Mythic Studies

The Mythic Feminine, Part 3: Christopher Vogler’s Variation of the Heroine’s Journey

In the last post, I laid out the basics of the Heroine’s Journey. What follows here is Christopher Vogler’s variation.


*Ordinary World- this is where the journey begins, usually from some sort of subtle or overt imprisonment. The Heroine is trapped by the strictures of society and culture, whether she realizes it fully at the time or not.

*Call to Adventure- the Heroine gets her ‘wake-up call’, so to speak. She realizes that she has unfulfilled needs that her current situation cannot provide for.

*Refusal of the Call- the Heroine may try to deny that there is anything wrong with her world as it is, but deep down she is beginning to realize that she must leave the situation, scary as that might be.

*Meeting the Mentor- here, the mentors/guides may actually be the people who work (knowingly and unknowingly) to keep the Heroine in her supposed ‘proper place’.

*Fortunate Fall- the first threshold for the Heroine is usually to break free from her confinement.

*Tests, Allies, Enemies- the Heroine is now fully on her Journey. Now that she is on her way, she will be confronted by many tests and will come across those who will become enemies or allies. This may very well include some sort of rape trauma, seductive diversion and/or other trials that play upon other specific female fears.

*Approach to the Inmost Cave- this begins the section of the Heroine’s Journey that could rightly be labelled the Descent of the Goddess. It is a preparatory period before she will descend to a literal or metaphoric underworld.

*Ordeal- the Heroine faces a ‘life-or-death’ crisis. She may literally or metaphorically be facing death. Here is where she faces her inner demons and her most difficult challenge thus far. Experiencing the ‘death’ of the Ordeal allows the Heroine to be ‘reborn’ and grants greater wisdom or insight that will aid her to the Journey’s end. This is the point where the Heroine may be tempted to abandon the Journey and return to her imprisonment. She may be faced with conquering notions of female inferiority in one or more areas.

*Reward- after facing and surpassing her Ordeal, the Heroine earns the reward she has sought after. For the Heroine this is usually of a deeper and far-reaching spiritual and emotional nature. This is where she reclaims her power and realizes she already has everything within herself that she needs in order to succeed and thrive in life.

*The Road Back- this is the point at which the Heroine must commit to completing the Journey and returning back to the Ordinary World. This is another threshold point, in which some event pushes the Heroine to begin the return journey home. She may not wish to return to her former place of imprisonment, and instead refuse the road back. Crossing this threshold may involve a reconciliation with family and/or community.

*Resurrection- like the Ordeal, this is another moment in which the Heroine meets and faces ‘death’, in the ascent back from the underworld. This is where the Heroine must prove that she can apply the wisdom and spiritual gifts she has gained along her Journey. It also serves as a cleansing or purification for the Heroine, allowing her to be fully Resurrected. The Resurrection Ordeal is a release of creativity for the Heroine. The impact the Heroine makes isn’t necessarily the one a Hero does.

*Return with the Elixir- This is the final Reward of the Heroine’s Journey. The Heroine has undergone and survived her Resurrection and earned the right to re-enter the Ordinary World. However, the Heroine goes back with her concept of how her world can be radically transformed. She may form a new family or community structured around the knowledge she has gained. She also returns with the knowledge to share with others that ‘all is one’- the very wizardly concept that all things are indeed connected.


*Frankel, Valerie, From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey through Myth and Legend, 2010

*Volger, Christopher, Writer’s Journey, 1992


***Next up- The Mythic Feminine: Part 4: Victoria Scmidt’s Feminine Journey

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