The Hero Within


The hero's journey always begins with the call. One way or another, a guide must come to say, "Look, you're in Sleepy Land. Wake. Come on a trip. There's a whole aspect of your consciousness, your being, that's not been touched. So you're home at here? Well, there's not enough of you there." And so it starts.

The call is to leave a certain social situation, move into your own loneliness and find the jewel, the center that's impossible to find when you're socially engaged. You are thrown off-center, and when you are off center, it's time to go. This is the departure when the hero feels something has been lost and goes to find it. You are to cross the threshold into new life.

When one thinks of some reason for not going or has fear and remains in society because it's safe, the results are radically different from what happens when one follows the call. If you refuse to go, then you are someone else's servant. When this refusal of the call happens, there's a kind of drying up, a sense of life lost.

If what you are following, however, is your own true adventure, if it is something appropriate to your deep spiritual need or readiness, then magical guides will appear to help you. If you say, "Everyone's going on this trip this year, and I'm going too,” then no guides will appear. Your adventure has to be coming right out of your own interior. If you are ready for it, then doors will open where there were no doors before, and where there would not be doors for anyone else. And you must have courage. It's the call to adventure, which means there is no security, no rules.

When you cross the threshold, you are passing into the dark forest, taking a plunge into the sea, embarking on the night sea journey. It involves passing through clashing rocks, narrow gates, or the like, which represent yes and no, the pairs of opposites. There will be a moment when the walls of the world seem to open for a second, and you get an insight through. Jump then! Go! The gates will often close so fast that they take off the tail of your horse.

What this represents psychologically is the trip from the realm of conscious, rational intentions into the zone of those energies of the body that you are moving from another center: the center with which you are trying to get in touch.

As you now go towards the center, there will come more aids, as well as increasingly difficult trials. You have to give up more and more of what you're hanging onto. The final thing is a total giving up, a yielding all the way.

The deeper you go, and the closer you get to the final realization, the heavier the resistance. You are coming down to those areas that are the ones that are repressed, and it's that repression system that you have to pass through. And there, of course, is where magical aid is most required. The hero may here discover for the first time that there is everywhere a benign power supporting him in his superhuman passage.

~Joseph Campbell

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