Tag Archives: heroine’s journey

That book on the end of the shelf

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I’ve written a lot of words on this blog during the past two years about my three magical realism, conjure and crime novels set in north Florida: Conjure Woman’s Cat, Eulalie and Washerwoman, and Lena. But what’s the book on the end of the shelf?

That book, Sarabande, was the most difficult novel for me to write. Previously, I’d written The Sun Singer, a hero’s journey contemporary fantasy told from a young man’s point of view. But the hero’s journey is only half of the world’s mythic cosmic story. I needed the heroine’s journey, a novel told from a young woman’s point of view.

The hero’s journey is a series of events out of comparative mythology developed by Joseph Campbell in The Hero With a Thousand Faces. While some authors have tried, the heroine’s journey cannot be shoe-horned into the hero’s journey scheme. It’s too different, more moon and seeds and underworld secrets than derring-do and sky-god stories and changing oneself while risking one’s life in the service of others.

As an author, it’s difficult for a man to put himself into a woman’s shoes and tell a woman’s story. While he may have worn such shoes in previous lifetimes, he doesn’t belong in those shoes in this lifetime. Fortunately, my main character, Sarabande also appeared in The Sun Singer and that meant I had known her for a long time, so there was a history there that was stronger than it would have been if I had used a new character.

I liked Sarabande in The Sun Singer and avoided writing a novel about her for many months because I didn’t want to see her go through the heroine’s journey, a journey that included a physical assault by a man and a vicious and life threatening sexual overture by a female denizen of the underworld. The book was a learning experience for me, though one that was most likely limited to the confines of the book rather than my coming anywhere close to truly knowing the trials and joys of women.

My happiest moment after the book was released was the comment by a female reviewer who said that the story was so real she had to keep reminding herself that it had been written by a male author.

Sarabande is a dark women’s story written primarily for women. The man’s hero’s journey, when it unfolds naturally, ends in transformation. Likewise, the woman’s heroine’s journey. Two paths, each undertaken out of the necessities of the real world, yet each ending in profound, spiritual changes on opposides of the male/female coin.

Sarabande is available in paperback, e-book, and audiobook.

Malcolm

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Review: ‘Border Pieces’ by Pam Robertson

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Border Pieces: A Morgan Winfeld NovellaBorder Pieces: A Morgan Winfeld Novella by Pam Robertson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This exceptionally well-written book is several books in one. It’s a covert ops book and it’s a heroine’s journey book. Some readers will be disappointed when the covert ops plot and page-turning action in the first section of the book don’t continue into the next section. However, readers who appreciate characters with depth and multiple dimensions will keep reading even though (initially) the sudden change of pace is somewhat disconcerting.

I won’t include spoilers here. Suffice it to say, being a spy exposes one to injuries and other losses. Morgan and her partner Jake need time to heal and find themselves. Morgan learns that it’s one thing to heal from physical injuries and a very different matter to get her mind right and connect to skills she does not, as yet, understand or fully use in support of the missions. Understanding this is her journey, a journey made more difficult by the loss of a colleague during an otherwise successful mission.

Here readers will see a very talented, almost natural covert operative who lives and breathes the work she does, yet considers leaving the service because tragedies and other losses cannot be undone. It would be easy for her to retire and write a book about her exploits. Morgan’s grappling with her underdeveloped intuition and how to apply it in a business that’s more and more technology-based is an important part of the book’s theme. If she can figure all that out, she’ll probably become even more successful as a covert operative.

If I were an editor, I would ask for somewhat smoother transitions between the sections, especially one that shifts from an in-progress, real-time operation to a time many months later then we learn how that mission ended. I think it would have been stronger if it had been shown in real-time. However, that is my somewhat subjective feeling.

I liked the major focus of the plot on Morgan Windfeld’s personal and professional development, including her doubts and fears. This is a strong novel that appears to be the first in a series we can all look forward to following.

–Malcolm

View all my reviews

The Fairytale Heroine’s Journey

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“When I first started teaching fairy tales at the university level, I noticed that certain tales had a similar underlying structure. They were all tales about heroines, from childhood to marriage, and in those tales the heroines went through a series of life stages: they received gifts, they were required to leave home or lost their homes in some way, they wandered through dark forests, they found temporary homes where they could stay for a while, they encountered friends and helpers along their journey . . . I describe those stages in more detail on the Journey page of this website.”

Source: The Fairytale Heroine’s Journey

Author, researcher, and college professor Theodora Goss* is doing for fairy tales what Joseph Campbell did for myths. That is, she is looking for underlying themes that can be found in many tales. It’s a developing process, and I’m looking forward to seeing this website evolve over time.

*Goss is the author of two wonderful novels, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter and the sequel European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman.

Malcolm

Where did I get the name for my previous blog?

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In 2004, I self-published the first edition of my contemporary fantasy novel The Sun Singer. The second edition, from a small publisher, came out in 2010. When that edition went out of print, I self-published the current edition in 2015.

The story is about a young man named Robert Adams who travels to a look-alike version of Glacier National Park, Montana, where he finds a raging battle in progress between the evil king and a rebel group. While Robert has had some psychic skills for many years, he buried then as deep in his mind as possible because he stopped trusting them. Now, to survive the battles and find his way home to our world, he must rely on them once again.

The Sun Singer is a hero’s journey novel, that is to say, a story about a person who undertakes a journey and comes back from it forever changed. Oddly enough, I began dreaming about this story when I was in junior high school. On a visit to see my grandparents in Illinois, we visited Allerton Park, now owned by the University of Illinois, which serves as a convention center and nature preserve with a collection of outdoor statuary including The Sun Singer. It was almost as thought my seeing that statue created the connection to a story I was destined to write.

In some ways, I am the Sun Singer. Each of us is, when you consider the fact that our life’s journey seems to be intended to transform us into the very best we can be. With that in mind, it seemed fitting to name original blog “The Sun Singer’s Travels.” It was about the hero’s journey, my own journey through my published books, and–through its writing posts–the journeys each of us take when we write a novel or short story. A few months ago, I merged that blog into this one to reduce the amount of time it took to keep two blogs active and up to date.

The sequel to The Sun Singer, Sarabande, is a heroine’s journey novel in which a young woman comes from the look-alike world into our world to search for Robert Adams. She doesn’t have an easy time of it. Even though I’m no longer using the original blog name, I’m still focused on the same kinds of ideas and subject matter.

I’m very definitely a child of the new age, a long time student of magic, and a strong believer that each of us is much more powerful and complex than we appear. The challenge is finding out how and why that is so and then creating a world that mirrors our highest goals.

–Malcolm

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Who Am I and Why Am I Here?

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“We’re not on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves. But in doing that you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes.”

– Joseph Campbell

nightsky2It’s easy to point to great inventors, world leaders, writers, preachers, and leaders of social and environmental initiatives and say those people probably know who they are and why they’re living in the world.

We may be wrong about that because we don’t know their stories inside an out. These people inspire us, though, showing us–among other things–what a person can do through perseverance,  a willingness to fight against their challenges, and to have the strength of will and strength of purpose to reach their goals.

The rest of us can get discouraged when we read biographies or news stories about famous people who accomplished great things that have made the world a better place. How, we wonder, can we live up to that? I don’t think we’re supposed to live up to that. As Joseph Campbell would say, they were following their own paths. We have our own paths and, more often than not, those paths don’t involve being famous and ending up in the history books.

Some people say they are here to live ethical lives, to be loving and compassionate spouses and friends, to do an honest day’s work while interacting with customers and colleagues out of kindness and fairness, to bring up their children with sound values, and to take part in a churches and/or secular groups that address important causes in the community and the world. Such people vitalize the world in ways they may never know when you think of the thousands of interactions and influences they have with others during the course of a lifetime.

What we’re drawn to

Perhaps many of us discover who we are and subsequently why we’re here by looking at the causes, books, issues, subjects, belief systems and people we’re continually drawn to. Others get a strong hint when they enter college and suddenly find a subject fascinating or when they get a job and inadvertently take a company training course that leads their career in ways they never suspected on the first day of work. We find ourselves drawn to certain parts of the country or the world, possibly for what may initially seem to be the most flippant of reasons, only to find new lives there that suddenly define who we are and why we’re here.

While many people can inspire us teach us and show us (by example) what a lifetime might look like, only we can ultimately answer the question “Who am I?” Discovering that answer is often a frustrating and a lonely journey. Sometimes negative experiences get in the way of our goals and then–in time–we learn that who we are is a person who can live with adversity without losing their faith in themselves while finding new ways to define why they are here.

Do we plan our lives before we’re born?

Personally, I believe that before we are born, we know who we want to be and why we want to be here. If that’s the case, then we’ll be drawn to the kinds of people, places and things that facilitate our needs. I don’t believe in coincidences or luck or fate, so even if we don’t have a “life plan” before we are born, I think that we will develop one while we’re here as one thing leads to another. Yes, that often looks like a twisting and haphazard path until one reaches old age, looks back on it, and sees that behind all the seeming chaos of it, there was a central focus toward being who they became.

Being open to spontaneity

People used to say “go with the flow.” I don’t think that applies to mob action, acting like sheep or lemmings, or taking the easy way out. I think it means, as Joseph Campbell put it, following our bliss and doing what enlivens us and enriches us and transforms us. One has to be open to that flow to jump into it and see where it leads; we can’t consciously plan upcoming “coincidences,” “chance meetings,” or “lucky encounters with other people” in advance. We can expect them and be open toward spontaneously embracing those moments when they occur.

“Who Am I and Why Am I Here?” is usually an evolving discovery. Most of us don’t necessarily know that in high school or college or our first full-time job. Life will, I think, help us figure it out.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the hero’s journey novel “The Sun Singer” and the heroine’s journey novel “Sarabande.”

 

Inanna’s mythic heroine’s journey

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from the archives

“The world’s first love story, two thousand years older than the Bible—tender, erotic, shocking, and compassionate—is more than a momentary entertainment. It is a sacred story that has the intention of bringing its audience to a new spiritual place. With Inanna, we enter the place of exploration: the place where not all energies have been tamed or ordered.” – Diane Volkstein in “Inanna, the Queen of Heaven and Earth: her Stories and Hymns from Sumer”

Inanna, as envisioned by nikkirtw123 on Photobucket is strikingly close to my vision of Sarabande as I wrote the novel.

As an author, I view my characters through a high-powered microscope and present the results of what I see as part of my stories. I will put you into the characters’ shoes if I can because—as Diana Volkstein writes—this is where the energies haven’t been tamed or ordered.

In an older novel, I described that place like this: “He knew him at the binary level where the line between matter and energy is barely discernible and often non-existent: Where urges pull at their chains, where drives push dumbly and drip sweat, where instincts race unchecked, where a horrifying sadness lies buried, where a raw pulse drums a cadence for the primitive rites of changing seasons, where white-hot impulses leap synapses in a shower of elemental fire.”

I wanted a similar, up-close focus in my heroine’s journey novel Sarabande. So, for the story of a woman seeking wisdom and wholeness, I could think of no better model than the myth of Inanna, a graphic dramatization of a woman’s inner journey to find herself outside the traps and trappings of a masculine world that has–as Sylvia Brinton Perera (“Descent to the Goddess”) wrote–forced the binary level of feminine power into dormancy for 5,000 years.

Or, as the late Adrienne Rich said, “The woman I needed to call my mother was silenced before I was born.”

Sarabande’s Heroine’s Journey

The journey in “real life”

In today’s terms, Sarabande was a tomboy. She was an expert with a knife, bow and arrow, a fishing pole, and everything she needed to know to survive in the wilderness. She learned all this from her father because her her mother believed women should only learn to keep a good home and not question society’s norms for women. However, Sarabande will never truly become herself as long as she is a disciple of either her late warrior father or her misguided, preachy mother. She is being taunted by a ghost that she must approach face to face in the ghost’s world.

Early on in her quest to rid herself of the ghost of her dead sister Dryad, Sarabande learns to see the world at a binary level: The lake, surrounding mountains and the cloud-draped sky broke apart into millions of colored specks. Sarabande leaned against Sikimí, even though he was no longer solid, and saw that her own light-pink hand was not solid either. In spite of her sudden dizziness, she did not fall. In fact, when her fingertips touched Sikimí’s side, a swarm of pink specks flew, like bees, into the permeable yellow gold of the horse, and when they did, their color changed to match the specks in their new environment.

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But she doesn’t know what it means. So it is, that her quest to find and confront her sister follows the pattern of Inanna’s Heroine’s journey to confront her sister Eriskigal, Goddess of the Underworld. The underworld, in this case, is not the world of mobs and crime or “hell” in the Christian view, but the more dangerous world of the unconscious. Like Inanna, Sarabande will be broken, shamed and close to death before she learns who she is.

This is the heroine’s journey, to be buried in mother earth like a seed where she will be reborn with the spring into a new creation that finally has the freedom to follow the original injunctions of her destiny and her gender.

–Malcolm

The Kindle edition of “Sarabande” is on sale today (March 31, 2016) for 99¢.

Myth and Magic Resources and Links

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While working on Conjure Woman’s Cat, Sarabande and other novels, I compiled a list of resources for others interested in writing about magic or learning more about spiritual/new age resource materials.

mythclipartThe following resources, collected from this blog’s posts, may be helpful to others studying or following the heroine’s journey, folk tales and magical pursuits. These are books and sites I found helpful as I researched my novels and short stories.

Dark Moon

Black Moon and the Black Madonna on Sophia’s Children

Goddess Meditations by Barbara Ardinger

Dragontime Magic and Mystery of Menstruation by Luisa Francia

Moon Phases Calendar

Planting by the Moon

The Moon Watcher’s Companion by Donna Henes.

Moon Watching by Dana Gerhardt

Moon Tides, Soul Passages by Maria Kay Simms

Moon Mother, Moon Daughter by Janet Lucy

Witchcraft vs. Wicca – See one view here on Hecate’s Cauldron

Death and Rebirth

Descent to the Goddess by Sylvia Brinton Perea

The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image by Anne Baring and Jules Cashford

The Pattern of Initiation in the Evolution of Human Consciousness by Peter Dawkins & Sir George Trevelyan

Inanna, queen of heaven and earth: Her stories and hymns from Sumer by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer – This book, first published in 1983, presented a long-awaited translation of the original Inanna material from the 2000 BCE cuneiform clay tablets.

Folk Magic

HOODOO IN THEORY AND PRACTICE –  An Introduction to African-American Rootwork by Catherine Yronwode – An introduction to hoodoo, including basics, spells, herbs, and related blues songs.

The Black Folder, edited by Catherine Yronwode, 2013.

Drums and Shadows, folk magic practices in the state of Georgia assembled by the WPA in the 1930s. The online overview describes the book this way: This collection of oral folklore from coastal Georgia was assembled during the 1930s as part of a WPA writers’ program, under the supervision of Mary Granger. The accounts in this book, framed by colorful descriptions of the rural locales where they were collected, were principally from elderly African-Americans, some of them centarians. Most had been slaves. In some cases they had known first generation slaves who had been born in Africa.

Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic, by Catherine Yronwode, 2002.

“Remembering Hoyt’s Cologne,” Malcolm’s Round Table

The Sanctified Church, by Zora Neale Hurston, 1981.

SOUTHERN SPIRITS: Ghostly Voices from Dixie Land – Web site features reference materials from the South during the slavery years about conjure and hoodoo.

Mojo Workin’: The Old African American Hoodoo System by Katrina Hazzard-Donald, University of Illinois Press; 1st Edition edition (December 17, 2012)

Conjured Cardea: Full-Service Botanica and Rootwork Services – supplies, services, blog

Heroine’s Journey

The Heroine’s Journey by Maureen Murdock

From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey through Myth and Legend by Valerie Estelle Frankel (See the July 2011 “Mythprint” review of this book here.) Frankel’s website includes a lengthy heroine’s journey reading list.

Sarabande contemporary fantasy by Malcolm R. Campbell released by Thomas-Jacob Publishing in a new second edition November 20151.

“The Way of Woman: Awakening the Perennial Feminine” by Helen M. Luke

Apple Farm Community – The Writings of Helen M. Luke

Real Women, Real Wisdom: A Journey into the Feminine Soul by Maureen Hovenkotter  (See a review here.)

The Heroine’s Coach, the website for Susanna Liller’s journey-oriented coaching services. The site includes an e-mail newsletter for women following their own paths called “Journey News.”

The Heroine’s Journey appears on author Leslie Zehr’s Universal Dancer website and includes a discussion of Sylvia Brinton Perera’s Descent to the Goddess, a book I found essential for my understanding of the journey. Zehr is the author of The Alchemy of Dance: Sacred Dance as a Path to the Universal Dancer.

Light of Nature

Light of Nature Website, exploring the science and the philosophy of the concept.

“The Female Brain” by Louann Brizendine

“The Spell of the Sensuous” by David Abram

Messages from Mother – Author Mare Cromwell’s website.

Heroine Literature

The Heroine’s Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder by Erin Blakemore

Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World by Kathleen Ragan

The Heroine in Western Literature: The Archetype and Her Reemergence in Modern Prose by Meredith A. Powers

The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts by David Lodge

Mythic Archetypes

Goddesses in Everywoman: Powerful Archetypes for Women by Jean Shinoda Bolen

Patriarchy

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd

Unplugging the Patriarchy – A Mystical Journey into the Heart of a New Age by Lucia René

Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher

Ophelia Speaks: Adolescent Girls Write about Their Search for Self by Sara Shandler

Surviving Ophelia: Mothers Share Their Wisdom in Navigating the Tumultuous Teenage Years by Cheryl Dellasega

Story Within

And Now The Story Lives Inside You, poems by Elizabeth Reninger

The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram

Alchemical Studies by C. G. Jung

Harry Potter – A New World Mythology? By Lynne Milum

“Dark Wood to White Rose: Journey and Transformation in Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’” by Helen M. Luke

“The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling” by James Hillman

Tarot

LaVielle’s Book Jacket Blog

Raven’s Tarot Site

Writer’s Muse

The Sister from Below: When the Muse Gets Her Way by Naomi Ruth Lowinsky

Marry Your Muse: Making a Lasting Commitment to Your Creativity by Jan Phillips

The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write by Mark David Gerson.

20 Master Plots: an How to Build Them, by Ronald Tobias

The Hero’s Journey: A Guide to Literature and Life by Reg Harris and Susan Thompson (This is a series of lesson plans for teaching the hero’s journey in a classroom setting.)

Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, and Related Stories

Myth & Moor – Terri Windling’s blog

Marina Warner Website – Writer of fiction, criticism and history with a strong focus on fairy tales.

The Endicott Studio – “The Endicott Studio, founded in 1987, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to literary, visual, and performance arts inspired by myth, folklore, fairy tales, and the oral storytelling tradition.”

“The Irresistible Fairy Tale: The Cultural and Social History of a Genre,” by Jack Zipes. A wonderful study of the genre available in paperback and Kindle.

Fairy tales and Literature – An online bibliography from author and professor Theodora Goss. Great introduction of resource material.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of magical realism, contemporary fantasy, and paranormal stories and novels.