Writers’ Journey, Chris Vogler
Most stories take the hero out of the ordinary, mundane world and into a Special World, new and alien. This is the familiar "fish out of water" idea which has spawned countless films and TV shows ("The Fugitive," "The Beverly Hillbillies;' Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, The Wizard if Oz, WItness, 48 Hours, Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop, etc.).
If you're going to show a fish out of his customary element, you first have to show him in that Ordinary World to create a vivid contrast with the strange new world he is about to enter.
In WItness you see both the city policeman and the Amish mother and son in their normal worlds before they are thrust into totally alien environments: the Amish being overwhelmed by the city, and the city cop encountering the 19th-century world of the Amish. You first see Luke Skywalker, hero of Star Wars, being bored to death as a farmboy before he sets out to tackle the universe.
Likewise in The Wizard if Oz, considerable time is spent to establish Dorothy's drab normal life in Kansas before she is blown to the wonderworld of Oz. H ere the contrast is heightened by shooting the Kansas scenes in stern black and white while the Oz scenes are shot in vibrant Technicolor.
An Officer and a Gentleman sketches a vivid contrast between the Ordinary World of the hero - that of a tough Navy brat with a drunken, whore-chasing father - and the Special World of the spit-and-polish Navy Bight school which the hero enters.
The Call to Adventure
The hero is presented with a problem, challenge, or adventure to undertake. Once presented with a Call to Adventure, she can no longer remain indefinitely in the comfort of the Ordinary World.
Perhaps the land is dying, as in the King Arthur stories of the search for the Grail, the only treasure that can heal the wounded land. In Star Wars, the Call to Adventure is Princess Leia's desperate holographic message to wise old Obi-Wan Kenobi, who asks Luke to join in the quest. Leia has been snatched by evil Darth Vader, like the Greek springtime goddess Persephone, who was kidnapped to the underworld by Pluto, 10 A PRACTICAL GUIDE lord of the dead. Her rescue is vital to restoring the normal balance of the universe.
In many detective stories, the Call to Adventure is the private eye being asked to take on a new case and solve a crime which has upset the order of things. A good detective should right wrongs as well as solve crimes.
In revenge plots, the Call to Adventure is often a wrong which must be set right, an offense against the natural order of things. In The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantes is unjustly imprisoned and is driven to escape by his desire for revenge. The plot of Beverly Hills Cop is set in motion by the murder of the hero's best friend. In First Blood Rambo is motivated by his unfair treatment at the hands of an intolerant sheriff.
In romantic comedies, the Call to Adventure might be the first encounter with the special but annoying someone the hero or heroine will be pursuing and sparring with.
The Call to Adventure establishes the stakes of the game, and makes clear the hero's goal: to win the treasure or the lover, to get revenge or right a wrong, to achieve a dream, confront a challenge, or change a life.
What's at stake can often be expressed as a question posed by the call. Will E.T. or Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz get home again? Will Luke rescue Princess Leia and defeat Darth Vader? In An Officer and a Gentleman, will the hero be driven out of Navy flight school by his own selfishness and the needling of a fierce Marine drill instructor, or will he earn the right to be called an officer and a gentleman? Boy meets girl, but does boy get girl?
Refusal of the Call
This one is about fear. Often at this point the hero balks at the threshold of adventure, Refusing the Call or expressing reluctance. After all, she is facing the greatest of all fears, terror of the unknown. The hero has not yet fully committed to the journey and may still be thinking of turning back. Some other influence - a change in circumstances, a further offense against the natural order of things, or the encouragement of a Mentor - is required to get her past this turning point of fear.
In romantic comedies, the hero may express reluctance to get involved (maybe because of the pain of a previous relationship)' In a detective story, the private eye may at first turn down the case, only to take it on later against his better judgment.
At this point in Star Wars, Luke refuses Obi Wan's Call to Adventure and returns to his aunt and uncle's farmhouse, only to find they have been barbecued by the Emperor's stormtroopers. Suddenly Luke is no longer reluctant and is eager to undertake the quest. The evil of the Empire has become personal to him. He is motivated.
By this time many stories will have introduced a Merlin-like character who is the hero's Mentor. The relationship between hero and Mentor is one of the most common themes in mythology, and one of the richest in its symbolic value. It stands for the bond between parent and child, teacher and student, doctor and patient, god and man.
The Mentor may appear as a wise old wizard (Star Wars), a tough drill sergeant (An Officer and a Gentleman), or a grizzled old boxing coach (Rocky). In the mythology of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show", it was Lou Grant. In Jaws, it's the crusty Robert Shaw character who knows all about sharks.
The function of Mentors is to prepare the hero to face the unknown. They may give advice, guidance or magical equipment. Obi-Wan in Star Wars gives Luke his father's light-saber, which he will need in his battles with the dark side of the Force. In The Wizard of Oz, Glinda the Good Witch gives Dorothy guidance and the ruby slippers that will eventually get her home again.
However, the Mentor can only go so far with the hero. Eventually, the hero must face the unknown alone. Sometimes the Mentor is required to give the hero a swift kick in the pants to get the adventure going.
MENTORS & GUIDES
Mentors are those “whose many services to the hero include protecting, guiding, teaching, testing, training, and providing magical gifts” (Vogler 117). They “act mainly on the mind of the hero, changing her consciousness or redirecting her will. Even if physical gifts are given, Mentors also strengthen the hero's mind to face an ordeal with confidence.” (Vogler 120). “An important function of the Mentor archetype is to get the story rolling” (Vogler 120).
FOR THOSE WHO have not refused the call, the first encounter of the hero-journey is with a protective figure (often a little old crone or old man) who provides the adventurer with amulets against the dragon forces he is about to pass” (Campbell 57). Whether dream or myth, in these adventures there is an atmosphere of irresistible fascination about the figure that appears suddenly as guide, marking a new period, a new stage, in the biography” (Campbell 46). Obi Wan, Yoda, Morpheus—these are often our favorite characters.
“What such a figure represents is the benign, protecting power of destiny” (Campbel 58). “The helpful crone and fairy godmother is a familiar feature of European fairy lore; in Christian saints' legends the role is commonly played by the Virgin. The Virgin by her intercession can win the mercy of the Father. Spider Woman with her web can control the movements of the Sun. The hero who has come under the protection of the Cosmic Mother cannot be harmed. The thread of Ariadne brought Theseus safely through the adventure of the labyrinth. This is the guiding power that runs through the work of Dante in the female figures of Beatrice and the Virgin, and appears in Goethe's Faust successively as Gretchen, Helen of Troy, and the Virgin” (Campbell 57).
“One has only to know and trust, and the ageless guardians will appear. Having responded to his own call, and continuing to follow courageously as the consequences unfold, the hero finds all the forces of the unconscious at his side. Mother Nature herself supports the mighty task. And in so far as the hero's act coincides with that for which his society itself is ready, he seems to ride on the great rhythm of the historical process” (Campbell 59).
“Not infrequently, the supernatural helper is masculine in form. In fairy lore it may be some little fellow of the wood, some wizard, hermit, shepherd, or smith, who appears, to supply the amulets and advice that the hero will require. The higher mythologies develop the role in the great figure of the guide, the teacher, the ferryman, the conductor of souls to the afterworld. In classical myth this is Hermes-Mercury; in Egyptian, usually Thoth (the ibis god, the baboon god); in Christian, the Holy Ghost. 28 Goethe presents the masculine guide in Faust as Mephistopheles-and not infrequently the dangerous aspect of the "mercurial" figure is stressed; for he is the lurer of the innocent soul into realms of trial. In Dante's vision the part is played by Virgil, who yields to Beatrice at the threshold of Paradise. Protective and dangerous, motherly and fatherly at the same time, this supernatural principle of guardianship and direction unites in itself all the ambiguities of the unconscious-thus signifying the support of our conscious personality by that other, larger system, but also the inscrutability of the guide that we are following, to the peril of all our rational ends” (Campbell 59-60).
“The term Mentor comes from the character of that name in The Odyssey. Mentor was the loyal friend of Odysseus, entrusted with raising his son Telemachus while Odysseus made his long way back from the Trojan War. Mentor has given his name to all guides and trainers, but it's really Athena, the goddess of wisdom, who works behind the scenes to bring the energy of the Mentor archetype into the story” (Vogler 119-120). This Is not an uncommon scenario. “The gods usually speak to us through the filter of other people who are temporary filled with a godlike spirit [like] a good teacher or Mentor enthused about learning” (Vogler 120).
CHIRON: A PROTOTYPE “Many of the Greek heroes were mentored by the centaur Chiron, a prototype for all Wise Old Men and Women. A strange mix of man and horse, Chiron was foster-father and trainer to a whole army of Greek heroes including Hercules, Actaeon, Achilles, Peleus, and Aesculapius, the greatest surgeon of antiquity. In the person of Chiron, the Greeks stored many of their notions about what it means to be a Mentor.
“As a rule, centaurs are wild and savage creatures. Chiron was an unusually kind and peaceful one, but he still kept some of his wild horse nature. As a half man/ half animal creature, he is linked to the shamans of many cultures who dance in the skins of animals to get in touch with animal power. Chiron is the energy and intuition of wild nature, gentled and harnessed to teaching. Like the shamans, he is a bridge between humans and the higher powers of nature and the universe. Mentors in stories often show that they are connected to nature or to some other world of the spirit.
“As a Mentor, Chiron led his heroes-in-training through the thresholds of manhood by patiently teaching them the skills of archery, poetry, surgery, and so on. He was not always well rewarded for his efforts. His violence-prone pupil Hercules wounded him with a magic arrow which made Chiron beg the gods for the mercy of death. But in the end, after a truly heroic sacrifice in which he rescued Prometheus from the [Sunrise] by taking his place, Chiron received the highest distinction the Greeks could bestow. Zeus made him a constellation and a sign of the zodiac - Sagittarius, a centaur firing a bow. Clearly the Greeks had a high regard for teachers and Mentors” (Vogler 119).
MINOR PRESENCE BUT CRITICAL INFLUENCE “Most often, teaching, training, and testing are only transient stages of a hero's progress, part of a larger picture. In many movies and stories the Wise Old Woman or Man is a passing influence on the hero. But the Mentor's brief appearance is critical to get the story past the blockades of doubt and fear. Mentors may appear only two or three times in a story. Glinda the Good Witch appears only three times in The Wizard of Oz: I ) giving Dorothy the red shoes and a yellow path to follow, 2 ) intervening to blanket the sleep-inducing poppies with pure white snow, and 3 ) granting her wish to return home, with the help of the magic red shoes. In all three cases her function is to get the story unstuck by giving aid, advice, or magical equipment” (Vogler 123)
NO MENTOR SCENARIO “There can be no question: the psychological dangers through which earlier generations were guided by the symbols and spiritual exercises of their mythological and religious inheritance, we today (in so far as we are unbelievers, or, if believers, in so far as our inherited beliefs fail to represent the real problems of contemporary life) must face alone, or, at best, with only tentative, impromptu, and not often very effective guidance. This is our problem as modern, "enlightened" individuals, for whom all gods and devils have been rationalized out of existence.* (Campbell 86-87).
Note, such a No Mentor situation is seen in the Grail Legends, when the knights each enter the woods alone where they find it to be most pathless and dark – a favorite point of Campbells that eventually showed itself in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, where a new Jedi learns the force on her own.
Vogler points out, The absence of a Mentor creates special and interesting conditions for a hero. But be aware of the archetype's existence, and the audience's familiarity with it” (Vogler 121). He also suggests that “Some stories don't need a special character solely dedicated to perform the functions of this archetype, but at some point in almost any story, the Mentor functions of helping the hero are performed by some character or force, temporarily wearing the mask of the Mentor” (Vogler 124).
MENTOR MISDIRECTION & CONFLICT: “The mask of the Mentor can be used to trick a hero [in numberous ways, for example] into entering a life of crime. This is how Fagin enlists little boys as pickpockets in Oliver Twist. The mask of Mentor can be used to get a hero involved in a dangerous adventure, unknowingly working for the villains” (Vogler 121).
In the case of the “dwarf Regin, in Nordic myth,” the mentor double crosses the hero. Regin “is at first a Mentor to Sigurd the Dragonslayer and helpfully reforges his broken sword. But in the long run the helper turns out to be a doublecrosser. After the dragon is slain, Regin plots to kill Sigurd and keep the treasure for himself” (Vogler 121).
“Rumpelstiltskin is initially a fairy-tale Mentor who helps the heroine by making good on her father's boast that she can spin straw into gold. But the price he demands for his gift is too high - he wants her baby. These stories teach us that not all Mentors are to be trusted, and that it's healthy to question a Mentor's motives. It's one way to distinguish good from bad advice” (Vogler 122).
Even if there isn’t a double cross, it is not uncommon for there to be tension or even juvenile animosity towards mentors. For example, “in addition to painfully wounding Chiron, Hercules got so frustrated at music lessons that he bashed in the head of his music teacher Lycus with the first lyre ever made” (Vogler 121). Similarly, “Mentors sometimes disappoint the heroes who have admired them during apprenticeship” (Vogler 122). And ultimately, it is not uncommon for “Mentors, like parents, [to] have a hard time letting go of their charges” (Vogler 122).
MENTOR AS EVOLVED HERO “Mentors can be regarded as heroes who have become experienced enough to teach others. They have been down the Road of Heroes one or more times, and they have acquired knowledge and skill which can be passed on. The progression of images in the Tarot deck shows how a hero evolves to become a Mentor. A hero begins as a Fool and at various stages of the adventure rises through ranks of magician, warrior, messenger, conqueror, lover, thief, ruler, hermit, and so on. At last the hero becomes a Hierophant, a worker of miracles, a Mentor and guide to others, whose experience comes from surviving many rounds of the Hero's Journey” (Vogler 122).
PSYCHOLOGIST AS MENTOR: The doctor [depth psychologist] is the modern master of the mythological realm, the knower of all the secret ways and words of potency. His role is precisely that of the Wise Old Man of the myths and fairytales whose words assist the hero through the trials and terrors of the weird adventure. He is the one who appears and points to the magic shining sword that will kill the dragon-terror, tells of the waiting bride and the castle of many treasures, applies healing balm to the almost fatal wounds, and finally dismisses the conqueror, back into the world of normal life, following the great adventure into the enchanted night” (Campbell 6). “In the office of the modern psychoanalyst, the stages of the hero adventure come to light again in the dreams and hallucinations of the patient. Depth beyond depth of self-ignorance is fathomed, with the analyst in the role of the helper, the initiatory priest. And always, after the first thrills of getting under way, the adventure develops into a journey of darkness, horror, disgust, and phantasmagoric fears” (Campbell 102).
STORYTELLERS AS SHAMAN MENTORS “Writers, like shamans and Mentors, provide metaphors by which people guide their lives - a most valuable gift and a grave responsibility for the writer” (Vogler 124).
ADDITIONAL MYTHOLOGICAL EXAMPLE: “An East African tribe, for example, the Wachaga of Tanganyika, tell of a very poor man named Kyazimba, who set out in desperation for the land where the sun rises. And he had traveled long and grown tired, and was simply standing, looking hopelessly in the direction of his search, when he heard someone approaching from behind.
He turned and perceived a decrepit little woman. She came up and wished to know his business. When he had told her, she wrapped her garment around him, and, soaring from the earth, transported him to the zenith, where the sun pauses in the middle of the day. Then with a mighty din a great company of men came from eastward to that place, and in the midst of them was a brilliant chieftain, who, when he had arrived, slaughtered an ox and sat down to feast with his retainers. The old woman asked his help for Kyazimba. The chieftain blessed the man and sent him home. And it is recorded that he lived in prosperity ever after.” (Campbell 57).
Crossing the Threshold
Now the hero finally commits to the adventure and fully enters the Special World of the story for the first time by Crossing the First Threshold. He agrees to face the consequences of dealing with the problem or challenge posed in the Call to Adventure. This is the moment when the story takes off and the adventure really gets going. The balloon goes up, the ship sails, the romance begins, the plane or the spaceship soars off, the wagon train gets rolling.
Movies are often built in three acts, which can be regarded as representing I) the hero's decision to act, 2) the action itself, and 3) the consequences of the action. The First Threshold marks the turning point between Acts One and Two. The hero, having overcome fear, has decided to confront the problem and take action. She is now committed to the journey and there's no turning back.
This is the moment when Dorothy sets out on the Yellow Brick Road. The hero of Beverly Hills Cop, Axel Foley, decides to defy his boss's order, leaving his Ordinary World of the Detroit streets to investigate his friend's murder in the Special World of Beverly Hills.
VOGLER: For human experience, the primary thresholds are those between conscious from unconscious activity, wake and dream, life and death; each of which are symbolized by day and night, surface and subterranean, surface and submarine, known world and distant land.
Threshold guardians maintain the boundary between known and unknown realities. A struggle with a threshold guardian symbolizes an inner struggle against, 1, the boundaries of explored psychic territory, and 2, willingness to leave the known and surrender to the implications of adventuring on. As much as the threshold guardian separates known from the unknown, it also resists the invasion of normalcy by repressed and unknown forces.
It can take inner commitment to the adventure, surrender to the cause, and/or a leap of faith to cross the threshold. This is concurrent with a death or dismemberment of the self holding onto life as it was in the world as it was.
“Joseph Campbell reflects in The Power of Myth that in mythic terms, the first part of any journey of initiation must deal with the death of the old self and the resurrection of the new. Campbell says that the hero, or heroic figure, "moves not into outer space but into inward space, to the place from which all being comes, into the consciousness that is the source of all things, the kingdom of heaven within. The images are outward, but their reflection is inward" (Field 46).
“Now the hero stands at the very threshold of the world of adventure, the Special World of Act Two. The call has been heard, doubts and fears have been expressed and allayed, and all due preparations have been made. But the real movement, the most critical action of Act One, still remains. Crossing the First Threshold is an act of the will in which the hero commits wholeheartedly to the adventure.
“The ranks of the Seekers are thinner now. Some of us have dropped out, but the final few are ready to cross the threshold and truly begin the adventure. The problems of the Home Tribe are clear to everyone, and desperate - something must be done, now' Ready or not, we lope out of the village leaving all things familiar behind. As you pull away you feel the jerk of the invisible threads that bind you to your loved ones. It 's difficult to pull away from everything you know but with a deep breath you go Oil, taking the plunge into the abyss of the unknown. We enter a strange no-man 's -land, a world between worlds, a zone of crossing that may be desolate and lonely, or in places, crowded with life. You sense the presence of other beings, other joms with sharp thorns or claws, guarding the way to the treasure you seek. But there's no turning back now, we all feel it; the adventure has begul1 for good or ill.” (Vogler 127).
“APPROACHING THE THRESHOLD Heroes typically don't just accept the advice and gifts of their Mentors and then charge into the adventure. Often their final commitment is brought about through some external force which changes the course or intensity of the story. This is equivalent to the famous "plot point" or "turning point" of the conventional three-act movie structure. A villain may kill, harm, threaten, or kidnap someone close to the hero, sweeping aside all hesitation. Rough weather may force the sailing of a ship, or the hero may be given a deadline to achieve an assignment. The hero may run out of options, or discover that a difficult choice must be made. Some heroes are "shanghaied" into the adventure or pushed over the brink, with no choice but to commit to the journey. In Thelma & Louise, Louise's impulsive killing of a man who is assaulting Thelma is the action that pushes the women to Cross the First Threshold into a new world of being on the run from the law.
“An example of the externally imposed event is found in Hitchcock's North by Northwest. Advertising man Roger Thornhill, mistaken for a daring secret agent, has been trying his best to avoid his Call to Adventure all through the first act. It takes a murder to get him committed to the journey. A man he's questioning at the UN. building is killed in front of witnesses in such a way that everyone thinks Roger did it. Now he is truly a "man on the run," escaping both from the police and from the enemy agents who will stop at nothing to kill him. The murder is the external event that pushes the story over the First Threshold into the Special World, where the stakes are higher.
“Internal events might trigger a Threshold Crossing as well. Heroes come to decision points where their very souls are at stake, where they must decide "Do I go on living my life as I always have, or will I risk everything in the effort to grow and change?" In Ordinary People the deteriorating life of the young hero Conrad gradually pressures him into making a choice, despite his fears, to see a therapist and explore the trauma of his brother's death.
“Often a combination of external events and inner choices will boost the story towards the second act. In Beverly Hills Cop Axel Foley sees a childhood friend brutally executed by thugs, and is motivated to find the man who hired them. But it takes a separate moment of decision for him to overcome resistance and fully commit to the adventure. In a brief scene in which his boss warns him off the case, you see him make the inner choice to ignore the warning and enter the Special World at any cost” (Vogler 128).
"The discovery of a world we do not know. No matter how intimate or epic, contemporary or historical, concrete or fantasized, the world of an eminent artist always strikes us as somewhat exotic or strange. Like an explorer parting forest leaves, we step wide-eyed into an untouched society, a cliche-free zone where the ordinary becomes extraordinary" (McKee 4-5).
“THE CROSSING: Sometimes this step merely signifies we have reached the border of the two worlds. We must take the leap of faith into the unknown or else the adventure will never really begin.
“Countless movies illustrate the border between two worlds with the rossing of physical barriers such as doors, gates, arches, bridges, deserts’ canyons, walls, cliffs, oceans, or rivers. In many Westerns thresholds are clearly marked by river or border crossings. In the adventure Gunga Din, the heroes must leap off a high cliff to escape a horde of screaming cult members at the end of Act One. They are bonded by this leap into the unknown, a Threshold Crossing signifying their willingness to explore the Special World of Act Two together” (Vogler 129).
“In the olden days of film, the transition between Act One and Act Two was often marked by a brief fade-out, a momentary darkening of the screen which indicated passage of time or movement in space. The fade-out was equivalent to the curtain coming down in the theatre so the stagehands can change the set and props to create a new locale or show elapse of time.
“Nowadays it's Common for editors to cut sharply from Act One to Act Two. Nevertheless the audience will still experience a noticeable shift in energy at the Threshold Crossing. A song, a music cue or a drastic visual contrast may help signal the transition. The pace of the story may pick up. Entering a new terrain or structure may signal the change of worlds. In A League of Their Own the Crossing is the moment the women enter a big-league baseball stadium, a marked contrast from the country ball fields where they've been playing.
“The actual Crossing of the Threshold may be a single moment, or it may be an extended passage in a story. In Lawrence of Arabia, T. E. Lawrence's ordeals in crossing "the Sun's Anvil;' a treacherous stretch of desert, are an elaboration of this stage into a substantial sequence. The Crossing takes a certain kind of courage from the hero. He is like the Fool in the Tarot deck: one foot out over a precipice, about to begin free-fall into the unknown.
“That special courage is called making the leap of faith. Like jumping out of an airplane, the act is irrevocable. There's no turning back now. The leap is made on faith, the trust that somehow we'll land safely” (Vogler 130).
“THE WIZARD OF OZ: A tremendous natural jom rises up to hurl Dorothy over the First Threshold. She is trying to get home but the tornado sends her on a detour to a Special World where she will learn what "home)) really means. Dorothy's last name, Gale, is a wordplay that links her to the storm. In symbolic language, it's her own stirred-up emotions that have generated this twister. Her old idea if home, the house, is wrenched up by the tornado and carried to a jar-iff land where a new personality structure can be built.
“As she passes through the transition zone, Dorothy sees familiar Sights but in unfamiliar circumstances. Cows fly through the air, men row a boat through the storm, and Miss Gulch on her bicycle turns into the Wicked Witch. Dorothy has nothing she can count on now but Toto - her instincts.
“The house comes down with a crash. Dorothy emerges to find a world startlingly different from Kansas, populated by the Little Men and Women of jairy tales. A Mentor appears magically when Glinda floats onto the scene in a transparent bubble. She begins to teach Dorothy about the strange ways if the new land, and points out that the crash if Dorothy's house has killed a bad witch. Dorothy's old personality has been shattered by the uprooting of her old notion of home. Glinda gives a mentor's gifts, the ruby slippers, and new direction for the quest. To get home, Dorothy must first see the Wizard, that is, get in touch with her own higher Self. Glinda gives a specific path, the Yellow Brick Road, and sends her over another threshold, knowing she will have to make jriends, conjront joes, and be tested before she can reach her ultimate goal.
“The First Threshold is the turning point at which the adventure begins in earnest, at the end of Act One. According to a corporate metaphor in use at Disney, a story is like an airplane flight, and Act One is the process of loading, fueling, taxiing, and rumbling down the runway towards takeoff. The FirstThreshold is the moment the wheels leave the ground and the plane begins to fly. If you've never flown before, it may take awhile to adjust to being in the air. We'll describe that process of adjustment in the next phase of the Hero's Journey: Tests, Allies, Enemies” (Vogler 31).
Entering the Other World Can be associated with
According to Vogler, the Crossing of the First Threshold is when the protagonist commits wholeheartedly
According to Vogler, the major external event that drives the character across the threshold is the same as the 1st Plot Point that drives the character from act 1 into 2 in the traditional Hollywood 3-Act structure (as seen in Field)
According to Vogler, Often a combination of external events and inner choices will boost the story towards the second act
The threshold signifies the border between the known and unknown world.
Taking a step across the threshold can be seen as a leap of faith (ornot hope)
According to Vogler, the audience will still experience a noticeable shift in energy at the Threshold Crossing. A song, a music cue or a drastic visual contrast may help signal the transition.
Crossing the threshold can be signified by a change in landscape
According to Vogler, The First Threshold is the turning point at which the adventure begins in earnest, at the end of Act One. According to a corporate metaphor in use at Disney, a story is like an airplane flight, and Act One is the process of loading, fueling, taxiing, and rumbling down the runway towards takeoff. The FirstThreshold is the moment the wheels leave the ground and the plane begins to fly.
Heroes encounter obstacles on the road to adventure. At each gateway to a new world there are powerful guardians at the threshold, placed to keep the unworthy from entering. They present a menacing face to the hero, but if properly understood, they can be overcome, bypassed, or even turned into allies. Many heroes (and many writers) encounter Threshold Guardians, and understanding their nature can help determine how to handle them.
Threshold Guardians are usually not the main villains or antagonists in stories. Often they will be lieutenants of the villain, lesser thugs or mercenaries hired to guard access to the chief's headquarters. They may also be neutral figures who are simply part of the landscape of the Special World. In rare cases they may be secret helpers placed in the hero's path to test her willingness and skill.
There is often a symbiotic relationship between a villain and a Threshold Guardian. In nature, a powerful animal such as a bear will sometimes tolerate a smaller animal such as a fox nesting at the entrance of its lair. The fox, with its strong smell and sharp teeth, tends to keep other animals from wandering into the cave while the bear is sleeping. The fox also serves as an early warning system for the bear by making a racket if something tries to enter the cave. In similar fashion, villains of stories often rely on underlings such as doorkeepers, bouncers, bodyguards, sentries, gunslingers, or mercenaries to protect and warn them when a hero approaches the Threshold of the villain's stronghold” (Vogler 49).
PSYCHOLOGICAL FUNCTION: NEUROSES: These Guardians may represent the ordinary obstacles we all face in the world around us: bad weather, bad luck, prejudice, oppression, or hostile people like the waitress who refuses to grant Jack Nicholson's simple request in Five Easy Pieces. But on a deeper psychological level they stand for our internal demons: the neuroses, emotional scars, vices, dependencies, and self-limitations that hold back our growth and progress. It seems that every time you try to make a change in your life, these inner demons rise up to their full force, not necessarily to stop you, but to test if you are really determined to accept the challenge of change.
DRAMATIC FUNCTION: TESTING: Testing of the hero is the primary dramatic function of the Threshold Guardian. When heroes confront one of these figures, they must solve a puzzle or pass a test. Like the Sphinx who presents Oedipus with a riddle before he can continue his journey, Threshold Guardians challenge and test heroes on the path.
How to deal with these apparent obstacles? Heroes have a range of options. They can turn around and run, attack the opponent head-on, use craft or deceit to get by, bribe or appease the Guardian, or make an Ally of a presumed enemy. (Heroes are aided by a variety of archetypes known collectively as Allies, which will be discussed in a separate chapter.)
One of the most effective ways of dealing with a Threshold Guardian is to "get into the skin" of the opponent, like a hunter entering into the mind of a stalked animal. The Plains Indians wore buffalo skins to sneak within bow-shot of the bison herd. The hero may get past a Threshold Guardian by entering into its spirit or taking on its appearance. A good example is in Act Two of The Wizard of Oz, when the Tin Woodsman, Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow come to the Wicked Witch's castle to rescue the kidnapped Dorothy. The situation looks so bleak. Dorothy's inside a strong castle defended by a regiment of fiercelooking soldiers who march up and down singing "Oh-Ee-Oh:' There's no possible way for the three friends to defeat such a large force.
However, our heroes are ambushed by three sentries and overcome them, taking their uniforms and weapons. Disguised as soldi ers, they join the end of a column and march right into the castle. They have turned an attack to their advantage by literally climbing into the skins of their opponents. Instead of uselessly trying to defeat a superior enemy, they have temporarily become the enemy.
It's important for a hero to recognize and acknowledge these figures as Threshold Guardians. In daily life, you have probably encountered resistance when you try to make a positive change in your life. People around you, even those who love you, are often reluctant to see you change. They are used to your neuroses and have found ways to benefit from them. The idea of your changing may threaten them. If they resist you, it's important to realize they are simply functioning as Threshold Guardians, testing you to see if you are really resolved to change…
In The Power ?f Myth, Joseph Campbell illustrated [the] idea [of threshold guardians] beautifully with an example from Japan. Ferocious-looking demon statues sometimes guard the entrances to Japanese temples. The first thing you notice is one hand held up like that of a policeman gesturing "Stop!" But when you look more closely, you see that the other hand invites you to enter. The message is: Those who are put off by outward appearances cannot enter the Special World, but those who can see past surface impressions to the inner reality are welcome.
In stories, Threshold Guardians take on a fantastic array of forms. They may be border guards, sentinels, night watchmen, lookouts, bodyguards, bandidos, editors, doormen, bouncers, entrance examiners, or anyone whose function is to temporarily block the way of the hero and test her powers. The energy of the Threshold Guardian may not be embodied as a character, but may be found as a prop, architectural feature, animal, or force of nature that blocks and tests the hero. Learning how to deal with Threshold Guardians is one of the major tests of the Hero's Journey.
Heroes who overcome their fear and commit to an adventure may still be tested by powerful figures who raise the banner of fear and doubt, questioning the hero's very worthiness to be in the game. They are Threshold Guardians, blocking the heroes before the adventure has even begun.
In Romancing the Stone, Joan Wilder accepts the Call and is totally committed to the adventure for the sake of her sister in Colombia. However, the moment of fear, the way station of Refusal, is still elaborately acknowledged in a scene with her agent, who wears the fearful mask of a Threshold
Guardian. A tough, cynical woman, she forcefully underlines the dangers and tries to talk Joan out of going. Like a witch pronouncing a curse, she declares that Joan is not up to the task of being a hero. Joan even agrees with her, but is now motivated by the danger to her sister. She is committed to the adventure. Though Joan herself does not Refuse the Call, the fear, doubt, and danger have still been made dear to the audience. Joan's agent demonstrates how a character may switch masks to show aspects of more than one archetype. She appears at first to be a Mentor and friend to Joan, an ally in her profession and her dealings with men. But this Mentor turns into a fierce Threshold Guardian, blocking the way into the adventure with stern warnings. She's like an overprotective parent, not allowing the daughter to learn through her own mistakes. Her function at this point is to test the hero's commitment to the adventure.
This character serves another important function. She poses a dramatic question for the audience. Is Joan truly heroic enough to face and survive the adventure? This doubt is more interesting than knowing that the hero will rise to every occasion. Such questions create emotional suspense for the audience, who watch the hero's progress with uncertainty hanging in the back of their minds. Refusal of the Call often serves to raise such doubts.
It's not unusual for a Mentor to change masks and perform the function of a Threshold Guardian. Some Mentors guide the hero deeper into the adventure; others block the hero's path on an adventure society might not approve of - an illicit, unwise, or dangerous path. Such a Mentor / Threshold Guardian becomes a powerful embodiment of society or culture, warning the hero not to go outside the accepted bounds. In Beverly Hills Cop, Eddie Murphy's Detroit police boss stands in his way, orders him off the case, and draws a line which Murphy is not supposed to cross. Of course Murphy does cross the line, immediately.
THE SECRET DOOR Heroes inevitably violate limits set by Mentors or Threshold Guardians, due to what we might call the Law of the Secret Door. When Belle in Beauty and the Beast is told she has the run of the Beast's household, except for one door which she must never enter, we know that she will be compelled at some point to open that secret door. If Pandora is told she must not open the box, she won't rest until she's had a peek inside. If Psyche is told she must never look upon her lover Cupid, she will surely find a way to lay eyes on him. These stories are symbols of human curiosity, the powerful drive to know all the hidden things, all the secrets.
THE WIZARD OF OZ: Dorothy runs away from home and gets as jar as the carnival wagon if Prifessor Marvel, a JiVise Old Man whose junction, in this incarnation, is to block her at the threshold if a dangerous journey. At this point Dorothy is a willing hero, and it's lift for the Prifessor to express the danger if the road jar the audience. With a bit if shamanic magic, he convinces her to return home. He has convinced her to Refuse the Call, jar now
But in effect Professor Marvel is issuing a higher Call to go home, make peace with her embattled jeminine energy, reconnect with Aunt Em's love, and deal with her feelings rather than run away from them. Although Dorothy turns back for the time being, poweiful forces have been set in motion in her life. She finds that the frighiful power of the tornado, a symbol of the feelings she has stirred up, has driven her loved ones and allies underground, out if reach. No one can hear her. She is alone except for Toto, her intuition. Like many a hero she finds that once started on a journey, she can never go back to the way things were. Ultimately, Rifusal is pOintless. She has already burned some bridges behind her and must live with the consequences of taking the first step on the Road of Heroes.
Dorothy takes rifuge in the empty house, the common dream symbol for an old personality structure. But the whirling forces if change, which she herself has stirred up, come sweeping towards her and no structure can protect against its awesome power.
Refusal may be a subtle moment, perhaps just a word or two of hesitation between receiving and accepting a Call. (Often several stages of the journey may be combined in a single scene.) Refusal may be a single step near the beginning of the journey, or it may be encountered at every step of the way, depending on the nature of the hero.
Refusal of the Call can be an opportunity to redirect the focus of the adventure. An adventure taken on a lark or to escape some unpleasant consequence may be nudged into a deeper adventure of the spirit. A hero hesitates at the threshold to experience the fear, to let the audience know the formidability of the challenges ahead. But eventually fear is overcome or set aside, often with the help of wise, protective forces or magical gifts, representing the energy of the next stage, Meeting with the Mentor.
As you approach the threshold you're likely to encounter beings who try to block your way. They are called Threshold Guardians, a powerful and useful archetype. They may pop up to block the way and test the hero at any point in a story, but they tend to cluster around the doorways, gates, and narrow passages of threshold crossings. Axel Foley's Detroit police captain, who firmly forbids him from getting involved in the investigation of the murder, is one such figure.
Threshold Guardians are part of the training of any hero. In Greek myth, the three-headed monster dog Cerberus guards the entrance to the underworld, and many a hero has had to figure out a way past his jaws. The grim ferryman Charon who guides souls across the River Styx is another Threshold Guardian who must be appeased with a gift of a penny. The task for heroes at this point is often to figure out some way around or through these guardians. Often their threat is just an illusion, and the solution is simply to ignore them or to push through them with faith. Other Threshold Guardians must be absorbed or their hostile energy must be reflected back onto them. The trick may be to realize that what seems like an obstacle may actually be the means of climbing over the threshold. Threshold Guardians who seem to be enemies may be turned into valuable allies.
Sometimes the guardians of the First Threshold simply need to be acknowledged. They occupy a difficult niche and it wouldn't be polite to pass through their territory without recognizing their power and their important role of keeping the gate. It's a little like tipping a doorman or paying a ticket-taker at a theatre.
Threshold Guardians can be turned into Allies
Threshold Guardians test the skill and commitment of a hero
According to Vogler, these Guardians may represent the ordinary obstacles we all face in the world around us: bad weather, bad luck, prejudice, oppression, or hostile people
According to Vogler, on a deeper psychological level they stand for our internal demons: the neuroses, emotional scars, vices, dependencies, and self-limitations that hold back our growth and progress
According to Vogler, Testing of the hero is the primary dramatic function of the Threshold Guardian. When heroes confront one of these figures, they must solve a puzzle or pass a test. Like the Sphinx who presents Oedipus with a riddle before he can continue his journey, Threshold Guardians challenge and test heroes on the path.
Vogler suggests threshold guardians can be
According to Vogler, Refusal may be a subtle moment, perhaps just a word or two of hesitation between receiving and accepting a Call.
Often several stages of the journey may be combined in a single scene
Vogler suggests Threshold Guardians tend to cluster around
narrow passages of threshold crossings
in their own towns where they can live among each other
Tests, Allies, Enemies
Once across the First Threshold, the hero naturally encounters new challenges and Tests, makes Allies and Enemies, and begins to learn the rules of the Special World.
Saloons and seedy bars seem to be good places for these transactions. Countless Westerns take the hero to a saloon where his manhood and determination are tested, and where friends and villains are introduced. Bars are also useful to the hero for obtaining information, for learning the new rules that apply to the Special World.
In Casablanca, Rick's Cafe is the den of intrigue in which alliances and enmities are forged, and in which the hero's moral character is constantly tested. In Star Wars, the cantina is the setting for the creation of a major alliance with Han Solo and the making of an important enmity with Jabba the Hutt, which pays off two movies later in Return of the Jedi. Here in the giddy, surreal, violent atmosphere of the cantina swarming with bizarre aliens, Luke also gets a taste of the exciting and dangerous Special World he has just entered.
Scenes like these allow for character development as we watch the hero and his companions react under stress. In the Star Wars cantina, Luke gets to see Han Solo's way of handling a tight situation, and learns that Obi-Wan is a warrior wizard of great power.
There are similar sequences in An Officer and a Gentleman at about this point, in which the hero makes allies and enemies and meets his "love interest." Several aspects of the hero's character - aggressiveness and hostility, knowledge of street fighting, attitudes about women - are revealed under pressure in these scenes, and sure enough, one of them takes place in a bar.
Of course, not all Tests, Alliances, and Enmities are confronted in bars. In many stories, such as The Wizard of Oz, these are simply encounters on the road. At this stage on the Yellow Brick Road, Dorothy acquires her companions the Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman and Cowardly Lion, and makes enemies such as an orchard full of grumpy talking trees. She passes a number of Tests such as getting Scarecrow off the nail, oiling the Tin Woodsman, and helping the Cowardly Lion deal with his fear.
In Star Wars the Tests continue after the cantina scene. Obi-Wan teaches Luke about the Force by making him fight blindfolded. The early laser battles with the Imperial fighters are another Test which Luke successfully passes.
The hero comes at last to the edge of a dangerous place, sometimes deep underground, where the object of the quest is hidden. Often it's the headquarters of the hero's greatest enemy, the most dangerous spot in the Special World, the Inmost Cave. When the hero enters that fearful place he will cross the second major threshold. Heroes often pause at the gate to prepare, plan, and outwit the villain's guards. This is the phase of Approach.
In mythology, the Inmost Cave may represent the land of the dead. The hero may have to descend into hell to rescue a loved one (Orpheus), into a cave to fight a dragon and win a treasure (Sigurd in Norse myth), or into a labyrinth to confront a monster (Theseus and the Minotaur).
In the Arthurian stories, the Inmost Cave is the Chapel Perilous, the dangerous chamber where the seeker may find the Grail.
In the modern mythology of Star Wars, the Approach to the Inmost Cave is Luke Skywalker and company being sucked into the Death Star where they will face Darth Vader and rescue Princess Leia. In The Wizard of Oz it's Dorothy being kidnapped to the Wicked Witch's baleful castle, and her companions slipping in to save her. The title of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom reveals the Inmost Cave of that film.
Approach covers all the preparations for entering the Inmost Cave and confronting death or supreme danger.
Here the fortunes of the hero hit bottom in a direct confrontation with his greatest fear. He faces the possibility of death and is brought to the brink in a battle with a hostile force. The Ordeal is a "black moment" for the audience, as we are held in suspense and tension, not knowing if he will live or die. The hero, like Jonah, is "in the belly of the beast."
In Star Wars it's the harrowing moment in the bowels of the Death Star when Luke, Leia, and company are trapped in the giant trashmasher. Luke is pulled under by the tentacled monster that lives in the sewage and is held down so long that the audience begins to wonder if he's dead. In E.T, the lovable alien momentarily appears to die on the operating table. In The Wizard of Oz Dorothy and her friends are trapped by the Wicked Witch, and it looks like there's no way out. At this point in Beverly Hills Cop Axel Foley is in the clutches of the villain's men with a gun to his head.
In An Officer and a Gentleman, Zack Mayo endures an Ordeal when his Marine drill instructor launches an all-out drive to torment and humiliate him into quitting the program. It's a psychological life-or-death moment, for if he gives in, his chances of becoming an officer and a gentleman will be dead. He survives the Ordeal by refusing to quit, and the Ordeal changes him. The drill sergeant, a foxy Wise Old Man, has forced him to admit his dependency on others, and from this moment on he is more cooperative and less selfish.
In romantic comedies the death faced by the hero may simply be the temporary death of the relationship, as in the second movement of the old standard plot, "Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl."The hero's chances of connecting with the object of affection look their bleakest.
This is a critical moment in any story, an Ordeal in which the hero must die or appear to die so that she can be born again. It's a major source of the magic of the heroic myth. The experiences of the preceding stages have led us, the audience, to identify with the hero and her fate. What happens to the hero happens to us. We are encouraged to experience the brink-of-death moment with her. Our emotions are temporarily depressed so that they can be revived by the hero's return from death. The result of this revival is a feeling of elation and exhilaration.
The designers of amusement park thrill rides know how to use this principle. Roller coasters make their passengers feel as if they're going to die, and there's a great thrill that comes from brushing up against death and surviving it. You're never more alive than when you're looking death in the face.
This is also the key element in rites of passage or rituals of initiation into fraternities and secret societies. The initiate is forced to taste death in some terrible experience, and then is allowed to experience resurrection as he is reborn as a new member of the group. The hero of every story is an initiate being introduced to the mysteries of life and death.
Every story needs such a life-or-death moment in which the hero or his goals are in mortal jeopardy.
Having survived death, beaten the dragon, or slain the Minotaur, hero and audience have cause to celebrate. The hero now takes possession of the treasure she has come seeking, her Reward. It might be a special weapon like a magic sword, or a token like the Grail or some elixir which can heal the wounded land.
Sometimes the "sword" is knowledge and experience that leads to greater understanding and a reconciliation with hostile forces.
In Star Wars, Luke rescues Princess Leia and captures the plans of the Death Star, keys to defeating Darth Vader.
Dorothy escapes from the Wicked Witch's castle with the Witch's broomstick and the ruby slippers, keys to getting back home.
At this point the hero may also settle a conflict with a parent. In Return of the Jedi, Luke is reconciled with Darth Vader, who turns out to be his father and not such a bad guy after all.
The hero may also be reconciled with the opposite sex, as in romantic comedies. In many stories, the loved one is the treasure the hero has come to win or rescue, and there is often a love scene at this point to celebrate the victory.
From the hero's point of view, members of the opposite sex may appear to be Shapeshifters, an archetype of change. They seem to shift constantly in form or age, reflecting the confusing and constantly changing aspects of the opposite sex. Tales of vampires, werewolves and other shapechangers are symbolic echoes of this shifting quality which men and women see in each other.
The hero's Ordeal may grant a better understanding of the opposite sex, an ability to see beyond the shifting outer appearance, leading to a reconciliation.
The hero may also become more attractive as a result of having survived the Ordeal. He has earned the title of "hero" by having taken the supreme risk on behalf of the community.
The Road Back
The hero's not out of the woods yet. We're crossing into Act Three now as the hero begins to deal with the consequences of confronting the dark forces of the Ordeal. If she has not yet managed to reconcile with the parent, the gods, or the hostile forces, they may come raging after her. Some of the best chase scenes spring up at this point, as the hero is pursued on The Road Back by the vengeful forces she has disturbed by Seizing the sword, the elixir, or the treasure.
Thus Luke and Leia are furiously pursued by Darth Vader as they escape the Death Star. The Road Back in E. T is the moonlight bicycle flight of Elliott and E. T. as they escape from "Keys" (Peter Coyote), who represents repressive governmental authority.
This stage marks the decision to return to the Ordinary World. The hero realizes that the Special World must eventually be left behind, and there are still dangers, temptations, and tests ahead.
In ancient times, hunters and warriors had to be purified before they returned to their communities, because they had blood on their hands. The hero who has been to the realm of the dead must be reborn and cleansed in one last Ordeal of death and Resurrection before returning to the Ordinary World of the living.
This is often a second life-and-death moment, almost a replay of the death and rebirth of the Ordeal. Death and darkness get in one last, desperate shot before being finally defeated. It's a kind of final exam for the hero, who must be tested once more to see if he has really learned the lessons of the Ordeal.
The hero is transformed by these moments of death-and-rebirth, and is able to return to ordinary life reborn as a new being with new insights.
The Star Wars films play with this element constantly. The films of the "original trilogy" feature a final battle scene in which Luke is almost killed, appears to be dead for a moment, and then miraculously survives. Each Ordeal wins him new knowledge and command over the Force. He is transformed into a new being by his experience.
Axel Foley in the climactic sequence of Beverly Hills Cop once again faces death at the hands of the villain, but is rescued by the intervention of the Beverly Hills police force. He emerges from the experience with a greater respect for cooperation, and is a more complete human being.
An Officer and a Gentleman offers a more complex series of final ordeals, as the hero faces death in a number of ways. Zack's selfishness dies as he gives up the chance for a personal athletic trophy in favor of helping another cadet over an obstacle. His relationship with his girlfriend seems to be dead, and he must survive the crushing blow of his best friend's suicide. As if that weren't enough, he also endures a final hand-to-hand, life-or-death battle with his drill instructor, but survives it all and is transformed into the gallant" officer and gentleman" of the title.
Return with the Elixir
The hero Returns to the Ordinary World, but the journey is meaningless unless she brings back some Elixir, treasure, or lesson from the Special World. The Elixir is a magic potion with the power to heal. It may be a great treasure like the Grail that magically heals the wounded land, or it simply might be knowledge or experience that could be useful to the community someday.
Dorothy returns to Kansas with the knowledge that she is loved, and that "There's no place like home." E.T returns home with the experience of friendship with humans. Luke Skywalker defeats Darth Vader (for the time being) and restores peace and order to the galaxy.
Zack Mayo wins his commission and leaves the Special World of the training base with a new perspective. In the sparkling new uniform of an officer (with a new attitude to match) he literally sweeps his girlfriend off her feet and carries her away.
Sometimes the Elixir is treasure won on the quest, but it may be love, freedom, wisdom, or the knowledge that the Special World exists and can be survived. Sometimes it's just coming home with a good story to tell.
Unless something is brought back from the Ordeal in the Inmost Cave, the hero is doomed to repeat the adventure. Many comedies use this ending, as a foolish character refuses to learn his lesson and embarks on the same folly that got him in trouble in the first place.
APPROACH OF INMOST CAVE
Approach of the Inmost Cave/AKA Dark night of the Soul: As with the refusal of the call preceding the commitment to cross a threshold, the fear, doubt, despair, and high stakes that come with taking the last step into the very headquarters of confrontation with antagonistic forces can be conveyed by hesitation and despair. The hero is often symbolically and internally isolated. The Dark night of the soul, as described by St. John of the Cross, is about the surrender and letting go that comes at the very limit of despair, which can be followed by an ordeal of inrushing insight and psychic (or externally symbolic) revolution. More confident heroes sometimes displace fear and despair of the ordeal ahead with intense preparation. Sometimes the tone of this preparation conveys despair. And sometimes preparation bridges conveyes the readiness for action of a hero who has rebounded from the pit of despair with newfound conviction. The tension of lovers is often also expressed in this moment, before life is risked and survival unlikely. Though great adventurers have reached this far before, none have survived the upcoming challenge.
“Though Vogler puts added emphasis on preparation for entry into the cave, Campbell introduces a series of relevant examples. He writes, "I stood before a dark cave, wanting to go in," was the dream of a patient at the beginning of his analysis; "and I shuddered at the thought that I might not be able to find my way back."9 "I saw one beast after another," Emanuel Swedenborg recorded in his dream book, for the night of October 19-20, 1744, "and they spread their wings, and were dragons. I was flying over them, but one of them was supporting me."lo* And the dramatist Friedrich Hebbel recorded, a century later (April 13, 1844): "In my dream I was being drawn with great force through the sea; there were terrifying abysses, with here and there a rock to which it was possible to hold. "" Themistocles dreamed that a snake wound itself around his body, then crept up to his neck and when it touched his face became an eagle that took him in its talons and, carrying him upward, bore him a long distance, and set him down on a golden herald's staff that suddenly appeared, so safely that he was all at once relieved of his great anxiety and fear” (Campbell 11).
Expanding on this stage of the Journey, Vogler writes, “The hero comes at last to the edge of a dangerous place, sometimes deep underground, where the object of the quest is hidden. Often it's the headquarters of the hero's greatest enemy, the most dangerous spot in the Special World, the Inmost Cave. When the hero enters that fearful place he will cross the second major threshold. H eroes often pause at the gate to prepare, plan, and outwit the villain's guards. This is the phase of Approach. In mythology the Inmost Cave may represent the land of the dead. The hero may have to descend into hell to rescue a loved one (Orpheus). into a cave to fight a dragon and win a treasure (Sigurd in Norse myth), or into a labyrinth to confront a monster (Theseus and the Minotaur)' In the Arthurian stories the Inmost Cave is the Chapel Perilous, the dangerous chamber where the seeker may find the Grail. In the modern mythology of Star Wcirs the Approach to the Inmost Cave is Luke Skywalker and company being sucked into the Death Star where they will face Darth Vader and rescue Princess Leia. In The Wizard of Oz it's Dorothy being kidnapped to the Wicked Witch's baleful castle, and her companions slipping in to save her. The title of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom reveals the Inmost Cave of that film. Approach covers all the preparations for entering the Inmost Cave and confronting death or supreme danger” (Vogler 14).
“This is the Approach to the Inmost Cave, where soon they will encounter supreme wonder and terror. It's time to make final preparations for the central ordeal of the adventure. Heroes at this point are like mountaineers who have raised themselves to a base camp by the labors of Testing, and are about to make the final assault on the highest peak” (Vogler 14).
“As heroes near the gates of a citadel deep within the Special World, they may take time to make plans, do reconnaissance on the enemy, reorganize or thin out the group, fortify and arm themselves, and have a last laugh and a final cigarette before going over the top into no-man's-land. The student studies for the midterm. The hunter stalks the game to its hiding place. Adventurers squeeze in a love scene before tackling the central event of the movie” (Vogler 144). Many have [prepared for] this point before and none have survived. Perseus' Approach to the monster Medusa is choked with statues of heroes turned to stone by her glance. The labyrinth which Theseus enters is littered with the bones of those who were eaten by the monster inside or who starved trying to find their way out” (Vogler 165).
Death and the Ordeal: The ordeal is an obligatory scene that must occur on screen. It often serves as the midpoint, central/bottom moment, and major turn/crisis of the story. This is where the protagonist will face that which is most externally feared and internally repressed—often an antagonistic dragon or inner demon, hoarding the object/outcome of desire in a very defended lair. When it seems as though the hero will likely fail—often within a static moment—the hero is tasked with a penultimate choice that calls for sacrifice of some kind. Such sacrifice not only leads to success, but also the inrush of enlightening insight symbolized by such totems as world-saving swords or grails the hero then takes into possession before climactically delivering it to his home world as a revivifying force. Whatever the totem, insight, or boon, its retrieval represents a change in direction for the hero and home world of the story—from the direction of down and dying to the upward direction of rising life. This is midnight, new moon or the winter solstice moment—sometimes symbolized by the death of ego in the hero or in the form of a slain nemesis—followed by the sparking green shoot of new life, the first sliver of moon, or the first movement towards spring. The death of ego is the death of that which had been blocking the marriage of opposites within (or without) the hero, which allows the hero to become whole, (relatively) enlightened, and filled with new life (and personality). Though the ordeal/crisis is not the climax, they must bridge to one another in a building way as opposed to slowing down with sub-plot that drains rising energy.
Penultimate Antagonistic Force: The conflation of tyrant and shadow has led many astray here. The shadow is not at odds with the self—only the stubbornness of ego who refuses the wholeness desires by one’s deeper self. The stubbornness of ego in need of change is symbolized in the tyrannical nemesis. The stubborn ego must be destroyed within the protagonist, or in the externalized form of dragon slaying, for consciousness to integrate what had been relegated to shadow, which will resolve one-sided ignorance and trigger such new enlightenment as will redefine the character.
“Journeys naturally arrange themselves around a central event: getting to the top of the mountain, the depth of the cave, the heart of the forest, the most intimate interior of a foreign country, or the most secret place in your own soul. Everything in the trip has been leading up to this moment, and everything after it will be just going home. Vogler 159 ). “Every journey seems to have a center: a bottom or a peak, somewhere near the middle. The words crisis, critic, and critical come from a Greek word that means "to separate:' (Vogler 159). Campbell and Vogler call this the Ordeal. “In a conventional film, the hero always survives the Ordeal and lives to see the villain defeated in the climax” (Vogler 169).
“The smoldering combat that ignites in the Ordeal may be an inner struggle between an old, comfortable, well-defended personality structure and a new one that is weak, unformed, but eager to be born. But the new Self can't be born until the old one dies or at least steps aside to leave more room on the center stage” (Vogler 171).
“FACING THE GREATEST FEAR The Ordeal can be defined as the moment the hero faces his greatest fear. For most people this is death, but in many stories it's just whatever the hero is most afraid of: facing up to a phobia, challenging a rival, or roughing out a storm or a political crisis. Indiana Jones inevitably must come face-to-face with what he fears most – snakes” (Vogler 170). “Here the fortunes of the hero hit bottom in a direct confrontation with his greatest fear. He faces the possibility of death and is brought to the brink in a battle with a hostile force. The Ordeal is a "black moment" for the audience, as we are held in suspense and tension, not knowing if he will live or die. The hero, like Jonah, is "in the belly of the beast" (Vogler 15).
Campbell writes, “The ordeal is a deepening of the problem of the first threshold and the question is still in balance: Can the ego put itself to death? For many-headed is this surrounding Hydra; one head cut off, two more appear-unless the right caustic is applied to the mutilated stump. (Campbell 88). What does he mean when he asks, can the ego put itself to death? He is referring to the decapitation of the bull and the last loss of the lunar crescent. He’s talking about the emptiness achieved by the Buddha’s enlightenment. The mistake so many make is the mortal sin of using the Hero’s Journey. The Hero’s Journey is not all about championing the hero. According to Campbell, to complete the Journey, the hero must put ego to death.
He writes, “mythology does not hold as its greatest hero the merely virtuous man. Virtue is but the pedagogical prelude to the culminating insight, which goes beyond all pairs of opposites. Virtue quells the self-centered ego and makes the transpersonal centeredness possible; but when that has been achieved, what then of the pain or pleasure, vice or virtue, either of our own ego or of any other? Through all, the transcendent force is then perceived which lives in all, in all is wonderful, and is worthy, in all, of our profound obeisance” (Campbell35-36).
CRISIS: THE CRISIS, NOT THE CLIMAX “The Ordeal is a major nerve ganglion of the story. Many threads of the hero's history lead in, and many threads of possibility and change lead out the other side. It should not be confused with the climax of the Hero's Journey - that's another nerve center further down near the end of the story (like the brain at the base of a dinosaur's tail). The Ordeal is usually the central event of the story, or the main event of the second act. Let's call it the crisis to differentiate it from the climax (the big moment of Act Three and the crowning event of the whole story)” (Vogler 156).
“Crisis with a capital C is the ultimate decision. The Chinese ideogram for Crisis is two terms: Danger/Opportunity-"danger" in that the wrong decision at this moment will lose forever what we want; "opportunity" in that the right choice will achieve our desire. The protagonist's quest has carried him through the Progressive Complications until he's exhausted all actions to achieve his desire, save one. He now finds himself at the end of the line. His next action is his last. No tomorrow. No second chance. This moment of dangerous opportunity is the point of greatest tension in the story as both protagonist and audience sense that the question "How will this tum out?" will be answered out of the next action. The Crisis is the story's Obligatory Scene. From the Inciting Incident on, the audience has been anticipating with growing vividness the scene in which the protagonist will be face to face with the most focused, powerful forces of antagonism in his existence. This is the dragon, so to speak, that guards the Object of Desire: be it the literal dragon of JAWS or the metaphorical dragon of meaninglessness in TENDER MERCIES. The audience leans into the Crisis filled with expectation mingled with uncertainty. The Crisis must be true dilemma-a choice between irreconcilable goods, the lesser of two evils, or the two at once that places the protagonist under the maximum pressure of his life” (McKee 303-304).
The location of the Crisis is determined by the length of the climactic action” (McKee 306). “This is the Obligatory Scene. Do not put it off screen, or skim over it. The audience wants to suffer with the protagonist through the pain of this dilemma. We freeze this moment because the rhythm of the last movement depends on it. An emotional momentum has built to this point, but the Crisis dams its flow. As the protagonist goes through this decision, the audience leans in, wondering: "What's he going to do? What's he going to do?" Tension builds and builds, then as the protagonist makes a choice of action, that compressed energy explodes into the Climax” (308 McKee). “This dilemma confronts the protagonist who. When face-to-face with the most powerful and focused forces of antagonism in his life. must make a decision to take one action or another in a last effort to achieve his Object of Desire” (McKee 304).
CHOICE: In order to properly dramatize the choice, “The Crisis decision must be a deliberately static moment” (308 McKee). Think Neo just before Morpheus’ plug is pulled. How the protagonist chooses here gives us the most penetrating view of his deep character, the ultimate expression of his humanity. This scene reveals the story's most important value. If there's been any doubt about which value is central, as the protagonist makes the Crisis Decision, the primary value comes to the fore. At Crisis the protagonist's willpower is most severely tested. As we know from life, decisions are far more difficult to make than actions are to take. We often put off doing something for as long as possible, then as we finally make the decision and step into the action, we're surprised by its relative ease. We're left to wonder why we dreaded doing it until we realize that most of life's actions are within our reach, but decisions take willpower” (McKee 304).
FACING THE SHADOW By far the most common kind of Ordeal is some sort of battle or confrontation with an opposing force. It could be a deadly enemy villain, antagonist, opponent, or even a force of nature. An idea that comes close to encompassing all these possibilities is the archetype of the Shadow. A villain may be an external character, but in a deeper sense what all these words stand for is the negative possibilities of the hero himself. In other words, the hero's greatest opponent is his own Shadow. Vogler 163). [Oversimplified and wrong. The hero’s greatest hero is the shadow, and his great opponent is his own ego. The ego will be broken open by the shadow, with which it must integrate. The tyrannical ego that refuses to integrate shadow is, in my opinion, the more ultimate villain.
DARK MOMENT - DECONSTRUCTION – OVERCOMING EGO / HERO COMPLEX / SACRIFICE “We have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought tfind an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world” (Campbell 18).
The low point of a story is its midnight, its winter solstice, its new moon. This is the darkest time of the year. The darkest time of the day. Philosophically, this is expressed as emptiness—emptiness of ego (and the recognition of matter’s inherent emptiness). “This moment in the story, the climax of Act Two… the moment of greatest tension in Act Two and should set the story on the final path to resolution in Act Three” (Vogler 192-193). In the myth of Theseus, we see this in the decapitation of the Bull, In the Dark Night of the Soul, we see this in the form of a hope is lost moment. Christ empties his sepulcher, and the Buddha recognizes the inherent emptiness of matter and ego. It is this very moksha – liberation – from ego (which can come in painful forms) that enables the coming insight.
DEATH OF THE EGO “The Ordeal in myths signifies the death of the ego. The hero is now fully part of the cosmos, dead to the old, limited vision of things and reborn into a new consciousness of connections. The old boundaries of the Self have been transcended or annihilated. In some sense the hero has become a god with the divine ability to soar above the normal limits of death and see the broader view of the connectedness of all things. The Greeks called this a moment of apotheosis, a step up from enthusiasm where you merely have the god in you” (Vogler 171).
“Where surrender meets rebirth preceding death Resurrection often calls for a sacrifice by the hero. … Something must be shared for the good of the group” (Vogler 209). Sacrifice comes from Latin words meaning "making holy." Heroes are often required to sanctify a story by making a sacrifice, perhaps by giving up or giving back something of themselves. Sometimes the sacrifice is the death of members of the group. Luke Skywalker, at the climax of Star Wars, sees many of his comrades killed in the effort to destroy the Death Star. Luke also gives up part of his personality: his dependence on machines. With Obi Wan's voice in his head, he decides to "Trust the Force;' and learns to trust human instinct rather than machinery. Luke undergoes another personal sacrifice at the climax of the second film in the series, The Empire Strikes Back. Here he is escaping from the Emperor and loses a hand in the getaway. In repayment, he gains new control over the Force in the third film of the trilogy, Return if the Jedi” (Vogler 209).
“The hero facing an Ordeal has moved her center from the ego to the Self, to the more godlike part of her. There may also be a movement from Self to group as a hero accepts more responsibility than just looking out for herself” (Vogler 172). “The hero is the man of self-achieved submission. But submission to what? That precisely is the riddle that today we have to ask ourselvesand that it is everywhere the primary virtue and historic deed of the hero to have solved” (Campbell 11).
“Gilbert Murray has pointed our in his preface to Ingram Bywater's translation of the Poetics of Aristotle on tragic katharsis (i.e., the "purification" or "purgation" of the emotions of the spectator of tragedy through his experience of pity and terror) corresponds to an earlier ritual katharsis ("a purification of the community from the taints and poisons of the past year, the old contagion of sin and death"), which was the function of the festival and mystery play of the dismembered bull-god, Dionysos. The meditating mind is united, in the mystery play, not with the body that is shown to die, but with the principle of continuous life that for a time inhabited it, and for that time was the reality clothed in the apparition (at once the sufferer and the secret cause), the substratum into which our selves dissolve when the "tragedy that breaks man's face" l' has split, shattered, and dissolved our mortal frame” (Campbell 19-20). "No creature," writes Ananda Coomaraswamy, "can attain a higher grade of nature without ceasing to exist." (77 Campbell). “To wake the sleeping princess, the soul. Life is her sleep, death the awakening. The hero, the waker of his own soul, is himself but the convenient means of his own dissolution. God, the waker of the soul, is therewith his own immediate death” (Campbell 222-223). “The dominant motive in all truly religious (as opposed to black-magical) ceremonial is that of submission to the inevitables of destiny-and in the seasonal festivals this motive is particularly apparent” (Campbell 331).
RESURRECTION OF SELF: “The simple secret of the Ordeal is this: Heroes must die so that they can be reborn. The dramatic movement that audiences enjoy more than any other is death and rebirth” (Vogler 155). This is a critical moment in any story, an Ordeal in which the hero must die or appear to die so that she can be born again. It's a major source of the magic of the heroic myth. The experiences of the preceding stages have led us, the audience, to identify with the hero and her fate. What happens to the hero happens to us. We are encouraged to experience the brink-of-death moment with her. Our emotions are temporarily depressed so that they can be revived by the hero's return from death. The result of this revival is a feeling of elation and exhilaration” (Vogler 15).
“Only birth can conquer death-the birth, not of the old thing again, but of something new. Within the soul, within the body social, there must be-if we are to experience long survival-a continuous "recurrence of birth" (palingenesis) to nullify the unremitting recurrences of death. For it is by means of our own victories, if we are not regenerated, that the work of Nemesis is wrought: doom breaks from the shell of our very virtue. Peace then is a snare; war is a snare; change is a snare; permanence a snare. When our day is come for the victory of death, death closes in; there is nothing we can do, except be crucified-and resurrected; dismembered totally, and then reborn” (Campbell 11-12).
“The hero, therefore, is the man or woman who has been able to battle past his personal and local historical limitations to the generally valid, normally human forms. Such a one's visions, ideas, and inspirations come pristine from the primary springs of human life and thought. Hence they are eloquent, not of the present, disintegrating society and psyche, but of the unquenched source through which society is reborn. The hero has died as a modern man; but as eternal man-perfected, unspecific, universal man-he has been reborn” (Campbell 14-15).
“This is also the key element in rites of passage or rituals of initiation into fraternities and secret societies. The initiate is forced to taste death in some terrible experience, and then is allowed to experience resurrection as he is reborn as a new member of the group. The hero of every story is an initiate being introduced to the mysteries of life and death” (Vogler 16).
Spielberg's E.T. dies before our eyes but is reborn through alien magic and a boy's love. Sir Lancelot, remorseful over having killed a gallant knight, prays him back to life. Clint Eastwood's character in Uriforgiven is beaten senseless by a sadistic sheriff and hovers at the edge of death, thinking he's seeing angels. Sherlock Holmes, apparently killed with Professor Moriarity in the plunge over Reichenbach Falls, defies death and returns transformed and ready for more adventures. Patrick Swayze's character, murdered in Ghost, learns how to cross back through the veil to protect his wife and finally express his true love for her” (Vogler 156).
UNION OF OPPOSITES: One of the great ordeals in mythology is the sacred marriage or hieros gamos. As Jung discusses, in alchemy this is called the mysterium conjuncionis – the mysterious conjunction of opposites. Throughout the Ordeal, according to Campbell, characters undergo experiences with masculine and feminine representatives that bring them into harmony with the other and enable them to experience atonement – at one ment – with the divine.
Vogler picks up on this motif. “In a Sacred Marriage both sides of the personality are acknowledged to be of equal value” (Vogler 168). Sacred Marriage "represents the hero's total mastery of life," a balanced marriage between the hero and life itself. Therefore the Ordeal may be a crisis in which the hero is joined with the repressed feminine or masculine side in a Sacred Marriage” (Vogler 168).
Campbell writes, “the ultimate adventure, when all the barriers and ogres have been overcome, is commonly represented as a mystical marriage of the triumphant hero-soul with the Queen Goddess of the World. This is the crisis at the nadir, at the zenith, or at the uttermost edge of the earth, at the central point of the cosmos, in the tabernacle of the temple, or within the darkness of the deepest chamber of the heart” (Campbell 91). Recall the image of Osiris in the innermost chamber of Aker, down in the depths of the Amduat. It is exactly at this time he is conceiving with Isis, queen of the gods, who is directly above him, in the sky—taking the form of a bird. In this moment, the union is across the entire axis mundi. This is the marriage of above and below—the union of all opposites.
ATONEMENT WITH FATHER: “For the ogre aspect of the father is a reflex of the victim's own ego-derived from the sensational nursety scene that has been left behind, bur projected before; and the fixating idolatry of that pedagogical nonthing is itself the fault that keeps one steeped in a sense of sin, sealing the potentially adult spirit from a better balanced, more realistic view of the father, and therewith of the world. Atonement (at-one-ment) consists in no more than the abandonment of that self-generated double monster-the dragon thought to be God (superego)* and the dragon thought to be Sin (repressed id). But this requires an abandonment of the attachment to ego itself; and that is what is difficult. One must have a faith that the father is merciful, and then a reliance on that mercy. Therewith, the center of belief is transferred outside of the bedeviling god's tight scaly ring, and the dreadful ogres dissolve” (Campbell 107-109).
“When the child outgrows the popular idyl of the mother breast and turns to face the world of specialized adult action, it passes, spiritually, into the sphere of the father-who becomes, for his son, the sign of the future task, and for his daughter, of the future husband. Whether he knows it or not, and no matter what his position in society, the father is the initiating priest through whom the young being passes on into the larger world” (Campbell 115).
“The mystagogue (father or father-substitute) is to entrust the symbols of office only to a son who has been effectually purged of all inappropriate infantile cathexes-for whom the just, impersonal exercise of the powers will not be rendered impossible by unconscious (or perhaps even conscious and rationalized) motives of self-aggrandizement, personal preference, or resentment. Ideally, the invested one has been divested of his mere humanity and is representative of an impersonal cosmic force. He is the twiceborn: he has become himself the father. And he is competent, consequently, now to enact himself the role of the initiator, the guide, the
sun door, through whom one may pass from the infantile illusions of "good" and "evil" to an experience of the majesty of cosmic law, purged of hope and fear, and at peace in the understanding of the revelation of being” (115- Campbell 116).
Regenerative Energy of Father the world-begetting affirmative of the father: "Life must be!" In
full awareness of the life anguish of the creatures of his hand, in full consciousness of the roaring wilderness of pains, the brain-splitting fires of the deluded, self-ravaging, lustful, angry universe of his creation, this divinity acquiesces in the deed of supplying life to life. To withhold the seminal waters would be to annihilate; yet to give them forth is to create this world that we know” (Campbell 125).
“The problem of the hero going to meet the father is to open his soul beyond terror to such a degree that he will be ripe to understand how the sickening and insane tragedies of this vast and ruthless cosmos are completely validated in the majesty of Being. The hero transcends life with its peculiar blind spot and for a moment rises to a glimpse of the source. He beholds the face of the father, understands-and the two are atoned. For the son who has grown really to know the father, the agonies of the ordeal are readily borne; the world is no longer a vale of tears but a bliss-yielding, perpetual manifestation of the Presence” (Campbell 125-126).
Atonement with Father EXAMPLE: “When the Twin Warriors of the Navaho, having departed from Spider Woman with her advice and protective charms, had made their perilous way between the rocks that crush, through the reeds that cut to pieces, and the cactus plants that tear to pieces, and then across the boiling sands, they came at last to the house of the Sun, their father. (Campbell 109)
The door was guarded by two bears. These arose and growled; but the words that Spider Woman had taught the boys made the animals crouch down again. After the bears, there threatened a pair of serpents, then winds, then lightnings: the guardians of the ultimate threshold.t(Campbell 109)
All were readily appeased, however, with the words of the prayer. Built of turquoise, the house of the Sun was great and square, and it stood on the shore of a mighty water. The boys entered it, and they beheld a woman sitting in the west, two handsome young men in the south, two handsome young women in the north. The young women stood up without a word, wrapped the newcomers in four sky-coverings, and placed them on a shelf. The boys lay quietly. Presently a rattle hanging over the door shook fout times and one of the young women said, "Our father is coming." (Campbell 110)
The bearer of the sun strode into his home, removed the sun from his back, and hung it on a peg on the west wall of the room, where it shook and clanged for some time, going "da, da, tla, tla." (Campbell 110)
He turned to the older woman and demanded angrily: "Who were those two that entered here today?" But the woman did not reply. The young people looked at one another. The bearer of the sun put his question angrily four times before the woman said to him at last: "It would be well for you not to say too much. Two young men came hither today, seeking their father. You have told me that you pay no visits when you go abroad, and that you have met no woman but me. Whose sons, then, are these?" She pointed to the bundle on the shelf, and the children smiled significantly at one another. (Campbell 110)
The bearer of the sun took the bundle from the shelf, unrolled the four robes (the robes of dawn, blue sky, yellow evening light, and darkness), and the boys fell out on the floor. He immediately seized them. Fiercely, he flung them at some great sharp spikes of white shell that stood in the east. The boys tightly clutched their life-feathers and bounded back. The man hurled them, equally, at spikes of turquoise in the south, haliotis in the west, and black rock in the north. The boys always clutched their life-feathers tightly and came bounding back. "I wish it were indeed true," said the Sun, "that they were my children. (Campbell 110)"
The terrible father assayed then to steam the boys to death in an overheated sweatlodge. They were aided by the winds, who provided a protected retreat within the lodge in which to hide. "Yes, these are my children," said the Sun when they emerged-but that was only a ruse; for he was still planning to trick them. The final ordeal was a smoking-pipe filled with poison. A spiny caterpillar warned the boys and gave them something to put into their mouths. They smoked the pipe without harm, passing it back and forth to one another till it was finished. They even said it tasted sweet. The Sun was proud. He was completely satisfied. "Now, my children," he asked, "what is it you want from me? Why do you seek me?" The Twin Heroes had won the full confidence of the Sun, their father” (Campbell 110).
MEETING WITH THE GODDESS: “Heroes are ultimately seeking a confrontation with their anima, their soul, or the unrecognized feminine or intuitive parts of their personality” (Vogler 167). “To wake the sleeping princess, the soul. Life is her sleep, death the awakening. The hero, the waker of his own soul, is himself but the convenient means of his own dissolution. God, the waker of the soul, is therewith his own immediate death” (Campbell 222-223).
“The hero, whether god or goddess, man or woman, the figure in a myth or the dreamer of a dream, discovers and assimilates his opposite (his own unsuspected self) either by swallowing it or by being swallowed” (Campbell 89). Hero’s “Must see Woman as Spiritual instead of reducing her to corpse – asceticisms projections onto Women must be seen through The kabbalistic teachings of the medieval Jews, as well as the Gnostic Christian writings of the second century, represent the Word Made Flesh as androgynous-which was indeed the state of Adam as he was created, before the female aspect, Eve, was removed into another form” (Campbell 137).
“And among the Greeks, not only Hermaphrodite (the child of Hermes and Aphrodite),89 but Eros too, the divinity of love (the first of the gods, according to Plato) ,9° were in sex both female and male. "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."9 1 The question may arise in the mind as to the nature of the image of God; but the answer is already given in the text, and is clear enough. "When the Holy One, Blessed be He, created the first man, He created him androgynous."92 The removal of the feminine into another form symbolizes the beginning of the fall from perfection into duality; and it was naturally followed by the discovery of the duality of good and evil, exile from the garden where God walks on earth, and thereupon the building of the Wall of Paradise, constituted of the "coincidence of opposites, "93 by which Man (now man and woman) is cut off from not only the vision but even the recollection of the image of God” (Campbell 137).
“This is the biblical version of a myth known to many lands. It represents one of the basic ways of symbolizing the mystery of creation: the devolvement of eternity into time, the breaking of the one into the two and then the many, as well as the generation of new life through the reconjunction of the two. This image stands at the beginning of the cosmogonic cycle,94 and with equal propriety at the conclusion of the hero-task, at the moment when the wall of Paradise is dissolved, the divine form found and recollected, and wisdom regained” (Campbell 131-132). “The bisexual god … is the mystery of the theme of initiation. We are taken from the mother, chewed into fragments, and assimilated to the world-annihilating body of the ogre for whom all the precious forms and beings are only the courses of a feast; but then, miraculously reborn, we are more than we were. If the God is a tribal, racial, national, or sectarian archetype, we are the warriors of his cause; but if he is a lord of the universe itself, we then go forth as knowers to whom alL men are brothers. And in either case, the childhood parent images and ideas of "good" and "evil" have been surpassed. We no longer desire and fear; we are what was desired and feared. All the gods, Bodhisattvas, and Buddhas have been subsumed in us, as in the halo of the mighty holder of the lotus of the world” (Campbell 132).
“This is the meaning of those Tibetan images of the union of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas with their own feminine aspects that have seemed so indecent to many Christian critics. According to one of the traditional ways of looking at these supports of meditation, the female form (Tibetan: yurn) is to be regarded as time and the male (yab) as eternity. The union of the two is productive of the world, in which all things are at once temporal and eternal, created in the image of this self-knowing male-female God. The initiate, through meditation, is led to the recollection of this Form of forms (yab-yurn) within himself. Or on the other hand, the male figure may be regarded as symbolizing the initiating principle, the method; in which case the female denotes the goal to which initiation leads. But this goal is nirviir;a (eternity). And so it is that both the male and the female are to be envisioned, alternately, as time and eternity. That is to say, the two are the same, each is both, and the dual form (yabyurn) is only an effect of illusion, which itself, however, is not different from enlightenment” (Campbell 145-146).
“In the Eskimo story of Raven in the belly of the whale, the motif of the fire sticks has suffered a dislocation and subsequent rationalization. The archetype of the hero in the belly of the whale is widely known. The principal deed of the adventurer is usually to make fire with his fire sticks in the interior of the monster, thus bringing about the whale's death and his own release. Fire making in this manner is symbolic of the sex act. The two sticks-socket-stick and spindleare known respectively as the female and the male; the flame is the newly generated life. The hero making fire in the whale is a variant of the sacred marriage” (Campbell 212).