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Day 17: The Heroine’s Journey, Part II

Today’s posting is a continuation of our exploration of the Heroine’s Journey…

  1. Initiation and Descent to the Goddess

While the journey of the Masculine is characterized by a moving out into the world and embracing the light, the Feminine journey involves an inevitable downward movement into darkness for a reunion with the repressed goddess. The ancient goddesses of fertility were usurped by the Father-God. The motifs here are well-known. Murdock names them as “a journey to the underworld, the dark night of the soul, the belly of the whale, the meeting of the dark goddess, or simply as depression.”

As Murdock explains, “A woman moves down into the depths to reclaim the parts of herself that split off when she rejected the mother and shattered the mirror of the feminine.” In this realm, we encounter the Goddesses Kali (Hindu Goddess of Destruction) and Ereshkigal (Goddess of the Underworld) and the Goddess in her three-part aspect: Daughter-Mother-Crone (Persephone-Demeter-Hecate).

Themes in this phase include: excavating, depression, searching for what has been lost, dismemberment, waiting for rebirth, introversion, barrenness, decay.

What is the darkness that your heroine descends into? What is it that she finds there?

  1. Urgent Yearning to Reconnect with the Feminine

As the Goddess was subjugated by the Father-God so has Mother Nature been treated as something to be conquered. This has been mirrored by a lack of respect for female bodies. Patriarchal societies have sought to control female sexuality as surely as they have sought to control the means of production in industry. This denigration of the Feminine is seen in the names man has bestowed upon her: “temptress, evil seductress, and devourer.”

Part of the drive to reconnect with the Feminine is for women to reclaim their bodies. Another important aspect of this reconnection is to untangle from the busyness that may have kept emotions at bay. As the busyness unwinds, rage, helplessness, sadness, and confusion will likely seep in. The specific loss that must be acknowledged is grief over separation from the Feminine.

The qualities that are being sought are compassion, nurturing, instruction, preparation, community, creativity, inter-connectedness, and a trust in “the mystery of manifestation.”

How can your heroine symbolically or literally reclaim her relationship to her body? How does she reconnect with the various qualities of the Feminine? What uncomfortable emotions might she express in the process?

Act III: Integration

  1. Healing the Mother/Daughter Split

The Mother/Daughter split is an archetypal wounding. To heal the split, our emotional and spiritual natures must be reclaimed. Healing must be centered around feelings of abandonment, restoring nurturing connection, and honoring Mother Nature. The heroine can take back the dark by developing the wisdom and courage to reclaim the discarded, including Stepmothers, Witches, and Madwomen.

Paths to healing include gathering support from others (especially those who embody the Good Mother), celebrating the Divine Feminine found in myths, and learning to ask for help.

How can your heroine repair the Mother/Daughter split? Who is the real or figurative Mother?

  1. Healing the Wounded Masculine

Our Masculine nature has been over-extended and is out-of-balance. In this phase, Murdock asks us to consider the story of the Fisher King. The King has a wound in his thigh and he is dying. As a result, his kingdom has become an infertile wasteland. Parsifal encounters the King on his quest to find the Grail. Parsifal asks the King, “What ails thee?” and the King responds that he is thirsty. Parsifal fills a cup with water and hands it to the King who drinks and is healed. This was no ordinary cup, but the Grail itself.

There are a few important pieces to unpack here. Parsifal, who is sometimes characterized as a Fool or an Innocent, poses the obvious question that no one had asked. This brings the wound to consciousness. Quite unawares, he reaches for the Grail itself, not recognizing its significance. “The Grail is the symbol of the sacred, creative feminine principle which is accessible to all of us. The Grail can heal the King just as the feminine can heal our masculine nature,” Murdock writes.

This unleashes the potential for the unbalanced Masculine to be restored. The traits of combativeness, criticality, destruction, coldness, and inhumanity can fall away.

The heroine must “bring the light of consciousness into the darkness. She must be willing to face and name her shadow tyrant and let it go. This requires a conscious sacrifice of mindless attachments to ego power, financial gain, and hypnotic, passive living. It takes courage, compassion, humility, and time.”

How is the Masculine out-of-balance in your story? How is this manifested? What must the heroine do to heal the Masculine?

  1. Integration of Masculine and Feminine

Our current culture is plagued by duality, according to Murdock. This dominant paradigm tends to view polarities and cast one side as “other,” meaning inferior, or sometimes even sinful. To achieve the integration of Masculine and Feminine such dualities must be transcended to find the greater truth beyond.

Themes present in this stage include the ideal of the circle, uncovering the inadequacy of duality and transcending it, balance, a deep acknowledgment and appreciation of our inter-connectedness, harmony, and transformation.

To embrace the positive attributes of the Masculine it is helpful to look at some common archetypes. The website of Sunyata Satchitananda is a great resource for understanding each of these archetypes in detail: God, King, Priest, Warrior, Lover, Sage. Likewise, to embrace the Feminine look to the archetypes of Goddess, Queen, Priestess, Warrioress, Lover, Wisewoman, also available at Satchitananda.

What dualities have plagued the Heroine and how does she transcend them? How does she restore balance and harmony? What positive attributes of the archetypes does she embrace (try to select traits from both the Masculine and Feminine archetypes)?


Maureen Murdock, The Heroine’s Journey

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Table of contents for other articles in the series.

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