After leaving the “departure” phase, the hero experiences what is known as ‘initiation’. The first stage of initiation is the road of trials. According to Joseph Campbell’s model, as the hero’s journey continues, they depart from the comfort zones of their old lifestyle and step into a dream landscape of curiosity, ambiguity and challenge. “He’ must survive successive trials and ordeals which must be overcome, often with great difficulty, in order to continue with the journey. For many responders this phase “the road of trials” is a favourite part of myth adventure. Many examples of such “difficult tasks” are mentioned by Campbell- the most prominant example he uses is Psyche’s quest for her lost lover Cupid. In order to complete her quest Psyche is exposed to numerous difficulties. Firstly, Psyche has to actually find Cupid (who has in fact been hidden away from her) 2- Venus.
Cupid’s mother, enforces violent brutality on the hero and smashes her to the ground and yet another.. 3- Psyche is ordered to sort a great quantity of mixed grain before the fall of night. While subject to these miraculous tests and ordeals, which often appear to be insurmountable, the hero is helped by the advice, amulets and secret agents of the supernatural aid (whom they have usually met during the “departure’ phase of the quest. The hero learns for the first time that there is some benign power all around them supporting them in their superhuman passage. In the case of psyche, she is aided by an army of ants also by a green reed, who is much more aware of nature’s tendencies than she is, she is also helped by an eagle. The eagle ceases a bottle of water from a freezing spring high on a towering rock which just happens to be the home of some sleeping dragons.
Lastly, Psyche’s difficult tasks are once again made much easier thanks to the wise advice of a high tower. Campbell also quotes the work of Geza Roheim to help illustrate that a hero’s quest is characterised by a succession of struggles. However in this case, the example is not from a myth but from the reality of our own world. We learn that you do not have to be a far fetched character in a miraculous tale to partake in the hero’s journey.
All people are presented with this “road of trials” because they are pursuing a quest we know simply as ‘living life’. Roheim predominantly talks about the challenge of overcoming obstacles of the hero’s past which may prevent them from completing the quest of living a happy and satisfying life. He reveals that while anyone in any society or circumstance, who intentionally or unintentionally undertakes this perilous journey into the confused paths of their own spiritual maze, will soon find themselves in a place of psychological difficulty. The task in this case is to cleanse and humble the senses to allow the process of dissolving haunting images of our personal past to occur.
Campbell quotes Roheim on the obstacles of this journey and what must be done to overcome these obstacles when he says that in our dreams, the ageless perils, dangers troubles and ordeals of our past are nightly encountered – symbolic figures and events appear which not only reflect the picture of our situation but also give a clue to what we must do to save ourselves. One man said “i saw half of a horse lying on the ground. It only had one wing and was trying to arise but wasn’t able to do so. This man was a poet trying earn his daily bread by working as a journalist. His trial or task was to find a more financially beneficial job.
The oldest recorded account of the passage through this metamorphosis is the myth of the goddess inanna’s decent into the nether world. Abandoned lordship abandoned ladyship she entered the land of no return. IN this nether world the first trial is when Inanna is met by a chief gatekeeper who demands to know her intentions and who she is Inanna’s only way of entering the gates is according to the gatekeeper to remove every part of her clothing. Naked she is brought before the seven judges of the nether world to be assessed.
This confrontation epitomises the whole sense of the road of trials. The hero whether god or goddess, an everyday man or woman or the disturbed dreamer of a dream discovers and takes on board the perils of their quest. One by one these resistances are broken, the hero transcends his previous limitations and reaches a new level of existence, and all manner of things seem to be possible.