Last week, I talked you through the core principles of the Heroine’s Journey, including four signs you’re ready to embark on your own heroine’s journey and what to expect once you do.
Usually, when I talk about the heroine’s journey, most people assume that it follows the same arc as the hero’s journey, just with a female at the helm.
Not the case.
The heroine’s journey is a very different journey than the hero’s journey. What surprises many people I talk to and work with is that gender aside, most of us embark on both the hero’s journey AND the heroine’s journey several times in our lives.
So what’s the main difference between the two?
The hero’s journey is a call to adventure. In literature and movies, the hero’s journey begins when he is forced to leave home for a new land, and ends when he returns victorious and is recognized by his community as having achieved something great and noble.
In our everyday lives, Joseph Campbell explains that the hero’s journey “begins with someone from whom something has been taken, or who feels there is something lacking in the normal experience available or permitted to the members of society. The person then takes off on a series of adventures beyond the ordinary, either to recover what has been lost or to discover some life-giving elixir. It’s usually a cycle, a coming and a returning.”
The heroine’s journey, on the other hand, is a journey inwards. As Maureen Murdock, author of The Heroine’s Journey, explains, “The hero’s journey is up and out–with a big splash–to the light, while the heroine’s journey is down and in—into the body, into the metaphorical cave, to the Black Madonna.”
The heroine’s journey begins when she feels like something is missing, or that something could be different, or that she’s not living the life she wants to live. As the Heroine’s Journey Project notes, “the heroine’s journey does not culminate in this [same] sort of victory [as the hero’s journey].” “Her quest ends with wholeness,” and finding a balance between the masculine and feminine and other pairs of opposites, like success and failure, life and death, illness and health, etc.
Examples of the Hero’s Journey vs. the Heroine’s Journey
With an understanding of the hero’s journey, it’s likely that you can now name several story and/or movie examples off the top of your head, like Lord of the Rings, Braveheart, Forrest Gump, Gladiator and Slumdog Millionaire.
What we don’t see as much of (which pisses me off tremendously, and which I’ll talk more about in blogs to come) is the heroine’s journey.
But a few examples include Carol, Wild and the Hunger Games.
Where This Gets Interesting
I believe both journeys carry valuable life insights and that most of us cycle through both of them throughout our lives.
However, when we’re constantly surrounded by the hero’s journey arc and feeling like we’re on the precipice of something, we often unconsciously focus our attention on an external journey. When, at least in my own experience, so much of the real, meaty work happens when we embark on the heroine’s journey.
So, if you feel the stirring that something needs to change, and the call to adventure doesn’t feel quite right, I invite you to journey inwards.
More on how we can do that together in posts to come!