“We can’t possibly know the Why and the When of our individual awakening or timeline for our Self Realization. But meanwhile, we can know in our core that what we are experiencing is exactly perfect for the moment. It is our Gift, for our self, and for others close to us. Whether it’s an illness, or a great loss; whether we are soaring to great heights, or bumping along rock-bottom, we can trust that this particular phase is exactly on course. It is our part to play for the moment, and it serves Everyone, and all of Life.”
In my first blog entry of June 9, 20ll, I began the exploration of the Hero’s Journey, an idea based on myth, made popular by Joseph Campbell, but a process being experienced by thousands at this time in human history. As I said at the end of the last entry: “To try to explain Joseph Campbell’s “herojourney” in simple terms is perhaps folly at best, but I can only say that I wish someone could have presented the fundamental idea of the monomyth to me much earlier in life. And so, I hope that the short, simplified and “laymen’s terms” summary that follows, based on Joseph Campbell’s work, can supply a sort of context with which you might make sense of your present circumstances, as well as provide a platform on which you can stand, newly aware that you are among Great company on this well-worn path….” Let’s begin! In this blog, we explore the First Stage.
First Stage: Separation
Departure, also referred to as the Separation stage, begins the Hero’s Journey, this journey of nothing less than complete metamorphosis.
The Hero, immersed in the mundane, glimpses something he or she has never before known – as if a veil lifted for a moment – and now, having been privy to another reality, the Hero is deeply moved to pursue a Higher Calling.
This “Call to Adventure” is usually represented as an obvious Event taking place, as if “destiny has summoned the hero and transferred (their) spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of (their) society to a zone unknown,” writes Campbell.
“Refusal of The Call” is the next possible occurrence, due to fear, or doubt in one’s abilities, or a sense of duty, or obligation to worldly affairs – any number of reasons that may result in holding the person in their current situation, along with the attempt to ignore the Event (usually resulting in things seeming to get a whole lot worse). But should the Hero accept the Adventure, a messenger, or guide is encountered. This herald, or guide, usually helps to point the way, encouraging the Hero to enter into the Adventure, and staying with the Hero throughout the journey, although this guide, or mentor can only guide – the Hero must face the unknown, applying the skills and wisdom they will acquire along the way.
A “first threshold” is then encountered, representing the transition into the world of Adventure. A sense of danger as well as opportunity is present. The Hero is tested, which enables the Hero to become aware of what has been blocking his or her growth. Perhaps the Hero has come to this very brink many times before – the First Threshold experience allows the Hero to finally see clearly what has been holding him or her back. (Awareness, as they say, is the first step!)
The Hero is now brought into a sphere of the Unknown, and must explore this unfamiliar territory.
Sometimes a phase of waiting is symbolized in myth here, represented as the dark, quiet of the womb, or the “Belly of the Whale”, as Campbell called it. Through researching countless cultural myths, he found that this waiting phase in the deep, dark “unknown” was often represented as follows:
“By entering this stage, the person shows willingness to undergo a metamorphosis… The hero, instead of conquering or conciliating the power of the threshold, is swallowed into the unknown and would appear to have died… Instead of passing outward, beyond the confines of the visible world,the hero goes inward, to be born again.”
This brief exploration of the First Stage of the Hero’s Journey may be a familiar one to many of you. And perhaps, and especially, this “waiting” phase. I believe that this phase is where many of the “masters” who have walked before us found themselves, for sometimes long periods of time…
Which is why it’s important to remember that we are part of a much larger process, and we can’t possibly “know” the Why and the When of our individual awakening or timeline for our Self Realization. But meanwhile, we can know in our core that what we are experiencing is exactly perfect for the moment. It is our Gift, for our self, and for others close to us. Whether it’s an illness, or a great loss; whether we are soaring to great heights, or bumping along rock-bottom, we can trust that this particular phase is exactly on course. It is our part to play for the moment, and it serves Everyone, and all of Life.
I leave you with this verse, and a kiss of light for your cheek, until next week’s blog when we look at the Second Stage of the Hero’s Journey, an ever-deeper, longer and richer exploration. Love, Em
The Best Dancers
Maybe God keeps me here like this
to stumble a little.
If I were to suddenly just
turn into light
blinding myself even
to the most precious and necessary illusions
then what hand could hold my own?
Where would rest a weary head?
What good use for warm hearts;
for hot tears?
Why eyes to see?
Why arms to open?
Which Lovefamily to fall into?
Oh, the best dancers know
‘The Best Dancers’ – Em Claire ©2007 All Rights Reserved