The Heroine’s Journey (a complementary model)

THE HERO’S AND HEROINE’S JOURNEYS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH GENDER. Female Heroes are possible (and common: eg Carol Danver aka Captain Marvel) and Male Heroines are possible (and common eg Steve Rogers aka Captain America).

I created this Heroine’s Journey model to be COMPLEMENTARY to Joseph Campbell’s original Hero’s Journey model as laid out in his book The Hero With A Thousand Faces. While many good and valid models of the Heroine’s Journey exist, they are not complementary models to Campbell’s gold standard Hero’s Journey – I feel most of them are merely the Hero’s Journey with the goal-posts moved, but that doesn’t invalidate them. If you wish to discuss this point with me, please comment below or message me on other social media platforms.

The Heroine's Journey

Also, please note that this model was originally developed in 2020 and has undergone some transformation that will be updated over the next few years. While the basic information is still appropriate, thought and development has continued since the original video was produced.

Every Heroine already lives in the depths of the Feminine or in what the Hero’s Journey terms as the Special World. Remember how I said that we all began life on the Heroine’s Journey path? As children we always lived in the emotional and magical world of the Feminine, but over time society or, more likely, trauma caused the majority of us to turn into boring adults.

I’ll explain further as we explore these first few steps, which begin at step one: The “Perfect” World.

I will admit that I did borrow this step from Victoria Schmidt’s Heroine’s Journey model. It’s the one area of her model that I very much agreed with.

Step 1: The “Perfect” World is generally the world that the Heroine is born into. This world is in the depths of the Feminine and I placed the word “perfect” in quotes because it may not be a perfect world by any means. This world may not be false nor a complete illusion, but there are often cracks in the foundation.

The Heroine sees this world through rose-coloured glasses. She is unable to see it any other way because everything is seemingly perfect. There may be small things in it that she doesn’t like, but she doesn’t see the bigger problems that are hidden from her.

She may be purposely kept ignorant, she may be willfully ignorant or it’s possible that no one is aware of whatever looming doom is on the horizon.

Step 2: The Death of Innocence

This is the entrance of trauma into the world of the Heroine. If it’s a large jolt, it will immediately throw her into the Masculine because she may feel the need to cut herself off from her emotions. With enough strength and with proper guidance, she may be able to work her way back down to a new “perfect world” within the Feminine. Kind of a mini Hero’s Journey and I do have a couple of movies that we will soon examine to emphasize this kind of trauma.

If the Death of Innocence results in severe trauma, the Heroine will remain in “The Dark Forest” and “The Fair Maiden or Chosen One” loop until the Journey does what I’ll call a “mirror-hop” to “Normal Existence”. At this point she has lost all connection with her Feminine nature and must begin her Hero’s Journey in order to find herself once again.

The right amount of eye-opening trauma will allow the Feminine to spiritually awaken to the understanding that there is more to life than her basic existence has led her to believe. This may happen when she’s very young and she will be allowed to mature slowly and appropriately and ease herself into the world of the Masculine at an appropriate pace.

If she is older, she may be eager to begin her journey as her world is now broken and distasteful in her perception.

Step 3: Denial of the Broken Glasses

Denial is a dangerous place to be. Once the rose-coloured glasses are broken, you can never see the world the same way again. You can put them on and pretend you never saw what you saw, but this will turn your world into an ugly place.

Staying in this loop of behaviour for too long will cause this Heroine’s Journey to mirror-hop to the Hero’s Journey. “The Perfect World” will become a “Road of Trials” and the Heroine will find that all of her old allies have become her antagonists.

Step 4: The Faery Godmother

This person or magical creature could be benign, good or evil. It could even be a huckster or a bumbling fool. She, he, they or it may have intentions of their own or have no interest at all in the affairs of the Heroine. They may be an ongoing teacher and guide or they may be a one-time appearance.

Their job may be to remove the rose-coloured glasses or they may simply provide the doorway to the Masculine that the Heroine requires.

The main point is that The Faery Godmother has some kind of “magic” that he or she sells to or shares with the Heroine.

Step 5: Leaving the Waters

At some point every Hero must dive into the depths of the Feminine and every Heroine must leave those depths and find herself standing on the boundary between the Masculine and the Feminine.

This is a point where there is a major difference between the abilities of the Hero and the Heroine: when the Hero crosses the first threshold between the Ordinary World and the Special World, he can’t return to the Ordinary World without completing his quest.

Conversely, the Heroine can slip back and forth between the Special World and the Ordinary World seemingly at will. She may very well be forced to do this if she has been severely repressed or oppressed for much of her life. There will be a lot of ties to break and emotional programming to hack for her to freely live in both worlds.

I think it should also be possible for the Heroine to return to the waters and live out the rest of her existence there. She may end up with a lot of regrets and wish she had taken the risk, but I don’t think she would end up in a place of bitterness and anger. However, she will never discover her full potential without taking her first steps upon the shore.

Step 6: The Dark City or Forest

The Masculine is a very different place than the Feminine. Here there is wildness and unknown, dangerous creatures.

Well, this is, in fact, no different than the depths of the Feminine, but the Heroine is familiar with those depths and everything she experiences in The Dark Forest of the Masculine is completely beyond her understanding.

To take the water and land metaphor further, breathing air and moving with gravity pressing down on her may take all of her strength for a time. For a more physical reference, having to get a job and work to take care of her daily needs may be completely foreign and distasteful to the potential Heroine.

Step 7: The Fair Maiden or Chosen One

Unlike the Hero’s “Road of Trials” step, this isn’t the time to fight, because at this point our inner Heroine is seeking an identity. She is looking for a purpose, a reason that she chose to or, more likely, was forced to leave the waters. This may be a time of finding a passion or a career or anything to create an identity with.

It’s possible that this could also be an early pregnancy stage, symbolic or literal – think of it as teenage pregnancy – our Heroine becomes a mother long before she is mature enough for the task.

It’s also possible that the Heroine’s purpose has been thrust upon her. Everyone is expecting something miraculous from her and she has no idea how to be the saviour these others are looking up to.

The Fair Maiden or Chosen One loop of the Heroine’s Journey can result in two things:

Making the mistake of declaring, “This is who I am from now and forever” – this is permanently identifying with what the Heroine does. This “identifying” behaviour could later be repeated in the “Housewife” stage of the Journey as well.

The other possibility is to become so stuck in this Fair Maiden/Chosen One loop that our Heroine essentially does “become” Masculine and now must break out of the loop and go on the Hero’s Journey to recover/rediscover the now-lost Feminine.

Step 8: Meeting the Beast

In tales of old, fair maidens often had the misfortune of meeting terrifying antagonists. Initially, the Heroine’s Lover may appear as someone or something unlovely or deeply flawed. She may be able to soften and tame him or be able to see beyond his physical appearance with enough time and patience.

It’s also possible that the Beast may be an alternate and/or dark version of the Heroine. Something that she “could have been” had she had more trauma in her life.

It is highly likely that this Beast may have more than one “Face” as well. It could even be a multi-headed beast in the form of multiple people.

Step 9: Standing on the Shoreline

This stage could be similar to Temptation in the Hero’s Journey. At this point in her Journey the Heroine may be so exhausted from running through the forest, facing fear after fear, and meeting multi-headed beasts that she just wants to sit on the beach and cry or throw herself off a cliff and into the waves below.

She may want to go back to the loving embrace of the depths of the sea and not deal with the struggles of the body any longer.

However, there are many more possibilities to this stage. In the Hero’s Journey, Temptation can also be the desire to blame everyone and everything outside of yourself for your problems. At this point the Masculine Hero is dwelling in the Feminine and he may be extremely angry and frustrated and want to blame the Masculine world for every wrong he’s ever encountered.

The Heroine’s Journey could be the opposite at this point. She’s on the shoreline. She can go in and out of the water at her discretion. Her desire is to get people to join her in the Forest of the Masculine and/or to show her fellow Feminine how repressed and oppressed they are.

If the Heroine isn’t careful she can get stuck at this point of her Journey – in the Fair Maiden/Chosen One loop. To move out of the loop she must recognize that she has a higher calling. Her identity isn’t dependent on what she does nor does it come from outside of her. Her identity comes from within her and to fully enter her own oneness of being she must press onward.

Step 10: Overcoming the Stepmother

In old tales, harsh and rather Masculine stepmothers were often used to illustrate how the Feminine is used and abused. Storybook stepmothers often treated their step children horribly, but didn’t actually have any power over the children since they brow-beat weak men into doing their bidding.

While the Hero must learn to accept his life as it is and that he is “at one” with all things – Atonement With the Father – the Heroine must learn to separate herself from people and things that use up her energy and harm her. She has to learn to say “no”. She has to set boundaries.

The Heroine is not to be “at one” with her stepmother or whatever it is that uses and abuses her. The Heroine must overcome that thing and say she no longer will tolerate how she has been treated.

Step 11: Transformation of the Beast

At some point in old tales, every beast or old hag or cursed item is eventually turned into a prince or beautiful maiden or perhaps even back into the Faery Godmother. Something that was ugly is turned into something beautiful.

This is where the Heroine discovers what she truly loves about the Masculine or ordinary world and what she will stay in that place for. She understands the power she wields and her abilities and talents are apparent for all to see.

Step 12: Pregnancy

This is technically the “marriage” stage of the Heroine’s Journey. In old tales, the wedding is usually the last thing we see on screen or on the page. However, the point of marrying the prince or whoever it happens to be is to become pregnant.

Symbolically this may not refer to physical pregnancy at all, but instead to the growth and birthing of ideas and of how to live in the “ordinary” world. This is the entire reason that the Heroine had to take this Journey because only the Feminine can become pregnant and create something new.

Step 13: The Housewife

This is the “Happily Ever After” stage of old stories that are never seen. It’s very possible that this is the Heroine’s happy place and where she feels she can fulfill her “purpose”. This may be all she ever wants. From here she will easily be able to step from one world to another, though perhaps not to the great depths that she once traversed.

However, there is a higher place for the Heroine to go and there still is a “higher Self” to achieve. The Heroine has to be aware of the possibility of becoming stuck in the Housewife role and forgetting all the dreams and visions she once had. It’s possible for the Housewife to become all-consuming (i.e. a Devouring Mother).

Thus, the Heroine must live consciously in this place to prevent being possessed by the Archetype.

Step 14: The Call from Home

At some point in life we are all going to receive “The Call” – and this time I’m not talking about The Call to Adventure. This time it’s the call that The Father or The Mother is dying. It’s time for the Heroine to return home and walk the depths of grief.

Step 15: The Challenge of the Throne

With the death of the Father and/or Mother, they will have left something behind. It will be something they have built. It may be small or large, but it will be their legacy and the Heroine must now choose to let it go or to pick up the sceptre and take the Throne.

More accurately, she will likely have to fight for the throne, but everything she has learned in the Masculine world will have prepared her for this moment.

This may well be the very thing she was born to do, but she had to go on her own Journey of discovery before she was ready to take the throne.

Step 16: Sacrifice

At some point or at many points in her journey, the Heroine will have to make sacrifices. This, unfortunately, is the burden of the Feminine in general. To get what she really wants and to reach her highest potential and highest self, she will have to sacrifice things or people she loves.

Think of the Soul stone in The Avengers movies and how a sacrifice was required to get it: that stone was pure Feminine energy.

These sacrifices may not be permanent and may even be worthwhile, but the pain at the time will be no less.

Step 17: The Empath / The Businesswoman

The Heroine has reached a major milestone: she can utilize her Feminine and Masculine energy with equal proficiency. She is a power for good and a force to reckon with. Other Masculine figures respect her greatly and other Feminine figures love her deeply.

Step 18: The Balanced World

The Heroine can now plunge the depths of the Feminine and traverse the dark forests of the Masculine at will and almost at ease (easy is a relative term). She may gravitate more naturally to one or the other, but she will never be caught or possessed by either.

Step 19: Permission of Happiness

The most difficult thing for the Heroine to do is to allow herself to be happy – especially while others still suffer. She wants others to experience life as she does and to be their best self as well. She may desire to “help” by using all of her energy to prop others up, but she has to learn that her happiness does come first.

She can help others best by accepting their suffering as part of their journey. She can alleviate their suffering to some extent, but only to the point where it doesn’t harm their development.

And there we have it, my Dear Heroes and Heroines, the overview of my Heroine’s Journey model and a map of what lies ahead if you continue to join me on these Journeys.

Thank you very much for listening or watching today. Please like, share, comment, criticize, subscribe to and support this channel at your leisure.

I have been your host, Mark, this has been the first episode of the Heroine’s Journey series of Think Spiritual Podcasts and I know that if you acknowledge the Heroine within yourself that she will come to your aid and do everything in her power to help you change your Self so you can continue to change your World.

— Mark Stratton

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