Welcome to the Hero’s Journey library. We update and add articles regularly, so check back from time to time. The articles are grouped into five categories (with some titles overlapping):
The Hero’s Journey: Articles related directly to the hero’s journey pattern and process.
Joseph Campbell: Articles about Joseph Campbell and the monomyth, his model of the hero’s journey.
Teaching the Journey: Articles about teaching the hero’s journey and about specific books and films view from a hero’s journey perspective.
Psychology and the Journey: Articles about the hero’s journey as a psychological process and tool in counseling, therapy and personal development.
Philosophy and the Journey: Articles on philosophical themes related to the hero’s journey and its themes.
Your comments and feedback are always welcome.
ON COPYING: You are welcome to quote or link to my articles, but please do not copy or repost them (a copyright violation). If you would like a PDF copy to use for your classroom or work, just let me know.
The Hero’s Journey: Life’s Great Adventure – This is the original student text from our teacher’s guide discussing why we should study the hero’s journey and outlining its eight stages. (This article has been updated and expanded for new teacher’s guide.)
My Journey into the Journey – This article chronicles my (Reg Harris) forty-year exploration of the Hero’s Journey, beginning with Campbell’s mythological model and expanding into the psychology and philosophy of the journey experience and the neurobiology of the “narrative” brain.
Threshold Guardians (coming soon) – Threshold guardians are often seen as evil or repressive, but (like all archetypes) guardians have a polar nature. If we resist them, they challenge and fight us. If we embrace them and explore what they can teach us, they open the way to a journey of growth and enlightenment.
Rethinking Campbell: When Stages are not Stages – Joseph Campbell’s monomyth is the standard, virtually sacrosanct, model of the Hero’s Journey. However, Campbell himself said creating a single model of the journey process is virtually impossible. In “Rethinking Campbell,” I look at how Campbell’s 17 stages can be consolidated into a concise, practical eight-stage model.
Campbell’s “Other” Monomyth (coming soon) – Campbell’s monomyth is usually depicted in 17 stages or 12 stages (Vogler). However, Campbell’s own summary in The Hero with a Thousand Faces suggests a much more manageable six-stage model of the monomyth.
Teaching the Journey
A Myth to Live By – This introduction to the current edition of The Hero’s Journey: The Path of Transformation outlines the goals and philosophy of teaching the Hero’s Journey. It explains the role of the Hero’s Journey in education and life, and it proposes a new role for you as a mentor in your students’ journeys.
Beyond Censorship: Four Timely Themes In Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in 1953, but the book contains four themes which are as relevant today as they were more than 60 years ago.
“Bet it’s Not in the Simpsons” – This is a short description of an incident I had in class many years ago. I told the class that the Hero’s Journey or its elements was in virtually every story, no matter what its form. One student immediately challenged me, “I bet it’s not in the Simpsons.” Turns out he was wrong.
Fly Away Home – Finding hero’s journey stories with strong female characters can be challenging. This little film not only shows one girl’s journey, but it shows how our journeys are often interlinked with the journeys of others.
Illustrating the Journey – Exploring different ways of illustrating the journey process can give us insights into the journey pattern itself.
“The Soul’s High Adventure” — Introduction to the Current Edition: This introduction to The Path of Transformation, our comprehensive teacher’s guide, discusses the theory and goals behind teaching the Hero’s Journey, including using the Hero’s Journey as a bridge between literature and life and as a guide to help your students negotiate their own journeys.
The Journey and Brain-Based Teaching – Using the hero’s journey as a foundation for studying and analyzing literature and film finds solid support in research on brain-based teaching.
The Journey as a Learning Schema – Schema theory tells us that we learn best when we have a mental schema that we can use to understand and organize new information. The Hero’s Journey can become a powerful learning schema for studying literature, film and other forms of narrative.
Psychology of the Hero’s Journey
Attributing Outcomes: The Journey from Victim to Hero – Often the first step in the Hero’s Journey is learning to accept responsibility for our own lives. This article explores a concept called the “Locus of Control” and the process of building more effective, life-affirming meaning in our lives.
Gestalt’s Paradoxical Theory of Change – By far the most-read article on our site, this piece explores Gestalt psychology’s “Paradoxical Theory of Change” – that before we can become someone new, we must first become who we are – and its relationship to the Hero’s Journey process.
Making Meaning of our Journeys – One of the most important—but often neglected—parts of the hero’s journey is building meaning from the experience. This article explore how, to “story” experience, our journeys must include a stage for reflection and consolidation.
Ripening as a Hero’s Journey – In our culture we think of growth in quantifiable, measurable terms, but there is another kind of growth that is actually more important: the process of maturing. This article explores the concept of ripening as a Hero’s Journey.
Self-Realization – To “realize” something is to bring it into being, to make it real. Often our quest in the Hero’s Journey is to realize a dream or a potential, to make it manifest in our lives. This article explores the Hero’s Journey as a process of self-realization.
Philosophy and the Hero’s Journey
Hegel’s Dialectic – Hegel’s Dialectic—thesis, antithesis and synthesis—offers us valuable insights into the psychological processes that drive the Hero’s Journey. This article explores the strong parallels between the dialectic and the cycle of the journey.
The Hermeneutic Loop – Hermeneutics is the art or theory of interpreting text and other communication. The hermeneutic process is cyclic, often illustrated by the hermeneutic circle or loop. This article explores the hermeneutic loop as the foundation for the Hero’s Journey cycle.
Hsiang Sheng: Mutually Arising Opposites – Often our call to a journey comes when our lives have gotten out of balance, when we are focusing too much on one aspect of our existence to the exclusion of its complimentary or “mutually arising” opposite pole.
The Yin-Yang: Polarity and the Hero’s Journey – We are all familiar with the taijitu or Yin-Yang, the Taoist symbol for the unity and cyclic nature of all life. This article explores the meaning of the taijitu and the insights the Yin-Yang concept can give us into the Hero’s Journey.