The Hero Within – A journey worth taking

“No matter how much people want to feel loved, appreciated, and a part of things, they will be lonely until they make a commitment to themselves, a commitment that is so total that they will give up community and love, if necessary, to be fully who they are.”
― Carol S. Pearson, Hero Within 

I chose the quote above because it’s how I’m feeling these days. With the third act of my life looming, I no longer desire – nor, do I have time – to be anyone but myself. Love me or hate me… this right here is what we gots.

It still feels like a dance… sometimes. Forward, step, step… and back a step. Over and over again.

People who have been abused in their pasts are especially prone to running back into protective caves. And make no mistake, it is as primal as all that. My cave is dark and I mostly stand with my back against the wall. Like our cats, I’ve learned that if my back is to the wall, nobody can sneak up on me.

So, little (or large) brave step forward… see how it goes… maybe another step… the music is still playing… another step…

And then…

Something happens. It can be violent as an 8.0 earthquake or as nearly imperceptible as a glance I wasn’t supposed to notice – but did. Whatever it is, it sends me back into the cave.

I’ve gotten to the point where I need to be fully who I am… no matter what! I can’t *not* be this (messy, clunky human). Maybe it’s my age… maybe it’s what I’ve gone through… maybe it’s something as primal as our caves. Maybe it’s archetypal.

The Hero Within by Carol S. Pearson is yet another of the classics on my bookshelf. Though, to be fair, it all began with Carl Jung’s 4 Major Archetypes and actually, he doesn’t stop with four. No matter whose work you read on the subject (and the collection is legion) the one thing that goes straight back to Jung is the “collective unconscious” – the idea that we all (and this means EVERYone) has these archetypes imprinted in their brain.

It gets a little overwhelming (at least to me) when I realize there are a limitless number of archetypes. This book talks about six and they are nothing like Jung’s 4 Major’s. Carolyn Myss talks about 70 of them here.  Tip of the iceberg, folks. It can be daunting and confusing.

However, one of the reasons this book has been so popular over the years is because the six that are mentioned here: Innocent, Orphan, Wanderer, Warrior, Martyr and Magician are easily understood and relatable. Even without a book… and by that I mean, you could sit down with this list and kind of figure out what each one meant. It may not be as in-depth (I can almost promise this) but you’ll have a general idea.

This book takes it deeper. Much deeper – both positive and negative. The Innocent (or Orphan, Wanderer, Warrior, Martyr and Magician) in love, work, tribulation, and community, for instance. And it’s fascinating!

We are reminded that life is a JOURNEY through the archetypes. Seems logical. Though it’s not linear. There are a wheel and chart to refer back to… and you will, again and again. There’s no test that puts you in one category or another. You read the wheel and the chart and you get to determine where you are and where you go from there.

Something to remember: one archetype is not better than another… and in fact, we’re all dependant on each other… no matter where we are.

There are some journal exercises for each archetype, along with meditations and even an advanced exercise, if you’re feeling brave (the Warrior is!).

I could go on and on. I love the concept and this book in particular. I hope you will, too!