Myth of the Heroine

It is still startling to me—though the realization first fully came into my awareness more than a month ago—how many of my instincts I have spent the greater part of my life ignoring. Or, perhaps, stifling is the better word. And how easy—how tragically easy—it is to do. I tend to think there is a great deal of freedom to be had for those of us who can be successful in the long term at both recognizing and honoring those impulses. Indeed, there are times when I still feel I must pause before I act or speak and ask myself, “Is this really what I want, what I intend?” Or does that seedling of desire, that initial ever-so-slight voice that I’ve just dismissed because it has become a lifelong habit to do so represent the essence of my soul’s longings, of my being? Is an existence that is based on cultivating an awareness of those instinctual desires and the courage to honor them really one of relative effortlessness? Yes.

For Rogers, the emergence and acceptance of an “instinctual personality” is the major goal of psychotherapy. What Maslow calls the attainment of “full humanness,” together an acceptance of our nature and a constant striving toward the actualization of potential. What Jung refers to as individuation. Becoming oneself fully. In terms of myth, becoming the hero of one’s own life. 

The hero, therefore, is the man or woman who has been able to battle past his personal and local historical limitations to the generally valid human forms. Such a one’s visions, ideas, and inspirations come pristine from the primary springs of human life and thought. – Joseph Campbell

The hero is eternal. Transcendent. Visionary. Universal. Indeed, I’ve spent a great deal of time over the last 24 hours contemplating the nature of the hero myth as it may apply to me. In accord with a very strong inner impulse to do so, perhaps, to make greater sense of my own reflections, urgings, and internal images. Of course, there is no heroine myth hidden anywhere in my books on mythology or Jungian psychology.

The hours I spent scouring the internet yielded little in the way of an actual definition, although I did find myself lost for several very informative hours in a series of Jordan Peterson’s lecture videos. (As a side note, I find his thoughts on creativity—at least, from what I heard—to be most worthwhile, practical, and insightful for those who are interested in exploring the nature of their own creativity. I even took notes.) He has given consideration to the ways in which the hero myth—the attainment of full selfhood, an emblem of integration—applies to women. And I like the way he explains it. (I like more that he put forth the effort to do so.)  I don’t think anything he says is wrong, but I would add to it.

I would say the same for Rollo May’s interpretations of the common myths surrounding womanhood. And not based on any of my readings, research, or the breadth of my understanding of mythology (because Lord knows I don’t have the knowledge base for that), but on my intuition alone. On how I experience myself. It is also worth mentioning that I still have a hard time identifying intimately with individual goddesses or feeling that my archetypal influences shift according to either my menstrual cycle or the phases of the moon. And yet, I am very deeply aware of the spiritual aspects of the feminine. Those I have come to nurture with great care. But I must pause for a moment to ask myself if the construction of my very own heroine myth isn’t what I’ve been working toward from the beginning. Through all of my excursions into the feminine aspects of my consciousness.

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I don’t know that it’s possible to identify the characteristics of a heroine other than to say, simply, that she belongs to herself. That she has, in effect, erected and embodies her own goddess. That she is integrated and has overcome, to the degree it is possible, her imbalances and wrestled with her shortcomings. I do not believe there is one heroine. I believe there are many. Because the feminine is many. Inside each and every woman is a heroine with a different face. And it is up to the individual woman to create her story in a manner that is completely different from the way a man would construct his. 

Because she has to integrate her different shades, energies, roles, and aesthetics of self. Her many faces and dimensions. It was a startling realization for me in Kind of Woman, when I stated (rather triumphantly), “If I am going to change my life, I have got to change my makeup first.” Intuitively, I know this is the truest statement I have made about my nature since I’ve started this blog. 

I align myself largely through the use of outward symbols. If I feel I absolutely must get a new bohemian moonstone ring (as the one I ordered on Etsy just this afternoon) in order to feel aligned, in sync with myself, to harness the source of a powerful energy, or mood, that has now been demanding expression within me for several days (as it has been), then I must. Otherwise, it will gnaw at me incessantly until I correct the imbalance. Equally startling was the revelation that the feminine within me becomes sacred when I honor it.

In order for me to boldly assert myself in the world, I must understand who I am as a woman. The integration of all those faces and where the center lies. Where I am most rooted in all those roles and feelings. How I piece them together. When I feel most aligned, effortless, strongest, and most at peace within myself. What she looks like. Feels like. My true center has always been of the predominantly mystical variety, walks a bit on the witchy side. And if I go too long without honoring her as I know I need to—which I did for a long, long time—I am, in effect, a woman without a home. But this is precisely who I knew myself to be, in varying shades, ever since I was a young girl…

Then, it would appear as if all of these characteristics—masculine, feminine, and a great many other aspects of temperament—would lose distinction. And I am me, existing in a state of creative combination. It’s my experience that it is exactly as Anaïs Nin says, “There is no pattern for all women.” Which is, I think, both a curse and an extreme privilege. 

2 thoughts on “Myth of the Heroine

  1. I hope you publish all of these posts in a book. When I think of a phrase to describe what I have just read, “mind growth in motion” comes to me. It’s as if you have allowed the reader to observe your imaginative mind having its own experiences. Mind might not be the right word here. Soul perhaps. Passion. Passion to experience yourself in depth. I have enjoyed this post very much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much for the kind words! I like that phrase: “mind growth in motion.” I do hope posts like this one convey something of the exploratory and reflective processes involved. Also, I appreciate very much that you can understand the immense gratification that comes with being open to one’s inner experiences. I have always felt that my inner world was a greater source of enrichment than the external world. I suspect you can relate to this.

      Liked by 1 person

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