Archetypes in the Hero's Journey How to Access the Inner World of Consciousness

Archetypes in the Hero’s Journey — How to Access the Inner World

The ultimate adventure begins when we learn how to access the inner world of consciousness.  The great sages tell us all we need are the right tools to explore this inner landscape of the mind.  Are you ready to take the Hero’s Journey?

You may have questions about who or what we are.  Where does our consciousness originate?  What happens to our awareness when we die?  Who is the person I talk to inside my head, experiencing my dreams when I sleep?

It is only natural to be curious about our consciousness and the inner world.  We are born with an innate desire to explore the unknown, and our curiosity prompts us to ask questions and seek answers.  Our natural curiosity leads us on a quest for inner discovery.

What is The Hero’s Journey?

To explain this quest, let’s start by defining terms.  Spirituality is a word with a wide range of meanings, and a lot depends upon the context and how you use it.  You can infuse almost any value into the term, which adds to the confusion.

An archetype is a typical example of a person or thing, the attributes associated with a person or thing.  It represents a reoccurring theme in stories, myths, and legends.

The inner world is the thread of consciousness that contains our awareness.  The inner world of consciousness contains the memories and feelings of our life experiences.

Spirituality concerns the deeper aspects of the human psyche, which religions call the Spirit or Soul.  It is a way of describing the elements of consciousness.  Some people say we are spiritual beings having a temporary physical experience.

The word journey means to travel.  The word exploration is the investigation of unfamiliar territory.  When we put all three terms together, we get “the journey exploring spirituality.” A simpler way to say it is “spiritual exploration.” See, that was easy.

The archetypes in the Hero’s Journey (1) are the common elements of the quest to reach enlightenment.  Enlightenment is a eureka realization of something, a breakthrough in intellectual understanding.  Religion usurps the term enlightenment to mean indoctrination in their mythology.  Religion also confuses the term spirituality.

It is common for people to think that religion and spirituality are the same, but this is incorrect.  Religion is the belief in dogma and imaginary friends.  Religions use spiritual language to make the belief in mythology sound worthwhile.  It is a scam to make people customers.

The Abrahamic or Semitic religions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are devoid of processes for exploring consciousness.  It is all about belief in myth.  In contrast, spiritual exploration uses processes to explore our inner world.

The Semitic religions have a membership of 4 billion members combined.  They are a rebranding of the mystery religions from the Mediterranean region.  These earlier religions were assimilated into the Roman empire around 1 BCE.  These systems have nothing to do with spirituality or human development.  They are schemes to sell myths and superstitions.

Rather than exploring consciousness, they use groupthink manipulation tactics to install beliefs and values.  These beliefs create tunnel vision which skews our ability to think rationally.

Archetypes in the Hero’s Journey

Take the Hero's Journey What is the Hero's Journey

Spiritual exploration is the practice of techniques that teach us how to access the inner world of consciousness.  You do not join a religion to practice these techniques.  It is the opposite.  It does not involve believing in imaginary friends and enemies but rather applying processes that delve into awareness.  The pioneers of these techniques used spiritual terms to explain how to learn them.  These are tools that enable us to explore the inner world of consciousness.

Look at the characters in the prominent religions and their life stories.  You will see many have humble beginnings.  Then they set out on a quest to obtain something special.  Along the way, they gather friends or disciples and face supernatural forces.  In the end, they are victorious.  This theme is repeated in many holy texts, like the Bible.  It is also at the core of the stories like Star Wars and Avatar.

We use this same philosophy in our blended learning process.  It is a natural progression when you teach the ancient technologies in perspective with their culture.  You can find this model around the world in numerous cultures.  It is a pattern that resonates with us on several levels.  So, it is not surprising that we find the themes in the most popular stories.

Are You Ready to Take the Hero’s Journey?

The archetype of this story or timeline contains twelve distinct elements.  See which ones you identify with the most.

1) The Ordinary World.  It is where we meet the hero and identify with him or her.  Recall Luke Skywalker helping his uncle, Frodo, prepare for a party talking with Gandalf; Harry Potter is at his aunt and uncle’s home.  He seems out of place, and Mulan is studying to impress the matchmaker.  You are known to your circle and likely view yourself as ordinary.  This is the very beginning of the story.

2) The Call to Adventure.  A challenge or quest is proposed.  Likely there is an event, conflict, or problem that prompts the adventure.  Maybe drug and alcohol use has placed relationships on rocky ground.  Or, your boss smelled alcohol on you as you walked by at work.  Perhaps legal consequences are pending.  The archetypes in the Hero’s Journey begin with hearing the call.

3) Refusal of the Call.  The hero initially rejects this call because of fear, hesitation, insecurity, or another reason.  Perhaps family or friends have suggested that you go to treatment, and you aren’t quite ready.  You might be afraid of what to expect in therapy.  Whatever the reason, the call to adventure is rejected initially.

4) Meeting the Mentor.  The mentor helps the hero gain confidence and gives insight or advice to overcome fears.  You might encounter a friend or family member that has had experiences with drug and alcohol abuse.  This person can give advice, guidance, and insight to help you gain confidence.  They are not necessarily a spiritual leader or teacher.  You may not even like this person.  They are the spark that helps you “do something” rather than just think about it.

5) Crossing the Threshold.  The threshold signifies that the hero has committed to the journey.  Frodo packed food to take and set out past the Shire.  Luke Skywalker leaves Tatooine.  Harry Potter gets on the train at platform 9¾.  Mulan sets out to the military camp.  This is where our hero – You – say yes to treatment and heads out to begin the adventure of reclaiming your life.

The fifth step often begins with a significant experience of the inner landscape of the mind.  It might be the first time you experience the 4th state of awareness or your first experience with the Shamanic Journey.  It is learning how to access the inner world and take the hero’s journey.

6) Tests, Allies, Enemies.  The hero needs to learn who can be trusted.  A sidekick emerges, like Hedwig, Hermione, Ron, Sam, Mushu, and R2D2 and C3PO.  Tests might be barriers to treatment like childcare, time off work, finances, or looming court appearances.

The sixth step is a confrontation with the enemy.  This enemy could be external or internal.  Most often, the first enemy we face is harmful memories.  Others confront the contradictions of religious mythology.  It is one of the archetypes in the Hero’s Journey, where many people fail.  They go back to sleep and their old lives because they fear their enemy.

7) Approach to the Innermost Cave.  Preparations are needed and might include maps and reconnaissance to enter the cave.  In treatment, the innermost cave refers to working through feelings of shame and guilt.  Women drink and use it mainly to cover painful, negative emotions.  To continue your journey, you must face the reasons why you chose to drink and use.

8) The Ordeal.  Here is where we face the greatest fear and most difficult challenge.  Perhaps you were physically or sexually abused as a child or had a miscarriage that was so painful.  Your therapist in treatment will ask you to delve deep into your psyche to address your most significant challenge.  The work is challenging but so worth the reward.

9) The hero overcame the greatest fear and challenge to earn the reward.  Mulan’s life was spared after they discovered she was a girl.  Luke received the Death Star plans, Harry Potter received the Sorcerer’s Stone, and Frodo received a sword.  Your reward is much higher.  The freedom from being entrapped by maladaptive behaviors is priceless.

10) The Road Back.  This stage comprises the hero recommitting to complete the journey and accept the road back to the ordinary world.  You completed treatment and are preparing to return home.  Your clinical team will work with you on a relapse prevention plan.  The relapse prevention plan is like a roadmap after treatment to help you stay sober.  It might include craving and trigger awareness, social and emotional support, and alternative behaviors.

11) The Resurrection.  Here is where the hero battles the enemy.  It is the climax of the story, a final test that represents a cleansing.  It might be a showdown between the hero and the Shadow.  During the ordeal phase, you looked at shadowy places in your past.  During the resurrection, one final challenge awaits.  Mulan warns the rest of the army that Shan Yu is hiding to attack.  No one believes her, and she must convince them of the danger.  In your resurrection, you might face the deep, dark secret.

12) Return with the prize or the elixir.  The final reward is after the hero is resurrected, purified, and returned to the ordinary world.  You have done the difficult work of looking within at the reasons you drank and used.  With the help of mentors, allies, and self-efficacy, you are prepared to return home.

How To Access the Inner World — Spiritual Technologies

These are scientifically proven techniques to explore consciousness and develop your potential.  Think of these methods are like a recipe for baking a cake.  If you follow the recipe, you’ll end up with a delicious cake.

These tools have been used for generations.  With the medical technology we have today, we can prove they change our physiology.  These tools are repeatable and predictable.

For example, Japa Meditation produces a deep state of rest.  We can measure increased brainwave coherence, a lower heart, and respiration than sleep.  It even increases skin resistance.  These measurements help us prove the existence of other states of consciousness.

We categorize these tools into four groups.  Some methods overlap and could be two or more:

Analytical Tools

It might surprise you to see analytical tools at the beginning of a list on spirituality.  However, these methods are the cornerstone of every spiritual explorer.

We integrate emotional check-ins with each tool, which involves exploring beliefs or the subconscious mind.  It’s an essential part of the research process because it helps us to maintain control of our feelings.  Staying calm when engaging in ideas that don’t align with your worldview is vital.

You will use these tools to keep on track while you embark on the archetypes in the Hero’s Journey.  You need to know where you are in the process and what you need to do, so the analytical tools of the mind are valuable.

Critical thinking is the backbone of spiritual exploration.  The three tools in this group are:

    • Rational Thinking,
    • Comparative Analysis, and
    • The Enneagram of Personality.

Logic and Rational Thought

This group comprises Logical and Rational Thinking Skills, the basis for sound thinking.  Studying this subject helps identify the proper use of argument in language.  Next is a tool to help us recognize the ten most common Logical Fallacies.  Last but not least are the Spiritual Axioms.  Axioms are formulas that help us spot deception.

Comparative Religious Study — Comparative Analysis

Comparative Analysis is a method of comparative religious study using a structured approach to keep the investigator on track.  It’s an effective tool for investigating and evaluating spiritual concepts.  You can use this process to create a template of your core values, which will help you understand how values affect your thinking.  It works well as a group project, and you can do it solo.

The Enneagram

The Enneagram is a system of cognitive psychology combining scientific principles and spiritual understanding.  It’s a method to identify Ego, personality, and instinct using questionnaires and exercises.  It is easy to understand yet also deep enough for clinicians.

The Enneagram and psychology share the same roots.  Freud and Jung used this framework to design their concepts about psychic structures.  For example, Jungian psychology parallels the design of the Enneagram with nine processes of consciousness, which align with the nine personality types of the Enneagram.


Seated meditation is the first technology most people consider when discussing a “spiritual practice.” But meditation involves both sitting and moving forms.

The benefits of meditation are well-documented.  It’s a mind hack using sound.  It also employs unique formulas known as mantras, sutras, and affirmations.

Seated Meditation

A seated form of meditation is often the first spiritual practice one learns and is often the core of consciousness exploration.  There are several types of sitting meditation.  You have everything from a simple two-step approach to Mindfulness Meditation.  Next in the progression are Japa or Transcendental Meditation (TM) techniques—and more advanced methods, such as the Siddhis Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

Moving Meditation

Tai Chi is the most recognizable form of moving meditation, but these techniques include almost any movement where you can engage a heightened degree of awareness.  There are several progressions of Moving meditation.   For example, the Japanese Tea Ceremony is a form of moving meditation, and mindfulness is also part of this group.

The practice of moving meditation improves the mind-body connection.  It is proven to improve our overall mental health.  The methods in this group are modalities like Qigong and Tai Chi.  Most forms of active meditation involve the concept of grounding.  There are additional tools to help us ground and connect with nature, like Sun Gazing, Forest Bathing, and Tree Grounding.

Awareness Expansion Tools

These methods involve the bandwidth of our perception, like the Shamanic Journey or Guided Meditation.  Some varieties of this technique use movement and dance.  This category of tools includes techniques like Lucid Dreaming and Third-Eye Awakening and tools that enhance memory, such as Learning How to Learn.  It rounds out practical tools like the spiritual journal or book of shadows, Automatic Writing, and Exploring Memories.

Shamanic Journey

The Shamanic Journey is probably man’s first tool for exploring consciousness.  You will find this process in indigenous cultures around the globe.  Because they’re so many varieties, it proves the universal significance of the spiritual journey.

Aboriginal Dreamtime is a unique form of this method.  Yet, all forms of the Shamanic Journey use the same basic formula.  They combine the rhythm of a drum or rattle along with creative visualization.  The rhythm regulates heart rate and breathing, and the imaginary landscape provides the gateway to a lucid adventure.  A Shaman specializes in one or more applications for this technique.  However, you don’t need a Shaman or a guide.  You become your own guide using a drum or recorded drum track, and you become your own guide.

Our Western culture sees the value in this process and rebrands it accordingly to make it more marketable.  Some call it guided meditation or creative visualization, but it’s still the Shamanic Journey.

Natural Healing Modalities

Healing is an ongoing process.  We learn to enhance this with spiritual technologies like Pe Jet from Indonesia and Reiki and Shiatsu from Japan.  We also use Vedic medicine, and various forms of Self-care are integral to healing.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it better to create a spiritual path of my design, or should I join a religion?  We recommend finding the tools to develop an approach tailored to your gifts.  If you read the holy books most religions use, you’ll discover that spiritual leaders like Jesus and Buddha had their spiritual revelations by finding their own way.  Jesus was a Jew but left the religion to find enlightenment in the wilderness—the same with Buddha, who found enlightenment by meditating under a tree.
  • Can I follow a religion and also these processes?  Yes, you can, unless your religious beliefs say there is a conflict.  Some religions forbid you from involving yourself in anything outside of the religion.  And some regions have harsh penalties for venturing outside the boundaries they dictate.  If this fits your situation, it’s time to test your path to see if it’s leading you where you want to go.
  • How can I start my spiritual journey?  The easiest way to start is to get a journal and start writing.  A journal is a tool anyone can use to spot growth trends or obstacles preventing your development.  It’s your best coach.  The next step would be to find a resource that provides tools for exploring consciousness.  Read the section below on spiritual technologies.  Find out which of these methods resonates with you, then find resources that provide the techniques you want to try.
  • If I use these techniques, will I become more spiritually aware?  Yes, these processes unlock your spiritual gifts and are one of this quest’s primary goals.
  • Is spiritual faith the same as the Hero’s Journey?  Faith and spirituality are two different things.  Faith is a term organized religions use to describe belief in religious dogma.  Many Western religions try to reframe the word spiritual to associate their ideology, mythology, and superstition with spirituality.  Exploring our spirituality has nothing to do with religion, faith in doctrines, or an imaginary friend.

Final Thoughts

We are thankful for ancient cultures that safeguarded these tools.  They are the true pioneers of consciousness.  It must be a universal principle for many cultures to arrive at the same conclusions.  So, are you ready to take the Hero’s Journey and explore the inner world of consciousness?

(1) Joseph Campbell’s book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Wikipedia

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