Over the past several weeks, you’ve likely noticed that I’ve thrown myself headfirst into a topic I’m really excited to explore this year—the heroine’s journey—and taken you along for the ride. It’s a journey that I’ve explored in literature and spiritual practices for more than forty years, and one that I’ve embarked on several times myself.
Over the next several months, I’ll be sharing the history of the heroine’s journey, remarkable heroine’s journeys that I’ve come across in literature, spiritual practices and real life, the differences between the hero’s journey and the heroine’s journey and the core practices of the heroine’s journey (including reclaiming the feminine!).
I hope that by understanding and demystifying the heroine’s journey, you may be inspired to explore your own.
So, with that in mind, today I’m walking you through the fundamentals.
What is the Heroine’s Journey?
In the literary world, the heroine’s journey is a story where the primary character is female. We are most used to seeing story arcs related to the hero’s journey, where a character embarks on an external adventure and returns with a tangible victory like a new bride, a family saved or a war won.
Instead, as B.J. Priester beautifully explains in this article, “the key to the Heroine’s Journey is not her reward for victory, but how and why she fights, struggles, and perseveres to the end.”
We see many women embarking on heroine’s journeys within the confines of a hero’s journey, such as Hermoine Granger in Harry Potter and Princess Leia and Rey in Star Wars. But a true heroine’s journey is focused on the heroine herself—all the other characters revolve around her own transformation.
While they’re much harder to find (and we’ll talk more about that sad fact in posts to come), a few examples of the heroine’s journey in stories today include Katniss in The Hunger Games series and Lena Dunham in Girls.
From a spiritual perspective, the heroine’s journey is focused on transformation. It’s about diving into the darkness—in literature, this is usually depicted as the underworld—and coming face-to-face with the experiences, unhealed wounds, fear, doubt, vulnerability, shame, regret and guilt we humans carry.
The end result? Truth and transformation.
4 Signs You Are Ready to Embark on the Heroine’s Journey
While each of our journeys is different, there are a few telltale clues that many people experience just before they embark on the heroine’s journey, including:
- Feeling like there’s something more out there for you, but you can’t put your finger on what it is.
- You’re busy doing, doing, doing but feeling empty and exhausted.
- You’re feeling like you’re not good enough, or have failed to meet society’s/your family’s/your peers’ expectation of you.
- You’re not living the life you want to live.
What to Expect
Because the heroine’s journey is focused on our internal transformations, much of the work done during the heroine’s journey forces us to go inward, and go deep.
This includes quiet, alone time to understand and process your feelings. During our journey, we often feel called to reconnect with nature (and we’ll talk about why in an upcoming post). We also tend to tap into our creative power—such as writing, painting, dancing—to work through and begin to express our true selves. And, finally, we often feel called to find a guide who can help us navigate the twists and turns of our unique experience.
I would love to be that guide for you. Next week, I’ll be sharing more about the differences between the hero’s journey and the heroine’s journey.