Journal #1: The Call to Adventure/Separation from the Mother
Journal #2: The Initiation/The Belly of the Whale
Journal #3: The Road of Trials
Journal # 4: Duality and Sacred Marriage
Essay #1: The Importance of Context in Myth Interpretation
Journal #5: The Boon
Journal #6: Beauty and the Bodhisattva
Journal #7: The Challenges of Research
Essay #2: Power
This website is a companion piece to an independent study program (a course of study the student builds themselves) I am working on at Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Western Washing ton University for my B.A. in transpersonal mythology and folklore. the ISP is entitled, “The Heroine’s Journey – Katabasis and the Feminine Monomyth” and is a survey of the feminine hero’s journey in myth, folklore, fairy tale, and modern media. Many of these stories revolve around a young, pubescent female archetype who travels to an underworld-like realm (katabasis) on an epic quest, and eventually returns, usually of her own agency. Stories such as Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Psyche, Persephone, and Inanna have come to exemplify the feminine monomyth. The primary focus of my studies would be on stories from Indo-European cultures, but would also need to draw on other global cultures for comparison and completeness.
Joseph Campbell’s seminal work, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, he discusses the hero’s journey, or monomyth, as a Jungian archetype found across cultures and time. He defines this journey through 17 steps he considers universal to the story. Mostly absent from his proposition is the female heroine. He states in Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation:
All of the great mythologies and much of the mythic story-telling of the world are from the male point of view. When I was writing The Hero with a Thousand Faces and wanted to bring female heroes in, I had to go to the fairy tales. These were told by women to children, you know, and you get a different perspective. It was the men who got involved in spinning most of the great myths. The women were too busy; they had too damn much to do to sit around thinking about stories. […]
His dismissal of fairy tales as a legitimate source for the feminine monomyth and assumption that women were “too busy” to sit around spinning yarns is shockingly false, and illustrates the cultural divide between how we perceive the things pertaining to a feminine context as inferior domestic trifles compared to the grand creative visions of men. By researching the differences between the presentation of the male hero against the presentation of the female hero, I hope to understand and define where these stories intersect and where they diverge.
What is the archetype of the heroine? Is there more than one?
What are the stages of the heroine’s journey? How are they similar to Campbell’s hero’s journey? How are they different? If they are different, what are the stages that define the heroine’s journey?
How do these stories illustrate what society values in the feminine?
What common symbolism and metaphor is found in these stories?
How has this story and these characters changed over time.