe were I to live there? I know this is not rational yet it is deeply entrenched.

dream-catcher-2199258__340

images are from pixabay.com

So I have been thinking about today’s topic: What Can You Do When Your Dream Becomes a Nightmare?

My answer is clear: ADAPT!

With Life Path Mapping, I always encourage people to remain FLEXIBLE and OPEN TO CHANGE. Future life mapping is not about setting a specific location or job or relationship as a necessary or fixed destination. It is about  projecting your VALUES forward into a future set of conditions that will fulfill your sense of purpose, mission, and life satisfaction.

So I took out a map to see where else could I go to satisfy my interests in a retirement community: closer to family, a vibrant community, a lake.  And I found an amazing location I have known of but had not realized how near it is to where I have wanted to be anyway.  I have a new location focus now.

Adaptation rocks!

dragonfly-452754__340

I welcome YOUR Comments and Stories.

 

Liminality: The Betwixt and Between

moon-2245798__480

Why is it that after a hero has crossed the initial threshold of adventure, there is always a descent to undergo before the adventure can be pursued to the point of true fulfillment? An adventure story worth its salt, so to speak,—fictional or yours—is first and foremost a Rite of Passage.

Anthropologists recognize that a complete Rites of Passage/ Hero Cycle adventure occurs over three ritual or Hero Cycle stages. The adventure proceeds from:

(Stage 1)  Separation–whereby the hero(es) remove themselves from their normal state of affairs in order to pursue a personally meaningful and collectively beneficial Quest–; to

 (Stage 2) the Transition Zone–wherein they meet themselves and encounter obstacles in the form of trials and tribulations–; to

(Stage 3, when or if the Quest is successfully fulfilled), their Return and Reincorporation–whereby the more mature and better individuated Self benefits others as well as themselves from their positive transformation of values and the maturity they have brought back from their ritual passage.

beyond-2184946__480

The Transition Zone (Stage Two of a complete Rites of Passage/ Hero Cycle odyssey) is where a Descent—sometimes metaphorically depicted as being swallowed up or in the Belly of the Whale—must occur in order for the Quester(s) to develop and strengthen their depth of character quite literally, as in what Jung would call a more integrated and thereby a better balanced unconscious-with-conscious Self. 

In the Transition Zone of a Rites of Passage cycle, the Quester encounters liminality: the experience of feeling as if they are “betwixt and between” normal spheres of reality or society.  As both Victor Turner and Anthony Wallace have described rites of passage, this sense of liminality—whether for an individual or sometimes for an entire society when a revitalization movement occurs—places the person (or social group) in an experience of marginality. They are no longer in the status or role they had before embarking on their adventure, yet they have not yet accomplished or fulfilled their quest whereby they could claim a new, greater role or their successful social-psychological adjustment. I love Anthony Wallace’s description of this (when successfully achieved) process as a Mazeway Resynthesis: a psychological/cognitive reorganization of values and behavior according to an adjustive, fulfilling new Vision of (individual and/or cultural) reality as a whole!

hiker-918473__480

images are from pixabay.com

Here are just a few examples of popular literary/ fictional stories that include prominent LIMINAL ZONE sub-plots or scenes:

Harry Potter: especially in his feelings of isolation from even his closest allies and in his nightmarish dreams of Voldemort from episodes 4-7;

Lord of the Rings: in Frodo’s passage, with Samway and the devious trickster Gollum as companions in liminality, to Mordor to destroy the One Ring in Return of the King;

The Wizard of Oz: e.g. in the Forbidden Forest, the Poppy Fields, and the Wicked Witch’s castle; and

The Bucket List: in the main characters’ unsuccessful outer quest to climb Mt. Everest,  during which they come to realize the true value of love and family.

What about you in your own unique LIFE STORY? Can you identify with a time in your life when you have experienced (or have yet to) LIMINALITY?  I invite you to journal about this experience or prospect. What did or have you to GAIN?

I welcome your Comments and Story!

 

 

A New Year of Better Endings

stock-photo-landscape-of-guilin-li-river-and-karst-mountains-located-near-yangshuo-county-guilin-city-324673247

Endings are new beginnings; I love the fresh breath of freedom released with this awareness.  With this new year, preparing for that launch today, I will expand this blog tremendously and infuse it with lots of new energy and purpose. This year should see the publication of my life mapping book and manual, Your Life Path. As the release date nears I will add more information about that.  Our central content material for this new year will focus on twelve (of 17) monthly phases of what Joseph Campbell presented as ‘the MONOMYTH’ in his famous volume on comparative and personal mythology which I am sure many of you readers are familiar with, The Hero With 1000 Faces (HWTF; 1949).

ithaca

The MONOMYTH (diagrammed above from HWTF) is generally referred to as THE HERO CYCLE or as THE HERO’s ADVENTURE. Now then, as the Hero is Everyman/Everywoman; it is YOU!  We are each of us on a mythic Odyssey from the cradle to the grave, and Beyond. We all must heed the Call to Adventure and may expect to encounter Threshold Guardians that aim to waylay our Quest. Then when we do Take the Journey we face internalized or mirrored external Dragons, Shadowy archetypal aspects that can inhibit our deepest ambitions unless we slay (or, tame) them.  We seek truth and to fully express our creative imagination, to accomplish our goals that each of our unique skillsets and talents equip us to Manifest for the benefit of the larger Whole.

butterfly-1057768__480

images are from pixabay.com

When I teach a course about Your Mythic Life, I always open the class with a poem. It is the well known “Ithaca”, composed by the modern Greek poet C.P. Cavafy. I have found my favorite version, translated by Rae Dalvin, posted on the Poem of the Day blog (https://ninaalvarez.net/2007/05/03/poem-of-the-day-49/), so I gratefully re-post the poem “Ithaca” below. Read it carefully, for it is an invocation to You, a Call to Adventure.  That will  be our first topic for the new year

Ithaca

When you start on your journey to Ithaca,
then pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
Do not fear the Lestrygonians
and the Cyclopes and the angry Poseidon.
You will never meet such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your body and your spirit.
You will never meet the Lestrygonians,
the Cyclopes and the fierce Poseidon,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not raise them up before you.

Then pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many,
that you will enter ports seen for the first time
with such pleasure, with such joy!
Stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and corals, amber and ebony,
and pleasurable perfumes of all kinds,
buy as many pleasurable perfumes as you can;
visit hosts of Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from those who have knowledge.

Always keep Ithaca fixed in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for long years;
and even to anchor at the isle when you are old,
rich with all that you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would never have taken the road.
But she has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not defrauded you.
With the great wisdom you have gained, with so much experience,
you must surely have understood by then what Ithacas mean.

-K. P. Kavafis (C. P. Cavafy), translation by Rae Dalven

Homeward Bound: Your Epic Journey

Snail Shell

Have you thought about why it is that so many of the best adventure stories or epic quests end where they begin: at Home?  Homer’s Odysseus takes ten years to get home to his wife and son in Ithaca following his participation in the Peloponnesian wars. Dorothy’s whole purpose once in Oz is to return to her family farm in Kansas where Auntie Em will be anxiously awaiting her return.

home-vector_fkexllP_

Home is where the heart is, we say, so that even our everyday adventures at the workplace or venturing forth for groceries can become itself a mini Hero Cycle that is ultimately Homeward Bound.  And every time a baseball player steps up to the plate for his or her turn at bat? You’ve got it: the Goal is to make it back around to Home Base via the arduous adventure through three challenging turning points guarded by the Basemen who stand ready to waylay the hapless voyager.

Viking Ship

So, why Home? Wouldn’t it make more sense for an adventure tale to be about going somewhere other than back to where the story began? Do Frodo or Bilbo Baggins really need to get back to the Shire in order for their epic saga to feel complete, their quests fulfilled? For that matter, what then does the final scene in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings add to this epic cycle when Bilbo and Frodo actually leave with Gandalf on the elvish vessel to cross the great waters, never again to return to the Shire? What’s that about? Yes, even on a grander scale: Going HOME!

Buddhist temple Borobudur

So, where is this mythical, mystical spiritual Home to which all good heroes—like you and me—ultimately are destined to Return?  Call it what you like: your Shangri-La, Ithaca, or Xanadu; all are metaphors for where we are all really headed with our journeys from the cradle to the grave, and Beyond.  Life is ultimately uncontainable; our conscious Spirit moves us inevitably onward to transcendent Reality beyond this pale plane of material illusions and temporal diversions. Home is a realm beyond places in spacetime where we have never really left; we are always Here-Now! Our projected journey ends where it begins because it is not really about going anywhere at all but rather, it is about remembering who we ARE and what our Source, IS.

golden-heart-background-1013tm-pic-482

Are You on a Comic, Tragic, or an Episodic Adventure?

269-buildings

After over a decade of coaching people from a wide range of backgrounds to compose Life Maps that represent their Life Chapters and Life Themes, I find there are three basic narrative GENRES people might use to reconstruct their Life Stories.  Two overarching genres for Life Stories are “Epic Adventure” and “Episodic Adventure,” and within the Epic Adventure category, Life Stories might be represented either as Comic or as Tragic.  Comic Life Story narratives arrive at a state of balance or successful survival or resolution from the point of view of the Present (they do not have to be “funny”).  Tragic Life Story tales represent unresolved turmoil from a dramatic sequence of situations continuing into the Present. Episodic Life Story narratives—associated with a “picaresque” hero—represent a person’s life history not as a dramatic narrative sequence so much as simply a string of situations or event phases that are not necessarily meaningfully connected to one another.

dussehara_110005883-012814-int

These three LIFE STORY GENRES, of course, have recognizable frameworks from mythology and literature.  Homer’s The Odyssey, with its heroic Odysseus/Ulysses, is a Comic Epic Adventure, as are J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and the film version of The Wizard of Oz.  Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex unfolds a Tragic story cycle.  Cervantes’ Don Quixote depicts the picaresque or Episodic adventures of a “man of La Mancha” who serendipitously wends his way through a series of unrelated mishap adventures which have a mix of tragic and comic outcomes along the way.

dussehara_110005884-012814-int

You can see which LIFE STORY GENRE you currently tend to use in thinking about your own life simply by reading across the sequence of Life Chapter titles you would use to label the meaningful phases—or Life Chapters–of your own life history. Life Chapters can be identified by considering those phases of your experience that have occurred between your most pivotal, Turning Point events. (I invite you to use last week’s Life Mapping Tool for discovering your Life Chapters in order to reconstruct your own Life Story, before proceeding.)

280-ancient-ship-with-dolphins--vector-illustration-1113tm-v1

Now then, what sort of Life Story tale does your sequence of Life Chapters relate? Here are a few examples:

Comic Epic Adventure:

Innocence — Turmoil — Enlightenment

Tragic Epic Adventure:

Striking Out — Meeting Obstacles —  Over The Rainbow —  No Pot of Gold

Episodic Adventure:

Chicago — College Years —  Arizona —  Now

7c295891d5a0726ffeeedb6

So then, what does your Life Story Genre reflect about the sort of Threshold Experience outlook you currently hold? (See last Friday’s post about being a Threshold Dweller based on reconstructing your Life Story to Now.) How might your Comic/Tragic/or Episodic Life Story influence where you perceive yourself to be “at” in life, or where you appear to be “headed”? I invite you to journal and/or to talk about and/or actively contemplate your perspective about the impact of your reconstructed Life Story genre on your life choices and attitudes.

******   ******

Reblogged from Theresa at Soul Gatherings:

colors

One often meets their destiny on the way to somewhere else.

At first glance, it may appear too hard.
Look again…..always look again.”

~ Mary Ann Radmacher ~
__________________________

I welcome your Comments, Insights and Stories that you might wish to share with other life mappers. – Linda