These last few steps of the Hero’s Journey are highly interwoven. So highly, in fact, that I had considered incorporating all of them into a single episode. However, I have chosen to not do so as that hasn’t been the pattern of this series.
As I’ve been saying throughout all of these Return Stage episodes, we rarely see these steps of the Hero’s Journey played out on the big screen and there are few reasons for that: the primary being, in my opinion, Christopher Vogler’s version of the Hero’s Journey as detailed in his book, The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers.
Many screenplay writers use Vogler’s template when developing their stories. While Vogler kept much of Campbell’s Hero’s Journey structure for the Departure and Initiation stages of the Journey, he cut the Return stage down to half the number of steps. He compresses Refusal of Return, The Magic Flight, Rescue from Without and The Crossing of the Return Threshold down to one step: Return with the Elixir.
What happens with this compression of story is the complete removal of Master of Two Worlds and Freedom to Live tends to be briefly hinted at. By removing these final two steps of the Hero’s Journey, one also depletes the importance of crossing this final, return threshold.
Which brings me to the other reason why we rarely see these Return stage steps of the Journey on the big screen.
Hello, Spiritual Seekers, and welcome to a brand new Hero’s Journey episode of Think Spiritual Podcasts. As always, I’m your host, Mark, and I have to admit that I am really happy to be presenting these final steps of the Hero’s Journey to you.
This series has been a long journey of its own and it’s a little hard to stay focused on it when I’m excited for the next series that I have planned. I don’t want to give away too much, but there is another Journey we can make applicable to our lives. The Hero’s Journey tends to be the Masculine route and I would like to explore the world of the Feminine further.
And let me specify that Masculine doesn’t equal Male and Feminine doesn’t equal Female.
Okay, that’s all for future episodes. For now we are still exploring the depths of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and how to make it applicable to one’s daily living. I really hope I’ve made that clear throughout this series.
Anyway, moving on:
I want you to tell me if you’ve heard this phrase before:
It’s not the destination, it’s the journey that matters.
I’m quite certain that you have heard it before or heard some variation of it or that you at least understand the sentiment of the statement. That sentiment is: while it’s important to attain goals and reach destinations, growth and change happen along the path towards that end result.
And this is largely true of the Hero’s Journey as well. We become the Heroes of our own lives while we journey. Becoming the Hero isn’t the end result. If anything, becoming the Hero is an interim stage before becoming your Best and Highest Self.
That is the true goal of the Hero’s Journey and if that’s the true goal, then is it true that only the journey matters?
What if the destination matters just as much as the journey?
You see, this is why I think we don’t often see these final Hero’s Journey stages in very many movies: because we’ve been conditioned into believing that goals and destinations signify the end of something.
It’s why fairy-tale characters live “happily-ever-after”. It’s why the Hero rescues his wife and/or children and everything goes back to “normal” with a few suggested or, even better, some obvious changes.
Hmmm, that actually reminds me of the movie Hook starring Robin Williams – which I really need to write a Deeper Meaning of Movies episode for. There’s a point near the end of the film where Peter Banning, aka Peter Pan, flies away from Neverland and he merely awakens in the street near the house he’s staying in – not really much of a Threshold moment, is it?
When he reunites with his family, Granny Wendy says to him, “So, your adventures are over,” and Peter replies with, “Oh no. To live. To live will be an awfully big adventure.”
You see, Peter chose to Cross that Return Threshold because he understood that the end of the Journey is only part of the truth.
We discovered in the Refusal of Return episode that we’re often afraid of the end of our Hero’s Journey. We don’t know who we’ll be or what we’ll become if we aren’t forever slaying dragons and making atonement with things that hold power over us.
And now, at this Return Threshold we’re about to cross, we can see the end of the Journey we’ve spent so long upon.
But let’s look beyond the end of this Journey today. How about we try a little meditation exercise.
Close your eyes and breathe. In your mind, I want you to turn and look back. Look back at who you were before your Hero’s Journey began. Look back on all you’ve achieved since then. Look back on the Hero that you’ve become during this time.
Pause the podcast here if you want to take some time to do this.
And now, look at where you are right now. Look at yourself as you stand on this Threshold between the Special World – the World of the Spirit – and the Normal World – the World of the Body. How do you feel? What are you feeling? Why are you feeling that way?
Pause the podcast again if you need some time.
Now look ahead. We have to remember that whenever something ends, the doors and windows are open to new opportunities. Something new can always begin. One journey has to end to make room for these new possibilities to take hold and create new change and growth.
So, now, keep looking ahead, but before something new begins, I want you to just enjoy the experiences you have had. As Herman Hesse put it in his book, Siddhartha, let this be a time of finding for you.
If we spend all of our time searching and journeying, when is the time of finding and resting?
Now think upon that time of finding and resting as you cross this Return Threshold and enter back into the Normal World.
Once again, pause the podcast if you would like some time to think on these things.
There, that was pretty easy, wasn’t it?
Wait, was that too easy?
Well, perhaps it was.
You see, in movies and stories and mythology there is always a clear and definite line between the Special World and the Normal World, but here in real life, there is no Threshold.
There never was one.
It’s all you.
And if you fully understand that it is all you, no matter if you’re swimming in the depths of your spirit or traversing the black forests of the body, then you truly have become a Master of Two Worlds.
But that, my Dear Listeners and Watchers, will have to wait for the next Hero’s Journey episode of Think Spiritual Podcasts.
Thank you very much for tuning in today. Please like, share, comment, criticize and subscribe if you have been enjoying this series.
Every little bit of encouragement you can give me helps me to keep looking forward to the next journeys we’ll be embarking upon on this channel.
I have been your host, Mark. This has been a talk about Step 15 of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey: The Crossing of the Return Threshold, and I know that if you choose to end your current journey, that you will find peace and many new opportunities will open themselves to you. Because you will always continue to be the Hero of your life and always continue to change your Self, because you are determined to cause great change in your world.
You have all the weapons and knowledge you need within you. I will see you on the next episode of Think Spiritual Podcasts.