On Christmas morning, I went to hear Rev. Deborah Johnson speak about the (S)Heros Journey. Since this is a topic of great interest to me, and I find Rev. Deborah to be a gifted speaker, I knew I’d gain some knowledge.
The title of her talk was “Evolving From Hero’s Journey to the Christ Journey”. Now, the word “Christ” alone has a lot of charge for me. I grew up Catholic and for the most part, do not consider myself to be religious. So when I use the word Christ, I mean it in the same way that I use the word Goddess in that they are qualities that everyone has (yes, I believe men have a Goddess quality as well).
A Journey of the Ego
Stages 1 -11 of the The S/Heros Journey is what most of us are familiar with. It’s the basis of fairy-tales, folktales, mythology, and movies. The s/hero gets the call, goes out into the world, is given some sort of talisman, slays the dragon, and acquires that which s/he set out on the journey for in the first place.
But the s/heros journey doesn’t stop at stage 11. It continues into six more stages where the s/hero returns home. The return home is an adventure unto itself for several reasons. There may be a resistance to returning home or not knowing that one can return home. One could be exhausted and in need of guides to help in the return. Then once the return is made, there can be a challenge in integrating the newly acquired wisdom into a human life. Balancing your inner and outer world takes practice, and with time the s/hero is able to balance the material and spiritual world.
In essence, the s/heros journey has two phases. Phase one consists of stages 1-11. This is the journey that your Ego takes. Phase two consists of stages 12-17. This is the journey your spirit takes. To me it is the same as when I am learning a new concept in personal growth. I understand it in my head first and don’t quite know what to do with it. But when that information drops down into my heart, I understand it on a whole other level and am more able to incorporate it in my life.
Befriending the Dragon
Many of us live a life where our s/heros journey gets stuck at stage 11. We get caught in a loop of stages 1 – 11. When this happens, what you have is someone who knows how to fight and is ready to slay the next dragon (shadow). As we know, there will always be dragons (life’s difficulties), so given that this is the case, the s/hero’s battles are never-ending.
But if you decide to return home, and accept the help of guides, you can move into a life in balance with the material and spiritual world. When this happens, dragons no longer need to be slayed and there are no longer battles to be had. Instead the dragons (shadows) are embraced and befriended. Those unwanted parts of yourself are incorporated and you no longer fight with the world, but instead, dance and co-create with it. Sure, challenges still happen, but it no longer has the power it once had.
Self and No Self
This use to stump me. I’d go to counseling and learn that I need to have a stronger sense of self. Then I’d go to meditation and hear that there is no self. But Rev. D’s talk about emerging for the s/heros journey helped me to understand this much clearer.
In the first phase of the The S/Heros Journey, the ego is on the journey of self discovery. It is meeting its shadows and reacting to them. It is necessary that this happens. If it did not, then you would not know what your shadows were in the first place. It is in the transcendence from phase one to phase two of the s/heros journey that you can embrace your shadows. You move from believing that you need to “get rid of” parts of you to become healed, to understanding that those are the parts of you that need to be embraced in order to be whole.
An amazing thing happens when you do this. You begin to realize that you are not your issues, your job, your past relationships. or you bills. You begin to realize that you are a spiritual being having a human experience. The world around you becomes as a mirror, and you begin to understand, at the deepest level, that you are one with the world around you.