THE QUESTING CONSCIOUSNESS
A quest to find the Incarnate God dwelling within you, to bring it forth and manifest it in your life and in the world…
This is the essence of every mythic quest, after all, and always has been. This is what Campbell explains in his most influential work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. There, Campbell draws on his vast knowledge of world mythology and folklore to reveal the common threads that bind all seemingly-disparate hero journeys into one single, recognizable “monomyth”: the Hero’s Journey.
It has found expression for thousands of years in a thousand different ways—from the Epic of Gilgamesh, to the Medieval search for the Holy Grail; from the classical wanderings of Odysseus and Aeneas, to the space adventures of Luke Skywalker and Frodo’s trek across Middle Earth.
The Quest itself has always been symbolic of something deeper, of the search for higher consciousness and deeper wisdom. Its images are the archetypal images of the psyche, and its successful completion marks one’s initiation into a new standing, a new identity with new powers and responsibilities. The hero has learned to wield the ancient magic, has met with the super-natural in the inner sanctum, and has returned with a new sense of self-understanding, giving him or her greater power to help others.
The “Hero’s Journey” is a kind of template, then—and one that anyone can follow. Its conventional stages are invitations to fill-in-the-blanks with our own life’s material, to make the journey for ourselves. Its formal progression provides a structure that teaches and challenges us, without ever dictating any hard-and-fast answers. As Campbell writes:
The whole sense of the ubiquitous myth of the hero’s passage is that it shall serve as a general pattern for men and women, wherever they may stand along the scale. Therefore it is formulated in the broadest terms. The individual has only to discover his own position with reference to this general human formula, and let it then assist him past his restricting walls. Who and where are his ogres? Those are the reflections of the unsolved enigmas of his own humanity. What are his ideals? Those are the symptoms of his gasp of life.
(The Hero with a Thousand Faces, p. 121)
Might this archetypal quest even serve us as a model for exploring our personal mythology? This blog, and the practices/prompts that follow, are based on the premise that it can. Using the archetypal outline of the Hero’s Journey, you will be guided through the conventional stages of the hero’s development as you set out on your own Quest—a quest for myth itself.
As you write your own version of this archetypal tale, one crucial Story in your personal mythology will reveal itself in the journeying. The quest for myth will complete itself in its unfolding, and, by the end, your journey will be completed when you hold in your hands one of your own mythic works. You’ll be the author of your Story, and, by the time you have returned home, you’ll know far more just what that really means.
Where you go from there will be up to you. You will be in a position to move forward with developing your personal mythology, having come into possession of some of its central symbols and images that reflect the divine in you.
Though first you must venture forth, into the Unknown, and find them. But don’t worry; the path of the Hero’s Journey is well-trodden, even if your own version has yet to take shape. As Campbell has so beautifully expressed it:
[W]e have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; and where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.
(The Hero with a Thousand Faces, p. 25)
You’re on the adventure of your life.