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The Hero’s Journey of Modern Men (Part 1 – Introduction)


joseph campbell hero's journey examples

This is part 1 of a 4 part article. Click here for part 2, part 3, and part 4.

In his groundbreaking work, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell postulates that there exists a “monomyth,” or a common pattern that every single great story follows. Whether it be ancient epics such as Gilgamesh or The Odyssey, modern day movies such as Star Wars or the Matrix, or contemporary novels such as Lord of the Rings, every single great story has a common pattern.

Joseph Campbell dissects this pattern, known as the monomyth, into three phases: Departure, Initiation, and Return. Each phase has a series of tests, or trials, that one must endure, until they emerge with the ultimate reward. I will explain this monomyth in far greater detail, but first I wish to clarify the purpose of this four part article.

I believe that modern man goes through the same phases as described in the monomyth. He finds himself trapped in a misandry-ridden world, shackled by his own brainwashing, and goes through a series of trials which lead to his “awakening.”

The journeys of thousands of men, across all continents, separated by time and space, are surprisingly similar. The point of this article is to outline the various phases which men go through upon “swallowing the red pill,” or realizing that the common social narrative is utter bullshit.


The Monomyth

Joseph Campbell hero's journey examples

Since Joseph Campbell first published The Hero With a Thousand Faces in 1949, numerous mythologists have expanded upon his theory and updated his monomyth. Some have cut out certain steps, some have merged certain steps into one, and some have denied it altogether. However the essence of it is this:

  1. First Phase: Departure
    1. The Call to Adventure
    2. Refusal of the Call
    3. Supernatural Aid
    4.  Crossing the Threshold
    5. Belly of the Whale
  2. Second Phase: Initiation
    1. Road of Trials
    2. Meeting with the Goddess
    3. Woman as Temptress
    4. Atonement with the Father
    5.  Apotheosis
    6. The Ultimate Boon
  3. Third Phase: Return
    1. Refusal of the Return
    2. The Magic Flight
    3. Rescue from Without
    4. The Crossing of the Return Threshold
    5. Master of Two Worlds
    6. Freedom to Live

I realize that this all seems very complicated, but I’m going to do my best at explaining it. This article will present a brief introduction of the various “stages,” and then the next three articles will delve deep into what this looks like for modern men.

Sometimes, depending on the story, various elements are left out, or swapped around, but the structure remains roughly the same.

For example in Star Wars, there isn’t really a “Woman as Temptress,” theme. Yes, Luke does have some attraction for his sister Leia, but she doesn’t act as the temptress. Luke does, however, go through the “Atonement with the Father” phase, where he has to confront Darth Vader.

Conan the Barbarian, on the other hand, has a very distinct “Woman as Temptress” trial. When Conan is tasked with a very difficult and life-threatening mission, a very sexy woman tries to stop him from keeping his word. But, Conan, being a man on his purpose, goes through with it anyway.

I believe that modern man goes through a version of this “Hero’s Journey” archetype, which I will now analyze.


Brief Analysis of Major Components

Joseph Campbell hero's journey examples
Beowulf is a well-known story that follows the Hero’s Journey

Here I will give a brief explanation of each trial that exists in the monomyth. I will reserve the in depth explanations for parts 2-4 of this article. As you’re reading this, try to think of which stage you’re in now.

Keep in mind, too, that each area of your life can be in a different “stage.” For example, when you first get into bodybuilding, you may be in the “departure,” phase. But, if you’ve been learning game or doing something else for years, you may be in a much farther along stage.

This 4-part article, attempts to focus on the “bigger picture,” of modern man’s life. It seems that most modern men go through a very distinct, recognizable pattern of seeming coincidences, which lead to his awakening.


Phase #1: Departure

Joseph Campbell hero's journey examples
Luke leaving Tatooine for the first time

The departure is basically when the hero moves from the “ordinary world,” to the “extraordinary world,” or the supernatural world. The ordinary world is essentially what the hero has been used to his whole life. The extraordinary world is the lands, either geographical, emotional, or intellectual, that he hasn’t explored yet.

It’s when Frodo starts to journey away from the Shire and into the unknown, when Odysseus ventures away from his homeland, and when Luke leaves Tatooine for the first time. This phase consists of 5 trials.

This is when modern man embarks from being a weak, effeminate man, who buys into the lies that our culture tells us, and starts to integrate manosphere wisdom into his life.


Trial 1: The Call to Adventure
This is when the hero is first called to leave the ordinary world. It’s when something mysterious or strange happens, which sparks his curiosity. With Frodo, it was the discovery of the ring. With Luke, it was princess Leia’s message, crying for help. In the Matrix, it was Neo reading “follow the white rabbit,” on his computer screen.

With modern men, it’s when they’re first exposed to neomasculinity, either through an in-person experience, or through the manosphere.


Trial 2: Refusal of the Call
The hero, sometimes, but not always, refuses the call for various reasons. Maybe he has obligations to the “ordinary world,” or doesn’t want to leave his old life behind. Maybe he’s just afraid, or maybe (as with Neo from the Matrix), the new “reality” is so painful and hard to accept, that he just outright denies it.

This is when Luke tells Obi-Wan-Kenobi that he can’t go save princess Leia, because he has obligations to help his family on the farm. It’s when Odysseus tries to avoid war (which was inevitable) with trickery. It’s when Simba refuses to return to pride rock and fulfill his destiny (cheesy example, but The Lion King was actually based off of Hamlet).

With modern men, it’s when they can’t handle the manosphere’s truth, so they berate it as being sexist/manipulative/flat-out wrong, and shut it out completely.


Trial 3: Supernatural Aid
This is when a supernatural source, or a wise mentor, comes in to provide guidance to the young hero. Note that supernatural doesn’t necessarily mean magical here; it’s usually just a man who’s been to the “unknown world,” that the hero wishes to traverse, who wishes to give the hero guidance.

This is when Obi-Wan-Kenobi trains Luke in the ways of the force. It’s when trinity extracts the “bug” from Neo. It’s when Harry Potter receives guidance and help from Hagrid, the half-giant.

This is when modern men are ready to receive guidance, and find a mentor in the form of the manosphere, or a successful, masculine man.


Trial 4: Crossing the Threshold
This is when the hero first crosses over to the land of the unknown. He is away from the ordinary world for the first time. Aspects of this unknown world may be similar to the known world, but make no mistake: he has taken the first step into unknown territory.

This is when Luke escapes from Tatooine, when Frodo crosses out of “The Shire” territory for the first time in his life, and when Neo is taken out of the matrix for the first time (when he’s in the weird artificial womb with life-sustaining wires plugged into him).

This is when modern men begin to implement the strategies that the manosphere discusses into their lives for the first time.


Trial 5: Belly of the Whale
This is the final phase before the hero completely leaves the ordinary world behind. By going this far, the hero shows that he is willing to transform himself—this is one of the more intense trials, as it marks the Hero’s first real transformation.

This is when Luke is in the trash compactor, and is having to fight for his life. It’s when Morpheus explains to Neo how everything he knows is wrong, and Neo begins to accept it. It’s when Frodo enters into the land of the orcs, and he’s in the metaphoric fire for the first time. It’s the final stage before the hero becomes fully immersed in his adventure.

This can be any number of things, but it’s usually when a modern man pulls a girl from cold approach for the first time. After this, there’s no going back.


Phase #2: Initiation

Joseph Campbell hero's journey examples
This is Luke’s Road of Trials

This is when the hero is fully immersed in the extraordinary, supernatural, or “unknown,” world. He must surpass numerous trials and tests before he is to finally move onto the third phase. Here the hero faces the reality of the harsh unknown world that he is living in.

This is when modern man goes through a series of trials that further cement the manosphere wisdom that he’s learned, and make him a stronger, more powerful man.


Trial 6: The Road of Trials
This is the largest series of tests that the hero must undergo. It typically involves intense training and a high level of courage to overcome. This is when the hero starts to develop discipline, commitment, and start to really grow as a man.

This is when Neo spars with Morpheus, and puts his newfound knowledge to the test. It’s when Luke practices using the force with Yoda, to hone his skills. It’s when Conan the Barbarian goes through intense weapons training to develop the “Discipline of Steel.”

This takes the form of girlfriends giving modern men shit tests, severe rejection, progress stalling in the gym, a struggling business, and other “road-bumps” to success.


Trial 7: Meeting with the Goddess
This is when the hero meets a woman who showers him in praise and all accepting love. She re-creates a “mother-world,” for him. The mother-world is the world of comfort, bliss, and unconditional love that a young boy experiences when he  hasn’t yet become a man; when his mother is the predominant parent in his life.

This is when Frodo meets the high elf Galadriel, and is enraptured by her feminine presence. It’s when Luke meets Leia, all dressed in white (almost like a divine goddess), and is stunned by her beauty. It’s when Neo meets the all-knowing Oracle, who has god-like power due to her immense wisdom.

The goddess typically imparts a lesson or a gift onto the hero. The high elf Galadriel gives Frodo a token and shows him a possible future (if he does not destroy the ring). The Oracle offers Neo self-insight and wisdom, as well as foretelling his future.

This is when modern man meets an amazing girl for the first time, and they hit it off, and end up having a relationship. Or, conversely, it’s when he meets a truly feminine and wise older woman, who sees how lost our culture is.


Trial 8: Woman as Temptress
This is when a woman, or feminine energy, tempts a hero to sway from his path. It is important to understand here that it isn’t always a physical woman who’s tempting the hero; it can also be feminine energy, or good emotions and sensuality.

For example, Conan is tempted by a beautiful woman. She wants him to sway from his path, but he is a masculine man with a strong sense of purpose, so he refuses to do so. Luke, however, is tempted by his desires for power. He’s tempted by the dark side.

Frodo is tempted to let Sam carry the ring. Remember, it isn’t a woman, but feminine energy that is trying to sway Frodo from his path. Frodo knows that he will feel so much more comfort and bliss if he lets go of the ring, but he chooses not to do so.

This is when a girl, or some form of “comfort,” or “feminine energy,” tempts modern man to leave his path and abandon his masculine purpose.


Trial 9: Atonement with the Father
This is when the hero confronts that which has the most power in his life. It often takes the form of a father figure, but can also be a god-figure that has the power of life and death.

For example, Luke confronts his father, Darth Vader. This is an obvious example of atonement with the father. In this scenario, he has to physically confront his father, but it isn’t always like this.

Neo has no father—so what does he atone with? He confronts Agent Smith, after learning how to manipulate the Matrix. Up to this point, Smith has had the ultimate power of dishing out death, but quite to Neo’s surprise, Agent Smith is not, in fact immortal.

This is when modern man confronts his parents for being asleep, his friends for being weak, the elitist controlled media, the social narrative, or his existential angst (it can be one or all of the above).


Trial 10: Apotheosis
This is when the hero’s old self dies off, and his new self emerges. It’s when Neo becomes the one, and it’s when Luke becomes a Jedi. It’s when the hero undergoes a total and complete death and re-birth. The hero is literally killed off, so that a new one can emerge.

It can also take a much less obvious form, however. Sometimes the apotheosis is more of an internal transformation than an external one. Maybe the hero has now built the “Discipline of Steel,” as Conan the barbarian did, or maybe he’s accepted a very difficult truth to accept.

This is when modern man fully accepts reality for what it is, and all of the red pill truths have been integrated into his life.


Trial 11: The Ultimate Boon
This is when the hero receives the ultimate reward for his struggle. It’s when Luke becomes so in touch with the force that he can destroy the Death Star without any missile guiding system. It’s when Indiana Jones gains the Ark of the Covenant, when Neo becomes an unstoppable force within the Matrix, and when Frodo destroys the ring and saves humanity.

This is when modern man’s game explodes, his finances are amazing, and his life is just generally awesome. By fully accepting the principles that lead to abundance, he is able to fully utilize them without any internal resistance.


Phase #3: Return

Joseph Campbell hero's journey examples
Luke has returned to ordinary civilization

The mission has been completed, the hero has been transformed, and the world has been saved. However the task of returning to the ordinary reality still remains.

This is when modern man returns to dwell amongst the average chumps and brainwashed masses, so that he may help them see the light and improve the world around him.

I want to stress that this doesn’t necessarily mean settling down or marrying a girl, although it can. Primarily, it just means that modern man returns to the ordinary world and tries to change it. He tries to help it with the lessons that he’s learned.


Trial 12: Refusal of the Return
Oftentimes the extraordinary world is so great that the hero doesn’t want to leave it. He doesn’t want to lose touch with the Ultimate Boon, he doesn’t want to lose the life-energy that he’s come in contact with, or the incredible skills that he’s developed. Maybe the journey has drained all of his energy, and he has none to return. Or maybe he has undealt with business in the supernatural world.

This is when Luke refuses to escape and stays with the rebels, because he wishes to avenge the death of his mentor. It’s when Frodo is so tired that he just wants to give up and die. It’s when Buddha has discovered enlightenment, and has trouble coming back to the unconscious world.

This is when modern man doesn’t want to stop having endless sex with hot girls. He doesn’t want to go back to the land of the chodes, because his lifestyle has been too much fun.


Trial 13: The Magic Flight
Sometimes, it is difficult to take the Ultimate Boon back into the ordinary world, for various reasons. Maybe others won’t be able to understand it, or deal with the power that the hero has. Or maybe the gods guard it jealously. Thus, a magic flight helps the hero escort the Ultimate Boon back into the ordinary world.

This is when the eagles fly Frodo back to the comfort of the ordinary world. It’s when the Millennium Falcon saves Luke. Sometimes it’s a literal flight, when other times, it’s not.

This is when some sort of external force pulls modern man back into ordinary reality. Maybe he’s forced to spend time with his father, his family, or his old chode friends…or maybe he has to move for work and is in a city without much night life.


Trial 14: Rescue from Without
Often times the hero has to rely on an old friend to save him. The journey has drained every last bit of his energy, and he is incapable of returning to the ordinary world. The mighty hero, despite all that he has done, requires assistance.

This is when Han Solo rescues Luke Skywalker from Darth Vader, it’s when Trinity rescues Neo from the Agents. It’s when Samwise Gamgee carries a nearly dead Frodo to the top of Mount Doom.

This often takes the form of an old friend, for modern man, who makes him realize that the world needs changing.


Trial 15: Crossing of the Return Threshold
This is when the hero first steps back into the ordinary world. Often times there is a “gate keeper,” so to speak, that the hero must defeat before he can enter back into the ordinary world.

It’s when the hobbits re-enter the Shire after their long and arduous journey. It’s when Neo fights Agent Smith for the final time, so that he may cross back into the ordinary world. It’s when Luke confronts Darth Vader for the final time.

This is when modern man returns to the “ordinary world,” for the first time—it can take the form of buying a house and settling down, of marrying a girl, of having kids, or of simply focusing on passing down wisdom to other men.


Trial 16: Master of Two Worlds
This is the difficult task of integrating the wisdom or skills that one learned back into the ordinary world. The hero has successfully completed his quest, but must find a way to re-integrate into ordinary life. It means balancing the spiritual with the material, the esoteric with the ordinary.

This is when Luke finally becomes a Jedi Knight, and has thus mastered the extraordinary world while returning to the ordinary world. It’s when Aragorn is crowned the rightful king of Gondor—he must now retain the wisdom from being a part of the fellowship, and he has returned into the world of order. It’s when Buddha has retained his enlightenment, but returns to the ordinary world as a teacher.

At this point, the modern man has mastered game, has developed a genuine sense of confidence, has his life together in all areas, and generally does everything else that the manosphere encourages, and he is the master of this world…but he also knows how to co-exist amongst chodes and feminists without arousing their anger. He understands their “world,” or their mindset, so deeply, that he can even convert some of them with ease.


Trial 17: Freedom to Live
The hero has now finally conquered all of his fears, and has mastered the ordinary and extraordinary worlds. This removes his fear of dying, which now allows him to finally live freely.

This is when Luke finally saved humanity and is able to live freely, when Neo has saved humanity and can do the same. It’s when Frodo is now free to live out his days overseas with Gandalf, without worry. It’s when Conan is crowned king and can now rule over a prosperous kingdom; he has mastered the Discipline of Steel (extraordinary world) and his civilization (ordinary world).

Because modern man has gone through these arduous, difficult stages, he is now free to live. He has everything he could possibly want—money, happiness, women, health. He’s now free to focus on his life’s mission; his life’s purpose.


Some Thoughts

Again, I realize that sometimes the elements of the monomyth happen out of order. Some stories are missing certain elements entirely.

But one cannot deny the eerie similarities between epic stories. All legendary adventures seem to follow a certain pattern, which brings me to the legendary adventure of modern day chodes choosing to swallow the red pill.


How Does This Apply to Modern Man?

Joseph Campbell hero's journey examples

First, a brief summary. Then, the real nitty-gritty details in article parts 2-4.

All men begin their lives in a haze of anti-male indoctrination. They have been discouraged from expressing their masculinity their entire lives, they’re depressed and anxious without even knowing it, and they buy into the social narrative.

They think that women want a man who’s a complete doormat. They think with their visceral emotions, rather than with true intelligence. They’re weak, they lack a cause or a purpose, and they’re basically shells of human beings. They value sunshine and rainbows over cold, hard reality, they’re total virgins, and have little to no experience with relationships. They’re lazy, apathetic, and just generally lame.

This is known as the ordinary world. It’s what most men are used to; it’s what they’ve been around their whole lives.

Then, however, somewhere along the line, they get introduced to the manosphere, or a collection of wisdom from past generations. Maybe a girl cheats on them for an asshole, or they start to realize that successful men tend to all have common characteristics.

Regardless, something happens that makes them question the reality that they live in. They start to doubt their anti-male indoctrination. This is when they go on the departure. They get exposed to the manosphere, evolutionary biology, gender psychology, and the wisdom of past civilizations, which spark a fire deep inside of them. They embark on a quest to become a man.

At this point, the initiation occurs. They go through a series of trials and errors, in order to rightfully claim their place. They push themselves, they learn game, they slowly change their beliefs, start to work out, eat healthy, and make good decisions.

Maybe some men challenge them, or they get ostracized from a social circle for their newfound knowledge. Some girls love them to death, and some girls hate their guts. Regardless, they go through a series of difficult experiences that encourages them to improve and grow.

Eventually, after this series of trials, they move onto the departure phase. They’ve had enough fun and are ready to settle down and pass down their knowledge to other men.

This can take the form of being a father, or maybe some sort of activist. It can take the form of you having a blog in which you help other men improve their lives, or it can take the form of you just being a positive man who changes the world one man at a time.

But the point is, that you come back to live in the “regular world,” so to speak, while retaining your masculine skills. After this long journey in which you’ve learned game, developed emotional self-reliance, and grown as a human being, you come back to the ordinary world and try to change it. You are the master of two worlds.

Continue Reading Part 2 Here…

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7 years ago

This was a wonderful piece of writing that modern men can relate to. You have got real talent for writing.

7 years ago

I’ve been reading this daily for the past week, 10/10 article


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