It is not our part to master all the tides of the world but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.
Gandalf “The Return Of The King”
This Christmas sees the telling again of a magnificent story that has passed into myth and legend. For those who haven't read the book, it tells the story of deadly fight against evil that affects the world of men. It’s the story of a king who is born into humble circumstances, whose destiny is hidden from those around him and only becomes clear when he emerges victorious from a fight to the death. On the way he visits the dead and gathers around him a band of followers who go on to fight in his name and defeat the enemy in spectacular fashion. It’s also a great love story, if not the greatest love story of all time, although not the love you might be thinking of. It’s one of those timeless, classic stories that is somehow alive in the present as well as rooted in the past and will go on and on as each new generation comes to appreciate it.
The other story being retold this Christmas is, of course, Tolkien’s magnificent tale of good and evil brilliantly interpreted by Peter Jackson into three great films.
We need heroes, in fact it’s almost as though the desire to make heroes was added to us as part of the design. We’re designed such that we identify with the hero in the story and his journey becomes our own. Good storytellers have been aware of this for centuries and they use a structure that’s come to be known as the mythic journey.
Here’s how it works (as you read through think Star Wars, Sword in the Stone, Lord of the Rings even Toy Story etc.)
Once upon a time . . .
Begin with introductory details. Describe the main characters.
For instance, "One day, the king decided to test his children’s loyalty".
Protagonist gets advice from mentor
The mentor can be a wise old person, a mythical creature, a talking animal, etc.
Starting the journey
The protagonist accepts the to adventure.
Tests, allies, enemies
Depending on the length of the story, you may add riddles, spells, dragons and so forth.
This section helps build suspense. "Quietly drawing near the dragon’s lair . . ."
This is the physical climax of the story: a daring rescue, or a fight with the ogre, dragon or wizard.
In this part, the protagonist returns victorious, but we also see the wisdom that was gained by this journey.
So, as we approach Christmas - a tale of the ultimate hero - why not stop to reflect on your own story?
Can you describe past year in terms of the mythic journey?
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