Rethinking Campbell: Dissecting the Monomyth

Differentiating Stage Levels within the Monomyth

The table below categorizes the 17 stages of Campbell’s monomyth by breaking them into four levels:

1. Fundamental: experiences found in every journey and which fundamentally change the hero,
2. Subordinate: experiences which change the hero, but which are not found in every journey and are usually contingencies within the larger, fundamental stages,
3. Conditions: Conditions or qualities the hero develops by having successfully completed a stage or stages,
4. Benefits: Items the hero gains during a given stage.

Call to AdventureFUNDAMENTAL: Every journey has a Call. The Call creates the journey by awakening the hero to a limitation, contradiction or shift in himself or his world. The Call motivates him to take action and resolve the situation.
Refusal of the CallSubordinate: While an important element in the Hero's Journey theme, not all heroes refuse the Call. (Note: The Call Refused creates a separate, "shadow" journey. It should not be confused with normal threshold resistance.)
Supernatural AidBenefit: Supernatural Aid is a benefit, not an experience, so it is not a stage.
The First ThresholdFUNDAMENTAL: All journeys contain a threshold between the known and the unknown, and all heroes must cross it. This is a critical stage because it throws up resistance (symbolized by the Threshold Guardian) which forces the hero to make a decision and a commitment.
Belly of the WhaleSubordinate: This can be an important stage if the hero cannot resolve the threshold resistance, but many heroes resolve this resistance and enter the journey without need of the whale.
Road of TrialsFUNDAMENTAL: The Road is a part of every journey. The challenges and temptations in this stage remake the hero and prepare him or her for later stages.
Meeting with the GoddessFUNDAMENTAL/Subordinate: While the Meeting with the Goddess is a part of every journey, it (along with Temptress and Atonement) compose a larger stage, the Abyss/Nadir.
Woman as TemptressSubordinate: Not all heroes meet the Woman as Temptress. Only those who have been insufficiently prepared by the Road of Trails will have to undergo this stage.
Atonement with the FatherFUNDAMENTAL/Subordinate: Atonement is part of every journey; however, it joins Goddess and Temptress to form the death-and-rebirth stage, the Abyss/Nadir.
ApotheosisFUNDAMENTAL: The Apotheosis is part of every journey. It represents the period of rest, reflection and consolidation (pulling the journey experience together into new meaning) that follows the Abyss and precedes the Return.
Ultimate BoonBenefit: The Ultimate Boon, whether physical, emotional or psychological, is a benefit, a reward for successfully finishing the journey. It is not a stage.
Refusal of the ReturnSubordinate: Refusal of the Return, like refusing the Call, is a possibility at the Return Threshold. It is not part of every journey because not every hero refuses the Return.
Magic FlightSubordinate: Magic Flight is a mythological stage. It is not really part of the transformative process, nor is it present in every journey.
Rescue from WithoutSubordinate: Rescue from Without does not figure in every journey, so it is not fundamental. It may occur in some real-life journeys, such as a soldier who returns from combat and needs help reintegrating with his or her community, but it is not a fundamental stage.
The Return ThresholdFUNDAMENTAL: In every journey, the Hero must cross the Return Threshold, whether that threshold is physical or psychological, so this stage is fundamental.
Master of the Two WorldsCondition: Being the Master of the Two Worlds, the everyday and the transcendent, is not a stage, but a condition one achieves in the Return.
Freedom to LifeCondition: As with the Master of the Two Worlds, Freedom to Live is not a stage, but a condition: an enhanced perspective that allows one to accept all life's experiences, good and bad, with equanimity.