by Sequoia Hamilton, founder of Ojai Writers Workshops
Joseph Campbell, a scholar and world traveler, proposed in his 1949 book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, a basic pattern is found in narratives around the world including those of Gautama Buddha, Moses, and Christ. He called this pattern “The Hero’s Journey.”
Campbell claimed that no matter where we look – from the “dreamlike mumbo jumbo of some red-eyed witch doctor of the Congo … the mystic Lao-tse … the arguments of Aquinas … or a bizarre Eskimo fairy tale” – we can find “a shape-shifting yet constant story” of a hero on a journey.
He maintains that from the simplest nursery rhyme to multi-faceted legends – even spanning disparate times and cultures – every great story shares the same fundamental structures and stages: A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won.
He even suggests this formula is unconsciously imbedded into rites of passage throughout the world: Separation. Initiation. Return.
Examples of The Hero’s Journey in works of literature and film include:
- A story set in Kansas of a girl caught up in a tornado and plopped down in the Land of Oz
- A Persian tale of a sailor named Sinbad who voyages throughout the seas of Africa
- A story of a young man named Luke Skywalker who travels on galactic quests
In all of these examples, transformation occurs – both inwardly and externally – for the protagonist (hero) in the story as he/she ventures forth on fantastic adventures going to magical places, meeting both obstacles and surprises, and encountering supernatural phenomena.
This Saturday in Ojai, June 16, anyone interested in Mythology has a rare opportunity to sit at the feet of Evans Lansing Smith, a Mythology Master, and learn how to recognize the classic elements of ancient myths and re-tell them through modern storytelling in your own new, fresh, thrilling way.
Evans Lansing Smith, Ph.D. is the co-chair of Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute, home of Joseph Campbell archives and the only advanced degree Mythology program in the world. He traveled the world with Joseph Campbell and will be sharing key insights for writers who want to spin and tell great tales.
Saturday, June 16, 2-5 p.m., $49 at The Well, 214 W. Aliso St., Ojai. Limited to first 30 registered writers. For more information or to register online, call (805) 766-7222 or visitwww.OjaiWritersWorkshops.com. To Register, click here.