The Journey toward Alignment is a heroine’s journey. It is, perhaps, The Heroine’s Journey.
First, you hear The Call.
It sounds different for every woman. Sometimes it shows up as a pulling away: that feeling of constriction in your chest when you walk into your office for the day, that gut-heave when you tell your children, again, that you don’t have time. Sometimes its a magnetic pull toward adventure, connection, or those empty canvases sitting in your basement.
But it is a Call. And left unheeded long enough, it takes on a life of its own,
until answering it is undeniable.
This is how the Heroine’s Journey toward alignment begins.
The Hero’s Journey is a story structure uncovered by mythologist and writer Joseph Campbell. The theory behind the Hero’s Journey is that, in fact, many of our ancient myths and modern-day stories follow very similar plot lines, wherein the main character does and experiences things in a surprisingly consistent order from story to story. The Hero’s Journey threads through more movies and books and old stories than we can even imagine.
Writer and psychotherapist Maureen Murdock wrote The Heroine’s Journey in response to Campbell’s work, noting that women traverse this adventure very differently than men.
The Heroine’s Journey begins with a separation from the archetypical feminine and an identification with the archetypical masculine.** This manifests in so many ways for so many different women, and in summary amounts to the denouncing of one’s feminine nature in order to fit into our patriarchal world. And for so many of the women I coach with, this is where misalignment begins. It looks like long, hard-driving workdays, pushing through the energetic slumps many of us experience with the moon cycles, denying our emotions.
Like the hero, the heroine in this storyline comes up against naysayers and roadblocks, and triumphs over them. This is where many stories of the heroine end, in our culture. She tried to fit in with the boys and they accepted her as one of their own. She made it in the corporate world, against all odds; she showed that she was just as “good,” “strong” and worthy as they were.
If we dive deeper…
Because it requires a denunciation of her fundamental feminine nature, our heroine is not often satisfied with this success for long.
This is when feelings of misalignment set in, and The Call toward something deeper, something more authentic, summons.
In the Heroine’s Journey, this is known as the Crisis, and the descent to the Goddess. At this point, all of a woman’s masculine strategies have failed her, and it is time to consider a new way of being.
According to Murdock:
“At this point, the heroine is faced with a Descent or dark night of the soul, a time of major de-structuring and dismemberment. A descent brings sadness, grief, a feeling of being unfocused and undirected. What usually throws a person into a descent is leaving home, separating from one’s parents, the death of a child, lover or spouse, the loss of identity with a particular role, a serious physical or mental illness, an addiction, the midlife transition, divorce, aging, or loss of community. The descent may take weeks, month, years, and cannot be rushed because the heroine is reclaiming not only parts of herself, but also the lost soul of the culture. The task here is to reclaim the discarded parts of the self that were split off in the original separation from the feminine–– parts that have been ignored, devalued, and repressed, words and feelings swallowed in her quest for success.”
The heroine experiences, at this point in her journey, the deep desire to reconnect with the feminine, and to heal her relationship with her mother, or with the archetypical feminine as a whole. With this comes a desire to reconnect with one’s creativity, intuition, and the wisdom of one’s body.
In my experience with women going through this journey, the transition into alignment, as I’ve come to know it as, this is when a woman signs up for an all-women’s retreat, or begins to notice how her body cycles with the moon, or pays more attention to what intuition feels like for her. She begins to value the parts of her that are systemically de-valued by the patriarchal culture within which she has been trying to succeed for countless years. This feels risky and revelatory, all at the same time.
The next phases of the Heroine’s Journey find a woman healing the wounded masculine archetype within and around her, and reintegrating aspects of the masculine to balance out her newly regenerated and re-valued feminine. She sees the value in approaching the world from an archetypically masculine lens in certain situations that may benefit from this way of thinking, but does not deny the value that a more feminine approach offers as well.
The Heroine’s Journey is the fundamental story at play for women going through the experience of transitioning into Alignment.
For so many women I work with, the call to alignment begins with a major life transition, or with the feeling that the life she is living no longer feels okay to her; it no longer aligns with her values, desires or purpose in her life.
**By archetypical feminine and masculine, I don’t refer to women and men, per se, but rather qualities that exist in all of us that are either archetypically feminine or masculine in nature. Archetypically masculine qualities include linear thinking, an outcomes-based orientation toward defining success, black-and-white-right-and-wrong duality, and the like. Archetypically feminine qualities are circular or spiral thinking, emergent patterns, holding opposites in balance, valuing emotional connection, et cetera.