For Joseph Campbell, the three-stages of a rite of passage were exemplified concretely in the Hero’s Journey. Also referred to as the ‘monomyth,’ Campbell outlines a formula for a story that, when left opaque enough, can be used as a template in which both ancient legends and contemporary narratives fit into. While it can be broken down into many interchangeable parts, Campbell’s journey occurs predominantly in three acts: Departure, Initiation, and Return.



This template often gets used as a deconstructive tool for popular films and literature such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, and more. It is also used to map parallels in many sets of spiritual beliefs. In Judeo-Christian belief, the story of Moses depicts a character climbing a mountain, atoning with god to receive commandments, and returning from his journey with the power to free an enslaved people. For Islam, Mohammed leaves home to journey to a secluded cave in which he receives prophecies, returns to Medina and Mecca to pass on his boons. Christ, in the Christian gospel, goes through numerous rites of passage, the ultimate of which is marked by a literal death to self, leaving behind his human form, and returning as the master of both the spiritual and the material.


Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, while used to outline myths and legends, is also a framework for the transition to adulthood. A child crosses a threshold and goes through a death to one’s self in leaving behind the childhood personality and psyche, returning as a self-accountable and matured adult with a boon of skills and knowledge for them to use in their communities.