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Rescue from Without

  Today we will look at the stage of the Return called "Rescue from Without" in the Hero's Journey.  In this stage, the hero is making their escape from the world of their adventure, but they have found themselves in a bind and they need help from outside of themselves.  They lack what is needed, even with all of the powers and skills gained throughout their adventure.   In the original Star Wars trilogy, Luke is unable to defeat the Emporer until his Father, Darth Vader, changes sides and throws the Emporer to his death.  Since he had been fighting Vader moments before, this was an unexpected turn of events, it was "rescue from without".   In the Lord of the Rings, Frodo reached Mount Doom but he found he was unable to free himself of the control of the ring.  When he held the ring out to throw it into the lava he zoned out and started to put the ring on instead.  It was at this point that Gollum attacked, bit off Frodo's finger, and fell into the lava with
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Magic Flight

  Following the "Refusal to Return" in the Hero's Journey is the stage called "Magic Flight" or "Crossing the Return Threshold".  Previously the hero completed their mission and then refused to return home.  In this stage, the hero sets aside their refusal and makes a mad dash or escape, often with the remaining enemies chasing them.   In the Lord of the Rings after Frodo destroyed the ring he was so exhausted that he laid down to die, but the story didn't end there.  Sam helped him out of the cavern and the two of them collapsed on a rock that was quickly surrounded by lava from the erupting Mount Doom.  With no escape in sight, they sat there, seeming to accept their fate.  Sam started talking about home and the hopes and wishes he had for his life.  They embrace each other and express gratitude for being in this together and then the camera goes black.  When the camera comes back into focus they are both passed out on that same rock, but we see

Refusal to Return

The last cycle of The Hero's Journey begins with what Campbell calls "The Refusal of the Return".  In this stage the hero has finished their quest and won their award, but now they are faced with the idea of returning to their place of origin.  They struggle with the idea of leaving paradise, or sharing their wisdom with their old community.  After being changed so much, do they even still belong in the place they came from? In The Lord of the Rings, after Frodo has tossed the ring into the fire and the battle is won, he is so tired he wants to give up, there is nothing left driving him to return home, so he lays down and prepares to die.  Then, when the party regroups in Gondor, they linger there for a long time before each returns to their homeland.  Finally, when Frodo does return home, he is uncomfortable, he feels out of place, and wants to leave.  He has changed and realizes that he no longer belongs in the Shire.  After Christ's resurrection he met with Mary fi

Dissolutions - The End of the World

  The final stage of the Cosmogonic Cycle is called "Dissolutions", or "The End of the World".  There is one final cycle after this in the Hero's Journey, but this is the end of the focus on the spiritual realm found in the Cosmogonic Cycle.  In previous stages, the Hero has already had a death of ego of sorts, and while this stage is similar, it is also something further.  The Hero realizes that not only was the projection of self in the form of the ego an illusion but the duality of the world, the boundaries we draw around everything, the labels we use, were also illusions.  It is not the end of the world in a real sense, but the end of the construct of the world held in the mind of the Hero.  The preconceived notions of truth and reality dissolve, and the Hero views everything with a beginner's mind.   We have an interesting window into this way of thinking in the newest Star Wars Trilogy.  In The Force Awakens, Rey wanted to become a Jedi but lacked the

Transformation - Death & Suffering

  The next stage of the Cosmogonic Cycle is called "Transformation".  Sometimes Joseph Campbell refers to it as a stage of death and suffering.  This is the point at which the Hero suffers a loss of self in some way.  Sometimes they die, sometimes their naivety falls away, sometimes they suffer something that leaves them forever changed.  Whatever manifestation it takes you can be sure that you are left to wonder if there is any way the hero could recover.  Remember that the Cosmogonic Cycle within the Hero's Journey is pointing to spiritual truths that mirror the physical journey; so this suffering, death, and change is often an internal or mental struggle.   I recently finished a book by Terry Brooks where the sister of the hero is taken captive and tricked with an illusion to believe that she was tortured.  While it was just an illusion the trauma was very real for this young woman.  When she escaped, the illusionist pursued her and cornered her and her rescuers.  The

Virgin Birth

The next stage of the Cosmogonic Cycle is often called "The Virgin Birth".  In Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey, the Cosmogonic is a spiritual reflection of the physical journey taken by the hero.  These stages are more often found out of order because they are often realized or discovered at different parts of the story.  In this case, the virgin birth is usually a discovery that there is something special or unique about the hero of the story.  A hidden truth that upon discovery explains why they were always meant to be the hero.   In the original Star Wars Trilogy, we follow the path of Luke as the hero, but in the end, it turns out to be Darth Vader that turns against the emperor and fulfils the prophecy of "balancing the force".  We have to go back to the prequels to see the clearest example of the virgin birth.  Darth Vader was born Anakin Skywalker.  When the Jedi found him, he and his mother were slaves to a trader on a planet at the edge of the gala

Emergence from the Void

  The next phase of the Cosmogonic Cycle is called "Emergence from the Void".  This is the phase of the Hero's Journey that represents the cycle of rebirth that happens in our lives.  For the hero, there is an emergence from the depths to a new way of being, but for each of us, we relive this birth over and over as we are made new and mature through life.   I was watching the finale of The Mandalorian Season 2 last night.  If you want to watch the show and you have not gotten that far, stop reading now, "there be spoilers ahead"!  Generally, I assume that you have had enough time to catch up though.  At the very end, Luke shows up to take and train the child Grogu.  In the timeline of the movies this is after the Original Trilogy, but before the newest trilogy with Rey.  At this point, Luke has completed his journey, defeated the emperor, and he has emerged as something entirely new.  The winey teenager from the first movie is gone, for that matter, even the con