Sacred Journeys

Updated: Sep 9

I was just reading the book The Hero Within by Carol S. Pearson and read this quote: “…any time you identify a wasteland element in your life—illness, boredom, lethargy, alienation, emptiness, loss, addiction, failure, anger or outrage—it is time to take a journey.”

I spent some time thinking about journeys this evening and have a few words to share.

If you have read my other blog posts, perhaps you are aware that I am a fan of Joseph Campbell and his work studying myths. Many have analyzed myths to identify specific characters who show up in story after story, playing their appropriate role. Indeed, writers have studied these typical characters and learned how to artfully employ them in their craft.

What psychologists like Carl Jung pointed to are the archetypal energies embodied by these characters. There seems to be some universal force that enlivens the characters that perpetuate themselves from myth to myth. Jung identified archetypal energies within the collective human consciousness and many other psychologists have followed in his footsteps, getting more and more nuanced in their work as our society rapidly evolves. These archetypes morph and change with the collective, and it is interesting to see that Pearson has published three editions to The Hero Within, each with significant updates based on changes in our collective human psyche.

But this brings me back to this collective time of Covid and the beginning of the month of August. It seems, perhaps, that August has a more active energy. It is a time of acting and choice making. Perhaps over these last months we have identified areas of our lives where we have wastelands. I just read an article published by Forbes a couple of days ago that pointed out that people are taking stock in their careers and that the pandemic may in fact bring many career changes as people consciously choose to perform work they find more fulfilling. Wow!

So, if you have identified a wasteland in your life, what to do next? I was contemplating the process of active transformation and the archetype of the hero. The “hero’s journey” is a well-established model for such transformation. I mentioned in a previous post that we really inherit this concept from shamanic culture when a holy person would leave ordinary reality in search of wisdom, have an adventure and then return home, to share their knowledge. This can be seen in the character of Bilbo Baggins, who had taken an adventurous journey outside of the Shire and when he returned he was quite obviously “different” than when he left.

I was thinking a bit about the idea of packing for a journey. What to take with us on such a journey into the unknown lands of transformation? When King Arthur went on a dangerous quest, which Knights did he take and why? I keep coming back to the idea of the round table as it is indicative of our inner community. If we are to have inner peace, inner democracy is a great model. So, what Knights do you have sitting at your round table? Carolyn Myss wrote a book that I recall reading maybe ten years ago called Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing. In this work she gives a framework for identifying the “major players” in our inner community—those parts of ourselves that we rely on most often to help us meet the challenges of life.