The path(s?) of the Hero

Who was Joseph Campbell? What is a myth? What does "Follow Your Bliss" mean? If you are new to the work of Joseph Campbell, this forum is a good place to start.

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consulxv
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Post by consulxv » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Greetings all,

After reading 'Hero with 1000 faces', I came away with one fairly fundamental question that my browsings across the internet have not been able to answer, and every time I go back to the book, in particular the summary chapter 'the Keys', it seems like either solution is possible. The question is this: Is the monomyth structure one linear whole, or is it a number of possibilities?

That is to say, is the series from 'Call to Adventure' to 'Freedom to live' strictly necessary? It seems like some of the sections outlined are only possible options - 'Declining the Call', most obviously, but 'Belly of the Whale' seems to be the path only for the Hero who must pass through some sort of explicit death/re-birth cycle, rather than the mere 'letting go' of the ego.

In the Departure, these things seem to be quite clearly optional, but in the Initiation and Return it is harder to tell.
It seems to me that Goddess/Marriage-Father Atonement-Apotheosis are options depending on the nature of the Hero him/herself (i.e. lacking feminine energy = marriage, lacking masculine energy = atonement). But if that is so, then Apotheosis seems to be unnecessary, since perfection of the Self is attained through the recovery of the balance through either Marriage or Atonement. Similarly, the Ultimate Boon seems to be another different path, only necessary in those cases when the Hero is either whole in him/herself or pursuing the Boon specifically for the aid of others (which only seems to fit in with the category 'bride-theft'/'fire-theft', as all the other paths, if paths they are, lead inward rather than to some object, however symbolic).

In the Return it is obvious that not every hero is a Master of the Two Worlds, for that involves some kind of preaching unto others, whereas most heroes tend to retire to their homes. Does this mean that they are not true heroes, or not 'ultra-heroes' on the level of Jesus or Buddha?

In the diagram Campbell presents (in the edition I have, at least) the stages of 'Marriage', 'Atonement', 'Apotheosis' and 'Theft' are listed as 1-4 at the same point (the bottom of the cycle), suggesting that only one can occur at this point, yet I have never heard anyone mentioning this and frequently people seem to try and squash in the Sacred Marriage with Father Atonement and Apotheosis. Am I being too strict in my reading when it seems that this is unnecessary? After all, every hero is different, suffering a different 'symbolic deficiency', so why would they need all these remedies if they are already whole in certain aspects? (It was reading the Section 'Apotheosis' that first threw me, because I could not see how it followed on from the 'Atonement with the Father'; making it a path independent from - but parallel to - the others seemed to make a lot more sense).

*Whew* glad I got all that out at last <IMG SRC="/forum/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif">
Any thoughts or answers to these points would be welcome.
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Martin_Weyers
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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Dear consulxv, you are raising a lot of interesting questions. I'm not able to address them all today, but will start with the first and central one:

On 2005-07-03 02:51, consulxv wrote:
The question is this: Is the monomyth structure one linear whole, or is it a number of possibilities?
You have already pointed out, that several of the stages may depend on the hero's nature and deficiencies (or the nature and deficiencies of the society or heritage the hero represents). On the other hand there would be no journey and no hero at all, if there wasn't a call, some sort of an underworld journey and a return.
In the Return it is obvious that not every hero is a Master of the Two Worlds, for that involves some kind of preaching unto others, whereas most heroes tend to retire to their homes. Does this mean that they are not true heroes, or not 'ultra-heroes' on the level of Jesus or Buddha?
Master of the two worlds does not necessarily mean that, after being returned, the hero has to preach from a pulpit. The hero's way of living may comprise some more subtile ways of inspiring others.

Looking at one of those charts, illustrating the hero's journey, I also get an idea, that the hero does not have to procede through the whole sequence following a predetermined order. Of course the call uses to happen before the return... On the other hand after being returned there may be another, graver call.

If we consider the archetypal personage, the hero meets on his journey, as personifications of different forces in the hero's psyche, we may look at the chart also as a cycle that represents different aspects of realization, rather than a strict schedule.

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Post by Joe the Dragon » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

consulxv,

Really interesting post. I've spent some time thinking about this same issue. My answer is certainly not definitive, because I'm no expert, but I can tell you what seems logical to me.

I read the heros journey (especially the initiation stages), as a single path with a variety of parrallel lanes. I think the diagram you are referring to does indeed suggest that the various initations described in that section of the book (marriage, atonement, apotheosis) are all equal options rather than linear progressions. I think it is a matter of "this, or this, or this" rather than "this, then this, then this."

And I know for certain there is a discussion in the book about variations in the myths themselves. Each myth will have a few of the elements described in each chapter, some may even have redundancies (i.e. an atonement, and an apotheosis), but Hero with a 1000 faces shows us some of the possibilities. In real live myths i think they are jumbled about and thrown together in all sorts of wierd combinations.

As I see it, the Hero's path as set out in the book is by no means a specific road map, but rather a hint as to a few of the landmarks we MIGHT see along the way.

IT occurs to me, this might not be very coherent. Its very late, and I'm very tired, but your post got my attention, and i wanted to respond while its not fresh in my mind. I hope that helps a bit.
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Post by consulxv » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Thanks for the feedback <IMG SRC="/forum/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif">
I think the question that most interests me is really what Apotheosis is; I know what it is in theory, but in Hero w/1000 Faces it doesn't seem to really fit. If it was the pinnacle of the Hero's journey, it might be understandable, but it is placed alongside Atonement/Marriage. If Atonement is re-balancing a lack of symbolic Masculine energy, and Marriage is re-balancing Feminine energy, then what's left? Campbell's chapter wasn't very clear on the matter, so far as I could understand it.
Am I missing something?
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