Beyond the Hero’s Journey


There are seven categories of story including The Hero’s Journey that correspond to the seven stages of human life: Genesis (birth and infancy), Exodus (childhood), The Hero and Heroine’s Journey (adolescence), Civilization and its Discontents (adulthood), Hearth and Home (marriage and children), Apotheosis/Atonement (the achievement or failure of wisdom), and A Farewell to Kings (aging, loss and death).

Here, in Genesis, is a whole class of story devoted to the original shaping of the world out of the void. Unity and Separation. Loneliness and Yearning. Universality and Differentiation. There are hundreds of Origin Stories scattered among the mythologies, ideologies and foundation myths of the world, from India’s Mahabharata, to David Deutsch’s Fabric of Reality; from Tolkien’s Silmarillion to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. Worlds made of color and music, of dancing particles and vibrating strings, of fruit and sex and the dreams of giants, or crows, or thunder. They draw from the world we see around us and our need to establish its first causes with our own: they mingle in the memory of our union with mother and father and the strange dawn that cracks the moment we begin to know we are separate from them – for always woven into genesis stories is the immediate possibility that from this perfect creation we are in danger of rejection and abandonment. In fact, to make this a story and not merely an account, the abandonment – call it the fall – will turn out to be inevitable. The story of a genesis is always also the story of our departure from it.


Gustav Dore, 1866


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