Category Archives: Hero’s Quest

"Where Are the Initiated Men of Power Today?" – An Answer to Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette

To Find the “Initiated Men of Power” – Seek Out the Martial Arts Masters

Leaders of the men’s movement today are addressing the question brought before them by young men:

“In a Bill Moyers interview with poet Robert Bly … a young man asked the question, ‘Where are the initiated men of power today?’ We have written this book in order to answer this question, which is on the minds of both men and women. In the beginning of the twenty-first century, we face a crisis in the masculine identity of vast proportions. Increasingly, observers of the contemporary scene – sociologists, anthropologists, and depth psychologists – are discovering the devastating dimensions of this phenomenon, which affects each of us personally as much as it affects our society as a whole.”

(See Robert Moore’s website page for this quote and also for an introduction to the excellent book by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, King, Warrior, Magician, Lover, written to answer this question.

See also my review of Moore and Gillette’s book on today’s Unveiling webpage, Moore and Gillette; King, Warrior, Magician, Lover.

The question is a real one. In all of our mythic Heroic Quests, the young man is tutored by a sage, someone whom we’ll call a Hierophant – a “wise older man” who can guide the young man towards full adulthood. In his excellent book, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Dan Millman describes his teacher Socrates.

In the movie Star Wars, Luke Skywalker is tutored first by Obi-wan Kenobi, then by Yoda. In The Karate Kid (1984 version), Dan is tutored by a martial arts master, Mr. Miyagi.

What is consistent here? Young men are taught by martial arts masters. This is the classic initial stage of the Hero’s Journey.

Socrates, Obi-wan Kenobi and Yoda, and Mr. Miyagi – together with numerous similar characters in fiction and film – are idealizations. But the “real versions” exist!

In Unveiling: The Inner Journey, I credit two martial arts masters with whom it has been a great privilege to study. Robert Fusaro Sensei, 7th Dan, Founder of Midwest Karate Association, and Peter Ralston, founder of both the Cheng Hsin school and the martial arts discipline of that name, are masters who are substantial and very authentic. Further, diligent search of the martial arts schools and systems in most cities will reveal others who are competent teachers; not only of martial arts, but also of life.

Even those who prefer something other than martial arts can benefit by the pathway to becoming a “Superior Man,” as described by author Davide Deida.

Deida states “The two ways to bring you right to your masculine edge of power are austerity and challenge.” (The Way of the Superior Man, p. 191)

Women are aware of whether or not men are willing to do this. As we observe men, we note whether they are creatures of comfort, or if they are afraid to disrupt their own “status quo.” In essence, we note their courage – their willingness to accept both discomfort (“austerity”) and their willingness to step beyond their safety zone (“challenge”).

So for all men who are looking for a pathway: Seek out austerity and challenge, as Deida suggests. Give up the TV and the video games, and spend time in a real dojo; study with a martial arts master. Push yourself into the wilderness and into your own wildness. Then see how your woman responds to you. (Or if you are not in a relationship, then observe what sorts of women begin to be attracted to you.)

"Unveiling: The Inner Journey" Celebrates First Year Anniversary!

The Unveiling Community Celebrates First Anniversary with Gala Party

On Saturday, July 28th, founding members of the Unveiling Community – and new ones as well – gathered at Alay’nya’s home to toast the first anniversary of publication.

As featured in a McLean Connection article on “Pathways for Today’s Heroine”, by writer/photographer Lori Baker, guests each had a story to share about their own “inner journey.”

From left to right, Kim Murray, Alay’nya (Alianna Maren), and Katherine (“Kate”) Hanna. Photo by Lori Baker, McLean Connection. Used with permission.

(If this link doesn’t work, please go to: McLean Connection, click on “McLean” (upper right-hand corner of the title bar), and look for the article (central column) titled “A Pathway for Today’s Heroine.”

As described by Ms. Baker, writing for the McLean Connection:

“Last week, McLean author, Alianna Maren’s living room was filled with fascinating women. There were old friends, and new friends, several of whom edited or contributed to her recent book, “Unveiling: The Inner Journey.”

“The women gathered in her home, on a wooded and peaceful neck of McLean, to celebrate one year of the book’s publishing. Each guest had a unique background, and a special reason for being there. Among them were authors, dancers, a women’s organizational consultant and life coach, and a spiritual teacher, just to name a few. Each had an opinion of the book’s message, and each articulated the need for such a book in today’s world.”

Social commentator and activist photographer/videographer Kim Murray, whose thoughts on the Heroine’s Journey were captured in Unveiling, advocated teaching young women to embrace their life’s challenges. Her own story (for which her nom de plume Kirene is used) is featured in Unveiling’s Chapter 6, “The Hero’s Quest – and the Heroine’s As Well!,” pp. 72-74. As Kirene expresses it:

“If little girls were exposed to the female vision quest, and learned early on that life is full of victories and obstacles that must be overcome … then girls growing into womenhood would be better able mentally and emotionally to navigate … turbulent waters and resolve the perceived insurmountable.”

Unveiling’s editor, Katherine Hanna (seated right in the picture above) contributed to how Unveiling described the role of a Heroine’s Journey, as distinct from the well-known Hero’s Journey. Ms. Hanna offered the character of Lyra, in the movie The Golden Compass, and Sarah, in the movie Labyrinth, as examples of young women going on their Heroine’s Quests. Lyra’s goal was to rescue other children, including her friends. To do this, she had to do something in common with all Heroines – find and heal her most significant ally. Sarah likewise found and ennobled her allies. This characteristic of healing and empowering others is a distinguishing feature of the Heroine on her Quest.

Two other guests, Nicole Cutts, Ph.D., and Barbara Jewell, each spoke of how their lives had Heroic Quest aspects. Dr. Cutts (DC’s “Success Doc”) is a success coach for women who want to bringing their life-vision into reality. She was inspired by Unveiling’s description of how Heroine’s Quests are an important part of how we create our own success stories. She has hosted numerous women’s Vision Quest Retreat, with her newest (the “Social Media Butterfly” event) to occur this weekend.

Nicole Cutts, Ph.D. (left) and Barbara Jewell (right). Photo by Lori Baker, McLean Connection. Used with permission.

Barbara, who has lived abroad extensively, talked about how the experiences of shifting from one culture to another created a Heroic Journey for many young people as they navigated cultural transitions. This same theme resonated with author Charise Hoge, who also attended the event.

Hero or Hierophant? Warrior or Wise Man? (Part I)

Heroic Journeys: A Part of Our Growth Path (But Certainly Not the End!)

A dear friend and colleague – someone who is already successful with her own business – is on a Heroine’s Quest. She’s forming a new business – one that is much more in line with her core heart’s desire – and one which has potential for being solid and profitable. Yet it will not take advantage of the government regulations, her advanced degree, or the well-identified corporate needs that give her current business such a solid and stable base.

Nevertheless, she feels impelled towards her new calling, and launching her new business.

Another colleague – someone whom I love and respect dearly – is at the peak of her career with a major organization. She has respect. She has influence. She is comfortable with, and intimately knows how to “work,” her current organization. She is financially – and organizationally – secure. Yet she is also preparing to leave her “nest” and start a new business.

Anytime that we leave the comfort of our known, safe, and familiar surroundings to take on a new venture, we are “questing.” And in order to find the strength and courage to leave known, safe, and familiar, we have to posit ourselves as Heroes (or as Heroines – this blog is gender-indifferent).

There’s a huge amount of emotional charge that we get by identifying ourselves as a Hero on a Quest. This defines our role, and gives us ego-identification. It pulls us out of being a “cog in a machine.” The sense of difficulty and danger becomes galvanizing and even energizing. We know who we are in the sharp crispness of taking on an “impossible dream” – which perhaps even involves conquering certain “forces of evil.”

Heroic Quests are alluring – and they are necessary. Without them, we would never find the courage to buck the status quo, to step out from the norms, and to do – very literally – “great things.” All the great adventures of humankind have sprung – one way or another – from such Heroic Questing.

Yet there is a danger hidden within the addictive nature of such quests. We can use them as a means of repeating life-stages through which we’ve already gone, and often with great success.

One man whom I know, let’s call him Theo (yes, the same “Theo” from Unveiling) had a brilliant military career, from his youth to retiring – with high rank and numerous accolades. He then had an equally stellar career with a well-known company, and then – with a band of comrades – started his own company, which became very successful. Theo’s unique insights, his tenacity and will, his total dedication to his cause, was a significant element in his company’s growth.

Theo has had a great career; a culmination of Heroic Quests.

And yet, there is an Achille’s heel to such exploits.

Ponder on it. (I’ll take this story up in the next blogpost.) But ask yourself: Is there a potential downside to repeating a known “success pattern”?

The "Lord of the Rings": A Classic "Inner Journey"?

Frodo the Ring-Bearer, selected to convey the Ring of Power into Mordor where he can cast it into the fire, is weary on his journey. He is not yet into the dark lands, but already the responsibilities of bearing the Ring of Power wear heavily on him. Frodo and his band, the Fellowship of the Ring, spend their last moments traveling together as guests in Lothlorien. There, they meet the Lady of the Woods, the Lady Galadriel.

Lady Galadriel welcomes the group of travelers, and gives each a special gift along with an Elven cloak. To Frodo, she gives the Phial of Galadrial, which provides light during their journey. More than that, by touching the vial, Frodo can ease the corrupting power-thoughts induced by the One Ring. Similarly, the light from this vial (Phial) frightens away the voracious spider Shelob, whose web would ensnare him after he’s entered Mordor.

The Phial of Galadriel also seemed to inspire both Frodo and his companion Sam to call out in the Elvish language. Frodo, in particular, called out a reference to Earondil the first time that he used the Phial against Shelob.

Just two days ago, I chanced to watch a segment of The Fellowship of the Ring, the first of The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy directed by Peter Jackson and released in 2001. This was the segment in which Frodo was brought before the Lady Galadriel. He was mesmerized by her ethereal beauty, and awed by her gift to him.

Rachel Pollack, in her book, The Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom, describes this first stage of our adult life-journey as the Worldy Sequence. This is the time in which we come to know, access, and integrate each of our core power archetypes. Two of these are like “reserve batteries,” and I don’t discuss them in Unveiling. The remaining six are our “power modes”: we need each of them to gain our full adult powers.

If this is the case, the Frodo might be a stand-in for each of us. This is not surprising – each of us feels a bit “smaller” than others, and we are each daunted by life’s challenges from time to time. And let’s recall that the purpose of these “heroic” stories is to exaggerate contrast. We are not simply trying to introduce a new process or product into our company, we are saving truth and freedom by delivering the ring to Mordor and sundering the forces of darkness!

So what does Frodo’s encounter with Lady Galadriel, the Lady of the Woods, mean to us? She would have to be one of the three feminine archetypes of our six core power archetypes. This means that she could represent the High Priestess (wisdom and inner knowing), the Empress (or Isis, love and nurturance), or Hathor (the goddess of pleasure and sensuality).

Really, there is not much of the “pleasure and sensuality” aspect in The Lord of the Rings! Hathor, as a choice for the Lady, is clearly out. Also, the Lady is a somewhat remote figure. She is not about warmth and nurturance. When we connect with our “inner Lady Galadriel,” we are not getting the oxytocin feel-good surge that we get when we curl up with our dog, cat, young child, or our “special someone.”

No, there is only one role for the Lady: she represents the High Priestess, or inner wisdom. And her gift to Frodo is precisely related to her role in his life; she gives him light, the ability see – and also to repel dark forces using this power of light.

This is reinforced with an earlier scene, in which the Lady pours water into a silver mirror-bowl, and invites Frodo to look within and see. This, very literally, is the role of the Lady in each of our lives. Our inner High Priestess is that aspect of us that gives us wisdom; she helps us “see rightly.”

When we access our own inner High Priestess – our own Lady of the Woods, we gain not only vision and clarity, but also wisdom. Read about her in Unveiling: The Inner Journey, Chapters 7 & 11.

P.S. Who, in The Fellowship of the Ring, would represent the other two female power-archetypes? There are really only two other women of note that the Fellowship encounters during their travels; Goldenberry and Arwen. As a little test for yourself, why not research each of these two – and think them through in terms of the remaining two feminine core-power archetypes: the Empress (or Isis, in Unveiling terms), and Hathor. Which is which? And why? And do we need them? What roles did each play in The Fellowship of the Ring? What would the story be like without them?

Who – and What – Is a "Hierophant"?

Hierophant – Leader of Leaders, and Teacher of Teachers

Those of us who’ve been following Unveiling: The Inner Journey – both reading the book and this blogpost – have probably wondered about this notion of a Hierophant. We never hear the term in any of our “leadership books.” The subject of “hierophants” is not covered in the Harvard Business School, or in the military’s leadership academies. So how can this notion possibly be important? And – perhaps most essential – how can it be one of our “core six power archetypes”?

For the longest time, the idea of a Hierophant puzzled me also. In fact, it was still something of a puzzle as Unveiling was going to press. I still hadn’t figured it out! But here, in a sort of “post-Unveiling epilogue,” a lot of the concepts I’d worked on earlier are becoming much more clear. And surprisingly enough, it was the work on the Hero’s Quest (and the Heroine’s, as well – see Chapter 6 in Unveiling, on that theme), that made the notion of a Hierophant much more clear.

Let’s start with one of the classic Hero’s Quest examples from Chapter 6; Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute. The young hero, Tamino, seeks initiation into a “higher order.” He undergoes trials of initiation, overseen by the High Priest, Sarastro. At first, we might not have a good “felt sense” of Sarastro’s role, other than that he seems to be a necessary figurehead. But let’s move on!

Our next example (also from Chapter 6) is Luke Skywalker from Star Wars. Young Luke also goes through trials, much as does Tamino. He trains first with Obi-wan Kenobi, and later with Yoda. In Star Wars, this stage of training – of both learning and proving himself – is essential before the young hero takes on his true, defining challenge. But in the early stage, a teacher is essential. As a similar example, Mr. Miyagi is the necessary teacher in the Karate Kid movie series.

The same is true of young women, facing their Heroine’s Quests. Young Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz, has Gilda, the Good Witch of the East, to guide her.

But is this consistent? Is this something necessary?

Let’s look at a few more Hero’s Quest stories. The Lord of the Rings is a great one. We have young Bilbo Baggins first in The Hobbit, and later Frodo and his hobbit-companions, together with warriors from men, elves, and dwarves. But throughout, we also have a certain special character – not Aragorn (who really is a Hero, joined in Quest with Frodo and the others). No, the character who deserves our attention is Gandalf. That’s right; Gandalf the Grey, later Gandalf the White.

One essential component of the Hero’s Quest – since it is really the Hero’s story – is that the Hero needs to be guided by his teacher, the Hierophant, in the early stages. Yet later, he needs to confront challenges on his own. Usually, the Hierophant is killed in this process – in order to make the Hero’s isolation during his final challenge most real and concrete.

During crucial portions of The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf is unavailable to Frodo and his companions; he sacrifices himself while fighting the ancient and fearful Balrog. Similarly, Obi-wan Kenobi sacrifices himself in a duel with Darth Vader, allowing Luke and other to escape. We’re seeing a pattern here; can we find another instance?

One of the greatest “mythological sagas” of our time is the Harry Potter series. We meet young Harry when he is only twelve years old, and is whisked away to Hogwarts to study magic. He meets the Headmaster, Professor Albus Dumbledore. In a manner similar to that of Obi-wan Kenobi and Gandalf the Grey, Professor Dumbledore dies in the last book – forcing Harry to have his final confrontation with Lord Voldemort on his own.

We see that the Hierophant is a powerful figure. He is essential to the growth and training of a young Hierophant. Often (but not always), the Hierophant sacrifices himself, although this is usually a plot device – and not a necessary Hierophant characteristic!

Our culture focuses on the drama of the young Hero/Heroine, in their respective Quests. We see, now, that the Hero or Heroine does not gain skill, insight, or understanding on their own. Before they go on to their “great challenge,” they must undergo training. The Hierophant is their teacher; their guide.

So in your own life, are you being a Hero/Heroine, or a Hierophant? Learning to see this distinction in yourself, and in those around you, will be the subject of the next blogpost!

The "Hero’s Quest" and the "Hierophant" – Part 1

The Warrior’s Road to Wisdom: Going from the “Hero’s Quest” to the “Hierophant”

In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker, beholding the devastation that once was his uncle’s farm, has no choice. Not only is there no “going back,” there is nothing left to “go back to.” He seeks out his new teacher, Obi-Wan Kenobi, more out of desperation than desire to go off “adventuring.” Yet, as his training and his travels unfold, he finds himself on a Hero’s Quest; one of the grandest sagas of our time.

Princess Isabelle, in a “The Embryo Goddess and the Morpho,” a short story written by Nicole Cutts, Ph.D. (in Many Paths, Many Feet, edited by Phyllis Wilson), leaves the safety of her Queen Mother’s love and her King Father’s castle, and ventures off to reclaim a portion of her father’s lands and restore the kingdom.

The young Tamino, in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, undergoes the trials of initiation into the priesthood of the Sun God worshippers. In The Karate Kid, young Daniel simply wants to survive the daily humiliations of martial arts-skilled school bullies.

Is there something is common to all these stories, and to many other stories of heroic adventure?

As it turns out, they share a great deal in common – so much so that the great Joseph Campbell identified the underlying story-structure of all of these as the monomyth. As he described it, there is only one great story or grand saga. It has a consistent structure. And it underlies all the great stories of human “becoming.” The monomyth describes the journey of Jason and his Argonauts, as they searched for the Golden Fleece. This monomyth similarly underlies many of our current “grand sagas” – both in myth, movies and books, and in our personal lives.

The reason that certain monomyth retellings achieve huge cultural resonance (Star Wars-like resonance) with us is not just the quality of the movie or the book. Rather, it is that the movie, book, or even someone’s personal history faithfully adheres to the core monomyth storyline.

Monomyths are compelling. They pull us along; they sweep us away. When we go through our own Hero’s Quest or Heroine’s Journey, we undergo a profound personal transformation. We have left the warmth of nurturing love, and the security of a known environment. We even give up our “identity.”

Think of Aragorn, in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Yes, the monomyth there is being largely carried out by the young hobbits. However, Aragorn as much as the hobbits is on his Hero’s Quest. In classic heroic manner, he travels – not as a prince of the realm, with servants and retinue – but under an assumed name, as the Chieftan of the Rangers of the North. He has relinquished identification with his “true name” and “true heritage” until he has successfully concluded his Heroic Quest; reuniting the kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor.

We have many Heroine’s Quest stories as well; Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz is an early prototype. Sarah in the Labyrinth, and Lyra in The Golden Compass are other young heroines. Each of them steps into their quest to rescue someone whom they know and love. Dorothy wants to rescue her dog Toto, and Sarah seeks to rescue her baby half-brother, Toby. Lyra searches for her friend Roger, and for other children taken by the Gobblers.

Heroic Quests can take on many forms and guises. Consistent to all of them – Hero’s Quests and Heroine’s Quests alike – is the moment when the young Hero/Heroine leaves safety, security, and a well-defined (although limiting) role.

Similarly, we each take on a Heroic Quest – often many times in our lives! When we leave home to go off to college, or join the military, we are beginning a personal Heroic Quest.

When we start a new business, leaving behind the safety, security, well-defined structure, comforting companionship, and certain role of corporate life, we are beginning a new Heroic Quest.

We can undertake Heroic Quests within a corporate structure as well. If we champion a new product or idea; whenever we go into Warrior mode, we are questing.

Questing, although arduous and dangerous, is exciting, More than that, it is self-defining. It is the process by which we individuate; become our own person. We find courage, step out from our parent’s home, or the security of a corporate paycheck, and forge our own pathway. It is through this forging – which may take many years, and require severe and lengthy training (think Luke Skywalker; think Aragorn) – that we become that which we were meant to be. The higher the calling – be it Jedi Knight or Ruler of the united Gondor/Arnor kingdoms – the more difficult, lengthy, and perilous the journey.

Because it is so intense and so self-defining, with such a clear end in sight, we might think that questing leads us to our final goal; that it is the “single defining journey” of our adult lives.

Surpisingly, not so. In fact, even if we undertake successive Heroic Quests, there is still a realm beyond. So suppose that we leave home to go to college, and then get an advanced degree. That’s one Quest. Suppose that we get a corporate job, and spearhead a new initiative within the company. That’s another Quest. Suppose that we then strike out and form our own company; yet another Quest. We can go questing all our lives.

But there really is more. There is indeed a “life beyond the Heroic Journey.” And it is not at all staid and boring! Rather, the journeys of a mature adult, while often more “inner” than “outer,” have just as much challenge as our youthful, self-defining questing – perhaps even more!

A Heroic Quest is obvious. Everyone – including ourselves – knows what we are doing. We are re-uniting the severed kingdoms, getting the “Ring of Power” into Mordor, writing a dissertation, climbing a mountain, or rescuing someone in distress. Our goal and our focus is clear. Further, we shape who we are in the process.

In contrast, the “journeys” that we may undertake as mature adults – something that we may do after we’ve successfully completed a Heroic Quest (or two or three) can be much less overt. Those around us may not even know that we undertaking some sort of “inner journey.” In fact, we ourselves may not even know it – until we come through the other side and say to ourselves, “I really have changed!”

So how do we know the difference? How can we tell if we are on a Heroic Quest, or doing something different? What lies beyond questing? And are there signposts or guides, so that we can know what we’re doing?

That will be the theme of the next blogpost – and perhaps a few more afterwards!

In the meantime, if you have a copy of Robert Moore’s King, Warrior, Magician, Lover – take a look. There’s an error in the basic premise. See if you can discern it. (It will help if you’ve read Chapters 7 and 11 of Unveiling: The Inner Journey.)

More to be revealed in coming posts.

To your health, and the success of your journeys!


P.S. There’s a clue – and it’s in the title of this post. What’s the role of the Hierophant? How does the Hierophant relate to our Heroic Quest (if at all)? See if you can figure this out before my next posting!