Your journey as the hero starts with The Call.
The call can start in your everyday life with a niggling feeling. Movies provide great examples. In Star Wars Luke Skywalker longs to leave the farm and be a Jedi knight like his father.
Or maybe your call started when something big happened. In the movie Erin Brockovich, Erin discovers a power company is polluting the city water supply.
Or maybe you accidentally stumble into something different and things changed. In Alice in Wonderland Alice fall into the rabbit hole.
We are constantly asked by others to do things. Our boss wants us to work longer hours. Our friends want to see more of us. Our children want their clothes ironed (!), our pets want to be fed. Sometimes it’s just too noisy to hear the Hero’s Journey kind of call. Sometimes it’s just not insistent enough, or not urgent enough or not important enough. Fortunately that’s not really a problem because the call doesn’t go away. But it does get more persistent. To make it easier to hear your Call, spend some time on your own, enjoying your own company or doing something you love to do.
Eventually you do answer and you meet your Mentor. The old saying “When the student is ready the teacher will come” reflects this stage of the Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell said “…you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you.” There is nothing for the hero to do, his mentor is on his way to open doors. So, who is your mentor? It need not be just one person. They may not be old. They may not have a perfect life, themselves. They are a helper, you always remain responsible for your own decisions, but they act a guide to the extraordinary world of your adventure.
Just in time too because at this point you may start to have some trouble with your Threshold Guardians. The threshold guardian is someone who either encourages the hero to carry on with the adventure, or someone who discourages the Hero! There can be a guardian who does both at different times! Or there can be a few different guardians. Like the three trolls under the bridge, they provide a no going back place – if the hero can get through their obstacles then he’s really on his way.
So, who is your Guardian? Is it a friend, “Don’t go changing on me, things are fine the way they are.” Or is it your child, “Go on Mum you can do it!”. Or is it faceless society, “What would people think?”. When you recognise your Guardians for what they are, they lose power over you, and you’re back on track.
By this time you are at the Threshold Crossing Point. This is the point where the hero takes the leap into the unknown. He makes a decision. He says Yes to the call and in so doing says Yes to the consequences. Then things are different. It’s as if the decision has flipped a switch and his world is altered. As you approach your crossing you will have accepted the call, at least in principal. You may still be dealing with your Threshold Guardian up to the moment of crossing. The actual Crossing the Threshold may be fleeting and only becomes obvious when you look back in time.
Once you cross the threshold you’re in the Extra-Ordinary World, and everything is different. The next stage is called Belly of the Whale. In honour of Jonah from the Bible. This is a place of darkness, where nothing seems familiar in the normal way and you may need to use other senses to “feel” your way around. This is where the hero has a rebirth into the new extraordinary world. As births are traumatic so too is this symbolic birth. This stage may feel very bleak and dark. There may be confusion and frustration. This is a transition from old to new. While the crossing of the threshold may have been fleeting and go almost unnoticed, this will be unmissable!
For you, this will be a time to take care of yourself. This is not a time for recriminations, it’s a time to practice calm and to be still. It doesn’t last forever, this too will pass. When it does pass you will be ready for the next stage of your adventure.
As you continue with the adventure there will be Test and Trials and Magic Helpers. The helpers will assist you in killing the Dragons! The Dragons are your fears.
Eventually you’re ready to collect the prize. The reason you have been travelling all this time is to gain something. Maybe like the Lion in The Wizard of Oz, you get courage and are able to speak up for yourself.
When it’s time to cross back over the Threshold you may not want to leave the Extra-Ordinary World. You may Refuse the Return and remain in the other world while living in this one, as a hermit or a contemplative.
Otherwise. you’re on your way home! Whatever method you use to return will bring you to Crossing Return Threshold. Here again a leap of faith is required – How can I return to ordinary life after all I have seen and done? At some point you do cross and become Master of Two Worlds where you have Freedom to Live and “be” in the world.