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Freedom to Live

  Freedom to Live is the final stage in the Hero's Journey.  Campbell said that this was the stage where the hero "finds balance between internal and external worlds and no longer fears death."  This is the stage where the hero stops doing things and fighting challenges and instead just exists.  Applied to our life it is the calm before the cycle starts again.  In Star Wars this was the stage after Luke created the school for Jedi and he began to live out a daily routine.  Eventually, he had a conflict with his nephew and a new journey began for him.  In the Lord of the Rings, this is the stage after the hobbits have taken over leadership roles, and they get to enjoy their day-to-day routines.   This stage serves as a reminder that we are human "beings" not human doings.  We cannot always be on a journey or the road becomes our home and the call to adventure may become a call to domestication, which is its own adventure.   Many of our images of heaven are symbol
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Master of Two Worlds

  This week we come to the second to last stage of the Hero's Journey.  Campbell called this stage "The Master of Two Worlds".  In this stage, the hero tries to integrate what they learned and gained on their journey with their old "ordinary" world.   Albert Einstein once said, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."  This explains the challenge the hero must face in this stage.  All that they learned and gained must be fully mastered and the test of this mastery is being able to use it in the ordinary world.  They must simplify it so that the uninitiated can benefit from it, just as Einstein encouraged the mastery of complex ideas into simple explanations.   In the Star Wars Trilogy, this stage happens off-screen after the film is over, but before the new movie begins.  We learn in the newest trilogy that Luke created a school for Jedi, taking the wisdom he gained from his journey and sharing it with others.  In

The Return Threshold

  As we come near the end of our weekly series on the Hero's Journey, today we will cover "The Return Threshold".  In this stage, the Hero has succeeded in their quest and now they are coming back to their old world.  Joseph Campbell calls this the "ordinary world".   The return to the ordinary world usually includes some type of challenge.  Sometimes an enemy must be challenged, but sometimes the enemy is the ordinary world itself.  As we have followed the hero's journey we have seen the hero change, what was once important is no longer important.  While the hero has changed, the ordinary world has not.  The ordinary world holds values that the returning hero has abandoned for something greater.  This can cause tension as the hero tries to return as a changed person. In the Lord of the Rings trilogy, we see the Hobbits finally return to their home in the Shire.  Unfortunately in their absence Saruman and his orcs have taken over the Shire and must be defeat

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

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