The Hero’s Journey
I had hoped to carry on from the previous post and explore the enneagram further. Thoughts around that subject were beginning to gel and then another quake. Everything else began to pale into insignificance. Was this our Mother Earth lulling us into a false sense of security pending the release of the masterstroke? Had we become complacent?
At Wainui I was catering for two schools when it struck. The intensity of the shake, while not as long as the 7.1, and the almost immediate loss of power convinced all present that this was a “biggy”. Buildings were evacuated and all protocols adhered to. The worry for teachers and parent helpers was evident and in the wake of the previous quakes the children were well drilled in keeping themselves protected.
I was lost for the first week not sure what my role was in all this. My process is that I focus on what is in front of me in that moment and allow it to unfold. This meant attending to those closest to me as the days past.
Eventually I realised that this quake required a separate post and at the outset I seemed lost for words and ideas. How does one do justice to something like this? How does one honour those whose lives were taken?
Looking through some of the faces in the paper of those feared dead I found a face that looked familiar. I recognised him as a regular in a bar that I also drank at a few years ago. I don’t remember engaging him at all though we may have sat in the same group on the odd occasion. It turned out he died entering a building to bring injured people out. There is sadness for me in not having connected with him in some way.
<iframe src=”//www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/key/UqFiVYjOuIdA8″ width=”425″ height=”355″ frameborder=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ scrolling=”no” style=”border:1px solid #CCC; border-width:1px; margin-bottom:5px; max-width: 100%;” allowfullscreen> </iframe> <div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”//www.slideshare.net/AndrewMichaelChallies/heros-journey1″ title=”Hero’s Journey” target=”_blank”>Hero’s Journey</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”//www.slideshare.net/AndrewMichaelChallies” target=”_blank”>Andrew Challies</a></strong> </div>
The word Hero fits many of the people who were caught in town when the quake struck and just did what needed to be done in the circumstances. As I pondered it further, listening to news reports, listening to politicians, hearing the stories, it seemed a perfect example of the Hero’s Journey unfolding in a short space of time.
I had touched on the Hero’s Journey previously in my post Working with Qualities of Soul: Cyclical. I follow the work of Carol Pearson who developed a system of 12 archetypes that assist the path of evolution for our souls. My initial discovery inspired an on-going passion for the work.
The journey evolves through 3 stages – the preparation, the journey, and the return. Within those 3 stages there are 4 archetypes encountered as we assimilate the rememberings required to move to the next stage. The archetypes of preparation are the innocent, the orphan, the warrior, the caregiver. In the journey stage we have the seeker, lover, destroyer, and the creator. Finally on our return we are governed by the ruler, the magician, the sage and the fool.
The devastation wrought by an earthquake as experienced in Christchurch can immediately precipitate people, both individually and collectively, into encountering the archetypes of the preparation. An abrupt transition from innocent to orphan as the quake wreaks havoc upon the populace. From an apparently innocuous sort of day we become victims once more to thrashing of the earth. This sense of victim is one of the attributes of the orphan archetype.
People began instantly and instinctively to look after those who had been obviously injured, or going into wreckage searching for those trapped. These are prime examples of the archetypes of the care-giver and warrior. I speak as one who watched from afar seeing the images on a television screen.
My reality was different being 80km away from the centre of Christchurch. As a chef the archetype that was strongest for me was, I imagine, the caregiver. There was a sense of frustration as I waited for the groups present to decide if they were going or staying so that the warrior element in me could respond to the call to action and begin cooking. When the power returned I watched the TV with fascination as the story unfolded. There was an aspect within me that would have liked to have been amongst the destruction having my mettle tested and at the same blessed because I was away from the worst of it, not having to face the pain obvious to those who had first-hand experience of death and damage.
Within the exploration there is the challenge of not attempting to make the events fit nicely into an ordered unfolding of the Hero’s Journey process. With any kind of process there is fluidity around the steps. As the drama unfolds a particular stage may arise out of sequence. As the dust settles the services – Fire, St John’s, and Civil Defence – attempt to impose some sort of order on the scene. That sense of order can be identified with the ruler archetype.
After those initial hours of people working instinctively a more structured approach begins to take shape. Within that structure there can be instances of archetypes showing their faces as events unfold. Each of the archetypes may play its part over the course of a day. Each day holds the potential of seeing ourselves as innocent or victim, caregiver or warrior, as seeker or destroyer, lover or creator, as an opportunity to take responsibility like the ruler, find our personal power like the magician, the wisdom of the sage and the joy and freedom of the fool.
The Christchurch quakes have become threshold events enabling us to look more closely at these archetypes. The features of the preparation are seen in the immediate responses to the devastating effects as the virtuous aspects of the archetypes – optimism, realism, courage and compassion – play out. That said, there are also the negative aspects, wrought by fear – abandonment, victimisation, weakness, selfishness.
There seems to be a cycle involved here, where a fearful focus may precipitate us into the next fearful experience of an archetype. Awareness of the process may assist us to arrest the downward spiral and refocus with a more positive attitude.
The initiation sets up the continuing journey and the qualities we’re hoping will be embedded in our psyches – a sense of autonomy, of humility, acceptance, passion, commitment, and the sense of an individual calling. The archetypal passage of the journey tends to cycle through seeking, destroying, loving and creating and in fact one of the insights from “Awakening the Heroes Within” suggests that from a lifetime perspective the path of the hero may end in the journey phase. I somehow felt sad that perhaps people weren’t getting the most out of their lives, that it was interrupted before the opportunity to live it fully presented itself. And I also understood how one could be quite satisfied by the loving and creating aspects of the journey
The journey isn’t about the acquisition of things or knowledge although these may arrive as part of the process – physical representations of the inner passage. The gifts of this unfolding are those that nurture the psyche – the virtues being shaped within our characters and personalities.
It seems the further we travel the path of the Hero the gifts become less tangible. I know for myself I began to question the almost constant seeking – the “looking” for answers. I was doing course after course acquiring knowledge and somehow feeling I did not yet know enough to do what it was I was meant to be doing.
I think that was when I began to move into the return. I took the Ruler’s responsibility for what I already knew and allowed it to colour my personality, to expand my character. Essentially all we can be responsible for is how we respond in any given situation. Whether we follow our heart or our fear is a choice and that can be changed in the blink of an eye. As soon as we accept that responsibility the other aspects of the return seem to come into alignment quite quickly – the personal power of the Magician, the wisdom of the Sage, and the joy and freedom of the Fool.
Knowledge of the Journey doesn’t take away the challenges. It allows you see the landmarks ahead safe in the knowledge that when this one is reached another one is beckoning. Feel the freedom of the fool and know the optimism of the Innocent is just around the corner motioning you onward to the start of another journey.
During the last week as the post has been slowly coming together I was informed of another tragedy – and old Air Force friend had been killed while assisting people in a car accident in Queensland. I remember the laughs we shared and not only am I reminded that joy matters on the Hero’s Journey but that Death is the ultimate return and going out with the Heart of a Hero is a true blessing. I’m also reminded to notice the areas of my life which are undergoing change, to acknowledge those things which are passing away, let them go gracefully and then embrace the new – that which is becoming. Thank you, Alan. Your inspiration will live long.