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Reply To: THERE and BACK AGAIN,” with MythBlast author Stephen Gerringer”


Happy Day, sunbug!

You write

Back to the return (with a good boon):?is the village ready? Is patience called for? Or will another Dawning happen in a collective way?”

An important question you raise – sometimes the village is not ready:

The function of the orthodox community is to torture the mystic to death: his goal.” (A Joseph Campbell Companion)

And even if martyrdom is not in the cards, one’s original community does sometimes reject the hero when s/he/they returns:

The principal gain is a sense of an authentic act – and an authentic life. It may be a short one, but it is an authentic one, and that’s a lot better than those short lives full of boredom. The principal loss is security. Another is respect from the community. But you gain the respect of another community, the one that is worth having the respect of.”

Joseph Campbell, Myth & the Body: A Colloquy with Joseph Campbell (Copyright © 1999 Stanley Keleman; Joseph Campbell’s contribution © Joseph Campbell Foundation) p. 39

So it’s not exactly an either/or. Campbell spends a great deal of time in a few different places discussing the quester’s options when society is not open to the boon one brings back.

For 2022 at JCF, our MythBlast essay series is focused on an exploration of the Hero’s Journey, but not as traditionally discussed. Rather, our theme for the year is “De-centering the Hero.” That doesn’t mean we are anti-Hero’s Journey, trying to upend Campbell’s work; rather, we are looking beyond the traditional notions of the muscular hero, examining other essential elements of the quest – such as the female hero, the collective hero, the trickster as hero, and what happens to the hero after returning from the quest (hint: it’s not always pretty – but that’s a subject for an upcoming month).

Nevertheless, the individual quest remains central to Campbell’s understanding:

It has to be found first in private life. I would say that whatever is about to occur in the way of
transformation of consciousness will have had to have occurred, first, in the hearts of individual human
beings, who will then have had—as a result of their very presence—an influence in the larger
community.” (Interview with Joseph Campbell by E. Bouratinos: Emilios Review, 9-30-85)