Internally or externally, the Hero receives their call to adventure. Often, the Hero must first be stuck in refusal of the call, or otherwise have started their journey, refused to continue at some point thereafter, and then opted to continue the call onward. Perhaps the call to adventure is an idea from without or an acceptance from within that it’s time for change, time to improve one’s Self, time to move on from the old and begin the new. Once that call has been accepted, even through a simple mindset shift, the Hero is ready to meet their supernatural aid, their mentor.
The supernatural aid is a mentor, God or gods, teacher, guide, Spirit, dream, lingering feeling, reassurance from within, or even fantasy which guides the Hero onward on their quest. In some sense the supernatural aid is the Hero’s initiator into the journey. They appear when the time is right, and often only after having a willingness to undertake the adventure can the Hero commence their journey of Self-discovery. As initiator, the supernatural aid can be the first indicator that the Hero is even on a journey, and they are every bit as mysterious as they ubiquitously appear throughout stories and myths.
In the world of myths and stories, the supernatural aid offers magical tokens, amulets, symbols, weapons, or blessings through which the Hero is better prepared to face the first monsters of their story. In the waking conscious world, the supernatural aid is a mysterious figure who offers tools for the journey, such as symbols, psychedelics, spiritual techniques or meditation or yoga, advice in general, or other spiritual keys that will give the Hero protection as they journey onward. With the Hero’s Journey consisting initially of an inward journey into the unconscious, the supernatural aid offers protection against the monsters soon to be discovered within.
These monsters of the psyche, unconscious depths, often scare the uninitiated. And so tools are essential if the Hero is to have any chance of venturing onward. These first monsters are dragons, the trolls, ogres, Medusas and Harpies, Cylcopses; the resentments and anger and jealousy and greed and any dark part of ourselves which happens to first appear. To face the monster within is to face one’s Shadow, and our personal Shadow is the most frightening thing we can face. The Shadow is so frightening because facing it requires one to accept that we aren’t the grand, great person we once imagined ourselves to be; but instead a human as flawed as any other, capable of manifesting great harm into the world through egocentric desires.
The supernatural aid, in whatever form it comes, gives us confidence in taking the journey, knowing that it’s even possible, that some light within the dark corridors of our mind’s labyrinth awaits us at the end.
Tools of the Supernatural Aid
As mentor the supernatural aid’s primary purpose is to prepare us for the journey, not constantly carry us onwards or even accompany us the entire way. Consider Gandalf, the mentor to both Bilbo and Frodo. He appears at the beginning offering advice and hope, and then only at seemingly random but convenient intervals to save the day or offer further guidance. The preparation offered are tools: confidence, songs, or symbols placed upon his door. These symbols are representative of the mystical side of humanity which, for the uninitiated, can appear as hidden, magical knowledge that nobody could possibly know.
Consider Jordan Peterson as a real life example of offering tools, who started teaching myths and stories and symbolism to young men through YouTube. He served as one of many mentors along my Hero’s Journey and when I came across him, the information shared and lessons taught rang as uncertainly certain: true. Another real life version of Gandalf would have been Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein, who were more like alchemists of arcane knowledge, philosophers even, creative geniuses more than conventional laboratory scientists.
Symbolic understanding is perhaps the greatest tool to have along the Hero’s Journey, but is also one of the most abstract tools to think about. When talking about symbols to others, I am met frequently with looks of confusion, to which a similar confusion also results in me. This sometimes leads me to question whether I truly have learned anything at all, or speak mostly nonsense.
Confusion is understandable because the world of symbolic understanding seems a lost art, a distant relic before Western Civilization was subsumed by a rapidly advancing cultural machine leading us further into the material world. The symbolic world, representative of the emotional, creative side of humanity in the right brain, can only be properly understand when interpreted and related using the analytical, logical side of the brain, the left hemisphere. Given that modern humans have been pushed further and further into the logical and analytical brain through education, addictions, consumerism and work, we can see why the symbolic side has been lost.
Only in combining the two can these two worlds be bridged. This is what the supernatural aid offers, an understanding of some deeper side of humanity, consciousness, a pattern underlying a shared human psychology represented in myths and stories and Heroes and monsters. In this way, the supernatural aid prepares us for the Hero’s Journey by giving us the symbolic tools to defeat the monsters we encounter within and without, else we run back to the safety and comfort of home at the first sign of challenge or distress. Instead, we recognize the internal and external monsters for what they symbolically are as dark sides of ourselves, integrate them, and continue along.
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Symbols can be predicting what the Hero will encounter, advice on how to defeat a monster the Hero hasn’t even met. In facing a monster the Hero generally uses their wits, not shear strength, and so symbols give the Hero an ability to go within their unconscious, facing the Shadows within. The symbols are as armor and weapons for the inner work. In some other sense the supernatural aid checks the Hero and their constant reversion to selfish egocentrism through the symbolic world, keeping them from going too far astray, like a shepherd does his sheep. In another light, their guidance is what keeps the Hero journeying onward in the face of utter uncertainty faced at every turn, a kind of propeller or wind pushing their boat further ahead into the unknown.
One potent tool not often openly discussed in myths are a supernatural aid’s offering of psychedelics. Morpheus is offering this to Neo, likely in the form of mescaline. Jesus, too, if he was indeed a mushroom, may have been offering the same via teachings to apostles. The Shaman of indigenous tribes, prior to being integrated into civilization, may have used psychedelics with young men as well. Used by either the mentor, the mentee, or both, psychedelics send messages of meaning that the initiand undergoing initiation can build upon.
While the supernatural aid may explicitly offer psychedelics, to some of us the initiator can be another kind of psychedelic. Psychedelics, in this way, can serve as someone’s supernatural aid guiding them further along whatever journey they are on or heading towards. This is because psychedelics, in some sense, teach us the world of symbols: particularly psychedelics like psilocybin, mescaline, LSD, or ayahuasca. How this teaching occurs is not exactly clear, but it seems to be related to some dampening of the ego, default mode network, and rebuilding of the bridge between the two brain hemispheres, the corpus callosum.
Psilocybin, for example, can show one the story of their life and then create a future story based on the past, upon which someone can live in the present. In seeing one’s past, the symbolic understanding of why certain events occurred the way they did leading to the present becomes immediately clear. Increased use seems to further build this understanding, though it can also get out of hand if it creates an attachment to an imagined future. Regardless, the personally profound experiences which occur with psychedelics are not to be discounted and can lead to both the call to adventure and supernatural aid through their use. It can also lead to a continued and ongoing relationship with one’s God.
A Higher Power
Giving up control of my life to something else beyond myself or comprehension has been the hardest but most important part of the supernatural aid. God has always seemed an abstract idea to me, and for Western Civilization it is an idea that has been quickly dying over the past two hundred years. But without this higher power, however we define that, the Hero’s Journey would not be been possible.
In the common pattern seen throughout myths, God is some form higher power beyond human understanding residing in the unconscious or spiritual worlds, related to our subjective experiences. This higher power, it would seem throughout time and history in the forms of Heroes small and large, guides each of us on something that feels like destiny, fate. These are all illusive terms for something imperfectly inexplicable in words, but it is each of our individual paths. As a kind of destiny, the higher power we find leads us ever onwards until death or our final transformation, the cosmic winds of the Hero.
The higher power equivalently resides in our conscience. Morality in some objective sense may not be universal at its roots, or perhaps it could be. However, when you follow dreams, feelings, God, subjective signs and messages and emotions or pulls, the conscience does take each of us somewhere. There would seem to be few who might say their conscience has led them astray.
A higher power affirms that we all have our own part to play in actualizing our becoming closer to consciousness or further from consciousness, God, Self. Coming closer depends on this ability to give in to losing our own egocentrism, too. Facing and integrating the Shadow, how it manifests in form of ego, requires we must give up control and attachment to what we grip weakly on to, stubbornly clinging to a false version of who we imagine ourselves to be. This imagined person is never based on following our personal meaning and internal callings. There is an illusion humans hold onto, that we dictate all or perhaps any terms of the outcomes of our individual lives. Releasing this illusion is required in some sense for the supernatural aid to enter our lives.
Lee has demonstrated in his dream work that delving further into dream consciousness allows access to further places, keys, messages, images, teachers. From how he relates it, going further seems to be improving his life as told to me through his fascinating story; but is offered only through regular giving in to something indescribable. I might call giving in control to our Shadow, our selfish nature, taking responsibility.
Generally, with the supernatural aid’s teachings, there is always an element of learning to let go, becoming one with the force. Thus, as we progress on our Hero’s Journey, we gradually move beyond the outer supernatural aid and start to flow with Dao Way, the Middle Path, the Force, operating on a pendulum swing, following the supernatural aid from within, alone.
Many times, the signs of what to do or where to go on my Path have been quite frequently relearning or being reminded of giving up hidden parts of my ego. This involves no longer trying to control outcomes and instead going with the flow. Going with the flow requires trust. As the supernatural aid starts to develop from within, we are trusting fate to wherever it takes us, guided from within.
As well, we must learn to trust others. This trust is essential and perhaps easy to miss, since trust may not come easily to the Hero. For men much distrust results from a frequent kind of disconnection between fathers and sons, because fathers almost rarely ever raise their sons and instead work all day outside of the home. The supernatural aid as a mentor in the conscious world is someone we must trust regardless of what they do, because some feeling tells us to. The issue of trust can be particularly relevant for anyone who is extremely isolated. When someone just pops into our life, our own kind of supernatural aid or Gandalf, nothing else further can happen without trust.
Perhaps the most important source of supernatural aid comes from dreaming consciousness. Dreams have profound meaning as messages of what we are supposed to do in waking reality. Perhaps dreams are as drama which hides symbols as proxies for events and people in our daily lives. Perhaps deeper dreams act out more of the process visually in some than others. Regardless, within dreams are encoded significant symbolic meaning of what we are supposed to be doing with our lives, the changes or actions needing to be taken. Ignoring dream symbols, our gut instinctual association as they relate to our present lives, is to ignore the supernatural aid.
For some taking the dreaming Hero’s Journey, the supernatural aid could be found entirely within dream contents. This type of unconscious-focused Hero’s Journey is different from mine, in which supernatural aids are often the people I encounter in waking conscious awareness. As I continue along, my supernatural aid has started to reside more within the unconscious, which manifests in my life through ideas, feelings, or nagging thoughts.
In other ways, the supernatural aid offers advice. However, the advice is often not explicit and is as often coded in symbolic language. The Hero’s Journey can only be taken and continued by those ready for whatever lies ahead. Those who are not ready, the unintitated, will eventually face things they are not ready to face. This is as if the supernatural aid has given someone the keys to the front door, behind which some hidden monster stands ready to strike at door’s first cracking. While this advice can also be explicit, as a process of initiating the advice comes as metaphor, symbols to be decoded by the respective Hero. Most often, the Hero is only given access to symbols for which they are ready.
Imagine a psychotherapist telling a patient that their problem is X Y or Z. While the patient may believe the therapist, there is a significant level of work afterwards and self-satisfaction that is essential if the Hero’s Journey is to successfully continue onwards. The supernatural aid is a kind of psychoanalyst, and the challenges lie in us accepting and taking advice when we know it rings true.
Bringing out Monsters
As teacher the supernatural aid pushes buttons, triggers our emotions. Sometimes they can bring out our internal monsters in this way, which is why they are the initiator. These internal monsters are emotional triggers; in bringing them out, such as occurs to Carlos Castaneda constantly with don Juan and other teachers, the mentor helps the Hero redirect energy otherwise wasted on emotional attachments. In other ways the mentor propels us onward, not remaining constantly by our side but appearing just when we are about to throw our hands into the air and surrender, or be consumed by monsters within or without. As such the supernatural aid offers us just enough, not more than we can handle yet also not nearly enough such that the Hero’s Journey becomes too easy. The adventure is ours, after all.
Attachment to childish emotions, irritation, wasted time thinking rather than doing, then, is indelible to the mentor’s assistance. In some sense we are being taught resentments, anger and other intense negative emotions towards others or ourselves. This is part of facing the Shadow. Consider Yoda’s annoyance of Luke through the training regimen he is put through. Luke considers the journey to Dagoba as merely a stopover at first and is extremely impatient to move onward. The story makes clear, however, that he is not ready to do so and is far too eager. In foolishly heading onwards too soon, Luke loses one arm in a battle with Darth Vader that he is woefully unprepared for.
Psychoanalyst Supernatural Aid
A psychotherapist is essentially a supernatural aid for many, but the challenge is completing a course of treatment long enough. This is a challenge because, as Carl Jung relates in his writings, and from personal experience working with a psychologist, a patient can frequently feel as though they have been cured and seek to convince the analyst of such. A good psychoanalyst continually pushes back by finding the weaknesses and flaws in the patients’ arguments and claims of being healed. In helping a patient break down their ego, dig deeper into their onion of consciousness, the patient has the ability to better do so on their own in the future.
Someone pushing back on us to improve, to change, is like Yoda. This causes emotional reactions within us, which are often psychic projections. Psychic projections are the monsters we are seeking to battle through the Hero’s Journey, which is at once also a kind of personal psychoanalysis. Projections are the Shadow aspect of ourselves we put onto others which we are often blind to.
One of the primary reasons the supernatural aid appears as they do is that they have already taken the Hero’s Journey in their own way. Thus, the supernatural aid appears extremely wise beyond their years, having hidden knowledge, and displaying the various outcomes of the Hero’s Journey. One of these outcomes is a diminishment of the ego, which is the selfish adherence to an illusory mask we wear around others, at work, or in social circles. In being less egocentric, the supernatural aid offers a strange kind of unconditional Love and trust not commonly found in strangers. For men, this loving aspect can be the most difficult to accept and requires trust which may have been long lost; a great part of the Hero’s Journey for men is healing the spiritual disconnection and love between father and son.
Another important aspect is that the supernatural aid is frequently found to have both masculine and feminine features and characteristics. These characteristics can be in physical appearance, for example, through hair, clothing, tattoos or paint. Or, in contrast, since one outcome of the Hero’s Journey is becoming the master of two worlds, the supernatural aid can appear as androgynous, neither masculine nor feminine. Although they still embody both the feminine and masculine within, they have total command over both. Buddha and Morpheus come to mind in this way.
The supernatural aid is uncommonly eccentric since they have lost much of their egocentrism, their cares for material desires. As an uninitiated, imagine seeing someone disheveled yet speaking truths one would not expect to hear from someone of such appearance. Humans tend to shy away from others with differing opinions, particularly when they press upon us in some manner. Stranger persons may say strange things, or look strange and wear robes, walk barefoot, have patchy or colorful garments, or dress simply.
Proteus is a Greek god of rivers, capable of changing forms endlessly. The supernatural aid represents in another sense the Hero continually transformed. The supernatural aid takes on so many different identities or roles that he or she is at one moment some thing and another time an entirely different person. Proteus, like the Hero, defies understanding and is complex beyond comprehension. Right when Proteus is pegged as one form, he is instantly another. Thus, the appearance of the supernatural aid inherently defies explanation.
The idea of Proteus is like what happens to our identity in taking the Hero’s Journey. Our human identity becomes slippery, indefinable, regularly shifting, just as Proteus does. The supernatural aid takes on numerous roles in the story of the Hero. If we were to hear the story of the supernatural aid becoming a Hero, the hats they wear may be even more limitless. Imagine everything Gandalf might have done over the course of his life, walking and traveling all over the land.
“That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere, and that the present only exists for it, not the past, nor the shadow of the future?” – Vasudeva in Siddhartha
Examples of the Supernatural Aid
Rogues are at once thieves, fools, singers and poets, takers from the rich and givers to the poor. The rogue is a trickster playing tricks, someone who moves on to future and brighter horizons, some personal dream in mind though manifests as selfishness at times. A rogue is like the Court Jester or Bard of Medieval times: the Jester served to remind the King and his Court of their humility, their foolish egos and dark Shadows. Wise Kings would listen, Tyrant Kings would chop the Jester’s head off, or banish them. Bards are storytellers, Troubadours sing songs of romance long-lost.
Like all supernatural aids, the rogue plays life’s game very well and shares symbols and lessons from myth, causing comedy, drama, and offense wherever they go. Such as Han Solo.
Han is a Roguish Pilot who teaches and frequently angers Luke, perhaps representing some masculine version of Luke in the story, with Leia a feminine version. Han thus plays an occasional role as Luke’s mentor throughout the original trilogy.
The genie from Aladdin is one example of the supernatural aid; the genie is derived from the jinn, which are supernatural spirits in Arabic and early Islamic mythology. The jinn is neither good nor evil, just as Heroes, are neither good nor evil; one major outcome of the Hero’s Journey is that we lay down our childish notions of morality, which result from categorizations and dualities. In Aladdin, the same-named protagonist descends into the Cave, which represents his willingness to descend into his own unconscious depths and face whatever lies within.
The genie offers Aladdin three wishes and is generally a companion and advisor along the journey; however, like all supernatural aids, their assistance is shrouded in mystery, as seen through the uncertain gifts given to Aladdin through each of his wishes. This represents that which we ask for aloud. While we may get some similar version to what we asked for, it may not be exactly how, when, or what we desired, but what we needed to progress on our journey.
Gandalf is a kind of prototypical example of the supernatural aid since he appears as both a real person but also someone holding secret, magical powers. Frodo especially seems to have some internal willingness, longing, curiosity for what lies beyond Hobbiton, perhaps because he is seen an outcast as byproduct of Bilbo’s adventures. For Bilbo, he seems quite unwilling and uninterested, yet the coaxing comes quite easily once he hears a mystical song:
Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away, ere break of day,
To claim our long-forgotten gold.
Goblets they carved there for themselves
And harps of gold; where no man delves
There lay they long, and many a song
Was sung unheard by men or elves.
The pines were roaring on the height,
The winds were moaning in the night.
The fire was red, it flaming spread;
The trees like torches blazed with light.
The bells were ringing in the dale
And men looked up with faces pale;
The dragon’s ire more fierce than fire
Laid low their towers and houses frail.
The mountain smoked beneath the moon;
The dwarves, they heard the tramp of doom.
They fled their hall to dying fall
Beneath his feet, beneath the moon.
Far over the misty mountains grim
To dungeons deep and caverns dim
We must away, ere break of day,
To win our harps and gold from him!
And Gandalf appears at the perfect time in the story, as the mentor often does, bearing gifts and beckoning each respective hobbit onwards to uncertainty and adventure. Gandalf is much like a real life supernatural aid, since he appears only sporadically throughout the movies and books, offering advice and assistance here and there, before heading off to provide help elsewhere in the troubled lands of Middle Earth. Gandalf too serves a unique role in the sense that he is both the supernatural aid guiding our hobbits on there adventures, but also serves the call to adventure for each.
Jiminy Cricket appears to Pinocchio as a literal form of Pinocchio’s conscience. The fairy spirit, initiating the call to adventure, reminds him: “Now remember Pinocchio, be a good boy; and always let your conscience be your guide.” Although Jiminy Cricket actually appears in the story, our conscience is in some other sense a real form of supernatural aid guiding us along. Our conscience can be conceived as being that part of us which leads us onward through a feeling only known within, living our own truth. As a mentor of mine taught me, a more accurate definition of morality is be true to one’s Self.
The voice of our conscience is what steers us towards our truth, away from the many distractions to doing so. Jiminy Cricket, unlike some supernatural aids like Gandalf, remains frequently by Pinocchio’s side until Pinocchio loses his conscience through various distractions. Pinocchio’s conscience guides him back to his path towards becoming an individual, his journey of individuation.
For others, the internal voice can be a kind of nagging pull, feeling, or drive towards something. This quote inspired me, particularly, given his Napoleon’s sudden downfall at the Battle of Waterloo. From then he was done, shattered, but until that point he seemed invincible.
“I feel myself driven towards an end that I do not know. As soon as I shall have reached it, as soon as I shall become unnecessary, an atom will suffice to shatter me. Till then, not all the forces of mankind can do anything against me.” – Napoleon cited in The Hero with a Thousand Faces
Gods and Angels
Crom is the agent leading Conan through his journey in the movie Conan the Barbarian, based very roughly off of Robert Howard’s Conan novels. Crom is the God of the Earth and serves as an internal guide for Conan along his journey, beginning with the movie’s opening scenes in which his father teaches him the Riddle of Steel; the Riddle can be likened to a symbol he is unprepared to fully understand: that true steel lies within a man’s heart, in his beliefs in himself and his God.
Throughout the story Conan derives great strength and power from Crom, first by working the Wheel of Pain for years on end, and then shortly after his escape diving into a cave. The cave, a common symbol already discussed, represents Conan reaching into his unconscious willingly, and finding a God within who grants him actual Steel in the form of a sword. The supernatural aid appears as a kind of hidden power, and from then on Conan holds firm belief in Crom.
Joseph Smith, who founded the Mormon religion, was searching for a true church his entire life. On Cumorah Hill in New York State, he prayed and saw a vision from an angel, Moroni. He claimed to find and then translate a set of golden plates, which turned into the Book of Mormon. The Book, on its own, is an inspired work, and Joseph Smith seemed to have channeled it from somewhere. Inspired wisdom, such as that, is not unknown throughout history. Regardless of our natural modern logical predilection towards not believing visions of angels, it seems hard to consider where the text came from, if not some kind of divine inspiration.
For Luke, his supernatural aids are two Jedi, with Han as another form, teaching him other lessons. Each of the original trilogy can be seen as a Hero’s Journey in themselves, with each movie resulting in Luke starting as one person and becoming some version of the Hero by the end. This is emblematic of our lives, as we also take on various incarnations through letting go of control and attachment towards a past way of being or identity, and pick a new one when the time is right. In A New Hope, Luke starts from simple beginnings like so many heroes do until he meets the supernatural aid in Obi Wan Kenobi. Although Obi Wan soon perishes, he stays with Luke throughout the film as a kind of internal force guiding him along.
Later, in The Empire Strikes Back, Luke meets Yoda, the supernatural aid for his next incarnation of the Hero. Although Luke learns much from Yoda, he leaves too soon before being adequately prepared. The result is that he faces his father, Darth Vader, far too soon and loses an arm as a result. In The Return of the Jedi, Luke takes on yet another incarnation with his egocentrism and brash belief in himself, to continue learning from Yoda.
Game of Thrones
From Game of Thrones there are numerous examples of the supernatural aid. Each character of the show is in effect becoming their own version of the Hero. By contrast, some become monsters, the anti-hero. Daenerys and Jon Snow both follow some internal feeling, calling: for Daenerys, it is the Dragon’s Fire, her ancestors and birthright; for Jon Snow it is a constant moral feeling of right and wrong. Bran Stark follows visionary experiences leading him north. Arya has Jaqen H’ghar as her supernatural aid.
Varys is another example of the supernatural aid, appearing throughout as a kind of mentor wandering from cause to cause. Melisandre, as well, functions this way, attaching herself from King to King.
Supernatural Aids From My Life
My mentors have all have been a kind of initiator into the worlds of symbolic, spiritual understanding, and psychedelics. One friend and I met in the Navy, and from the onset of our very first interaction we noticed that each was unlike almost any others in the unit. It’s like saying: “Yeah, this dude gets it.” Mentors are those close friends and memorable acquaintances I gravitated towards, the people I had lasting, meaningful conversations with. Such meaningful conversations and shared experiences, some frequent, others a one-off encounter, change who I am. The Navy time was an unhappy time and place in my life, and I lived a hermetic existence when not required to engage with training activities. This friend helped was a bright spot in challenging times.
As we stayed friends years later, I gradually learned that my friend had been using psychedelics during his time in the Navy, and he eventually helped me take my first journey with psilocybin. A couple years back, with the Oklavueha Native American Church, we also undertook a ceremony using peyote. Furthermore, beyond psychedelics, I found that my friend had hidden wisdom, knowledge, which I often ignored out of egocentrism, believing I was too smart to need to listen. Another barrier to bringing in the supernatural aid can be an inability or unwillingness to trust others.
Some examples of other supernatural aids at various points were numerous veterans, a Shaman, kindred spirit pilgrims, or some magical pull onwards, with every decision a pendulum swing.
In other ways, my primary supernatural aid from within has been a feeling I’ve been following. This feeling has led me into and out of numerous situations and resulted in what others might interpret as “good luck.” I view luck as something which seems to occur when we start to recognize unconscious symbols and synchronicities and are guided by them. My feeling and experience suggests that, when we listen to what God, the universe, or our gut tells us we should do, rather than what the world of desire or passions or emotions tells us we should do, things just work out.
The Mentor’s Appearance
While one primary supernatural aid may continue reappearing on our journey of personal meaning and Self-discovery, often we will encounter many more than one. As mentioned repeatedly already, the Hero’s Journey is a process of constant death and rebirth, of attachment to egocentrism and our identity. Thus, as we take up various calls and then set them down at various points for various reasons, the supernatural aid, our mentor, is likely to change. Perhaps there is a final outcome to be found on this journey, but until then we have ever changing mentors.
Consider the calling to practice yoga, use psychedelics, be a painter or writer or musician, a farmer or storyteller; these vocations are not likely to have be the same people helping guide us on our varying spiritual journeys. They may not be of one vocation or meaning or path, but may lead us on diverse paths throughout our lives. For others, the supernatural aid can be a wounded healer of our souls, someone who brings out whatever it is within us which keeps us following our truth.
Our journey is likely to have many helpers appearing throughout, all of whom are in some sense supernatural aids. However, in the totality of our journey, the aid remains primarily an internal one that the Hero is guided by in the end, alone. The mentor, supernatural aid, friend, whomever it is, is rarely present in the final battle, the culmination. What is present, however, is belief in something greater than ourselves that keeps guiding the Hero onwards, alone.
The supernatural aid’s appearance in waking conscious reality and dream imagery may be feminine or masculine, but often has strong elements of both or a general ambiguity, like Buddha or Morpheus. The Wild Man, Shaman, Jesus, Greek Heroes and some Knights often have both. They are often close with nature, yet capable of living within civilization. Robert Bly suggests that the supernatural aid for the male’s Hero’s Journey is also a male, generally older. The supernatural aid is someone who has integrated their masculine and feminine earlier in life through their own Hero’s Journey.
In tribal hunter gatherer cultures, this was almost always the case, older men rearing young men and older women rearing young women. Yet it appears we cannot learn the keys to the symbolic world from the opposite gender, since the symbolic keys males and females tend to lack, are different. Where the contrast lies, most often, is the absence of mother/daughter love and father/son love, for females and male, respectively. Older men or those wise beyond their years almost always used to initiate men on their adventures, with similar opposite patterns appearing for women: the older woman, the Crone or Wise Woman initiating daughters.
Finding The Supernatural Aid
There are a number of ideas for finding one’s supernatural aid. If you are isolated in life and tend to spend much time alone, there may be few people who fit this category right now. If you have numerous friends, perhaps one of them may be your mentor in disguise. In all likelihood, whether you are on the journey or stuck in refusal, the supernatural aid is already in your life; you just may not know it. Look for someone aloof, complex, representing both masculine/feminine, deceptively simple but able to change forms.
For others wishing to undertake their Hero’s Journey who have not started, however, the supernatural aid is likely someone we are not yet aware of. For others, the time may be right to progress to another part of your journey, which can sometimes include new mentors. Perhaps you rely too much on one friend or on family members. The Hero must leave behind our old lives as we set out upon the new life, whenever the time for death and rebirth has come. Sometimes this means moving on, change, and in others this is simply pivoting.
Prayer can be a convoluted idea for many people, and perhaps the reason is simply the religious and Christian connotation associated with the word prayer for many people. An equivalent idea might be intention, conscience, or gut instinct. Regardless of what we call it, prayer is an essential part to taking the Hero’s Journey. A relationship with some power beyond ourselves or understanding is essential, whether one take the journey based solely on that feeling or internal guide, or whether the supernatural aid starts as a person from without. Regardless, as we continue along towards later parts of our journey, the Hero is almost always guided primarily or entirely by this internal feeling. how to live our truth.
Contrast the situation of Joan of Arc with Bilbo. Joan’s adventure came entirely from within as a peasant girl who had visions from an angelic Saint Michael telling her to save France, and so she did. These visions recurred throughout her brief, bright existence. Consider Joan of Arc’s early childhood interactions with her supernatural aid through prayer: “And, among other things he told me to come to the help of the King of France.”
Bilbo, by contrast, is frequently goaded onwards by Gandalf and the dwarves, helping him stay on the path when he starts to lose it at various points. Yet, Bilbo has to ultimately find the way forward through his own ingenuity, belief in himself, some magic within; eventually guiding him through Gollum’s cavern and overcoming the dragon Smaug. Gandalf gives Frodo the impetus at the beginning, but the means and will to throw the ring at the end, symbolizing Frodo shedding his internal evil, comes from only from within.
To pray, simply ask aloud what you wish to manifest before sleep or at the beginning of the day. Or, giving up control, ask what it is you are meant to see or do. After doing so, take events and circumstances as entirely serendipitous, with meaning and purpose behind them. The people who you seem to randomly encounter, then, are actually teachers, mentors, aids in disguise, helping push us further along our Hero’s Journey. In asking a question or seeking meaning, go with your gut, see the answer in the most immediate fashion once you make a connection; keep an open mind.
Often the supernatural aid, coming from without, can be someone right in front of our eyes. In other cases, the timing is at issue, such that the mentor often appears exactly when the Hero is ready. In both cases, patience is essential for when we are waiting or stuck in a refusal of the call pattern. Or, if we are making a shift in our Hero’s Journey as part of a later step, the mentor almost always changes. Eventually, the guide comes entirely from within. If you are on a spiritual path, and the same mentor has been in your life awhile, then perhaps it is time to move on to a new mentor or path if life seems stagnant. Perhaps also start to consider that you have all the answers, within, and follow your feeling rather than wait for advice from without.
Joseph Campbell found a frequent pattern of a second mentor occurring somewhere around the Belly of the Whale, yet teachers appear at all steps. Monsters within or without, the people we meet are all teachers in disguise through forms of advice, lessons shared, or emotions stirred. Going ahead in the Hero’s Journey does not mean there is not a need to revisit something in the past; perhaps some new mode of change is in order. Starting the Hero’s Journey anew, undertaking our next identity, will almost certainly have another mentor associated with it until whenever it is we reach the story’s conclusion.
Patience has been another challenge for me related to the supernatural aid. Often I have an idea and am unwilling to wait to get started, even though the signs all seem to resist me doing so. We don’t have ideas, ideas have us, as Jung said, and so sometimes the idea is a form of over-attachment, something I’m not ready for or some version of me in an alternate universe. Or, stuck in the refusal, I may not see a way out of my refusal and onto the next calling. In either case, patience is often called for.
Practically, the supernatural aid can also be found from an example in a story or myth. At one extreme this is the example of Jesus or Buddha, who show the path of the Hero’s Journey through each of Jesus’ and Buddha’s respective Middle Paths. And we can take examples from the Hero in every other story, as well. The Hero gives lessons through their deeds of how to live our lives. From Pinocchio it is the dangers of lying, from Percival and the Quest for the Holy Grail it is taking off his mother’s homespun tunic. With numerous Heroes it is the dangers of lust, addiction, pleasure, and desires of the material world. From every Hero and myth we can find the answers we seek for ourselves; we have only to read the story, integrate parts of each Hero into our life, and continue along the path. The patterns of the Hero’s Journey are the same keys contained within every legend.
The supernatural aid is a mentor, appearing both within and without. For me, oriented towards the conscious Hero’s Journey, the mentor appears as teachers of all kinds; people who share wisdom, advice, press my emotional buttons, or teach tools. At first, being oriented towards the conscious world, the mentor would be a friend or trusted confidant. Gradually, as I have progressed, my supernatural aid comes further and further from within, as it does for all Heroes. The aid from within is the closer connection to the symbolic world, with one’s personal relationship with God. Eventually, this internal feeling is all that remains and it continues to guide us towards the end of our adventure.
Questions about your Supernatural Aid
Are your dreams telling you anything in symbolic imagery as a kind of supernatural aid or mentor offering advice? Is there a recurring dream character you might listen to?
Is there a mentor in your waking life offering to lead you away from something that relates to personal suffering, making a change, starting a new adventure?
Have you ever had some nagging idea to find or follow a more meaningful, creative, or spiritual kind of path? An idea that keeps returning, time after time?
Are there any teachers in your life who, like Yoda, cause irritation or frustration, yet might have much wisdom to impart if listened to?
Can you pray, start to practice honest conversations, talking to some internal part of ourselves or God about what you want to manifest? “I want to manifest ______ dream or meaningful pursuit, can you help show me a path towards that?”
As you get further along, like Luke with the Force, can you get closer to following that internal feeling, energy, implementing it more into your life without assistance from without?
Can you follow a moral truth, a feeling of being comfortable going alone, like Frodo does to Mt. Doom?
What about letting go, giving in to something greater? Does the idea of giving up control, allowing a higher power in, challenge you? What would it take to open up to this asking this, letting go of your expectations of what the morrow should bring: “What is it I am meant to see or do tomorrow?”
Campbell, J. (2008). The hero with a thousand faces. Novato, CA: New World Publications.
Kopacz, D. (2015). The hero’s journey. Self-published.
Andrew Haacke is a lifelong spiritual seeker who researches and writes about the Hero's Journey, symbolism, mythology, and psychedelics. He studied anthropology at the University of Utah and social work and public administration at the University of Southern California.
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