Dream Idyll - A Valkyrie, 1902, by Edward Robert Hughes.
Dream Idyll – A Valkyrie, 1902, by Edward Robert Hughes.

“With the great quest complete, the seeker has become the knower, the student a sage, the pupil a potential teacher.

But there is one more phase before the journey is complete: return and contribution.

With one’s own questions answered, the world’s confusion begs for clarification; with one’s own suffering relieved, the pain and sorry of the world cry for healing. The desire to contribute becomes compelling, and the direction of the journey now reverses.

Whereas one had formerly turned away from society and into one’s self, now the hero turns back to society and into the world.”

~ Roger Walsh, The World of Shamanism: New Views on an Ancient Tradition

You may have heard of The Hero’s Journey – or perhaps you’re actually eyeball-deep in it?

Isle of the Dead, 1880, by Arnold Böcklin. Image courtesy of Wiki-Commons.
Isle of the Dead, 1880, by Arnold Böcklin. Image courtesy of Wiki-Commons.

It’s a familiar phrase to some, but as Morpheus tells Neo in The Matrix, there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking it. Uh-yup. That’d be affirmative.

The actual phases of The Journey may be lesser known — including to those very ones who find themselves, inexplicably, off the familiar path, having inadvertently answered a soul-call that plunged them into a journey in which they know not where they are.

Sound familiar? To me as well; it’s where I spent a fair amount of time. But fear not…

One key point of The Journey is to reclaim Lost Heart — our own, and the World’s — and, I’d wager, some degree of the lost empathy, compassion, and humanity that went (and returns) with it.

A lovely notion, and a worthy and even vital mission now, but not for the faint of heart or those who prefer a nice picnic at the chasm’s edge (and most of us really would!).

Though a sugar-pill journey it may not be, it is a great adventure at what the poet David Whyte calls the fierce edges of Life.

Sir Galahad, readying for the Grail Quest. Painting by Joseph Noel Paton (1821-1901)
Sir Galahad, readying for the Grail Quest. Painting by Joseph Noel Paton (1821-1901)

Like it or not, for some, one’s purpose or dharma includes The Hero’s Journey, its tour of the Underworld, and the Return to tell about it and share the gained insights and reclaimed Heart Bits.

In navigating the fierce edges of Life by way of The Hero’s Journey, we reawaken our own fierce heartedness, and with it, a bit of the World’s.

And then, as Walsh notes, the Seeker becomes the Knower (including the wisdom that in some of Life’s Mysteries, one can actually know very little); the seasoned Journeyer becomes the way-shower.

Sir Galahad Discovers the Grail, c. 1890, by Edwin Austin Abbey (1852-1911). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Sir Galahad Discovers the Grail, c. 1890, by Edwin Austin Abbey (1852-1911). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Return is one of the various phases of The Journey, and one of the most challenging (though little is said of it).

Knowing that it is a stage of The Journey, and that it can often be the most challenging, helps — at least for the returning Hero or Heroine Journeyer who comes stumbling or squinting out of the Dark Forest (or the Dark Night) with a new perspective and insight to share in a world that needs it but doesn’t yet know that!

The Light of the World (Detail), c. 1900-1904, in St. Paul's Cathedral, London. By William Holman Hunt.
The Light of the World (Detail), c. 1900-1904, in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. By William Holman Hunt.

In the current times of transformation, with the very potent and dynamic archetypal energies in play (like the Uranus-Pluto and Pals dance that’s been underway), more people have found themselves, or will find themselves, cast into a Hero’s Journey of their own.

As always, those who’ve walked that path, journeyed the Underworld (and maybe even mapped some of it, and lit a few lanterns here and there), and returned to tell the tale and share the found-insights, make the best guides and lantern-holders for those being initiated via The Hero’s Journey now.

Light your lanterns (and if you’re in The Journey, or in the Dark Night, look for those lights!).

Big Love (and Bright Lanterns for the Journey),

Jamie