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Back in the 80's one of my favorite books on the inner journey was Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces. The problem with it, though, was that it was written from a male perspective. With The Heroine's Journey I am now at the end of my search for a book on the hero archetype from a feminine perspective. Although this book is not exactly Jungian in its approach, the author clearly seems to have been influenced by Jung's legacy of searching for mythic themes in our individual psyches. Thus, she writes of the archetype of the Journey, and all its symbolism, as it applies to the feminine psyche. But she goes beyond that and explores some of the modern social issues that have been quite troubling for many women. For instance, in the chapter "The Illusory Boon of Success," she touches upon how many of us, in striving to fulfill our dream of making an impact on the world, often end up buying into aspects of the male-dominated business culture that don't really benefit us as women. She then describes the process of building into our work and personal lives values that do benefit us, as well as others. Her chapter on "Initiation and Descent to the Goddess" is very helpful in showing how we can use loss and grief to become more strong and whole. There are so many issues and themes explored in this book that it really demands at least a couple of readings. This book has given me so much to think about, and has helped me clarify my thoughts on many different issues pertaining to myself as a woman and as a spiritual being--I am very grateful to Maureen Murdock for writing it.
The Heroine's Journey is an absolutely essential book that should be required reading for every woman! Maureen Murdock has blessed us with a way to look at our lives that helps us begin to make sense of them. In a time when so many of the boundaries of our souls have been blurred by the myriad contradictory images of what it is to be a woman, she gives us a map that illuminates many of the darker aspects of our collective and personal journeys. We always hear about the Hero's Journey, especially after the success of the PBS special done on Joseph Campbell, and the author has done the heroic work of reconsidering this classical mythological tale through a feminine lens. It will help you understand that baffling relationship with your mother and that distant relationship with your father and in the end will fill you with a renewed sense of compassion for your parents, and most importantly for yourself. ~ Juana Olga Barrios
I have just finished The Heroine's Journey. I have read Jung,Joseph Campbell, Carol Pearson, Vogler etc. All of them are fascinating but a little off, just a tiny bit away from my core experience as a woman. Murdock captures the truth of my 50 years on this planet better than anyone. Her book is a must read for anyone who is trying to make sense of the feminine experience. Thank you, Maureen.
The hero`s journey is well known. Used for structuring stories for ages and also for therapeutic purposes. But it lacks the female perspective, it mainly takes into focus the male hero. Today it is even more important than ever to emphasize the integration of the female. Women still work in a world, developed by men for male purposes. It does not take into account getting pregnant and the joy of having a family. This joy needs to be negated in order to be able to work in this world as before. Still, women in this age group hit their heads hard at the glass ceiling. And many of us realise it just decades later. The book points simply at the underlying mechanisms of the denial of the female part. It is a great read, though the integration of Greek mythology would not have been necessary and slows the pace.
So much is wrote about the heros journey that as woman we a bought up to believe that the only path available to us is up and out into the world. Not only do we have to be prove our mantle in wold of career opportunities created for men to excel in.The pressure is on us to find motherhood both fulfilling and an ultimate success. Anything less is a complete failure on our part. and our daughters look to us break a cycle that has ingrained itself into our society and belief system for thousands of years. A tall order I know! Yet hear we are in the 21st century, struggling to be all things to all people and being constantly made awear of a shortcomings. The Heroines journey has been a game changer in the way I express and value my femininity instead of treating it like an enemy that holds me back from living. I now understand that it has a wisdom of it's own that brings the human condition into a compassion embrace.It doesn't devide and conquer, it incorporates our masculine aspects and enriches our lives. We are the healers, poets, nurtures, intuitives, and the conduits that bring spirit into being through our womb...that kind of strength and magic should never be underestimated. It is time we journeyed to the underworld to face our fears so we may resurface with a greater respect for our inner Goddess. Maureen Murdock uses fairly tails and folk stories in order to give us back our voices so that we can create our own narrative that respects and honours the fierce serenity of our femininity.
I am currently writing a book with a female protagonist and read "The Heroine's Journey" to aid me with character building. I assumed it would be the female version of Joseph Cambell's "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" and the beautifully structured "The Writer's Journey".... both of which discuss the hero (masculine) journey and I have already aligned my plot and archetypes to these.
Turns out, The Heroine's Journey was written by a therapist and even though it DOES relatively parallel the hero's journey as well as go over how radically different the journey is for a female, it is written more for the modern woman and her journey through her own life. Seriously... I had to hold back tears through the first quarter as I realized how much of my childhood experiences with my mother(s) and father(s) and our culture has shaped me.
Then it went on showing me how my masculine journey to gain my CPA by working full time, going to grad school full time, and have a long distance relationship would inevitably lead to mental and physical burnout (which it did) as I tried to numb my pain with alcohol, anti-depressants, and sleeping pills so I could just get through this s***. Then my next masculine journey that resulted in total physical collapse (my 1.5 year illness that nearly made me kill myself) since I didn't learn my lesson the first time and refused to take care of myself because I had to keep up with everyone!
Now I have been going through cycles of healing and getting a grip on who I am over the past year.
So yeah. That book outlined my life so far. Damn good book. Dragged in places. Was a bit new agey for my tastes... but damn.
Now I need to outline it to my protaganist's life... So, here is a bit of the conclusion if you want to know what the Heroine's journey is:
“Today’s heroine must utilize the sword of discernment to cut away the bonds that hold her to the past and to find out what serves her soul’s purpose. She must release resentment toward the mother, put aside blame and idolization of the father, and find the courage to face her own darkness. Her shadow is hers to name and embrace. Woman illumines these dark, shadowy spaces within her through the practice of meditation, art, poetry, play, ritual, relationship, and digging in the earth."
Genuinely one of the most pivotal books as a woman on her journey back to self that I’ve ever read. I’m very familiar with The Hero’s Journey, but the way that that concept has been turned into one for the feminine to make sense of, to find new teachings, to even find validation for all of the moments that appear in this journey, especially when things are tough - it’s been the life jacket I’ve been searching for at this very moment in time. Thank you for writing this. It will stay with me forever and I’ll come back to it no doubt time and time again.