Embarking on the Hero’s Journey

western mysteriesEntering into the journey of self-exploration calls for a hero. In studying the Western Mysteries, this journey is called the hero’s journey.

“To will, to know, to dare and to be silent”, therein lie the instructions for this particular path of waking up and going past yourself. It is not just to ‘enhance’ you, but so that you can become what you were meant to be. You can discover the wisdom that is your birthright.

In Christian mysticism, by accepting Christ as your savior and being baptized by the Holy Spirit, you have access to the gifts and fruits of being “in the spirit”; you are in this world, but not of this world.

Comparatively speaking, in traditional Tibetan Buddhism, the essence of this is captured in “om gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha”, the mantra of Prajñāpāramitā, the representation of the Perfection of Wisdom.

The Western Mysteries state simply that the sleeper must awake. The quest is the same for us all – to be more awake than we currently are.

Studying the Western Mysteries

I studied the Western Mysteries in a webinar series with Doug & Catherine Sensei as part of the Year of Awakening program in 2016.  As a westerner, you might expect the Western Mysteries to be ‘home’ for me. However as a long time dharma student I found them (initially) more esoteric than the traditional Buddhist texts.

What learned was that the foundations of all religions and traditions are universal. The archetypes presented in the Western Mysteries are known to us all – wherever you live and whatever your path. They are a structure for showing you where you are, what you are aware of and what you have not yet met – which is usually synonymous with what you are concealing in your shadow.

Once you spot them, your patterns might seem very individual, but more often than not they are shared by many people around you.  Similarly, archetypes in different traditions might appear quite different, but their origins stem from universal notions.

Listening to our Calling

Our personality is often what keeps us in place. The people in our lives know who we are and shape who we are expected to be. When we step ‘out of line’, the ripple effect also shakes them. The journey is not always smooth and there are demons that must be encountered along the way. For me, this course coincided with a shaking out of my personality and personal story.

I watched as the ripples of new realizations shook those around me. At the same time I saw how my wish to stay safe, stay the same, caused distress as I failed to hear my calling. Or, perhaps more accurately, how I failed to listen to and acknowledge my calling.

Courage & Determination to Shake Things Up

Stepping out and shaking things up requires courage and determination. It is not the easy route – thus the hero is called for. Success for the hero may not be measured on traditional scales – and may take many attempts to achieve.

Life is the ultimate hero’s journey, but within that there are many iterations and winding circuits that we travel, each requiring their own will to push through and silence to hear the calling and recognize what must follow. With understanding and familiarity, fear falls away and the esoteric enters into one’s grasp.

One tool of the Western Mysteries, the tarot, is steeped in symbolism and metaphor of the hero’s journey. Now I see that the card of Death not as a symbol of fear, but a representation of a new beginning; the Sun card captures the childlike play and lightness we all once knew and can know again. Familiar demons may reappear at intervals along the way, but once acknowledged they become smaller and less significant until they just fade out of view.

We are all being called to listen and find the courage to go and explore. Will, know, dare, be silent – start your journey now and see where it takes you.

Zoe MooresZoe Moores is a Dharma practitioner and PhD candidate.  Based in London, she is a student of Doug & Catherine Sensei and helps organize their upcoming retreats in the UK.

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