The Wandering Heroine: A Quest of a Different Kind

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Aug 26, 2015 3:00:00 PM

A guest post by Jody Gentian Bower, Ph.D. The initial quote is from her book Jane Eyre’s Sisters: How Women Live and Write the Heroine Story.

"The Aletis represents a feminine archetype every bit as important as the masculine archetype of the hero. This is why people keep writing her story, trying to put down in words something felt and understood unconsciously, something important about women."

Ever since Joseph Campbell published The Hero with a Thousand Faces in 1949, the story of the Hero’s Quest has informed the thinking and writing of countless authors, scriptwriters, folklorists, mythologists, and depth psychologists. Campbell’s work forms one of the pillars of education at Pacifica Graduate Institute and continues to be amplified by and inspire the work of many Pacifica students and faculty.

The Hero is almost always male, however, and so there has been a concurrent effort to either re-vision the Quest story from a female perspective, or to find another story that fits a woman’s journey to individuation better. Works such as The Heroine’s Journey by Maureen Murdock and The Bridge to Wholeness by Jean Benedict Raffa fall into the former category, while Christine Downing, Jean Shinoda Bolen, and Clarissa Pinkola Estés are examples of authors who have sought wisdom in myths and folktales featuring goddesses, princesses, and witches.

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Posted in: Joseph Campbell, The Psyche, Mythology, literature

The Rebirth of the Hero: Mythology as a Guide to Spiritual Transformation

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Dec 15, 2014 4:33:00 PM

A guest post by Dr. Keiron Le Grice

Modern-day cinematic portrayals of myths old and new are etched in our collective imagination. Who can forget the 1960s film depiction of the Greek hero Jason and the crew of the Argo boldly sailing their ship between the Clashing Rocks or Luke Skywalker unmasking his father, Darth Vader, in Star Wars? And how many of us were enthralled watching Frodo Baggins accepting his fateful mission to carry the Ring of Power away from the Shire or were enchanted by the other-worldly experiences of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz? Such films comprise a set of shared cultural reference points and have inspired audiences the world over. Yet beyond their capacity to entertain and stir the imagination, mythic films also possess an instructive metaphorical significance. Skilfully interpreted, they can provide invaluable guidance for the process of deep psychospiritual transformation that Carl Jung called individuation. It is this way of reading and using myth that is the focus of my 2013 publication, The Rebirth of the Hero.

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Posted in: Joseph Campbell, Mythology, Jungian & Archetypal Studies

My Travels with Joseph Campbell

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Sep 15, 2014 12:45:00 PM

A guest post by Evans Lansing Smith

In the summer of 1988, after returning home from my first teaching job, at a small college in Switzerland, I saw segments of the PBS series, “The Power of Myth,” in which Joseph Campbell told Bill Moyers about his days as a student in France during the 1920’s. With characteristic zeal, Campbell recalled his daily visits to the Cathedral of Chartres, during which he identified every single figure in its Biblical pantheon, whether stained in radiant glass or carved in immemorial stone. He became such a familiar figure that one day the sexton entrusted him with an extraordinary task.

“Would you like,” said the sexton, “to come up with me into the belfry to ring the noontide bells?”

Who could say no?

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Posted in: Joseph Campbell, Mythology