The Hero's Journey

Much of what we do at Explorer X is largely based on the work of Joseph Campbell. Campbell (1904–1987) was an American writer, mythologist, cultural anthropologist, and teacher who was best known for his work in comparative mythology and religion. Throughout his life and career, Campbell explored thousands of stories told over the course of human history, across cultures and religions. In his first book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Campbell identified a thematic process of personal and communal transformation that permeated all of these stories that he called 'The Hero's Journey.' He described it this way:

"A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder (where) fabulous forces are encountered and a decisive victory is won; the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man."

Campbell described the Hero's Journey as occurring in a cycle consisting of three phases: The Departure, where the hero leaves the comfortable and familiar world and ventures into the darkness of the unknown; The  Initiation, where the hero is subjected to a series of tests in which s/he must prove their true character; and The Return, in which the hero brings the boon of their quest back for the benefit of not only their own life but to help save the community and often times the world.

More than anything, the Hero's Journey is about growth and passage. The journey requires a separation from the comfortable, known world, and an initiation into a new level of awareness, skill, and responsibility, and then a return home. Each stage of the journey must be passed successfully if the initiate is to become a Hero. To turn back at any stage is to reject the need to grow and mature.