It only seemed right to follow up yesterday’s tarot based Fools Journey with Joseph Campbells Hero’s Journey.
The two are closely related, but I have to admit that I prefer The Fool’s Journey because it feels more intuitive, if that makes sense.
The Hero’s Journey is a plot formula first outlined by Joseph Campbell in “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” A number of popular epics including Star Wars and the Harry Potter series were plotted using this method that can even be found in The Illiad and The Odyssey.
1. The Call to Adventure
The hero begins in a situation of normality from which some information is received that acts as a call to head off into the unknown.
2. Refusal of the Call
Often when the call is given, the future hero first refuses to heed it. This may be from a sense of duty or obligation, fear, insecurity, a sense of inadequacy, or any of a range of reasons that work to hold the person in his current circumstances.
3. Meeting the Mentor
Once the hero has committed to the quest, consciously or unconsciously, his guide and magical helper appears or becomes known. More often than not, this supernatural mentor will present the hero with one or more talismans or artifacts that will aid him later in his quest.
3. Crossing the First Threshold
This is the point where the hero actually crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous realm where the rules and limits are unknown.
4. Belly of the Whale
The belly of the whale represents the final separation from the hero’s known world and self. By entering this stage, the person shows willingness to undergo a metamorphosis. When first entering the stage the hero may encounter a minor danger or set back.
5. The Road of Trials
The road of trials is a series of tests that the hero must undergo to begin the transformation. Often the hero fails one or more of these tests, which often occur in threes. Eventually, the hero will overcome these trials and move on to the next step.
6. The Meeting with the Goddess
This is where the hero gains items given to him that will help him in the future.
7. The Woman As Temptress
In this step, the hero faces those temptations, often of a physical or pleasurable nature, that may lead him to abandon or stray from his quest, which does not necessarily have to be represented by a woman. “Woman” is a metaphor for the physical or material temptations of life, since the hero-knight was often tempted by lust from his spiritual journey.
8. Atonement with the Father/Abyss
In this step, the hero must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in his life. In many myths and stories, this is the father or a father figure who has life and death power. This is the center point of the journey. All the previous steps have been moving into this place, all that follow will move out from it. Although this step is most frequently symbolized by an encounter with a male entity, it does not have to be a male; just someone or thing with incredible power.
This is the point of realization in which a greater understanding is achieved. Armed with this new knowledge and perception, the hero is resolved and ready for the more difficult part of the adventure.
10. The Ultimate Boon
The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the quest. It is what the hero went on the journey to get. All the previous steps serve to prepare and purify the hero for this step, since in many myths the boon is something transcendent like the elixir of life itself, or a plant that supplies immortality, or the holy grail.
11. Refusal of the Return
Having found bliss and enlightenment in the other world, the hero may not want to return to the ordinary world to bestow the boon onto his fellow man.
12. The Magic Flight
Sometimes the hero must escape with the boon if it is something that the gods have been jealously guarding. It can be just as adventurous and dangerous returning from the journey as it was to go on it.
13. Rescue from Without
Just as the hero may need guides and assistants to set out on the quest, often he or she must have powerful guides and rescuers to bring them back to everyday life, especially if the person has been wounded or weakened by the experience.
14. The Crossing of the Return Threshold
The trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into a human life, and then maybe figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world.
15. Master of Two Worlds
This step is usually represented by a transcendental hero like Jesus or Gautama Buddha. For a human hero, it may mean achieving a balance between the material and spiritual. The person has become comfortable and competent in both the inner and outer worlds.
16. Freedom to Live
Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is the freedom to live. This is sometimes referred to as living in the moment, neither anticipating the future nor regretting the past.
As you can see, The Hero’s Journey follows a three-act plot structure and I think it would be fairly well suited for an erotic novel with a suspense, thriller, or sci-fi subgenre—or any subgenre for that matter. It’s great for sweeping narratives, methinks.