Katniss and Harry – Orphans in the Storm

“We find them everywhere in fantasy fiction: the “orphaned heroes,” young men and women whose parents are dead, absent, or unknown, who turn out to be the heirs to the kingdom, the destined pullers of swords from stones, the keys to the riddles, the prophesies’ answers, the bearers of powerful magic.” – Terri Windling in Lost and Found: The Orphaned Hero  in Myth, Folklore, and Fantasy

“The hero, Tristan, is a conventional orphan-hero. Mythic heroes are typically orphans and/orfoundlings of some sort. This symbolic convention was first discovered by psychoanalyst OttoRank (1914/1964), described in his classic work, ‘The Myth of the Birth of the Hero.'” – Ronald L. Boyer in “Key Archetypes in the Celtic Myth of Tristan and Isolde: A Brief Introduction”

hungergamesposterOrphans in literature and in fact are portrayed as beginning life behind the figurative 8-ball. In novels and classic myths, they grow up in an uncertain world, often without love and often with cruel or other substandard conditions. Sometimes we find them in institutions, sometimes with relatives or foster families, and sometimes as street-smart children living on the fringes of society in major cities.

Variously, society often pities them, mistrusts them, intrudes into their lives purportedly in their best interests and views them as broken children who will have a long, hard climb back into  the normal world of commerce, relationships and other traditional forms of success. We also see them as underdogs and, in spite of whatever else we may feel about their birth and circumstances, we root for them  in literature and life.

In J. K. Rowling’s series of Harry Potter books and movies, Harry is the unwanted orphan forced to live in a cupboard beneath the stairs. In Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games, the fatherless and –practically speaking–motherless Katniss Everdeen struggles to support the family in a coal mining district. Do they have an extra axe to grind? Has their childhood made them more suspicious and/or more resourceful than children in happy families? Perhaps.

The first real help they get comes from outside their families. Harry is mentored by Hagrid. Katniss is mentored by Haymitch Abernathy. Harry leaves his everyday world when he goes to Hogwarts and Katniss leaves her everyday world when she takes the train to the capital city.

harrypotterfilmsIn their stories, Katniss and Harry follow a long literary tradition. According to John Granger (aka, the Hogwarts Professor), their “hero’s journey — one in which the principal character plays the part of what the Bible calls ‘the heart’ and their story is about their apotheosis or spiritual illumination, something like divinization — has a tradition of its own in English literature we can call ‘literary alchemy.’”  Twilight, The Hunger Games and Rowling’s series contain similar tropes and symbols.

Whether we consciously know what those themes and symbols are, we resonate to them when we read myths and modern fiction that contain them.  One way or another we know what it takes to turn lead into gold and to turn an orphan into a heroic figure.

We have seen this story in many forms with many characters. As Windling writes:

“We can trace the archetype back from the popular fantasy books listed above to the literary orphans of the 19th century (Dickens’s ‘Oliver Twist’, Mark Twain’s ‘Huck Finn,’ Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre,’ to name just a few), and then further back through “foundling” stories such as Henry Fielding’s ‘The History of Tom Jones’ and William Shakespeare’s ‘The Winter’s Tale,’ to a world–wide body of folk tales and myths about children orphaned and abandoned. Alongside these stories is another deep cache of tales on the “stolen child” theme: children whisked away by fairies, trolls, djinn, gypsies, Baba Yaga. . .sometimes reappearing many years later and sometimes never seen again. We discussed changeling and stolen child stories in a previous article, so well leave these tales aside for the moment and focus on the orphan archetype.”

Stories about orphans in the storm can be powerful because of the authors’ art and craft in creating memorable plots and characters. They’re also powerful because such stories are part of a long literary tradition than rings a bell, subconsciously perhaps, when we pick up a book about an orphan on a larger-than-life journey.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of contemporary fantasy novels.


Hero’s Journey Resources

herothousandfacesThose of us who write novels using the hero’s journey often keep several books about the journey on our desks, referring to those above all others.

While a lot of writers turn to Vogler’s The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, I still turn to Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces and then to Houston’s The Hero and the Goddess. Our preferences often depend on which book we discovered first. I discovered Joseph Campbell’s writing when I was in college, so I rely on his interpretations for most things except the heroine’s journey.

It’s a mistake, I think, to say either that there is no heroine’s journey or that it’s simply a woman following the structure of the hero’s journey. For the heroine’s journey, I turn to Murdock’s The Heroine’s Journey, followed by Perea’s Descent to the Goddess.

Some see these journeys unfolding in the seasons, in patterns of life, in the Tree of Life, and in the progression of a seeker through the Tarot trumps. Others look at the steps (degrees) at a mystery school and find the journey there, while others look at traditional patterns of initiation as we find them in the “Lesser” and “Greater” Mysteries. In many ways, these are all one in the same, but as seekers, we tend to feel more attuned to one description of the path rather than another.

Since the novels in my Garden of Heaven Trilogy comprise a hero’s journey, I have listed sources and links on the trilogy’s page on my web site for those who want to look deeper into mythic structures.

Whether you’re adapting the journey to your life, your writing, or your approach to subjects where it easily applies (literature, psychology), the pathway is fascinating. The minute you think you know many things about the path, you discover a new angle, symbol or interpretation.

If you like on-going discussions about the journey–and myth, in general–you might enjoy the web site of the Joseph Campbell Foundation. (You have to join as an “associate” to take part in the  discussion boards.) You can also find interesting articles on the Harris Communications site.

Once you start looking for it, you’ll find the hero’s and heroine’s journeys everywhere.


LandBetweenCoverIn addition to his contemporary fantasy novels, Malcolm R. Campbell is also the author of Kindle short stories including “Cora’s Crossing” and “Moonlight and Ghosts” and short story sets including “Emily’s Stories” and “The Land Between the Rivers.”

Miscellany: New, upcoming, and around the Net

Here are a few updates about one thing and another, this and that, and things from that drawer most families have the kitchen that contains stuff that didn’t end up some place else.


  • EmilyaudioI’m happy to announce that my three-story Kindle set, Emily’s Stories, is now available as an audio book. The stories feature a fourteen-year-old girl who talks to birds and ghosts and, just possibly, tinkers a little bit with reality. That’s what I would expect from a curious, sharp and savvy young lady. Personally, it was strange (in a good way) to hear my words being read back to me by narrator Kelley Hazen. Kelley also narrates my Vanilla Heart Publishing colleague Marie Hampton’s Hunting Heartbreak. Stay tuned for more audio books from VHP later this year. It’s an exciting new way to tell you our stories.


  • I’m looking forward to posting reviews of two new books about Glacier National Park in late May, Best of Glacier and Glacier Park Lodge. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the famous lodge built by the former Great Northern Railway on the edge of the park. You can still get there by train via AMTRAK’s Empire Builder.cagedgravescover
  • Author Dianne Marenco Salerni (“We Hear the Dead” and her upcoming “The Caged Graves”) will be hear in two weeks with a spooky guest post. With today’s zombie fad, we usually hear about protecting the living from the dead.  However, there have been times when the dead needed to be protected from the living. It’s a great post with some wonderful photographs. Dianne and I used to contribute book reviews to the same review site, so it’s doubly fun to see her latest novels coming out and showing up with glowing reader responses on similar sites.

Around the Net

You’ll find some of my favorite places in the blogroll. In my search for author and publishing news for my “Book Bits” posts on my Sun Singer’s Travels blog, I look at a great many blogs and sites each week. But here are some posts I wanted to share (including one of mine own) outside the realm of reviews and author news:

Smoky Zeidel photo
Smoky Zeidel photo
  • My friend and colleague at Vanilla Heart Publishing, Smoky Zeidel (“The Storyteller’s Bracelet”), has been blogging about the the beauty of the California coast. I haven’t been back to the state where I was born for many years, so I’m contenting myself to read about it in In Search of the Pacific Crest Trail. This is the second in a two-part posting. Smoky is known as the Earth Mage for good reason.
  • Since I have blogged here in the past about the hero’s journey, I see a lot of visitors stopping by after having searched for more information. I would like to suggest The ongoing series of posts on C. LaVielle’s Book Jacket Blog about the hero’s journey and the Major Arcana from the Tarot deck. The deck’s Major Arcana, when followed in numerical order, are a representation of not only the hero’s journey, but the seeker’s journey. Yesterday’s post is The Sun, Part I.
  • Montucky photo
    Montucky photo

    My Montana friend “Montucky” has been running his Montana Outdoors blog for some years now and has gathered over time a surprising variety of high country photographs. He spends a lot of time on trails and forest service roads and always has his camera. You’ll see scenics, river pictures, and hundreds of wildflowers. Most recently, he showed us the beauty of Lichens and moss. Montucky makes frequent posts, and I have found a lot of serenity in stopping by his blog of late to see the last snowfalls and the first spring flowers. His blog is almost as good as flying out to Montana, though considerably less expensive! (However, as soon as Hollywood calls and makes me an offer for this book or that, I’m buying a plane ticket or a suite on the Empire Builder.)

  • Florida Memory photo
    Florida Memory photo

    In my recent post on my Sun Singer’s Travels weblog, I couldn’t resist placing my characters in Florida’s Garden of Eden, I continue a series of novel-location-essays focused on my new contemporary fantasy novel The Seeker. In the 1960s when the novel is set, the Florida Panhandle preserve now called the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines was touted as being the location of the Biblical Garden of Eden. There were signs all over the place, including one that said “Here Adam and Eve Built Their First Home.” The Garden of Eden trail is still there, but a lot of the former rhetoric and publicity about Arks and gopher wood has faded into the past. The habitat is exceptionally rare no matter what you believe about its past. I habitually use many real settings in my novels and short stories as a way of contrasting fantasy and reality, adding depth to my locations, and (in a small way) keeping a bit of local history alive.


The Dance of Sun and Moon – Stages on the Journey

When the Sun and the Moon are viewed within the arena of Western esoteric traditions, including alchemy and the Tarot, they represent opposites that approach and retreat from each other even though they are destined to be merged into one. In these traditions, the Sun represents fire, masculine, positive (polarity), rational, visible world, and the consciousness mind. The Moon represents water, feminine, negative (polarity), intuition, hidden world, and the unconscious mind.

It is said that the enlightened being, often called The Wonder Child or viewed as the Philosopher’s Stone, is born from the merging of these apparent father/mother, king/queen opposites as depicted in the old art work shown here.

One of the many ways of illustrating the steps on the path to enlightenment, the goal of the hero’s and heroine’s journeys, is through the sequence of Major Arcana (trumps) cards in a Tarot deck. The Major Arcana  cards begin with “0 The Fool,” who is considered the innocent initiate at the beginning of the journey/quest and end with “21 The Universe,” which represents ascension. En route, the seeker finds “18 The Moon” and “19 The Sun.”

I like the description of the Moon and Sun  cards in the ancient quests of  knights for the Holy Grail. The Moon, then, is the Grail in the lake (beautiful water symbolism here) and the Sun represents the Grail lifted up into the pure light prior to completing the quest. Afterwards, the initiate/seeker reaches “20 Aeon” which is viewed as the rising of the Phoenix from the ashes prior to ascension.

Many Paths = One Destination

There are multiple layers of symbols here when we overlay the hero’s/heroine’s journey paths with all their traditional associations, including the Lesser Mysteries and Greater Mysteries, the cycles of the seasons around “the wheel of the year,” the Tree of Life, Tarot, alchemy and astrology. One need not study all of this, or even any of this, to understand seeker’s journey. The journey is who we are and what we are about. All of the paths to enlightenment are pointed toward the same end: transformation. Each of us focuses on the symbols we’re most comfortable with and attuned to.

Some experts say that we’re impacted by these symbols even if we are not consciously aware of them or understand the little we may have heard about them. I am a novice in using Tarot and understanding the cards’ many connections to the Tree of Life, spiritual alchemy and the cycles of the seasons. Generally, though, I like the symbolism of the Thoth Deck of Cards. The Moon and Sun cards shown here are from that deck and have a fair amount of symbolism.

  • Moon: The overall tone here is night. In the Book of Thoth, the Moon is called the “Gateway of Resurrection.” During night and Winter, the waiting Sun is diminished or absent. The landscape here is severe and the stream is mixed with blood. The sacred scarab holds the sun in its darkness while the moon occupies the mind and cosmos.
  • Sun: The overall tone here is light, with the twelve major rays standing for the signs of the zodiac. The light emanates from a rose-like sun, standing for the flowering of the solar influence. The children above the green and fertile earth are forever young and innocent. They represent the seeker’s and/or humankind’s next stage.

The Writer’s Raw Materials


As a writer, I love the relationship of symbols and story ideas. They can strongly impact plots, themes and characters. There are many ways to characterize a journey. For example, readers of my hero’s journey novel The Sun Singer  will find numerous references to light and the other aspects of the so-called solar journey. For more information, see the Journey Page on my website and explore the information on the Joseph Campbell Foundation site. The book’s Glacier Park setting reminds park visitors and fans of “Going to the Sun Road” and the expanse of light one sees from high mountain trails.

Likewise, readers of my heroine’s journey novel Sarabande will find numerous references to water and the other aspects of the so-called lunar journey. The Heroine’s Page and the Sarabande Page on my website have more details. While the book’s story begins in the mountain high country, the plot (which is oriented around the moon’s phases) becomes more focused on rivers, dreams and the so-called “Underworld.”



For more information about Tarot cards in general, you might enjoy exploring one of my favorite sites: Raven’s Tarot Site. Here you’ll learn more about the Major Arcana (trumps), Minor Arcana (suits), and their correspondences with the Tree of Life, the classic elements, and astrology.

My first intention in both of these books is telling an exciting story. Both stories have many associations with myths and symbols. Those who know the myths and symbols will, perhaps, smile when they see the references. Those who do not consciously know the myths and symbols will still be subject to their spells.

As Rumi said, “What you seek, seeks you.” So, perhaps when you’ve finished reading the stories, you’ll be drawn into the “inner stories” behind the actions of Robert Adams (The Sun Singer) and Sarabande (Sarabande). When that happens, you’ll find that what you are looking for will begin to appear more often in your life in the form of books, websites and links, things you see on the way to work or on a hike, people who are interested in these subjects, and your dreams.

Meanwhile, as you read the novels, I hope you’ll enjoy the action while you are dancing with the Sun and the Moon—as they dance with each other.


Heroine’s Journey Links and Resources

While I was working on my recent contemporary fantasy Sarabande, I found a lot of helpful references about the heroine’s journey. The heroine’s journey has fewer Internet links, so perhaps you’ll find some of mine helpful if you are experiencing, reading about or writing about the journey.

There seem to be two schools of thought about the journey. One is that the heroine’s journey is the same as the hero’s journey, potentially with a few modifications.

While that concept approach works for many people, I don’t agree with it because the hero’s journey is a solar journey and the heroine’s journey is a lunar journey. My novel’s research materials tend to reflect the lunar approach.

Dark Moon

  1. Goddess Meditations by Barbara Ardinger
  2. Dragontime Magic and Mystery of Menstruation by Luisa Francia
  3. Moon Phases Calendar
  4. Planting by the Moon
  5. The Moon Watcher’s Companion by Donna Henes.
  6. Moon Watching by Dana Gerhardt
  7. Moon Tides, Soul Passages by Maria Kay Simms
  8. Moon Mother, Moon Daughter by Janet Lucy

Death and Rebirth

  1. Descent to the Goddess by Sylvia Brinton Perea
  2. The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image by Anne Baring and Jules Cashford
  3. The Pattern of Initiation in the Evolution of Human Consciousness by Peter Dawkins & Sir George Trevelyan
  4. 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.


  • The Mythopoeic Society – The Mythopoeic Society is a national/international organization promoting the study, discussion, and enjoyment of fantastic and mythopoeic literature through books and periodicals, annual conferences, discussion groups, awards, and more.


  1. She Flies Without Wings-How Horses Touch a Woman’s Soul by Mary D. Widkiff
  2. Horses and the Mystical Path-The Celtic Way of Expanding the Human Soul by Thomas McCormick
  3. The Tao of Equus by Linda Kohanov
  4. Torden, Hear the Tunder by by C. Kirkham. (This is a well-written young adult novel about a young girl and a Friesian horse.)
  5. Horses, Somatics, and Spirit: An Equine-Guided Program in Conscious Living, a workshop presented by Beverley Kane, MD, Ariana Strozzi, MSC. (This is an example of some of the programs available today.)

Heroine’s Journey

  1. The Heroine’s Journey by Maureen Murdock
  2. 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.
  3. Sarabande contemporary fantasy by Malcolm R. Campbell released by Vanilla Heart Publishing, August 2011.
  4. “The Way of Woman: Awakening the Perennial Feminine” by Helen M. Luke
  5. Apple Farm Community – The Writings of Helen M. Luke
  6. Real Women, Real Wisdom: A Journey into the Feminine Soul by Maureen Hovenkotter  (See a review here.)
  7. 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.”
  8. 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

  1. Light of Nature Website, exploring the science and the philosophy of the concept.
  2. “The Female Brain” by Louann Brizendine
  3. “The Spell of the Sensuous” by David Abram


  1. The Heroine’s Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder by Erin Blakemore
  2. Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World by Kathleen Ragan
  3. The Heroine in Western Literature: The Archetype and Her Reemergence in Modern Prose by Meredith A. Powers
  4. The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts by David Lodge


  1. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd
  2. Unplugging the Patriarchy – A Mystical Journey into the Heart of a New Age by Lucia René
  3. Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher
  4. Ophelia Speaks: Adolescent Girls Write about Their Search for Self by Sara Shandler
  5. Surviving Ophelia: Mothers Share Their Wisdom in Navigating the Tumultuous Teenage Years by Cheryl Dellasega

Story Within

  1. And Now The Story Lives Inside You, poems by Elizabeth Reninger
  2. The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram
  3. Alchemical Studies by C. G. Jung
  4. Harry Potter – A New World Mythology? By Lynne Milum
  5. “Dark Wood to White Rose: Journey and Transformation in Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’” by Helen M. Luke
  6. “The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling” by James Hillman


  1. Achilles in Vietnam and Odysseus in America by Jonathan Shay.
  2. Rape: Weapon of Terror by Sharon Frederick
  3. Against our Will: Men, Women and Rape by Susan Brownmiller

Weaving, Storytelling, Linen

  1. American Textile History Museum
  2. All Fiber Arts (weaving in stories and fairytale)
  3. Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years by Elizabeth Wayland Barber
  4. Linen from flax seed to woven cloth by Linda Heinrich
  5. The Joy of Handspinning – many details, photographs and demonstration videos
  6. The Weaver’s Book: A practical, authoritative step-by-step guide for beginners by an expert weaver by Harriet Tidball
  7. Grading, Spinning, Dyeing: an introduction to the traditional wool and flax crafts by Elizabeth Hoppe and Ragnar Edberg
  8. Fibers of Being – Judy’s detailed weaving blog
  9. Eva Stossel’s weaving blog – In addition to information about weaving, both Judy and Eva include lengthy blogrolls.
  10. A History of Irish Linen
  11. Flaxland – Growers and Processors in the U. K.


  1. Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
  2. The Company of Wolves by Peter Steinhart
  3. The Wolf’s Tooth by Christina Eisenberg

Writer’s Muse

  1. The Sister from Below: When the Muse Gets Her Way by Naomi Ruth Lowinsky
  2. Marry Your Muse: Making a Lasting Commitment to Your Creativity by Jan Phillips
  3. The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write by Mark David Gerson.
  4. 20 Master Plots: an How to Build Them, by Ronald Tobias
  5. 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.)

Classic TA Resources for the Journey

  1. Born to Win: Transactional Analysis with Gestalt Experiments by Muriel James and Dorothy Jongeward
  2. Your Inner Child of the Past by Hugh Missildine
  3. What Do You Say After You Say Hello: The Psychology of Human Destiny by Eric Berne
  4. I’m Ok, You’re Ok by Thomas Harris

Writers, You May Also Like: Shhh, I write hero’s journey and heroine’s journey novels

A Series of Posts About the Heroine’s Journey: Sarabande’s Journey


The Hero’s Journey: A Guide to Literature and Life

The Hero’s Journey: A Guide to Literature and Life by Reg Harris and Susan Thompson is a teacher’s guidebook for presenting Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey concepts in the classroom.

As teachers in the 1990s, Harris and Thompson felt that traditional methods of teaching literature left students with a disconnect between the materials studied in the classroom and their lives. When I was a student, I read in class because I already liked to read. But I saw clearly that peers who didn’t come into the class with a love of reading, seldom loved literature when the class war over. In short, old books were viewed as irrelevant.

Harris and Thompson found a solution in the classic hero’s journey structure because it linked what the students read about in a novel (or viewed in a film) with real life challenges, crises and questions. Harris puts it this way on the Hero’s Journey website:

“We discovered that the Hero’s Journey is the fundamental pattern of human experience, so it could be used as a foundation for studying literature and film. As a bonus, we found that when students learned the pattern, they were able to relate the themes from literature to their own experience and to better understand the journeys in their own lives.”  The URL has changed to: http://www.yourheroicjourney.com/shop/

Star Wars – The Perfect Example

The guide begins with an overview of rituals, especially rites of passage, how they serve as validating road maps for day-to-day harmonious living within society and to navigating the major stages. Harris and Thompson use Luke Skywalker’s journey in Star Wars to illustrate the hero’s journey.

Like the rite of passage, the journey focuses on personal transformation. Once students can identify the journey’s major steps and resulting transformation in fictional characters, they will begin to understand how similar journeys are cropping up in their own lives even though they may be less dramatic than a popular novel or feature film.

This well-organized curriculum is organized into ten parts and a supplementary appendix:

  1. Ritual and the Rite of Passage: an introduction to the transformation as a foundation for studying the journey
  2. The Hero’s Journey: an introduction to the eight-stage hero’s journey pattern, its stages and dynamics
  3. Gawain and the Green Knight: a retelling of the traditional legend to study the journey in literature
  4. The End of Eternal Spring: a retelling of the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone, emphasizing the role that compromise plays in our journeys
  5. The Legend of the Buddha: a retelling of the legend of Siddhartha as a model of the spiritual journey
  6. Hero’s Journey Film Project: uses Field of Dreams (or a film of your choice) to explore the journey in a modern story
  7. Write a Hero’s Journey Short Story: students write their own hero’s journey story using the pattern
  8. The Call Refused: uses Groundhog Day (or a film of your choice) and the Greek myth “Minos and the Minotaur” to explore the dangers of refusing the call
  9. Hero’s Journey Group Presentation: project in which student groups research non-Greek/Roman hero myths and present them to the class
  10. My Journey: two projects in which students to explore their own journeys: a personal mandala and an autobiographical essay
  11. Appendix: materials and handouts you can use with the book and to explore the journey pattern in other works

High school teachers of “English” and “Literature” courses can mix and match modules into their own lesson plans or present the complete curriculum. The guide should also be valuable to writers studying the hero’s journey for use in their own stories as well as for youth group leaders and camp counselors who are presenting “lessons in life” programs.

You can find articles about the hero’s journey in the Mr. Harris’ online library here.



SarabandeCover2015Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the hero’s journey novel “The Sun Singer” and the heroine’s journey novel “Sarabande.”


The Shadow Knows – Books for the Journey

‘Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!’ — “The Shadow,” 1930s CBS Radio Detective Serial

‘Sad that I love the darkness so much and I’ve never knew it.’ — Maggie Evans in “Dark Shadows” (1966).

Whether it’s an old radio drama about a crime fighter or a Gothic soap opera, writers like what they can do with shadows and the purported evil they conceal. In Jungian psychotherapy—and, consequently—in the hero’s journey, the shadow is a major concern.

As Daryl Sharp writes in Digesting Jung: Food for the Journey, “everything about ourselves that we are not conscious of is the shadow.”

The shadow is said to contain a muddle of resentments, inferior notions, infantile fantasies, aggressive feelings, and other things about ourselves we’re not willing to openly admit to. On the other hand, as Robert Bly suggests, the shadow also contains everything about ourselves that society (parents, teachers, etc.) brainwashed us to get rid of because “it wasn’t proper” or “wasn’t fitting.”

The Hero’s Journey

The hero’s journey is impossible to understand, much less use as a structure in writing fiction, without confronting the shadow, first as a concept, and then within ourselves. The writer knows himself by making that which is not conscious, conscious, and then he brings his revelations into the lives of his fictional characters.

In Enemy, Cripple & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero’s Path, Erel Shalit, calls the shadow a crucial image in the hero cycle, the blood of the hero’s soul:

Without a shadow, there are no dangers to overcome, no struggles to endure, no weaknesses to suffer that make us human, no rewards of consciousness to be gained, and no depth of soul to be treasured.

Three Helpful Books

In addition to such standard hero’s journey references as Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Christopher Vogler’s The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, Stephen Larsen’s The Mythic Imagination, and Jean Houston’s The Hero and the Goddess: The Odyssey as Mystery and Initiation, these three books will help you explore the shadow:

Enemy, Cripple & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero’s Path, by Erel Shait, Fisher King Press, 2008.

FROM THE PUBLISHER: The Hero is that aspect of our psyche, or in society, who dares to venture into the unknown, into the shadow of the unconscious, bringing us in touch with the darker aspects in our soul and in the world. In fact, it is the hero whom we send each night into the land of dreams to bring home the treasures of the unconscious. He, or no less she, will have to struggle with the Enemy that so often is mis-projected onto the detested Other, learn to care and attend to the Cripple who carries our crippling complexes and weaknesses, and develop respect for the shabby Beggar to whom we so often turn our backs – for it is the ‘beggar in need’ who holds the key to our inner Self.

A Little Book on the Human Shadow, by Robert Bly, edited by William Booth, Harper and Row, 1988.

FROM THE PUBLISHER: Robert Bly, renowned poet and author of the ground-breaking bestseller Iron John, mingles essay and verse to explore the Shadow — the dark side of the human personality — and the importance of confronting it.

Romancing the Shadow: Illuminating the Dark Side of the Soul, by Connie Zweig and Steve Wolf, Ballantine Books, 1997.

FROM THE PUBLISHER: According to authors Connie Zweig and Steve Wolf, each of us has shadows that hold forbidden feelings such as shame, jealousy, greed, lust, and rage. Left to their own devices these shadows will become destructive saboteurs–causing us to betray our loved ones as well as ourselves. It is not within our power to choose whether or not to have these shadows; however, Zweig and Wolf believe that it is within our power to take responsibility for our shadows and put them to productive use. Chapter by chapter Zweig and Wolf reveal the shadow side of love, parenthood, siblings, friendships, midlife, and work. Rather than deny or destroy these shadows, the authors show readers how to confront and “romance” them in order to access the energy, vitality, and creativity that usually lie dormant within our dark sides.

Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. – Carl Jung

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of two hero’s journey novels, The Sun Singer and Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey.

NaNoWriMo: Sarabande begins to speak

I am using National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) as an incentive to get out of the planning stage and into the writing stage for Sarabande, the sequel to my novel The Sun Singer.  Every year, NaNoWriMo participants attempt to write a 50,000-word rough draft of a new novel between November 1 and November 30.

To accomplish this goal, writers must average 1,667 words per day. At 1,938 words written so far, I am 1,396 words behind schedule. I have an excuse. The opening action scene of Sarabande must synchronize perfectly with a battle scene near the end of The Sun Singer. So, I’m having to refer to The Sun Singer a lot, and that’s slowing me down.

Prior to Sarabande’s first action scene, I began the novel with a paragraph that–like an overture for a musical composition–sets the stage for the book. Since the young woman, Sarabande, is going on a “lunar journey,” the introductory paragraph is exactly the opposite of the first words of The Sun Singer. In The Sun Singer, my protagonist was going on a “solar journey.”

Sarabande, Opening Paragraph

Fiery order of day and exuberant sun, young primroses drenched in the light of a long afternoon await like phantoms seeking night, any shade. She traverses a limestone ledge, hears marmots whistle, smells ferns, close, supported into the sky by rock, feels blue bird’s chatter—sweet and dear up from the green mountain valley. Whispers scrape her aura overhead. Scoop throw: like a Judo master, dulled light flings her away. She fights for Mother Earth, would sell her heart for her, and hears, is hearing, “There are numerous ways to live, little girl.” Warm blooded, that voice is the sister of chaos.

The Sun Singer, Opening Paragraph

Cold chaos of night and strangled moon, the great old trees drenched in sap’s perfume rise up like gaunt fingers out of the valley gloom seeking stars, any light. He shoves through tangled vines, hears small creatures running away in the dark, smells bones, close, crushed beneath the weight of eyes, feels owl’s call—sharp and true down off the black mountain’s ridge—hoooo hoo-oooo, hoo hoo, tear through his veins as mocking ice. A twig snaps beneath his boot. Choke hold. Shadows drag him down. He fights for breath, would sell his soul for it, and hears, is hearing, “There are numerous ways to die, little boy.” Cold blooded, that voice is mother of snakes.

Now, Back to Work!

As you can see from these openings, these are very different books. Solar and lunar journeys, in the sense used here, refer to what’s happening within the mind and body of an individual while on an adventure of some kind.

For more information about solar journeys, take a look at Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces, where he describes the “hero’s journey” structure found in many myths as well as movies and novels.

For more information about lunar journeys, refer to Maureen Murdock’s The Heroine’s Journey, Sylvia Brinton Perera’s Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women, and Demetra George’s Mysteries of the Dark Moon.

Now that I’ve procrastinated for a few more minutes by writing this post, it’s time to get back to chapter one of Sarabande.


E-Book Available for $4.99 until November 16th!

Novel excerpts Copyright (c) 2004 and 2010 by Malcolm R. Campbell. Moon artwork Copyright (c) 2010 by Jupiter Images.

Odysseys – multiple adventures

We can’t see the word odyssey without thinking of the epic Greek poem attributed to Homer that begins (in Robert Fagles’ translation):

Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns
driven time and again off course, once he had plundered
the hallowed heights of Troy.

Indeed, the word stems from Odysseus’ trip, meaning a long and wandering physical or spiritual quest with multiple adventures and changes of fortune.

My novel Garden of Heaven is subtitled “an Odyssey” because protagonist David Ward ends up in many places with many people before returning to the Montana ranch where he grew up.

The novel has multiple locations: Glacier National Park, the Florida Panhandle, Chicago, Hawai’i, the Philippines, the Netherlands, central Illinois, Pakistan, and the Gulf of Tonkin. In each place, new problems and adventures occur.

But there are some common themes. One is his first lover’s relentless quest for revenge which is caused by a problem of which David is unaware. Another is David’s spiritual journey which begins on a vision quest in Glacier National Park and then haunts and inspires him from one end of his odyssey to the other. And, like Homer’s Odysseus, David also has a way with words, though it remains to be seen whether this is more of a blessing than a curse.

Untangling the lies and truths strewn throughout his journey will take David quite a few years. In the process, he will serve aboard an aircraft carrier, climb one of the most difficult mountains in the world, work as a professor at a small college, and consort with horses, eagles and ravens. Garden of Heaven is not one adventure, it’s many. And, as in “real life,” David’s good fortune often looks like bad fortune, and vice versa.

Garden of Heaven is available as an e-book from OmniLit for $5.99.

For more information about Garden of Heaven, see my August 3, 2010 interview on BookBuzzr.

A teaser excerpt from ‘The Sun Singer’

from “The Sun Singer,” (Vanilla Heart Publishing, 2010)

When they entered a wide meadow which looked as fluid as water in the pale light, Sarabande ran past them, her waist-length hair streaming out like a flag.

“Grinder,” she said, in a rush of air, more wind than voice.

“Hurry,” said Aegia, and she gave him a gentle shove. “Up there where Yarrow is standing. She’s a brave one, watching the enemy as she does.”

Sonny dashed through an obstacle course of boulders and fallen trees. His boots filled with water from unseen puddles. Thorns bit into his exposed skin like spurs. He swung his staff at the offending briers, and ran, was running—now, he was angry and unchecked. Running—there was Marten, and Marten saw him and punched the air and laughed and shouted with more breath than volume, “Hoo-eeee, hoo-eeee.” Running—“Hoo-eeee, hoo-eeee,” he shouted back and ran harder, pounding down the earth. Running—soon they would turn, soon they would fight, and his heart pumped primal fears, brutal and exhilarating, and they coursed through him on rivers of fire. The day would end in fire. He knew this as he ran and resolved not to be consumed.

Copyright (c) 2004,2010 by Malcolm R. Campbell

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