the tao of jaklumen

the path of the sage must become the path of the hero

Leave a comment

Update on Hero Introduction (A Pride of Heroes)

For the original post, please see BeWoW: Hero Introduction (A Pride of Heroes).

I sent Matt Langdon this message:

Thanks, Matt!

I’ve been admiring the work of The Hero Construction Company for a while.  After I decided to start blogging about the Hero’s Journey, I wondered if others were writing about it, and I came to the collection of blogs that include the Hero’s Handbook.

I hope you don’t mind that I included this message in a blog post: while referencing “A Pride of Heroes”.  I really do want more people to know what you do.  So many others I’ve talked to think the Monomyth is just about writing stories, and haven’t considered its real-life applications.

Due to indigent circumstances, I’m not sure I can scrape enough money to attend the Hero Round Table Conference anytime really soon.  But I’ll do my best to participate as much as I can until circumstances change and/or a conference comes closer to the Pacific Northwest.

and Matt had this to say by way of reply last Tuesday:

Thanks a lot for the blog posts. No idea how I didn’t see your original posts, but the internet is a funny place. Thanks also for the compliments. It means a lot.

Keep an eye on the Hero Round Table. If you can make it there, I can comp you a ticket. It’s a really energizing time. You’d meet some kindred spirits.
Wow!  How about that?  I’m still not sure how I’d make it to Brighton, Michigan.  The last (well, only time, really) I was in Michigan, was when Cimmorene and I were still university students, and we stayed with friends in Ann Arbor.  The plane ticket alone wasn’t terribly cheap, and I have no idea how I’d gather the funds now.  Just by comparison, the Trauma Recovery U/#NoMoreShame Project retreat is in Portland, Oregon at the end of June– much closer to us, and I’m not sure if we have the funds to go to that.
We’ll see.


BeWoW: Hero Introduction (A Pride of Heroes)

What is BeWoW?

BeWoW stands for Be Wonderful on Wednesdays, a blog hop/blog prompt started by Ronovan at RonovanWrites.  The idea is to share a blog post that meets the definition of encouraging, positive, or wonderful.

For more information, click on this link: Be A #BeWoW Blogger

For Ronovan’s entry this week, click this link: Being Positive Support for Others.

Okay.  What Wonderful Thing do you have to share, jak?

I got this message very early this morning:

Hey Jonathan,

Nice to see your comment on the Hero Handbook. Thanks for stopping by. If you’re interested in talking to more hero people, I would suggest checking out the conference we’re running in Michigan (for the third year). The Hero Round Table basically came into being because I wanted people like you in the same room as each other. It’s been a cool experience thus far.
Blogging for more than ten years is pretty damn impressive. Well done.
The Hero Construction Company
810 689 HERO

Join Us at the Hero Round Table Conference:
The comment that Matt is talking about is on his post A Pride of Heroes.
Here’s an excerpt from that post, to give you an idea:

A while ago I asked the Hero Construction Company Facebook page what a group of heroes could be called. Some offerings were host, league, and army. Then came pride. It won me over instantly.

I like it because it highlights that heroes should be proud. Heroes are always humble, but there’s no reason they shouldn’t be proud. I like the lion connotation too, as it seems lions of different shapes and sizes all fit equally well into the pride.

He offered anyone who was reading an invitation to this collaboration he calls The Pride, and all readers had to do was comment with their first name, initial of their last name, and their general location.  So I left a comment, and that led to the rest of the story.

Let’s wrap it up.

I’ve followed the Hero’s Handbook for a while, along with some other blogs done by fine folks at the Hero Construction Company and the Janus Center.  I wrote about them previously (here and here).  I was so impressed not just that they were teaching schoolkids about the Hero’s Journey, but that they were teaching them how to integrate it into their own lives.

As seen at Ronovan Writes- All image rights reserved to Ronovan and his son.

As seen at Ronovan Writes-
All image rights reserved to Ronovan and his son.


The Hero’s Journey- Thor (Disney/Marvel Studios)


I have had trouble, dear readers, compiling more serial posts for the Hero’s Journey category this past year, so, I present you with something ready-made.

This presentation was done by a father and son team, for the son’s 5th grade English class.  The video segments are from the Disney/Marvel Studios motion picture THOR (based on the Marvel comic book character of the same name):

Please note that Cimmorene and I have some objections to how the Stages are laid out here.  What is here labeled “Reward” falls to The Ultimate Boon stage.  Indeed, this is what Christopher Vogler also calls “Seizing the Sword”.  I’m going to bet that the display of Mjölnir (Thor’s hammer) in rock was very intentional here, to evoke comparisons to Arthurian legends of the sword in the stone (which was not Excalibur originally, but fused with the Lady of the Lake’s gift in modern reinterpretations).  Resurrection/Transformation/Rebirth occurs here, and not at the scene of Thor destroying the Rainbow Bridge between Asgard and Midgard (Earth, or literally, “Middle-Earth”, which I assume was the inspiration of J.R.R. Tolkien).  The destruction of the Rainbow Bridge would be Crossing of the Return Threshold.  While peace is restored to Asgard and Earth, what is labeled Return with Elixir should be called Atonement with the Father, since it is apparent that not only did Mjölnir come to be wielded by someone worthy as Odin All-Father declared, but that Odin himself confirmed that Thor was worthy, and deserving of fatherly praise.

The Hero's Journey: The Abyss

For those comic book and folklore aficionados that care– Thor, as he was presented in Marvel Comics originally, was Donald Blake, a crippled doctor who knew nothing of his origin as Thor.  When the doctor learned of the legend and found the hammer, he spoke the name of Odin to become Thor, his cane becoming Mjölnir.  Later his memory was restored, and Thor learned that he became the mortal Donald Blake to learn humility.  This is not mentioned in the film; the name Donald Blake is instead said to be an ex-boyfriend of the movie’s romantic female character.  Also, in the original Norse tales, Loki is brother to Odin, and is therefore Thor’s uncle.

Leave a comment

The Lies Our Abuse Tells Us | Childhood Sexual Abuse Recovery

A good online friend and helper of mine, Bobbi Parish, wrote an article recently.  Here’s an excerpt, with a link to the article:

The four lies are:
— We should be ashamed of our abuse, which manifests as Shame
— Our abuse was our fault, which manifests as Self-Blame
— We are bad because we caused our abuse and deserved our abuse which manifests as Low Self-Worth or even Self-Loathing
— We are powerless to change anything in our lives, which manifests as Powerlessness

The shame, self-blame and low self-worth reside at the very core of our being, defining the way we see ourselves and the world. That triad of lies is protected by the fourth lie: that we are powerless. The powerlessness tells us we cannot change the feelings of shame, self-blame and low self-worth that we feel. In essence, our feeling of powerlessness guards that core triad of lies. For this reason, I call those four lies The Lying Triad and Its Dark Guard.

The Lies Our Abuse Tells Us | Childhood Sexual Abuse Recovery.

Please take a moment to take this article in, dear readers.  I was just tweeting with Bobbi a moment ago– she was telling me the “The Lying Triad and Its Dark Guard” came to her in the middle of the night as I was saying it sounded like an enemy of an epic saga.

I felt inspired.  So many people know The Hero’s Journey as a template for a story, but I see it as a reflection of real life.  Our legends, myths, folkloric stories– are reflections of our values, dreams, outlook, for the societies we live in.  I took some time to explain that in a series of posts on “The Inner Journey”.

In essence, this will be “The Journey out of Childhood Abuse” and “From Zero to Hero”.  (Remember that WordPress blogging challenge, dear readers?  You see now why the theme resonated with me?”

Stay Tuned

The Hero’s Journey vs. The Heroine’s Journey: Rewriting Privilege –. (as seen at The Good Men Project)

Nicole Franklin writes about equalizing the differences between the Hero’s Journey and the Heroine’s Journey.  Specifically, she recounts an experience with Alice Li, a comic book illustrator, noting at the New York Comic Con that the Heroine’s Journey cycle is often portrayed in a misogynistic way, and it doesn’t need to be that way for modern stories.

Leave a comment

The Hero’s Journey with Tamara McCleary

Today I was excited to see a certain Tweet pop up in my feed for @MondayBlogs:

Oh snap!  Someone else blogging about The Hero’s Journey?  I’m all over that like a hungry man at a buffet!

Since the tweet was to the eighth part of Tamara’s series, I decided to start from the beginning (and I’d get to part 8 in due time).  If you’d like to join me in my reading, please start here:

The Hero’s Journey: Leave the Ordinary World | Tamara McCleary.


The Power of Myth: Stories are not just for children

Image credit:

The Power of Myth” is a series of interviews that Bill Moyer conducted with Joseph Campbell.    These interviews were also transcribed into a book of the same name.

As I was reading my news feeds and other sorts of electronic media this morning, I opened up a Digg article called Is Adulthood Dead? by Steve Rousseau, which in turn was a response to a New York Times article called The Death of Adulthood in American Culture by A.O. Scott.  Reading the former article, I noted that Rousseau cited many other responses to Scott’s article, with writers taking different angles and perspectives to his claim.

I chose to dig deeper, or rather to focus on yet another article (bear with me, dear readers) that Scott cited.  It’s a Slate article by Ruth Graham titled Against YA: Adults should be embarrassed to read children’s books.  Hopefully, the title goes without saying, but, if you wish to read the article, your sentiment might echo what Scott reported of Graham’s article thus far:

Noting that nearly a third of Y.A. books were purchased by readers ages 30 to 44 (most of them presumably without teenage children of their own), Graham insisted that such grown-ups “should feel embarrassed about reading literature for children.” Instead, these readers were furious. The sentiment on Twitter could be summarized as “Don’t tell me what to do!” as if Graham were a bossy, uncomprehending parent warning the kids away from sugary snacks toward more nutritious, chewier stuff.

But Scott seems to agree, albeit reluctantly:

Full disclosure: The shoe fits. I will admit to feeling a twinge of disapproval when I see one of my peers clutching a volume of “Harry Potter” or “The Hunger Games.” I’m not necessarily proud of this reaction.

Logo for Cimmy’s stories. Pencils by Cimmorene, digital coloring and inking by jaklumen. Characters depicted are inspired by Patricia C. Wrede‘s Enchanted Forest Chronicles book series

I don’t think you’ll be surprised, dear reader, to read me say that I don’t agree, and not with the slightest bit of hesitation.  And I will tell you that my dear wife Cimmorene does not agree either.  Why?  Allow me to point to Cimmy first.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again that she is a storyteller.

[If you are not yet reading her blog, Cimmy’s Stories, I warmly invite you to do so now.  Feel free to open a link to it, and read it after finishing this article, or start reading now.  I’ll wait.  “Captain Jack and the Wavemistress” is a wonderful story series she’s working on now.]

She follows the old oral tradition of passing stories by word of mouth, although she has been eagerly following new technology to tell these stories.  She has shared with me her studies on fairy tales, and one thing we noted repeatedly was that tellers of these folkloric tales repeatedly modified their stories for their audiences, and this included embellishing the details for more mature audiences.

To wit: I think it’s ridiculous that Graham should ridicule books labeled Young Adult, or any fiction that the author expressly intended to be read by children or teenagers.  It certainly never stopped the bardic storytellers of old, and I genuinely doubt that readers, over the the centuries of printed books, ever on average limited themselves that way.  It smacks of the bully’s taunt ‘that stuff’s for babies’, and it’s just not reflective of the history of storytelling as I have understood it.

And I’ll say again that the reason why I blog about Joseph Campbell is that he understands this, that cultures need these kinds of stories.  Despite the critics that claim he is glossing over the cultural particularities, I will insist that he is right to point out that we, as a people have a mutual need to hear them, and there are great similarities in the stories, particularly with the Monomyth cycle, known better as “The Hero’s Journey“.

Alexandra Petri summed this up well in the Washington Post:

But I think what we’ve been identifying as YA — big characters, broad strokes, flat dystopian landscapes that are clearly designed to pose fairy tale questions — are in fact stories that deal in the shapes of myth.

All really popular stories today are, to some extent, fairy tales. “Harry Potter” is a fairy tale. “Star Wars” is a fairy tale. “Batman” is a fairy tale. And fairy tale problems are not the problems of adulthood. They are deeper and less practical. The rise of what is termed YA, I would suggest, is actually a return to the kind of stories that cast larger shadows — the kind of fiction that is necessary. We need our stories in a way that we don’t need literature, per se. We need myths when we are struggling with uncomfortable questions, “too deep for utterance.” How to be. What to love. What to save and what to destroy.

Although she does not cite Joseph Campbell, I believe she is strongly and emphatically affirming what he has said, that we, as a people, need myths.  And once again to his critics, I state that these myths continually reflect our hopes, our dreams, our outlook as a people.  They are a way that we can regroup when our lives are difficult– yes, to escape for a while, but also possibly to recommit to our struggle.  Often these myths are about real people, but although time and fading memory have distorted them away from the practical facts to grandiose legend– this should not mean that the stories do not have validity and application.

If you read Campbell’s work, then you will find that he says that the symbolism itself is not important, but the realizations they bring us to.  It is not the story itself that is most important, but how you liken your life to it, and how it guides your journey.

Your journey is most important.


Are you a hero?  If you do not believe yourself a hero, are you nevertheless inspired by the many tales of The Hero’s Journey?  Do you believe there is a hero inside every one of us?  Do you believe in the power of myth? 

and lastly

Is there a version of The Hero’s Journey you would like me to reference?  Are you ready for our story, Redemption of the Four Kingdoms?


Leave a comment

Limbo and the Forge

I hate being put on hold- Bureaucratic Limbo


Today I made many phone calls to the pharmacy, to doctor’s offices, to insurance.

  •  One of my prescriptions will be taken care of tomorrow.
  •  A permanent TENS unit is still being worked out: the physiotherapist’s office and the medical provider are not on the same page yet, apparently.
  •  No word from the orthopedic clinic, or the surgeon’s nurses about the Novocaine injections.  The insurance rep I talked to was outsourced… somewhere in Asia or Oceania, as it often is.

I hate putting on the dog and pony show for bureaucrats, more so when I must do it repeatedly and not everyone’s paying attention.

Pain is a leech on creativity.


I wish it was more of a forge, or a refiner’s fire.  There is so much content I want to finish here on the blog.

For example, more of The Hero’s Journey series:

Cover of "Superman - The Movie"



Cover of "The Transformers - The Movie"

 Transformers: The Movie


Redemption of the Four Kingdoms (fiction that Cimmorene and I are working on)

Superman is hard… I don’t have the good strength to write the explanations out, and I’m having trouble finding media from Superman: The Movie and Superman II, which I will be focusing on in one story.  I’ve got posts already- you can find them all here (or see some of the Related Articles), but I don’t have enough yet to fill out all of the Monomyth stages.  Equilibrium was easier by comparison– I had a wealth of clips on YouTube and a fansite.  Then, I realized the whole script fell VERY neatly into all the Hero’s Journey stages!

Transformers: The Movie is even more difficult in some ways.

Redemption of the Four Kingdoms is forged in my personal experiences with abuse and other trauma, so… I hope you understand why those words of fiction (based on some reality) aren’t coming too easily.  Maybe if I tell you I started it over five years ago, that would make more sense.







Leave a comment

Teaser Introduction – A Hero’s Journey: SUPERMAN

The Hero’s Journey of Superman will commence soon



Coming tomorrow: Introduction to the Richard Donner story of Superman