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The Hero’s Journey is the classic story of treasure, love, reward, honor, freedom, and survival. At its essence, the Hero’s Journey is about the process of transformation, maturity, and spiritual awakening. Whenever you choose growth over comfort, you take the first steps on the Hero’s Journey. This could look like breaking free of a destructive relationship, changing career paths, or making amends with someone.
This quest will ask you to fight your internal demons and gain a greater understanding of yourself. At the end of each journey, you will find yourself changed.
The Hero’s Journey begins in ordinary life. This first stage of the “The Status Quo” can feel like the days run together, indistinguishable, mundane, comfortably numb. It’s easy to not recognize this state of dullness until it’s taken from you.
The Status Quo represents the calm before the storm. It is the moment of rest. It’s needed, but If you stay too long, stagnation and decay will set in. This might look like working an unfulfilling job, being in a codependent relationship, or finding yourself filling your days with distractions to numb the boredom.
When this card appears, ask yourself what in your life feels comfortable and continual. What feels dull? Are there any nagging life questions you avoid? Look at how you are stepping into change or hiding from it.
The call to adventure can come like a whisper or a devastating earthquake. This stage of the journey is a problem or challenge you can no longer ignore. You know, deep down, that something has to shift.
The Call asks you to depart from the safe world and enter the unknown. Will you listen to the first whisper? If you don’t, then it will ultimately escalate to a clamor. Change doesn’t have to come from disaster, but it will eventually unless you take action. An example would be becoming disengaged at work. Being unproductive will ultimately get you fired. Finding a new job could add a new sense of vigor and purpose to your life. Eventually, you will have to leave the work you hate. The question is, will you do it proactively and with honorably.
At this stage, look to your center of gravity. When you give yourself to silence, what questions keep coming up that won’t go away? Is there something in your life, your personality, society, or community you would like to see change? What Archetypes could you work with to bring about this change?
The call to change can be daunting, and you might want to refuse the call. Many adventures end right here. They are the quests never taken, the change never realized, the books unwritten.
This refusal can lead to a dark reality—one of boredom, loss, and bleakness. The Hero can become trapped in decay instead of rising to the challenge. Refusing the call can lead to depression and loss of purpose.
However, many times the call eventually becomes irresistible. This can push even a reluctant hero forward. As hard as you try against it, you can find yourself pulled into an adventure. The unanswered Call to Change can split your life apart, and then there is never a way back to the Status Quo.
When you get this card, look towards what journeys you have refused. Ask yourself, how have you resisted change?
The Hero won’t find success alone. He is moving to uncharted territory and needs a guide. The Hero, consciously or unconsciously, will gather the aid he needs for his quest. This can be a mentor, picking up new skills, or assembling a team.
Asking for and accepting guidance is a hard lesson to learn. It’s one of the most critical tasks the hero will undertake, and it will directly affect the likelihood of success. The Hero should look towards others that have undergone and overcame similar challenges.
This stage can look like finding a mentor at work, working with a therapist, or taking an online course. Think of the different skill sets that might help you achieve your goal, and reach out for help.
The call to adventure has come, the characters are set, and now it’s the first step into the unknown. When the Hero crosses the threshold, they have committed to the adventure, and the process of transformation has begun.
The threshold can look external, such as losing a job, or internal, like stopping an addictive pattern. Crossing the Threshold is the moment you jumped off the cliff and start running towards it.
After crossing the threshold, you can try and turn back, but the forces of change are already in motion. Your old life will never seem the same. This is when you have agreed to face the consequences and deal with the challenges ahead.
When this card appears, look at the moments that have defined a radical change in your life. Or ask yourself, what commitments have you just entered? What commitment to change can you make that will change your life
The Hero has crossed the threshold into the unknown and encounters extraordinary challenges. The trials faced will test the Hero’s to the quest. During this stage, the Hero must learn to sink or swim.
Once you have committed to a change, you undergo regular tests of your resolve. This could look like friends trying to peer pressure you back into your old habits, a lover that won’t let you go, or the relentless practice needed to learn a new skill. This part of the adventure can be the most daunting. It can feel like there is no end in sight.
During this stage, you must remember the outcome. Whenever something pushes you down, get back up, and move forward. Each trial gets you closer to a lasting change that will better your life.
The Final Approach is the decisive test of character. The Hero sees the battle ahead and must face his fears and consciously advance into the abyss. It can seem like the calm before the storm. A moment of deafening quiet. This might make the Hero loose resolve. It can become an internal battle of determination and confidence.
This can lead to a crisis of identity. The Hero must believe in himself. He must think he is worthy and strong enough to face the Supreme Ordeal ahead.
Internally this stage asks you to look deep into the shadows of your being. Have you embodied the changes of your quest? Have you gathered the aid needed? If you believe in yourself, the change has already happened, the rest will unfold. If you don’t, you can feel lost in the final approach. Look to your goal and recommit, then take the step forward, knowing you will succeed.
The Supreme Ordeal is the moment of truth. It’s the final battle. The field can be physical or psychological.
This stage asks the Hero to use the skills and training he’s gained along the way. The Hero must source from within all his willpower. This is the point in which the hero earns the title of “Hero.”
Your life might not feel like it has epic battles or dragons to be slain, but you can face many different types of challenges. The Supreme Ordeal can look like your first time speaking to a crowd, breaking out of an abusive relationship, or going on your first solo campout. We face the Supreme Ordeal whenever we undertake a challenge that pushes what we thought was possible — doing something we couldn’t have imagined succeeding at. Realizing the subtle but heroic feats in our life can help us cultivate a belief in yourselves.
After succeeding in the quest, the Hero gains a great reward. It can be a physical treasure, but the most valuable bounty is internal. The Reward could be profound wisdom, self-confidence, healing the land, or protecting loved ones.
The Reward represents a significant shift in the Hero. He has gained something that will transform the rest of his life. The Hero can now return home with his great boon. The journey isn’t yet completed, but the change has taken root.
When in this stage of the journey, look towards your successes. It’s easy to forget to celebrate your accomplishments and just move to the next challenge. Take a moment to look at your victories. Appreciate the art project you have finished, honor the value of your intimate relationships, and take the time to enjoy what you gained from your hard work.
The road home brings the Hero back to the ordinary world. If the Hero hasn’t fully reconciled with the challenges of his quest, the troubles might pursue. The Hero should take heed to make amends or tie up any loose ends before resting home. Otherwise, dangers might follow.
There can be a sense of loss on the return home. The Hero might not be able to return to such magic lands, or ever be able to describe to his loved ones what he experienced. Some tools that served the Hero along the road might also have to be left behind. It can be a moment of reckoning and adjustment back to the ordinary world.
This stage can feel like the sadness of moving to another city, knowing you can never come back. Or trying to settle back into the stress of normal life after traveling abroad. It can be a strange transition.
When you find yourself in this stage, ask yourself what has changed. How will you be able to take what you learned back to everyday life? Is there anything you should leave behind that helped you succeed at your goal? What obstacles might be between you and integrating this change?
The quest for change can leave scars on the soul. For the Hero to fully come back from the journey, he must be purified. He has experienced significant loss along his quest and must be reborn.
The process of resurrection is internal. When you undergo a great change, old patterns might no longer work for you. An example would be coming home from traveling and realizing some of your friends were unhealthy and needing to reinvent your social circle without them. Stand true to the new version of yourself, and eventually, others will see the changes in you.
Ask yourself how you viewed yourself before this quest, and how has it changed. If you hold onto your old identity, you will never incorporate the skills you acquired along the journey. If you don’t allow your identity to be Resurrected, you will be domed to undergo the same trials over.
After returning home, the hero undergoes the great challenge of Integration. The Hero has been profoundly changed and needs time to let it settle. The Hero has learned new skills, made new friends, faced enemies, survived dangers, and now enters a new life phase.
This is the last stage of the journey, but the most important. It’s the long work of bringing these changes into daily life. This can entail creating new supportive routines, letting go of old friends, and different social habits.
If you don’t incorporate the changes in your identity, you are doomed to repeat the challenges you already faced. An example would be coming back from rehab and being back on your couch where you spent many nights drinking. You’ve broken free of the cycle, but now you need to do the hard work of stopping yourself from regressing.
Your friends and family might still have an older picture of who you are. Give them time to see you’re a different person. This will only happen with time, and you continually demonstrate how you have changed.
When this card appears, look at the lessons you have learned. Have you given the time to integrate the changes? What would support you in implementing this change into daily life? How could you help others along their path?