MONOMYTH: THE RITES OF PASSAGE

STAGE 1: Miraculous conception, birth, & hiding of the child

  • A disguised god/father/creator-force sires the hero
  • The mother (usually a mortal) remains a virgin during and after conception and/or birth
  • The infant is immediately threatened by the forces of evil
  • The child is often committed to Nature
  • Or the defense is more active
  • A protective cave or other hidden place is often involved
  • The hero is adopted by beasts and/or other menials
  • STAGE 2: Childhood, Initiation, Divine Signs

  • The hero proves himself and is thus initiated in some way
  • He fights a wild animal, monster, or giant
  • He performs some ritualistic act
  • He exhibits great wisdom as a child
  • He receives a direct sign from the heavens
  • STAGE 3: Preparation, Meditation, Withdrawal

  • The hero withdraws to a secluded place
  • There, through contemplation and various trials, he attempts to shed the illusion of the material world and to achieve a higher understanding/consciousness
  • The hero often gains a great boon or special training during the seclusion
  • STAGE 4: Trial & Quest, Testing

  • The quest/test period with struggles against impossible odds
  • Or the quest is for an unachievable end such as immortality
  • For each hero, some kind of life-renewal is involved
  • STAGE 5: Death & the Scapegoat

  • The hero dies, usually by execution or dismemberment
  • Often the genitals are removed or lost
  • The death of the hero is usually associated with the seasons and human or plant abundance; Spring is very important
  • The fertility is sometimes spiritual rather than physical
  • The hero’s burial is sometimes a kind of planting
  • The hero is closely associated with a woman
  • There is hope for resurrection after death. The death is but the beginning of a process leading to the Underworld/Rebirth
  • The hero is a year-spirit or fertility god
  • He dies for the good of all; he is a Scapegoat
  • STAGE 6: The Descent into the Underworld

  • The hero descends to the Underworld; retrieves a loved one
  • He does not always succeed
  • The descent is a Quest for information about the Underworld or the hero’s destiny
  • Almost always involved is the sense of a struggle with and overcoming of the forces of death
  • STAGE 7: Resurrection & Rebirth

  • The hero can be reborn symbolically, actually, or by metamorphosis; or he can achieve resurrection from the dead — even from a state of dismemberment
  • He is assisted or accompanied in his great miracle by women
  • In most cases the rebirth story is directly associated with the death story and is a part of a fertility-cycle — physical or spiritual fertility. Spring is generally the season of rebirth
  • STAGE 8: Ascension, Apotheosis, Atonement

  • For many heroes, apotheosis or atonement with the gods comes at the moment of death in some remarkable form
  • The hero sometimes ascends to heaven by his own power
  • Always there is a sense of completed life and mission. The gods reclaim their own.