The Hero’s Journey: Separation, Initiation, Return

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” ~ Rumi

The Hero’s Journey can be divided in three major parts: Separation, Initiation, and Return.

So, here is our future hero, living the “normal life,” living all his many predetermined roles, doing pretty much what everyone else does, doing what is expected of him, wanting the same things everyone else wants, working hard, consuming a lot, trying to fit in, be admired and loved, and hardly ever questioning anything. In his heart, every now and then, he may feel that he is not living the life he was called to live, but the pressures of the culture around him keep him doing the same things over and over again. He remains mostly unaware of his potential, of possibilities, of his options in life, living as if he is hypnotized, constantly distracted, and somewhat numb. Although internally he may feel that he is not doing what he came here to do — or being who he came here to be — he refuses to accept the Universe’s Call to Adventure. He does not feel he is ready or capable of facing the challenges.

And, then, suddenly, something happens; a loss of wealth, health, or relationships. He loses his job, his money, his house, or a loved one. He faces a break-up or a divorce. He gets sick and loses vitality.  These are prime moments when the hero wakes up. He can’t stay any longer. He has to go! And so, maybe reluctantly, he answers the Call to Adventure, and does what the Universe is summoning him to do. This is what Joseph Campbell called The Separation.

Then a new phase begins. Joseph Campbell called it, The Initiation. That is the adventure itself. It is time now for the hero to let go of lives that have played themselves out and do not serve him anymore.  He needs to let go of his past, his attachments, his identities, his personae, and the stories he tells about himself. It is time for him to put himself in motion to answer the calling. It is time to question all beliefs, letting go of some, keeping others, and adding new ones. It is a time of self-discovery. It is a time for honestly answering the four fundamental questions: “Who am I? What do I love? How shall I live knowing that I will die? What gifts do I bring to share with others?” It is a moment for removing the masks and living with authenticity. It is a time to become aware of the big illusion we are immersed in. It is a time to face the challenges, despite all self-doubts and insecurities. It is time for the hero to follow his bliss, knowing that if he does so, the Universe will open doors for him where there were only walls. And it is also during this phase that teachers and helpers show up.


“I seek courage to live — this day. Courage to strike out on a path I have never trod before, courage to make new friends, courage to yield myself to the full power of the dream.”

~ Howard Thurman


And after the hero lives his adventure, he returns, forever changed. Joseph Campbell called this phase, The Return.  He is now much more peaceful, selfless, compassionate, tolerant, content, and grateful. He becomes a blessing to all who come in contact with him.




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Piero Falci loves to observe, reflect, and write. He is an explorer of the mysteries of life who not only strives to live a life that matters, but who also hopes to inspire others to do the same. He is an author and educator who believes that the inner work that leads to personal awakening is indispensable to create a wholesome world. He is a promoter of peace who believes in advancing the idea that Heaven is here, if we want it to be. He teaches mindfulness meditation and mindful living, and organizes Silent Peace Walks.