The Hero’s [Climate] Journey

I’ve attended a couple of webinars recently that have talked about the importance of storytelling in relation to the climate challenge. How might we shift the narrative away from ‘doom-mongering’?

Joseph Campbell’s ‘Hero’s Journey‘ is the classic analysis of myths and legends – how ancient stories from many cultures have common themes, and follow roughly the same arc. If you’ve ever watched ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Lord of the Rings’ or ‘Harry Potter’, then the steps in the journey will be familiar to you.

Perhaps there is a reason our stories follow the same patterns? Perhaps the Hero’s Journey tells us something fundamental about who we are – about what it means to be human?

How might Campbell’s ideas fit with our Climate Journey?

The story begins with a Call to Action – which the Hero then Refuses. [As just one example, Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring‘ was published back in 1962. Since then we have been regularly called to action – and have equally regularly refused the call].

Next, a Mentor arrives, and our Hero starts to gain a better understanding of the journey ahead [people like John Elkington and Daniel Schmachtenberger come to mind for me].

The Hero stands at the Threshold – and finds the path blocked by Guardians [fossil fuel lobbyists].

Finally, the Hero Crosses the Threshold, leaving the [Known] Ordinary World behind, and entering the [Unknown] Special World …

I think this might be where we’re at – we’re Crossing the Threshold. If that’s right, then ahead of us lie many Trials. We will meet Allies and Enemies, before facing the final Ordeal. In Campbell’s work, the Ordeal includes both Meeting the Goddess [reconnecting with nature?] and Atonement with the Father [moving on from globalisation?].

The good news? When the Hero finally completes the Ordeal, they undergo a Transformation before reintegrating with the Ordinary World – and receiving the Ultimate Reward.

The hardest part of the journey is Crossing the Threshold into the Unknown. This is the point where we move from Ordinary to Special … where we battle the Guardians and face the Trials … where we decide whether or not we want to be a Hero.

And as we choose [because we do get to choose], it might also be worth remembering – the Hero always wins.

This post was inspired by Laura Storm at Regenerative Leadership, and Clover Hogan from Force of Nature.


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