As we head into the week of Halloween, we continue our look at the Heroic Community, an idea percolating among many people, especially as we slip into the darker days of dreaming and vision. (See posts below for previous writings.)
According to folklorist and myth scholar Joseph Campbell, the next step in the journey of the hero comes in the form of supernatural aid.
"For those who have not refused the call, the first enouncter of the hero journey is with a protective figure (often a little old crone or old man) who provides the adventurer with amulets against the dragon forces he is about to pass."
Campbell cites the Navajo's Spider Woman or Grandmother Spider as an example, especially in the tale of the heroic twins who are journeying to the home of their father, the Sun. Spider Woman gives them a magic amulet and spell to defeat their upcoming challenges.
The Fairy Godmother figure in European folk tales is another example, as is the Virgin Mother in Christian mythos.
"The hero who has come under the protection of the Cosmic Mother cannot be harmed."
Men can also be guides, as noted by the wizards, shamans, and psychopomps who appear to heroes (Hermes, Thoth and even Virgil in Dante's Divine Comedy).
Interestingly, the guide or first appearance of supernatural aid doesn't always have to be completely beneficent. Sometimes, s/he can be challenging and lead the hero on difficult roads that are the individual's most powerful journey of transformation.
I think one of Campbell's most important observations is that "One has only to know and trust, and the ageless guardians will appear."
Once the intention is set by the group building a heroic community, I suspect something gets set in motion. We know from studies in physics that our thoughts hook up to actual points in space, so when the word is put out into the Multiverse by the group, then perhaps the energy comes back around in the form of various helpers on the road.
Probably, a community based in some kind of spirituality has an extra kick to this, because in imagining co-creating such a group, I see myself praying to various Mysterious Ones for aid or doing ritual work around the initial stages, thereby starting a magickal ball rolling.
This part of the heroic journey is no less challenging than any other, because the community has to be willing to keep their eyes and ears open. There are innumerable stories of people being so busy, so pre-occupied, so wrapped up in self that they miss the aid that's right in front of them, causing them to wander until they're finally able to see and hear what they've most needed.
Then, of course, the group has to be willing to trust the assistance - what happens when some members of the group are inspired by the supernatural aid and others aren't? Perhaps part of the spellwork around this could be that everyone in the group needs some help in ways that are resonate to her/him.
Something I get from the Fae around all this is "Always ask the Faery Godmothers." They'll show up, ready to roll up their magickal sleeves, but they do need to be asked.
Perhaps once the group of people decides they are willing to commit to creating this type of community, they could get together and do ritual work around stepping into the abyss, into the unknown and opening to the guidance of those very timeless ones who could shed some light on the road ahead.
I probably won't be writing again until after Halloween, so I hope everyone's holiday is full of mystery, wonder, and deep, deep joy.
(The lovely Spider Woman image can be found here. The image of Virgil holding back the demons from Dante was done by Gustav Dore. The fairy godmother was done by Emily Hilda Rix Nichols.)