When you face depression, childhood trauma, self-harm, abuse, grief, job loss, relationship break-up, illness, suicidality or addiction, to name a few, you are stepping onto the Hero’s Journey.
In Ancient Greece teachers showed their students how to live that Hero’s Journey in a tough world through stories of mythology. Theseus had to face his deepest fears in the labyrinth (a symbol for the unconscious mind). The Minotaur, a potent symbol for what lies in all of our Pandora’s Boxes, is depression, a relationship break-up, a loss or other trauma that keeps us chained to perceptions of limitation, failure and isolation.
The world appears divided, dangerous and harsh, and so those who face their Minotaur are the ones who succeed in life and reclaim their very soul for their own. They are the ones who symbolise strength, courage, humility, compassion, leadership, respect, peace and love. Others who decide not to face the Minotaur within end up projecting their Minotaur on everyone else and the world, manipulating others for their own ends and leading the world towards the edge of an abyss.
When faced with overwhelming emotions and feelings of stuckness, hopelessness and confusion, the symbol of the hero gives the seeker something more tangible to guide us out of the labyrinth of the unconscious mind with all its limiting beliefs, unending dramas of negative thinking and memories of trauma.
Like every hero the individual who faces their demons inside and out goes through a journey of separation, initiation and return.
Seekers intially go through a phase of separation from themselves – depression, anxiety, crisis of relationships, death, illness and trauma. Initiation requires helpers along the way identifying the trial itself – the challenge, the changes required and finding new ways of looking at the problem and what it may be encouraging us to find in its place – changes within, changing those around us, changing a job, relationship, letting go of something that is no longer helping us anymore. It means facing our demons from the past and resolving old resentments, fears and desires that we have outgrown. The return marks the confrontation, developing strength to face the enemy within or without and then doing it. It means facing the child within and becoming the carer of oneself and those around us. It means integrating the parent within and rising from childhood, through adolescence and into adulthood. It is a coming of age, a rite of passage, a test and then achievement and success. It requires seeing things differently and becoming the change you want to see in the world – it is about transformation and overcoming the greatest fear and living the life of the hero ultimately becoming the creator of your life in the world and moving into wise old sage. It is a process of self-realisation and a new trust and knowledge that the strength, wisdom and ability was within all the time.