Once of the things I loved about living in the Bay Area all those years was being able to delve into a literal feast of creative and spiritual practices with incredibly talented and inspiring folks as my guides and fellow travelers.
One of the most transformational was ancient mythology and legends, and I was blessed to study with world class teachers such as Maureen Murdock and Martin Shaw, soaking up wisdom in living rooms in the city of San Francisco and in the coastal countryside of Pt Reyes.
This teachings came back to me when it was time to leave an emotionally and verbally abusive relationship and find my way not only back to happiness, but also to find my soul’s path.
I needed to embark on a heroines journey.
This is a close cousin to the heroes journey as famously mapped out by Joseph Campbell, but it has a twist. It reflects the soul growth of the feminine side of our psyche
Like the classic heroes journey the heroine’s journey starts with a crisis. With a loss of innocence. With a trauma that makes it impossible to go back to the way life was before.
This may be facing a crisis in finances or career, the end of a relationship or a gnawing sense that there must be something more?
The sign that it’s time to go on this journey could also be just a sense of flatness, a mild depression, the sense that life has lost the meaning it once had.
Your first instinct may be to blame yourself for this predicament, to assume you’ve done something terribly wrong. This is in line with the feminine energy that has a way of turning negative back in on itself.
Or perhaps you are tempted to fall into victim mode and bemoan that life has let you down.
What’s happening may seem like a punishment, like a meaningless misfortune. But in fact it’s an opportunity.
Ancient wisdom -encoded in myths and legends across a wide range of cultures- teaches that when we face these types of crises we are being initiated to a new, and higher, level of existence.
It’s not a punishment, but a turning point. If we take this as an opportunity to grow, our journey reveals soul gifts that we in turn share with our community.
By meeting the challenges we face with courage and a healthy dose of curiosity we create magic. This is the miracle of soul alchemy.
This is the invitation to adventure.
What is the Journey?
Many of you might recognize this as the heroes’ journey – as mapped out by Joseph Campbell in the 1940s, and more recently encoded in movies such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc.
The Heroine’s Journey that invites us to deepen into intuition and wisdom above all. There is less slaying of dragons, and more creating community and listing to the still small voice that tells us how to best heal our soul..
This journey has been mapped by writers and thinkers such as Maureen Murdock, who was my first creative writing teacher, as well as scholars such as Valerie Frankel.
There’s also no need to worry that any of this is about rolling back hard-won gains in equal opportunities for women.
The fact is that in a masculine oriented world most of us modern women already have taken the heroes journey as we earned degrees, traveled the world and started challenging careers.
The heroine’s journey is a different sort of call. It calls for an inner journey. One that often comes knocking in mid-life as we desire to come closer to who we are truly meant to be.
It calls us to take an internal journey in addition to the external journey, and it involves marrying the best of the masculine and feminine strengths.
Those who embark upon this journey do so in service of service of healing ourselves our families, and our communities.
It’s tempting to turn back on this journey, as it invites us to feel emotions we might have resisted up until this moment – including the darker ones. It’s also easy to assume that not much is happening. That this is stagnation instead of growth. It only appears this way because with this journey since we are often called to slow down and connect with our interior life through communing with nature, pursuing creative projects, or deepening spiritual practices.
It’s when we re-emerge from this time of quiet and introspection that we are able to feel the shift. We are now more integrated, able to act from our intuition. In touch with out soul.
In practical terms it means that:
- We aren’t so subject to burnout.
- Our relationships improve.
- We are in touch with our inner self.
- We are able to do the work we truly desire.
- We are able to start the next chapter from a place of wholeness.
It’s literally the wisdom of the ancient future.
Have you heard the call?