The Hero’s Journey

Last Updated on June 24, 2022 by Jason Harris

Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey

I’ve previously discussed “The Hero’s Journey” briefly on this site HERE. In fact, this entire website is based on this concept, though I have never written extensively about the details of how Joseph Campbell describes this. I just encountered the cartoon diagram above and really like it.

“The Hero’s Journey” is a concept Joseph Campbell researched and talked about extensively. In this pattern the heroine moves out from the world she is familiar with to an unfamiliar world. The “unknown.” There are typically mentors along the way. She acquires new skills and abilities and eventually hits a point of deep despair where it seems all is about to be lost. At this point, she experiences a death of sorts with a rebirth, is changed or exalted, finally overcomes the challenge (the biggest of which were usually the challenges within) and is then able to return home and be a benefit to her friends and family with the newfound abilities, wisdom, etc. This pattern forms the backbone of most of the major myths and stories of the world.

I believe the “Heroine’s/Hero’s Journey” also forms the backbone of many of our life experiences. I believe the myths and stories of the world are in fact subconscious representations of our human experiences.

What is the Hero’s Journey?

We all mentally occupy the world as WE understand it. Which is always a MUCH smaller portion of what the world actually is and what reality actually is. There is far more each of us DON’T know, far more perspectives we DON’T understand, far more experiences we HAVEN’T had than what we have had. This is obvious because none of us are omnipotent or omniscient. It’s just not possible to know more than what we don’t yet know.

As we grow and develop in life, there is a constant pattern, if we accept the invitation, of venturing into the unknown, into a world that we don’t yet fully know… learning things we didn’t know before. This can happen on a very minor scale, such as when we learn a new skill at home or work, or on a much more major scale such as when we experience a major life event such as a faith transition, marriage, divorce, having children, death of a family member, a major change in career, etc.

Life constantly invites us to venture into the unknown. The promise is in doing so we can emerge strengthened, a “Hero” or “Heroine.”

Life constantly invites us to venture into the unknown. The promise is in doing so we can emerge strengthened, a “Hero” or “Heroine.” There is no other way to learn and to grow but to venture into the unknown. The death of old paradigms, perspectives and ways of being. The birth of new ones. Sometimes modified from the old. Sometimes completely new. Rebirth or Resurrection.

The journey to becoming the Heroine/Hero we have the potential to be ALWAYS resides through this path as far as I can tell.

The Hero’s Journey Requires Faith, Repentance and Rebirth

The first steps of that journey ALWAYS require faith because we are stepping into the unknown and there is always uncertainty in the unknown. As we venture into the unknown, we will subsequently make mistakes and learn, and modify. Repentance. As we do this, the old ways of being we have die (or are modified) and portions of us are subsequently reborn into something different. Rebirth or Resurrection.

I believe the first principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as taught by the Mormon Church, namely Faith, Repentance, Baptism by water and by Fire (Rebirth) are metaphorical and ritualistic representations of this growth process. I believe it is this growth process itself that is Sacred and Divine MUCH more than any symbols, words or rituals used to represent it. A development and maturation into higher ways of seeing and being.

Many cultures and religions of the world have different ways of symbolically and ritualistically representing the Hero’s/Heroine’s Journey.

Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.

John 3:3, KJV

Jason Harris lived as an orthodox Mormon for forty years. He writes about his experiences leaving the Mormon Church and reconstructing a new World-View. He believes all religions and scripture are man-made, potentially helpful and harmful. He believes there is Divinity in all of them and everywhere.