This is the sixth in the series of workshops I have been taking on the Archetypes of Spiritual Guidance. The theme is the Journeyer which also translates to the pilgrim or the perhaps the explorer. I struggled a little bit with the framework that Atum utilized for this archetype. Basically we explored three possibilities. The first was the six realms from Tibetan Buddhism. These include: the Hell realm, realm of the hungry ghost, animal realm, human realm, first heavenly realm, second heavenly realm (realm of the Gods). The second was a lovely model for manifestation based on the Kabbala tradition. The model had four steps: inspiration, creative imagination, building and then living the experience. I have used various models from my own experience including the seven step model based on the seven days of creation that I learned at Unity Church as well as the adaptations I developed for decision-making and activating intuition. The major difference would be starting with intention as the first step. I did like the idea of living fully the manifested creation. A good reminder. The third model was based on the seven stages of Pir Vilayat. We used music to reflect the stages, I soon found myself overwhelmed as it seemed far too complex for my simple needs. I love creating sacred space through music; in some ways my choices would resemble those selected by Atum with the addition of the many forms of chanting. My evening contemplation practice focuses on three different forms – Gregorian, Buddhist and Sanscrit. The states or stages that Atum offered through Pir Vilayat were: the angelic, sacred, exultation, innocence, beauty, djinn and astral. I consider many of these to create sacred space and are part of the mystery of mystic experience but his differentiation did not resonate with me.
At the close of the workshop I realized that I want to develop a clear understanding of how I view the Journeyer archetype relative to my personal journey and to my client work. I realize it would all fit in the Human realm of the Tibetan tradition which is where I see the primary work of the journey of the Soul. I think that in the Hell realm and the addiction realm (hungry ghosts) there will be psychological issues that require resolution before entering individuation and spiritual coaching. In the animal realm people will not have reached a high enough level on Maslow’s hierarchy to evolve. Perhaps the model that most resonates for me in terms of the Journeyer is the Hero’s Journey espoused by Joseph Campbell. There are three primary transitions in the Hero’s Journey, each with a number of steps. It begins with Departure, followed by Initiation and finally Return. We may not encounter all steps in every journey but they provide important reference points both personally and with Spiritual Coaching Clients. At the conclusion of this reflection I have quoted from the Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction web site which accurately reflects my memory of the Hero’s Journey that I first heard presented by Jean Houston many years ago.
As I concluded this reflection I realized there was one more piece I needed to add in terms of the Journey and Spiritual Coaching. From both my own exploration and my work with clients I have drawn some personal beliefs
The soul seeks experience, it is often not about outcomes, it is about the journey.
We are brought experiences to support our learning and to fulfill our highest good.
We are here to achieve both psychological and spiritual healing and the soul has the capacity to guide us to both.
We are supported best on this journey when we strive to balance the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of our being.
Our primary responsibility is to work with intention and pay attention. The Soul will show the way however we must remember the Soul speaks its own language through symbol, metaphor, synchronicity, serendipity and dreams.
Manifesting in our lives is a co-creative process that begins with intention and flows into inspiration yet essentially it must always serve our highest good.
The Hero’s Journey.
The Call to Adventure
The call to adventure is the point in a person’s life when they are first given notice that everything is going to change, whether they know it or not.
Refusal of the Call
Often when the call is given, the future hero refuses to heed it. This may be from a sense of duty or obligation, fear, insecurity, a sense of inadequacy, or any of a range of reasons that work to hold the person in his or her current circumstances.
Once the hero has committed to the quest, consciously or unconsciously, his or her guide and magical helper appears, or becomes known.
The Crossing of the First Threshold
This is the point where the person actually crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his or her world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous realm where the rules and limits are not known.
The Belly of the Whale
The belly of the whale represents the final separation from the hero’s known world and self. It is sometimes described as the person’s lowest point, but it is actually the point when the person is between or transitioning between worlds and selves. The separation has been made, or is being made, or being fully recognized between the old world and old self and the potential for a new world/self. The experiences that will shape the new world and self will begin shortly, or may be beginning with this experience which is often symbolized by something dark, unknown and frightening. By entering this stage, the person shows their willingness to undergo a metamorphosis, to die to him or herself.
The Road of Trials
The road of trials is a series of tests, tasks, or ordeals that the person must undergo to begin the transformation. Often the person fails one or more of these tests, which often occur in threes.
The Meeting with the Goddess
The meeting with the goddess represents the point in the adventure when the person experiences a love that has the power and significance of the all-powerful, all encompassing, unconditional love that a fortunate infant may experience with his or her mother. It is also known as the “hieros gamos”, or sacred marriage, the union of opposites, and may take place entirely within the person. In other words, the person begins to see him or herself in a non-dualistic way. This is a very important step in the process and is often represented by the person finding the other person that he or she loves most completely. Although Campbell symbolizes this step as a meeting with a goddess, unconditional love and /or self unification does not have to be represented by a woman.
Woman as the Temptress
At one level, this step is about those temptations that may lead the hero to abandon or stray from his or her quest, which as with the Meeting with the Goddess does not necessarily have to be represented by a woman. For Campbell, however, this step is about the revulsion that the usually male hero may feel about his own fleshy/earthy nature, and the subsequent attachment or projection of that revulsion to women. Woman is a metaphor for the physical or material temptations of life, since the hero-knight was often tempted by lust from his spiritual journey.
Atonement with the Father
In this step the person must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in his or her life. In many myths and stories this is the father, or a father figure who has life and death power. This is the center point of the journey. All the previous steps have been moving in to this place, all that follow will move out from it. Although this step is most frequently symbolized by an encounter with a male entity, it does not have to be a male; just someone or thing with incredible power. For the transformation to take place, the person as he or she has been must be “killed” so that the new self can come into being. Sometime this killing is literal, and the earthly journey for that character is either over or moves into a different realm.
To apotheosize is to deify. When someone dies a physical death, or dies to the self to live in spirit, he or she moves beyond the pairs of opposites to a state of divine knowledge, love, compassion and bliss. This is a god-like state; the person is in heaven and beyond all strife. A more mundane way of looking at this step is that it is a period of rest, peace and fulfillment before the hero begins the return.
The Ultimate Boon
The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the quest. It is what the person went on the journey to get. All the previous steps serve to prepare and purify the person for this step, since in many myths the boon is something transcendent like the elixir of life itself, or a plant that supplies immortality, or the holy grail.
Refusal of the Return
So why, when all has been achieved, the ambrosia has been drunk, and we have conversed with the gods, why come back to normal life with all its cares and woes?
The Magic Flight
Sometimes the hero must escape with the boon, if it is something that the gods have been jealously guarding. It can be just as adventurous and dangerous returning from the journey as it was to go on it.
Rescue from Without
Just as the hero may need guides and assistants to set out on the quest, often times he or she must have powerful guides and rescuers to bring them back to everyday life, especially if the person has been wounded or weakened by the experience. Or perhaps the person doesn’t realize that it is time to return, that they can return, or that others need their boon.
The Crossing of the Return Threshold
The trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into a human life, and then maybe figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world. This is usually extremely difficult.
Master of the Two Worlds
In myth, this step is usually represented by a transcendental hero like Jesus or Buddha. For a human hero, it may mean achieving a balance between the material and spiritual. The person has become comfortable and competent in both the inner and outer worlds.
Freedom to Live
Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is the freedom to live. This is sometimes referred to as living in the moment, neither anticipating the future nor regretting the past.
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