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Hero's Journey, Heroine's Journey, or Journey to Wholeness?

There is a unifying pattern within us that is common to all.

Key points

  • Psychology contains the inner world of mythology.
  • One universal pattern of transformation connects women and men and the entire human family.
  • The archetypes we are all born with embedded in our unconscious are human potentialities.
  • Our journey to wholeness fulfills who we are as human beings and removes the perceived boundaries between masculine and feminine.

What has become known as the hero’s journey is just as, if not more, important in psychology as it is in mythology, especially in the sub-fields of developmental psychology, gender psychology, positive psychology, cross-cultural psychology, evolutionary psychology, and consciousness studies.

Robert Atkinson
Robert Atkinson

When Joseph Campbell introduced into public awareness a universal, timeless pattern found in the world’s myths that he called the monomyth, because it represented the one myth common to all cultures, he identified a pattern of archetypes and motifs that not only told the story of the journey of the hero but also decoded an innate pattern of transformation that is available to everyone.

This journey consists of the three primary archetypes of departure, initiation, and return. The emphasis was put on the beginning and the end, a call to a great adventure ending with returning as a hero. What was often overlooked was the middle phase, or muddle, which consists of challenges and crises necessary for us to overcome as part of the deeper process of inner transformation taking place that leads us to a resolution and a more unifying level of consciousness.

What also happened as Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces became more and more popular is that a gender-based split developed between how men understood it and how women understood it.

Many men took it literally as a “hero’s” journey that became a great adventure story with the emphasis on overwhelming odds to beat. Many women saw it as missing their experience of what their life is really about, and so distinct versions of a “heroine’s” journey appeared.

In the process, there was a separation of potentialities and archetypes into masculine and feminine categories. This view keeps apart what we all have access to as human beings, having more in common with each other than we acknowledge.

We have much to learn from each other about how all the archetypes are human potentialities, not either feminine or masculine. Keeping them separate runs the risk of letting the whole get lost in its parts.

A New Story of Wholeness re-unites the hero’s journey and the heroine’s journey into a single journey that illustrates how this pattern, in its essence, is designed to return us all to our inherent wholeness, with a unitive consciousness. This is what truly makes our lives heroic, as we discover our purpose is to give back to the world what we have learned and gained from the process itself.

Remembering our wholeness fulfills who we are as human beings, and what we all share as members of one human family. It eliminates the choice of either/or, either masculine or feminine, and upholds the integrity of both/and, emphasizing all qualities and characteristics we have in common as human beings.

We know we are well into the process of remembering our wholeness when the eternal breaks through from the temporal realm, when light merges with dark, and when polarities are consciously acknowledged and confronted in our everyday lives.

When these opposites are experienced, and their lessons learned in the classroom of the world, we remember what we came here for, and we evolve as we are intended to. We become the woodcarver who sees the tree spirits wanting to be fashioned even before the tree is carved, in what is already there yet invisible.

All the fleeting chaos, confusion, conflict, and suffering resulting from the interaction of opposites we experience here provide us with the jarring contrast between what will pass and what will last.

As we communicate more with the inner realm, we become fully aware of when the eternal bursts forth from the unconscious, giving us a timeless understanding that countless others have experienced before us.

The pattern of the journey to wholeness provides a model that gets to the core of what we are made for. It contains all we need to fulfill our innate potential. Every single human being on the planet can realize the fruits of living this pattern and can become conscious of its meaning. In doing so, we benefit others as well, by passing on its understanding and transforming the world in the process.

The universal pattern guiding our living into wholeness is a roadmap for achieving the greatest expansion of consciousness that is humanly possible. It is first and foremost an all-human inner journey that unites us all as conscious storytellers, sharing our experience of returning to our innate wholeness.

Living into the “new” story of our wholeness—the process of remembering who and what we are—removes the perceived boundaries between masculine and feminine, to show they are vestiges of our long history of living with a consciousness of duality.

Living into our wholeness results in a deeply lived life, having wrestled with our demons, danced with our angels, made plans with our inner guide, and connected with our soul. Only the fullest evolution of our own consciousness fulfills our greatest desire and potential.

In this process, we discover that, at our essence, we are more like others than not. This prepares us for the most satisfying thing we can experience: the sense of union with creation that comes through service to, and deep interpersonal relationships with, others.


Atkinson, R. (2022). A New Story of Wholeness: An Experiential Guide for Connecting the Human Family. NY: Light on Light Press.

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