The Hero’s Journey – Tuning into the Collective Unconscious.

Many years ago I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain, after reading a book by a Brazilian author about his own spiritual experience walking this ancient way. At this stage in my life I was looking for some spiritual meaning, and Paulo Coelho’s book offered me just the right mix of tradition and magic to quench my need to revitalise the beliefs of my youth with stories of secret rituals and long forgotten cults.

I made a film of my Camino experience, but I was embarrassed by the outcome. I felt I came across as an earnest fool, bumbling across Spain not really knowing what I was searching for. So I just uploaded it to youtube and passed it off as a failed project. What surprised me, is people not only watched the film, 1.5 million times at last count, but they also thoroughly enjoyed it. I still receive the occasional message from some corner of the world, a stranger thanking me for encouraging them to undertake their own pilgrimage.

When I made the film, I had never heard of Joseph Campbell’s ‘Hero’s Journey’ monomyth. But when I look back on my filmic journey, I realise I was capturing this ancient narrative arc. I leave my ordinary world to embark on an adventure. I am reluctant at first, but continue on. I encounter tests and meet helpers. I reach my innermost cave – to be alone with myself. I realise I must embrace the moment. I defeat the physical and mental ordeals and find the treasure of walking meditation – to live in the moment. I return to the ordinary world, resurrected and transformed by my experience.

How did I make a documentary that followed a mythical structure humans have been using around campfires since the dawn of time? Was I tapping into what Carl Jung called the ‘Collective Unconscious’. Archetypes, like the hero, mentor, ally or trickster, that appear in stories across all cultures?

Joseph Campbell, an American professor of literature, who worked in comparative mythology and religion, built on Jung’s Archetypes in his book ‘The hero with a Thousand Faces. He found the journey of the archetypal hero was shared across all world mythologies. Hollywood, and particularly George Lucas were enamoured with this idea of an ancient narrative arc.

When Lucas’s Star Wars, which uses the Hero’s Journey structure, became the highest-grossing film of the 70’s, Hollywood Story Guru, Christopher Vogler, was asked by Disney to write, what became, a famous seven-page memo called “A Practical Guide to the Hero with a Thousand Faces” This outline went on to become a benchmark book “The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers”, which outlined a 12 part structure Vogler devised to help those wishing to tune in to our most ancient story.

I have since used the Hero’s Journey structure for another film, my motorcycle journey around Australia and I’ve found using the outline helps give me clarity in finding direction with a script.

I wish to help other’s find their inner storyteller and will be facilitating a four hour workshop at Yamba Art Space on the 29th of October from 10am-2pm. For further information or to book your place, feel free to send me a message

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