Joseph Campbell + The Hero's Journey

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987)

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987)

Transformational travel programs are largely based on the work of Joseph Campbell. Campbell (1904–1987) was an American writer, mythologist, cultural anthropologist, and teacher who was best known for his work in comparative mythology and religion. Throughout his life and career, Campbell explored thousands of stories told over the course of human history, across cultures and religions. In his first book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Campbell identified a thematic process of personal and communal transformation that permeated all of these stories that he called 'The Hero's Journey.' He described it this way:

"A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder (where) fabulous forces are encountered and a decisive victory is won; the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man."

Campbell described the Hero's Journey as occurring in a cycle consisting of three phases: The Departure, where the hero leaves the comfortable and familiar world and ventures into the darkness of the unknown; The Initiation, where the hero is subjected to a series of tests in which s/he must prove their true character; and The Return, in which the hero brings the boon of their quest back for the benefit of not only their own life but to help save the community and often times the world.

More than anything, the Hero's Journey is about growth and passage. The journey requires a separation from the comfortable, known world, and an initiation into a new level of awareness, skill, and responsibility, and then a return home. Each stage of the journey must be passed successfully if the initiate is to become a Hero. To turn back at any stage is to reject the need to grow and mature. 

At TTC, we firmly believe in and embrace The Hero's Journey as the path and process that we all go through when we choose to break out of our comfort zones and travel the world ... We feel called to adventure; we set forth into the unknown (sometimes alone, sometimes with friends); we experience challenges and trials and tribulations; we learn and grow and shift our perspectives as a result of our travels; as a result, we transform who we are and how we are living. 

(To learn more about Joseph Campbell and the Hero's Journey and to see books, works, writing, videos, and more, be sure to check out the Joseph Campbell Foundation.)