The Heroine's Journey


4/22/20043 min read

Full disclosure: This is glossed from 'Psychology for Screenwriters' by William Indick (see his run of books on and his chapter is in itself a reworking of The Heroine's Journey by Maureen Murdock (again on Amazon - looks like she does some interesting books on the Father/Daughter relationship too.

So with that out of the way lets take a quick look...

Stage One: Separation from the Feminine

She rejects the Mother Goddess.

Her journey begins with the rejection of traditional feminine values. She needs to leave behind her old life (as housewife, mother etc) and her dependence. She decides to become in some sense self-sufficient. This may mean stepping out of a physical, emotional or psychic state of dependence.

Two: Identification with the Masculine

Now she is in the male realm she must find a mentor to help her through. This figure is the Wise Old Man (she cannot have a sexualised relationship with this man) who introduces her into the field of masculine combat.

Three: Road of Trials

A series of trials in which she must integrate her Animus. Through internalising the traditionally male strengths (reason, courage, fortitude) she overcomes the 'false myths' of the feminine (Myth of Dependancy, Myth of Inferiority, Myth of Romantic Love). These take place as symbolic slaying of male monster archetypes:

  • Two-headed Dragon - conflicting needs of endeavor and family must be 'slain' through finding a balance between them.

  • Ogre Tyrant - The inner tyrant of 'success at all costs' must be won over while also the outer tyrant must be defeated (the corporation, the system, injustice) there is no point in doing one without the other - again the art of balance is stressed.

  • Knight in shining Armour - The illusion of the man who will solve all your problems must be seen through and despatched. To become the maiden in distress is to go back to the how you were at the start of the story. One can love, but not subjugate.

Four: Illusory Boon of Success

At the hoghpoint of her struggle she may feel like she has won it all however she may well just be suffering the 'superwoman mystique'. She believes that she really can be excel in the world and at home to the same degree at once. Here the denial is that she is after all 'merely' human and the realisation is that something must give somewhere...

Five: Strong Women Can Say No

Here she encounters the 'King' the masculine force that wants her to give everything to him (this could be a lover, a boss). She must stand up for herself and say 'no'. Internally she must also say 'no' to the unreasonable demands that she is making on herself and admit that she cannot admit any weakness.

Six: Initiation and Descent to the Goddess

She re-encounters The Goddess and re-engages with her need to provide healing. This may be external in that she may give herself back to her family in some way or internal in that she starts to take care of herself. She can see the way through to expressing maternal love again.

Seven: Urgent Yearning to Reconnect with the Feminine

She realises she has lost part of her identity in her quest to succeed in the Male domain, her integration of the Animus. She now needs to go back and reconnect with the Anima; the feminine body, felling, passion and emotion.

This reintegration the feminine can also mean the integration of the 'Wild Woman' archetype - impulsive, strong, passionate and comfortable with her sexuality. She is not above using seduction (or perhaps, more neutrally, charm) to get what she wants.

Eight: Healing Mother/Daughter Spilt

A 'Grandmother Spider', a benign understanding woman who has been both daughter and mother, can heal the final split with the Mother Goddess. This is the encounter and acceptance of ancestral feminine wisdom.

Nine: Finding the Inner Man with Heart

She is now free to find the man who will be her equal. As she has been searching for and integrating masculine qualities this new man will typically be well endowed with feminine qualities (while himself being a well integrated man). So she reencounters the masculine in an evolved form that will encourage her to keep her new found qualities.

Ten: Beyond Duality

The full integration of the Animus and Anima, the Master of Two Worlds, she has found success in the outer Masculine world as well as in her personal world. She has become a Hermaphrodite (in a good way!) a complete being who exists beyond duality - a singular being who embraces all within a circle of understanding.


As Indick points out the Heroes Journey is all about achieving legendary status in death while the Heroine's journey is all about achieving psychological balance in life. The obvious question then is... what happens when you ignore gender and put a man on the Heroine's Journey and a woman on the Hero's journey?