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(108) Llwytgoch



The hero’s journey is often presented—most famously by Joseph Campbell—as a metaphor for life. You can find innumerable websites that offer an inspirational picture or “life plan” to match the hero’s journey; and such approaches will characterise the journey, the cycle, in this way: you leave home to go to university, start a career, progress in the career, and, in the end, return to your “village” with a boon—a discovery or completed project. Along the way you will meet helpers “office mentor” and opponents “rival team at work”—and you use their guidance and/or opposition to reach “the boon”.


You will never get the benefit. The hero’s journey is real: you have to leave the village and go out into the wilderness—like Jesus with his forty days and nights in the desert—and confront whatever lies “out there”. The hero’s journey is more similar to what I did in my little expeditions to Hartsfell and the Rollright Stones (without claiming to be “a hero”—I didn’t spend 40 days and nights alone in the Scottish highlands, and God knows what I’d come back as if I did that; or, indeed, if I would survive temptation by the devil). Put another way, someone who goes on an Outward Bound course for a week is closer to the “hero’s journey” than someone who works through university and gets their career started and then sees an accomplished project as “the boon”.


So the hero’s journey has to involve contact with nature, you have to really be “out there”—university, offices, and hobbies constitute “the village”; in your progression through these activities you might be on a metaphorical “hero’s journey”, but it’s not the real thing. As Christ said, you may have to cut off your family, friends, and associates to really follow this path—to really “leave the village”. Hence the hero’s journey is no light matter. As with Christ himself, the benefits from a metaphorical understanding are limited—don’t crucify yourself.

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