WHAT IS A HEROINE'S JOURNEY?
Since we began this project, many have asked me this question.
It opens a conversation, and we usually find ourselves musing about how in our culture, so many of the stories we share are stories of men. Histories, legends, fairytales, blockbuster movies. In the Best Picture category at the Oscars this year, over half the movies lacked any kind of female lead.
In fact, it’s only recently that we have begun unearthing the women in our history who have shaped the world, so much so that a story with a female lead is still something of a novelty, and even a revolutionary act.
And so, we conclude, it’s important to carve out space in our world for the stories of women. We need to rebalance things somehow.
And then the next question: what are the stories of women?
In traditional stroycraft (and in Joseph Campbell’s popular Hero’s Journey model), the archetypal story of man is that of the dragon slayer - the iconic hero stepping up to lead armies, save the day, or get the girl.
It’s Lancelot, Robin Hood, Han Solo, James Bond. It’s a story of achievement and impossible feats and, usually, of winning the day.
Is the story of women the same? Maureen Murdock, who wrote the book The Heroine’s Journey thirty years ago, says no. Or at least, she says that for women, gaining success and winning achievements is just the beginning.
For what follows then is the real journey of our lives - back to ourselves, back into balance with the wiser, more compassionate parts of our psyches, and back to wholeness. That the journey of conquest will only get you so far.
And, so importantly, that the world needs more of us (both women and men) to take this heroine’s journey. That the world is out of balance in part because our culture is.
I feel like we’re still learning what that heroine’s journey looks like. Still reconciling ambition and drive with care and connection. It’s something I’m researching and exploring, and would like to write a longer blog about that soon.
And I would really like to hear your thoughts, either here or when we next meet. What binds the journey of women? And what does a heroine’s journey mean to you?