The Heroine’s Journey

There are many heroines’ journeys, but Maureen Murdock designed one that I found the most interesting. She was the first to recognize that Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey narrative paradigm did not adequately address the psycho-spiritual journey of women. She developed a model for what she called “The heroine’s journey” based on her work with people in therapy, which included interviewing many female clients and analyzing their journeys through life.

When she shared her observations with Joseph Campbell back in 1983, he pointed that women do not need to make that journey as ‘they are already there, and all they need to do is realize that they are already that place that people are trying to get to.’ It is possible that his position was driven by the idea that the hero’s journey is a search for wholeness, and in a patriarchal society, men have been taught to suppress their so-called feminine qualities. So, from that perspective, men would need to travel within to reclaim these qualities and values. Nevertheless, Campbell would dismiss the need for women to reclaim their long-lost qualities either because of the cultural conditioning or because they were not considered rightfully an aspect of women’s psyche. In any case, Maureen Murdock became convinced that women consciously or not but are engaged in their own psycho-spiritual quest and created the following model that she shared in her book The Heroine’s Journey: Woman’s Quest for Wholeness:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is heroine-journey-1024x990.jpg

The quest involves 10 stages that can be described as follows:

  1. Separation from the feminine – Feminine is viewed as someone who is seen as a mother/mentor but rather holding an outside role.
  2. Identification with the masculine and gathering of allies – She creates a new path and engages in a new way of living, often associated with masculine-dominated characteristics.
  3. Road of trails meeting ogres and dragons – Heroine encounters difficulties and faces people or situations that will try to destroy her.
  4. Finding the boon and success – Overcoming obstacles. (This usually is the end of the cycle).
  5. Awakening to feelings of spiritual aridity/death – with preciously engaged masculine characteristics, the new way of life becomes too limited for the heroine.
  6. Initiation and descent to the Goddess – The limits of the new way of life turn into a crisis, pushing the heroine into hopelessness.
  7. Urgent yearning to reconnect with the feminine – she wants to reconnect with the limited way of living; however, she cannot succeed.
  8. Healing mother/daughter split – she has regained a few of their original values, skills, or attributes but now sees them through new lenses.
  9. Healing the wounded masculine within – she reconciles within the masculine approach to life.
  10. Integration of masculine and feminine – Heroine integrates the masculine/feminine aspects of her psyche and faces the world/future with a new understanding of themselves and sees the world through characteristics of both integrated elements in society and interacts within a complex culture that includes her but is larger than just her personal lifetime or geographical location.

Art credit: Internet find