Hand-mixed oils on carved wood paneled door.
Based on Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey. For each step of the Journey, I provided Amulets based on ancient Adinkra symbols from West Africa, symbols from Egypt, some Scythia symbols, and also symbols of my own to provide the traveler with protection and strength while flowing through their journey.
The story begins with the upper left panel on the outside door and flows, left to right, down the door. The story continues on the inside of the door with the bottom left panel and flows, left to right, up the door, ending with the top right panel.
Summary Of Steps and Amulets
1. Call to Adventure. The call to adventure is the point in a person's life when they are first given notice that everything is going to change, whether they know it or not.
Amulets: Awareness Eye (protection against evil eye); Fawohodie (African symbol for freedom and independence); Anchor (symbolizing diligence); Open Heart (courage); Skull (symbolizing that "time" is meaningless)
2. Refusal of the Call. Often when the call is given, the future hero refuses to heed it. This may be from a sense of duty or obligation, fear, insecurity, a sense of inadequacy, or any of a range of reasons that work to hold the person in his or her current circumstances.
Amulets: Akoben (War Horn, symbol of vigilance and wariness, symbolizing strength to overcome fear of the unknown); Bird Lighting on a Mountain (symbolizing refusal of flight and supplying the courage to fly).
3. Supernatural Aid. Once the hero has committed to the quest, consciously or unconsciously, his or her guide and magical helper appears, or becomes known.
Amulets: Nyame Dua, “Tree of G-d” (alter), symbol of God's presence and protection
4. Crossing of the First Threshold. This is the point where the person actually crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his or her world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous realm where the rules and limits are not known.
Amulets: Shield; Spear; Blue Circle above head symbolizing the first spark of enlightenment
5. Belly of the Whale. The belly of the whale represents the final separation from the hero's known world and self. It is sometimes described as the person's lowest point, but it is actually the point when the person is between or transitioning between worlds and selves. The separation has been made, or is being made, or being fully recognized between the old world and old self and the potential for a new world/self. The experiences that will shape the new world and self will begin shortly, or may be beginning with this experience which is often symbolized by something dark, unknown and frightening. By entering this stage, the person shows their willingness to undergo a metamorphosis, to die to him or herself.
Amulets: A guardian Angel in Prayer emerging out of the Belly of the Whale
1. The Road of Trials. The road of trials is a series of tests, tasks, or ordeals that the person must undergo to begin the transformation. Often the person fails one or more of these tests, which often occur in threes.
Amulets: A 3 Leaved Flower of Circles; Mmere Dane, symbol of change, life's dynamics; Denkyem symbol of adaptability (“The crocodile lives in the water, yet breathes the air, demonstrating an ability to adapt to circumstances.”)
2. The Meeting with the Goddess. The meeting with the goddess represents the point in the adventure when the person experiences a love that has the power and significance of the all-powerful, all encompassing, unconditional love that a fortunate infant may experience with his or her mother. It is also known as the "hieros gamos", or sacred marriage, the union of opposites, and may take place entirely within the person. In other words, the person begins to see him or herself in a non-dualistic way. This is a very important step in the process and is often represented by the person finding the other person that he or she loves most completely. Although Campbell symbolizes this step as a meeting with a goddess, unconditional love and /or self-unification does not have to be represented by a woman.
Amulets: Odo Nnyew Fie Kwan, symbol of the power of love (“Love never loses its way home”); Yellow Castle, symbolizing the foundation of love; Beginning of Ouroboros (blue heart with yellow arrow) symbolizing eternal love
3. Woman as Temptress. At one level, this step is about those temptations that may lead the hero to abandon or stray from his or her quest, which as with the Meeting with the Goddess does not necessarily have to be represented by a woman. For Campbell, however, this step is about the revulsion that the usually male hero may feel about his own fleshy/earthy nature, and the subsequent attachment or projection of that revulsion to women. Woman is a metaphor for the physical or material temptations of life, since the hero-knight was often tempted by lust from his spiritual journey.
Amulets: Hye Won Hye, “That which does not burn”, symbol of imperishability and endurance. (“This symbol gets its meaning from traditional priests that were able to walk on fire without burning their feet, an inspiration to others to endure and overcome difficulties.”); Sailboat and 3 Islands symbolizing diligence of will in overcoming Odysseus’s “Sirens”; 2 Hearts symbolizing Ying and Yang in relation to the “material” and “spiritual” worlds
4. Atonement with the Father. In this step the person must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in his or her life. In many myths and stories this is the father, or a father figure who has life and death power. This is the center point of the journey. All the previous steps have been moving in to this place, all that follow will move out from it. Although this step is most frequently symbolized by an encounter with a male entity, it does not have to be a male; just someone or thing with incredible power. For the transformation to take place, the person as he or she has been must be "killed" so that the new self can come into being. Sometime this killing is literal, and the earthly journey for that character is either over or moves into a different realm.
Amulets: Mframadan, "Wind-resistant house", symbol of fortitude and readiness to face life's vicissitudes; Dwennimmen symbol of humility together with strength (“The ram will fight fiercely against an adversary, but it also submits humbly to slaughter, emphasizing that even the strong need to be humble.”); Mate Masie "What I hear, I keep", symbol of wisdom, knowledge and prudence (“The implied meaning of the phrase "Mate Masie" is "I understand". Understanding means wisdom and knowledge, but it also represents the prudence of taking into consideration what another person has said.”)
The story beginning with the bottom left side panel and proceeding left to right, up the door.
5. Apotheosis. To apotheosize is to deify. When someone dies a physical death, or dies to the self to live in spirit, he or she moves beyond the pairs of opposites to a state of divine knowledge, love, compassion and bliss. This is a god-like state; the person is in heaven and beyond all strife. A more mundane way of looking at this step is that it is a period of rest, peace and fulfillment before the hero begins the return.
Amulets: Nyame Nnwu Na Mawu, "God never dies, therefore I cannot die" symbol of God's omnipresence and the perpetual existence of man's spirit. (“This signifies the immortality of man's soul, believed to be a part of God. Because the soul rests with God after death, it cannot die.”); Snake Resting (before a journey to another world); Sun (The source of purity that everything revolves around)
6. The Ultimate Boon. The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the quest. It is what the person went on the journey to get. All the previous steps serve to prepare and purify the person for this step, since in many myths the boon is something transcendent like the elixir of life itself, or a plant that supplies immortality, or the holy grail.
Amulets: Single Scythian Archer, symbolizing Focus and Independent Consciousness; Eban, "fence", symbol of love, safety and security. (“The home to the Akan is a special place. A home which has a fence around is considered to be an ideal residence. The fence symbolically separates and secures the family from the outside. Because of the security and the protection that a fence affords, the symbol is also associated with the security and safety one finds in love.”); Eternal Flame (Once ignited can never be extinguished)
1. Refusal of the Return. So why, when all has been achieved, the ambrosia has been drunk, and we have conversed with the gods, why come back to normal life with all its cares and woes?
Amulets: Third Eye, symbolizing Enlightenment; Akoma Ntoso, "linked hearts", symbol of understanding and agreement (To extinguish an internal battle and free one’s self from fear of moving forward); Wawa Aba, "seed of the wawa tree", symbol of hardiness, toughness and perseverance. (“The seed of the wawa tree is extremely hard. In Akan culture, it is a symbol of someone who is strong and tough. It inspires the individual to persevere through hardship.”)
2. The Magic Flight. Sometimes the hero must escape with the boon, if it is something that the gods have been jealously guarding. It can be just as adventurous and dangerous returning from the journey as it was to go on it.
Amulets: Nea Onnim No Sua A, Ohu, "He who does not know can know from learning", symbol of knowledge, life-long education and continued quest for knowledge
3. Rescue from Without. Just as the hero may need guides and assistants to set out on the quest, often times he or she must have powerful guides and rescuers to bring them back to everyday life, especially if the person has been wounded or weakened by the experience. Or perhaps the person doesn't realize that it is time to return, that they can return, or that others need their boon.
Amulets: Upside-down Triangle, symbolizing Woman; Beetle, symbolizing the Awareness of Mind; Mmere Dane, "time changes " symbol of change, life's dynamics (Giving strength to persevere through life’s changes)
4. The Crossing of the Return Threshold. The trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into a human life, and then maybe figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world. This is usually extremely difficult.
Amulets: Sankofa, "return and get it", symbol of importance of learning from the past; Eye, here symbolizing looking towards the future while remembering the past
4a. Apple Tree, Symbolizing Knowledge
5. Master of the Two Worlds. In myth, this step is usually represented by a transcendental hero like Jesus or Buddha. For a human hero, it may mean achieving a balance between the material and spiritual. The person has become comfortable and competent in both the inner and outer worlds.
Amulets: Twin Scythian Archers, symbolizing duality of mind and spirit; Ananse Ntontan, "spider's web", symbol of wisdom, creativity and the complexities of life; Blue Triangle and Circle, symbolizing Enlightenment of Mind and Body
6. Freedom to Live. Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is the freedom to live. This is sometimes referred to as living in the moment, neither anticipating the future nor regretting the past.
Amulets: Completely Fulfilled Ouroboros (“The Ouroboros represents the perpetual cyclic renewal of life and infinity, the concept of eternity and the eternal return, and represents the cycle of life, death and rebirth, leading to immortality, as in the phoenix. It can also represent the idea of primordial unity related to something existing in or persisting before any beginning with such force or qualities it cannot be extinguished. The ouroboros has been important in religious and mythological symbolism, but has also been frequently used in alchemical illustrations, where it symbolizes the circular nature of the alchemist's opus. It is also often associated with Gnosticism, and Hermeticism. Carl Jung interpreted the Ouroboros as having an archetypal significance to the human psyche. The Jungian psychologist Erich Neumann writes of it as a representation of the pre-ego "dawn state", depicting the undifferentiated infancy experience of both mankind and the individual child.”); The Ouroboros represents the body of the “Mother” with Wings (Flight of Spirit, or “Free Spirit”) and the Eye of Enlightenment with 3 blue dots reaching to the heavens; The uppermost image represents Timelessness; The image on the bottom is a version of the Mandelbrot Set (A mathematical set based on the geometry of fractals, representing infinity), referred to as “Thumbprint of G-d”).
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