Myths: The hero’s journey


When I was young I was obsessed with myth and the analysis of myth and in particular the hero’s journey. I think the hero’s journey was coined by Joseph Campbell, and it is the theory that many myths follow a similar – the hero’s journey. The hero loses his family, is thrust into the world, finds a mentor, goes on a quest, loses his mentor, has some sort of challenge to prove his hero-ness wins and returns home with the spoils. 

I always wondered what was the woman’s hero journey? I read women who run with the wolves, and while I enjoyed it, for me it did not provide a woman’s journey. Where as men used will to create a path for themselves, women use the biological rhythms of life. There was no hero’s journey. 

I still think this. That there is no woman’s hero’s journey. And that is what will be created in this era of female emancipation, should it persist. My intuition says it has something to do with the crone, that where as the male’s hero’s journey begins in adolescence and ends as a man, the women’s hero’s journey beings at menopause. That is all I have because there is no map, there is no journey. 

Emma, from my creative thinkers group put this fantastic essay in the chat this week. It is a mythopoetic understanding of covid19, and has many thought provoking notions – about time, the upside down and more, I suggest you go read it. But, the essay also talks about Charlotte Du Cann, and the notion of a woman’s hero’s journey. 

Charlotte Du Cann does seem to think there is a hero’s journey, and that it is about returning to the earth. Cindarella looses her father is brought low as a scullery made and then is risen up to be the bride of the king. In Bluebeard, the princess can have anything as long as she does not enter one room. She enters the room and finds the carcasses of Bluebeard’s former wives.  These stories are a lomey knowledge, an earthy knowledge, of dirt and death. I dont believe this is the woman’s journey.  I believe these are myths to reinforce the patriarchy. But there is something there…

There is something of the women’s journey in this moment of Covid19. If the man is the will to power, the arrow, time, effort. What is woman? I think of space, effortlessness, space. Covid19 is the disease that makes us aware of space and dislocates time.  We configure space, space is a triangle, or a circle, or a sphere or a hypercube. Space exists, objects intersect. There is solidity. 

As the essay states perhaps we are in a liminal space between worlds. Perhaps the liminal space is the space itself, the space of the woman’s journey. The journey through the liminal space is the woman’s hero’s journey.  The liminal space is the space of Charon the ferryman of the river styx, of the psychopomp.  The liminal space is not about the individual but about the community, about people being ferried over.  Perhaps the story of Moses is the story of the liminal space. Unlike the hero in Jospeh Campbell, Moses in the dessert does not overcome anything, there is no glory, he is buried in an unmarked grave and unable to enter the land of milk and honey.  Because of his speech impediment Moses can only talk to God, it is Aaron that is the hero that communicates to the people and become the first Cohen (high priest). 

In Greece Achilles and Odysseus were both heros. Their characters different but the framework was similar. If we return to the beginning of that medium essay there is a distinction between kairos and chronos: Qualitative time and quantitative time. The liminal is qualitative time. A woman’s passage of time means something – it is tied to biology and nature, it is qualitative. 

The hero of quantitative time is man. The hero of qualitative time is woman. But you know there are two kinds of people in the world. Those that think there are two kinds of people and those who dont…