The Hero’s Journey
Carl Gustav Jung had started to use the term individuation in 1921 to describe the process of emerging through the undifferentiated unconscious where we are often “programmed” from family, tradition, culture, nationality and theology. These are all imprinted on us from a very Jung (young) age and for good and bad reasons they are still influencing, directing, and strapping us in the passenger’s seat. The ideal goal of individuation is when a person no longer runs off a program and is making conscientious decisions and appreciations; in Life, someone who has moved from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat.
The Hero’s Journey was first coined in 1949 by academic Joseph Campbell, where he was describing an archetypal story arch that permeates cultures across the globe from east to west. There are many stories of a character that sets out on a journey beyond the confines of the house, village or community and faces adversity and conflict. They learn lessons and gain tools along the way that culminates in triumphing over hardships and misfortunes. When they left as a child who is ignorant, the hero returns home an adult who is a changed individual and more wise to the world. This becomes the allegorical process Carl Jung spoke of within the idea of individuation. This is where the protagonist of the story leaves the confines and safety of society and their culture to meet many different teachers along the way peaking in the face of our very own fears. In the heart of our darkness, we are able to reintegrate as a mature person who is whole and returning from the journey with valuable pearls.
Terrence McKenna, a psychedelic bard and ethnobotanist had started to use the term “Heroic Dose” to refer to an amount of dried psilocybin mushrooms which would take someone on a “trip” or
a journey. There would be a good chance of them venturing inward toward their own heart of darkness and face their personal dragon where they would come back mature, wiser, and more complete or whole to tell of their own tales.
Recent studies have shown the use of psilocybin mushrooms (and other psychedelics) as being effective in treating PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in mice (Ghose, 2013). Some people have commented on the use of psilocybin mushrooms and how it has helped in stepping out of their cultural lens and see things differently. The experience seems to aid in wiping the dusty lens of perception and as Aldous Huxley commented in The Doors of Perception, “The man who comes back through the door in the wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less sure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend.”
This all culminates in the story of our lives…do we brave the unknown and become the heroes we look up to or we do go on leading mediocre lives in nonsensical ways because it’s the only script we know. Let’s step out and see what’s in the unknown.
Ghose, T. (2013, July 02). Magic Mushrooms Can Erase Fear in Mice. Retrieved September 12, 2020, from https://www.livescience.com/37914-psilocybin-eliminates-traumatic-memories.html