The hero's Journey

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man." J. Campbell


Diego Oliverio

1/28/20239 min read

All classic fairy tales for children have similarities. They are essential for all children. Children can understand reality and its dynamics through fairy tales, so they are prepared for life's events. The hero's journey is the individual's story of discovering ourselves and the universe. A crisis leads him/her to find a new world. The hero faces many difficulties during his journey on the threshold of the two worlds. Monsters, traps, witches and dragons are the characters to be defeated in his voyage. But the journey's conclusion sees the hero emerge from the long adventure transformed, winning and much more potent. His journey is divided into multiple phases: departure, initiation, and return.


The call

The first step of the hero's journey is "the call". During our everyday life, something unpredictable occurs, and we begin to feel slightly different. It is the call to the unknown. For example, in the movie Pinocchio, his encounter with Fox and the Cat is symbolic. They are represented as poor scammers without morals, looking for pleasure with no responsibility. Their dialogues are banal, their movement scrambled and weak, their intention is malevolent, and their inner strength is non-existent. For Pinocchio is the beginning of a painful and, at the same time, the awakening path toward the unknown. For us, encountering unpleasant situations or people is always the first step toward the unknown.

Refusal of the Call

The hero refuses to listen to the message of the world. Perhaps he has multiple explanations for not attending to his destiny, fear, a sense of inadequacy, guilt, scepticism, or circumstance in life that block him/her, but the intensity of the call increases. His life becomes meaningless, and the negative consequences grow. "All he can do is create new problems for himself and await the gradual approach of his disintegration". In the movie Pinocchio, he refuses the call and decides not to listen to his cricket - his conscience - and the fairytale. Consequently, Pinocchio faces a bigger problem in the Amusement park, where he is almost transformed into a donkey to be enslaved; this is the Pinocchio pathway of destruction. When life says something to us, we must act urgently to step away from hell.

Supernatural Aid

The hero decides o take responsibility for his quest. Sometimes he is unaware of his commitment and makes an unconscious. Despite his manner to move forward, a supernatural mentor will help the Hero "on the threshold passages, and life awakenings, with protective power, is always and ever-present within or just behind the unfamiliar features of the world." Sometimes, with an amulet or magical object in his quest. In Greek mythology, Perseo had to fight Medusa. A monster that, with her gaze, petrified people. Athena, greek goodness, gave Perseo a shield to reflect Medusa's gaze and avoid looking at her directly in her eyes. So, when we decide to take responsibility, the universe, in many different forms, helps us in our journey.

The Crossing of the First Threshold
After this point, the rules and limits will disappear. It is the realm of the unknown, the dark place. "Beyond them is darkness, the unknown, and danger; just as beyond the parental watch is a danger to the infant and beyond the protection of his society danger to the members of the tribe." In Hasel and Gretel, after the parents abandon them in the dark forest. They cross the threshold of the known and transit below the line of the horizon. We find ourselves in similar situations when something unpredictable will occur. The external event, our reaction and internal experience are new and, often, terrifying.

Belly of the whale

The belly of the whale is the last stage of the departure. The hero is willing to explore the complex realm of the underworld and his metamorphosis. The danger during his journey will progressively increase. "The disappearance corresponds to the passing of a worshiper into the temple-where he is to be quickened by the recollection of who and what he is, namely dust and ashes unless immortal". Sometimes, people realize a powerful force has hurt them, and they decide to dedicate their lives to finding the truth in the monastery. Crossing the monastery's door is accepting the encounter with the spirit of depth. When we cannot decode a problem or overcome difficulties, and we pass the threshold, we seek help from a priest, a therapist, a spiritual teacher or other figures. That is when we begin to enter the belly of the whale and integrate the mystery unknown. We grow. We suffer, but we grow.


The road of trials.

The transformation of the hero begins. He needs to face multiple challenges and tests to complete his transformation. "Once having traversed the threshold, the hero moves in a dream landscape of curiously fluid, ambiguous forms, where he must survive a succession of trials." The hero fails to overcome many difficulties, which will cause pain and loss of hope, but he has been aided with advice, amulets, and secret agents before his superhuman passage. For example, Aladin remained blocked in the cave while trying to bring the jewellery. After spending days in the cave, Aladin was desperate. He rubbed his hand to keep himself warm; a dazzling light flashed, and a genie appeared. It is the same for us; when we are in a desperate state, if we pay close attention to our reality, a sign from the universe will come to us-a person, an object or an event that will redirect our destiny.

The meeting with Goddess

The hero receives an object that will help him in the journey. It is the encounter with the feminine, the Queen Goddess of the World. The hero completes himself, and the queen becomes alive. "The meeting with the goddess (who is incarnate in every woman) is the final test of the talent of the hero to win the boon of love (charity: amor fati), which is life itself enjoyed as the encasement of eternity." In Sleeping Beauty, the kiss of the prince awakens the princess. The prince is the masculine element indispensable to the feminine for her completeness, just as the female body, the matter, the eros, or mother nature is essential for the invisible male force to be manifest. In life, when we have suffered, if we do not fall into depression - motionless in bed. Or into narcissism - with delusions of grandiosity that refuse eros. We have conquered a balance between the masculine and the feminine force. In the Bhagavad Gita, Prakriti (spirit), the masculine power, is united with Purusha (matter), the feminine element, but due to Karma (life's event), people lose their balance. So, practising Yoga (union) in India is the pathway to reunifying the male and female forces.

Woman as the Temptress

In this case, the woman tempted the hero in the form of a physical or pleasurable nature that can lead the hero to abandon his quest. Here, she the metaphor of the material world. Represent the material, pleasing and lust that lead the hero away from his profound journey of transformation. "The seeker of the life beyond life must press beyond [the woman], surpass the temptations of her call, and soar to the immaculate ether beyond". For example, in the movie Simbad, while navigating to discover the "book of peace", he encounters the seductive female element in the form of water. These creatures are commanded by the devouring mother to distract him and his friends from their mission and make them fail. We are human beings; as such, we move from A to B. We need goals. Sometimes, when we decide to pursue a goal, family members or friends try to demotivate, block or stop us from pursuing our dream.

Atonement with the Father/Abyss"
Atonement consists in no more than the abandonment of that self-generated double monster-the dragon thought to be God (superego), and the dragon thought to be Sin (repressed id). But this requires abandoning the attachment to ego itself, which is difficult." Pinocchio throws himself into the ocean, not knowing where his father is, unable to swim, but he must save his father. The father lacks strength and power, qualities that are alive in the young Pinocchio. Pinocchio renounces himself and abandons the old laws of the superego and the survival instincts of his ID. With this gesture, Pinocchio reunites with his father, who is the ancient culture, bringing him to safety by losing his life to be reborn as a real child. When the laws that govern us are obsolete and oppress our primal instincts without being accepted, we must recreate new behaviour patterns in these moments.


The highest point in the development of something; is the culmination or conclusion of the hero's journey, a moment of realization. "Those who know, not only that the Everlasting lies in them, but that what they, and all things, really are is the Everlasting, dwell in the groves of the wish-fulfilling trees, drink the brew of immortality, and listen everywhere to the unheard music of eternal concord". The discovery of eternity and the eternal return. In the past life, all the events have already occurred; these understood stories lead us to inner calm and serenity moved by acceptance.

The ultimate boon

The hero achieves his goal, and his journey in the underworld is finished. In this stage, he discovered the long-life elixir, the treasure or the Philosopher's stone. He understood God and Goddess and the power of divine unification. The hero embodied and integrated them. "This is the miraculous energy of the thunderbolts of Zeus, Yahweh, and the Supreme Buddha, the fertility of the rain of Viracocha, the virtue announced by the bell rung in the Mass at the consecration, and the light of the ultimate illumination of the saint and sage". Having overcome dramatic moments and having survived leads to permanent change. The metamorphosis is integrated and incorporated to be available to us forever. This new behaviour will be the source from which we can drink when needed.


Refusal to return

Blessing and enlightenment touch the hero, and he resists returning to the ordinary world. But even if he, through the grace of some divine male or female, human or animal personification, has been illightened, the adventurer must still return to the kingdom of humanity. Even Gautama Buddha, after the experience of Nirvana, doubts that it could be passed on for the benefit of all living beings. These experiences are experiences of blessing and union. Only some poets can describe them, but not everyone can understand or live them.

The Magic Flight

If the hero has received magic items during his journey and accomplished the tasks given by the divine forces. Gods and goodness will allow him to bring the elixir of long life to his family and community for their benefit. Conversely, if the deities oppose the hero and his will to deliver the magical serum to the community, in this case, his return home will be filled with complex vicissitudes carried out by divine forces. Not Everyone loves us when we feel good. Sometimes, even when we are calm and peaceful with ourselves and others, some people try to hurt us. Despite so, if we are stable in ourselves, they don't get good results, and we keep flying.

Rescue from Without

After passing through dangerous realms, the hero was injured and fatigued. On his journey into the unconscious world, he has received the guidance and support of compelling characters. For the same reason, when he returns, he may need help in the ordinary world. The hero needs guides for the return to the human world. In the Upanishads, we read: "Who, having cast out the world, would wish to return again? He would be alone there". But life draws people into his presence. The love of people, and our love for some people, attracts us to them, and from them, we must go. We must rejoice, and with them, we can continue to dream.

The Crossing of the Return Threshold

The world profoundly impacts the hero's life upon his return. The hero must keep the wisdom gained during his transformation and research process and apply it to the life of the ordinary world. His task will be to maintain internal stability and share his knowledge and wisdom with the world. For the hero, the biggest problem is: what is the value of the futile events of life?" After being exposed to the magical depths of the unknown. "Why re-enter such a world? Why attempt to make plausible, or even interesting, to men and women consumed with passion, the experience of transcendental bliss?" Well! Compassion pushes the hero to return to the world and try to pass the message of eternity to the human. So, when a friend or family member is in pain, we do not let him suffer. We will continue trying to improve his life by exposing ourselves as much as possible.

Master of the Two Worlds
The hero has learned how to manage the two worlds and their union. The spiritual and material worlds, or the masculine and feminine forces, are differentiated but unified. The reborn hero comprehended how to master those infinite elements entangled forever at all levels of existence. The individual is transformed and can master life in all its manifestations, "through prolonged psychological disciplines, gives up completely all attachment to his personal limitations, idiosyncrasies, hopes and fears no longer resist the self-annihilation". Like the apostles in the gospel of Jesus, they dedicate their lives unreservedly to a higher purpose. They acted for the good of humanity as seekers of truth with sincerity, honesty and divine vigour. We have examples like Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Gandhi, Joan of Arc, and many others to inspire us. They are role models who act with a great sense of responsibility and joy.

Freedom to Live

The moment of the hero. "He does not mistake apparent changelessness in time for the permanence of Being, nor is he fearful of the next moment (or of the "other thing"), as destroying the permanent with its change". The past and the future are no longer the same. They belong to the present and its manifestations. Thoughts only become functional to the present currency; imagination becomes an element for creating a new future, and emotions become the strength to manifest fantasies. The hero's body and actions are the tools to build family, community and humanity's dreams.