Make your own free website on

Joseph Campbell's Hero Pattern
Detailed Description


Detailed Description
Related Links
Other Stuff
New Page Title

And here we go...

OK, first before I start it may be easier to SEE the representation a little better than some can read it. I found this picture at:
if you want a larger one.

The Hero's Journey

OK, got it yet? No? Well then, here is what most of the words on the chart mean:

1) Departure = separation from the world of humans

  • The Call to Adventure
  • Refusal of the Call--not required, and may or may not actually put a stop to the adventure
  • Supernatural Aid--protective figure supplies amulet (or whatever)
  • The Crossing of the First Threshold--encounter with guardian/monster
  • The Belly of the Whale--womb-image/self-annihilation
2) Initiation = trials and tribulations/rite of passage
[involving some or all of the following?--not too clear]
  • The Road of Trials (/obstacles/purifications)
  • The Meeting with the Goddess--mystical marriage; the goddess is both "good" (nurturing mother--womb) and "bad" (death--earth as tomb)
  • Woman as Temptress (the subsequent horror--woman now represents the flesh, which must be transcended)
  • At-one-ment with the Father, who is also "good" (merciful, provident) and "bad" (threatening, terrible)--initiation into the Father's office
  • Apotheosis--attainment of divine state beyond ignorance:  transcendence of oppositions male/female and time/eternity
  • The Ultimate Boon--immortality (often depicted as inexhaustible matter, e.g., food and drink) = perfect illumination, transcendence of all being
3) Return:  benefit to group/human race (selflessness)
  • Refusal of the Return--again, only a possibility:  if the hero wants to remain in the ecstasy of illumination
  • The Magic Flight (if necessary--i.e., if there is opposition)
  • Rescue from Without (if necessary)
  • The Crossing of the Return Threshold--hero must "survive the impact of the world"
  • Master of the Two Worlds--ability to pass back and forth between the two planes
  • Freedom to Live

This info was found at:

Still don't have it? That's okay! This stuff takes time. Oh yeah and also if you're wondering where all the extra stuff is from, no it's not on the chart. Just a little bonus material. Most of this is symbolism- such as the "belly of the whale."

I also found something else at

The Call to Adventure

It happens that subject's life is interrupted by an encounter with the Abnormal or the Sacred. In Jungian psychology, this is called an "archetypal" force, one belonging to the unconscious mind. In the face of this fascinating but fear inspiring moment of encounter, one is called to pursue this force. In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker's discovery of his father's Light Saber sets him upon an adventure with OB1Kinobe. Bilbo, the hobbit, encounters the Wizard Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. Alex Haley is attracted by the mystery of his family's genealogy. The result is the personal odyssey described in Roots. Moses witnesses two slaves being abused by Egyptian soldier. He kills the soldier and is seized by a fear that sets him in flight. Jesus hears about the New Elijah, John the Baptist. He leaves his home province of Galilee to seek out John in the wilderness of Judea.

Crossing the Boundary

The wilderness, the desert, the sea, the forest, the hidden room, the cave, and the mountain are typical boundary markers delimiting the rational and civilized from the non-rational, unconscious, and relatively chaotic forces that bear upon our existence as human beings. Crossing boundaries is always a religious action and calls for rituals.

Boundary crossings are dangerous. Guardians guard the border. The hero may have any one of several typical battles to fight. He may have to fight a brother, battle a dragon, be dismembered by demons or wild animals, be crucified, or be abducted. The hero may have to make the dangerous night-sea journey, descend into the whale's belly, or be taken on a miraculous journey.

Disney's Aladdin gives a marvelous dramatization of the boundary crossing. The magician Jafar can not cross the boundary into the enchanted cave because he is evil. Jafar needs Aladdin, an innocent youth, to make this journey. As Aladdin stands in the desert, a sphinx rises up. He must go into its belly to fetch the magic lamp. When Aladdin's monkey, Abu, breaks the rule not to touch the treasures of the underworld, the magic carpet effects his rescue as the cave is shut by a quake. The journey into the underworld is a dangerous undertaking.

Moses, the adopted Egyptian prince, fights off the shepherds at the well at Midian. This ends his flight. Jesus is driven into the wilderness where he must confront Satan.   Danger lurks on the borders where life is making a transition from one state to another.


The Great Prize is Won

The hero inevitably comes into good fortune and wins a great treasure. It may take the form of the sacred marriage in which he becomes the prince wedded to a king's daughter, as with Aladdin. Moses marries the daughter of the priest of the Mountain of Sin, the Moon God. The hero may find reconciliation with a father from whom he has been alienated as in the case of the Indian Hero Twins who brave many trials before coming at last to the house of their father the Sun who acknowledges them as worthy sons. The hero may be transformed into a god as with mortal Psyche who is given the ambrosia after her successful completion of the four impossible tasks. Satan declares that Jesus is the Son of God and obeys him as God's chosen king as the other angels come to be Jesus' ministers. The hero may steal a great treasure as did Bilbo the Hobbit who stole the dragon Smaug's treasure in the Hobbit.


The Return

The hero must eventually come back into the ordinary world bearing great energy to be used for the construction of society. Moses returns to Egypt to liberate his people from slavery. Jesus emerges from the wilderness to begin a public career of healing, exorcism, and teaching. Bilbo the Hobbit comes back to Bagshot Row in the Shire to become a solid citizen, a pillar of the community who unsuspectingly holds the Ring of Power that is the key to the great events of his age. The return is also a border crossing and danger threatens here too. The crossing must be negotiated with care. The hero may escape, be resurrected, be rescued by outside forces, or fight a battle at the border as he seeks to return home.


Ancillary Motifs


At any stage in the journey, the hero may encounter unanticipated help. Wise old men and wise old women appear to give sage advice, to pose helpful riddles, or to give a magic implement. Help may come in many forms: helpful animals, plants, or objects are not unusual. The cosmos itself may be working for the hero as may be an assortment of gods and goddesses.



Tests are the essence of the heroic journey. The hero must prove his or her worth. The tests tend towards the impossible. Ordinary mortals could not hope to solve these problems which only the hero can solve. (Remember the Sword in the Stone which only King Arthur may remove?) The test may range from solving a riddle, as with Oedipus and Bilbo, to making a dangerous cosmic journey as in the case of Jesus descending into the Underworld.



Flight is as prevalent as the helpers and the tests. Fear is always present as a threat to the hero. Helplessness is frequently the case. Sometimes only flight will avail the hero in the face of the absolutely impossible task. In the final analysis, the hero is always pitted against superior powers, archetypal forces, whom he can never overthrow. His or her task is to gain the great prize and then to escape.


The Medicine of Immortality

Frequently, the hero returns with a great prize like the herb that bestows immortality, the magic cure, the aqua vitae, or other enchanted brew.The key is that the hero has been to the center of the cosmos from which all power emanates.He or she is in touch with the source of energy and life.


hmmmm even THAT sounds pretty difficult! How about a brief defintion of the archetypal pattern?! Well, "The Hero's journey is an internal psychological drama. "Each of us has a Hero, an Sage, a mercenary, a Princess within. Each of these pulls and pushes as we journey through the story that is our life. We need all of these energies to pursue life's adventure." As the Hero journeys the 'road of trials,' and we pursue the trials of our everyday lives, the Heroic task is to "integrate these parts or energies and win the prize -- our individuality, our sense of place, our sense of purpose," says Castlebooks- or also simply a pattern that every archetypal hero goes through. The different steps and trials these hero's must face make them into what they are.