The Hero’s Journey Versus the Heroine’s Journey


First, let me invite you right up front to a free teleclass that Anne Davin, PhD and I will be hosting about the hero’s journey versus the heroine’s journey. Then, I’ll explain why I’m so passionate about sharing this discussion with all of you.

Step into Your Calling
Monday, March 14, 2016
1:00–2:00 p.m. PT

REGISTER HERE (If you can’t attend live, go ahead and sign up, and we’ll send you the recording.)

What Inspired This Free Teleclass

In my book The Anatomy of a Calling, I used Joseph Campbell’s mythic “hero’s journey” as a road map for finding and fulfilling my calling. Why did I use this framework? Well, I was a creative writing major at Duke and have been writing my whole life, and one of the lessons I was taught was that anytime you’re writing a memoir, fiction, or a movie screenplay, it behooves you to consider Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey as you craft the arc of your story. Ages ago, I read Hollywood screenwriter Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey, which teaches writers how to use the hero’s journey to create an epic story. Turns out that almost every blockbuster film and bestselling novel follows the same story arc, based on the classic mythic stories and Jungian archetypes. Star Wars follows this formula. So does The Wizard of Oz, The Titanic and countless other runaway hits. So when I embarked upon the journey of writing a memoir, I figured I’d go back to my old notes and make sure that I crafted my true story along the story arc of the hero’s journey.

The strange thing I discovered was that my actual true life story was already perfectly organized along this story arc. As I started interviewing other people who were finding and fulfilling their calling, I realized their true life stories were following the same formula. We were not trying to live riveting story lives; it’s simply what was happening as we journeyed into our own true essence and stepped into our sacred purpose. That’s when I realized life itself is a hero’s journey, especially when you say YES to that which calls you. And so my book began.

An Inner Space Journey

It wasn’t until I got towards the end of the book I was writing that I realized my hero’s journey was different than the classic Joseph Campbell version. I had broken a lot of the “rules” of what hereos were supposed to do. Instead of being the rugged individualist, John Wayne alone on his horse or James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, my journey had been very feminine. I had been emotional, vulnerable, and transparent. I had reached out for help. I hadn’t flown to the Death Star or journeyed to far off lands or slayed any real live dragons. My journey had been an inner journey. But as Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man who walked on the moon, told me in a quiet moment, “Lissa, I traveled all over the world trying to find something I never found. So I went into outer space, still looking for it. But it wasn’t until I was on my way back from walking on the moon that I realized that what I was trying to find in outer space was ultimately an inner space journey.” My story was just such an inner space journey.

When I shared what I was writing with my business partner and depth psychologist Anne Davin, PhD, who runs the Visionary Mentoring Program and the Whole Health Medicine Institute with me, Anne said, “You didn’t have a hero’s journey. You had a heroine’s journey.” Our conversation inspired me to write this in The Anatomy of a Calling.

Excerpt from The Anatomy of a Calling

There is within each of us a hero’s journey waiting to happen. You may still be in the Ordinary World, feeling frustrated, waiting for the phone to ring with instructions for your Divine assignment. Or you may have received the call, but what was being asked of you is just too disruptive, too scary, so you’re still refusing the call. Perhaps you accepted the call with the enthusiasm of a hero ready for the journey, only now you’re on the Road of Trials, and things aren’t going quite as you planned. You may even be in the Innermost Cave, battling the demons of darkness in your Ordeal. You may have found the holy grail, or you may not yet know what you are seeking. If you’ve found it, you may, like me, question whether it’s the right grail. Once found, you may struggle on The Road Back as you return the holy grail back to the Ordinary World. Wherever you are in your journey, may you trust the process and find your peace.

It wasn’t until recently that I had a revelation about my hero’s journey. Part of my journey was my own transition from a traditional hero’s journey, as exemplified by the Star Wars–type heroes of Joseph Campbell’s teachings, to a heroine’s journey. As I walked the spiritual path and shifted from the head to the heart, I transformed from masculine operating principles to those of the Divine Feminine.

How are a hero’s journey and a heroine’s journey different? Depth psychologist Anne Davin, PhD, who directs the Whole Health Medicine Institute with me, makes the following differentiations. Although the hero in Joseph Campbell’s model goes into the Innermost Cave alone, ever the rugged individualist, the heroine is interdependent on others for her survival. The hero views humans and the Divine as separate. For the heroine, there is no separation between spirit and matter. All are One. The hero is self-sacrificing; the heroine receives from others. The hero survives against all odds; the heroine’s ego dies to the perfection of whatever is happening, coming into agreement with what is, rather than forcing her will. The hero dominates; the heroine surrenders. The hero competes; the heroine collaborates. The hero revels in his victory, filled with pride; the heroine wears her humility as a jeweled crown. The hero never questions his value or direction; the heroine lives her life as an open question. The hero fights death, living in perpetual fight or flight; the heroine dies willingly into the still point of Beingness. The hero asks, “What can I get for myself?” The heroine asks, “How can I serve the dream?”

Like many heroines, my journey was initiated by a rupture in the form of my Perfect Storm. Anne Davin describes this rupture as an activating event that creates the perception of loss or disappointment, which leads the heroine to descend into a swamp of what can almost be described as delicious grief. During the rupture, she refuses to play the victim, instead, embracing the tragedy with grace and sensual surrender. She then moves into a phase of transparency, using the action and power of her vulnerability to embody her wholeness in every moment. She courageously embraces all of the many faces of her feminine self, including what may be judged by the culture as repulsive or frightening. This leads to a phase of receiving, during which the heroine remains open, exposed, and vulnerable while she receives the soothing contact and assistance from others who tend to her. She recognizes this as essential and compassionately allows herself to be nurtured through her crisis, which leads her to a final phase of action, during which she experiences a profound emotional and spiritual restoration that energizes new attitudes, perspectives, and outward movement.

The heroine’s journey isn’t about being male or female. As the consciousness of the planet shifts, more and more men are incorporating elements of the Sacred Masculine into their own journeys in ways that uplift the feminine, healing and empowering us all. Regardless of our gender, as we come into our wholeness and regain the balance between the Divine Feminine and the Sacred Masculine, we raise the vibration of the planet and bring more light into the world.

Join Anne Davin & Me for a Free Teleclass about the Hero’s vs. Heroine’s Journey

One of the reasons I’m so passionate about this particular conversation is that I truly believe that, gender aside, what all corrupt systems on this planet need right now is the intervention of the principles of the Divine Feminine. This is not about being male or female. It’s about allowing those counter-culture properties of the heroine’s journey to penetrate our planet in a way that leads to massive personal and global healing. This is calling for us from all parts of the globe right now, calling forth our compassion, collaboration, transparency, conflict-resolution skills, nurturing, healing, and love. We so hope you can join us for what is sure to be a rousing conversation.



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