In our hero stories there is usually a character that calls the hero out of his ordinary world with the promise of dreams fulfilled and enemies subdued. The Herald is not necessarily a person, it can be an event or an object that sets in motion a series of events that move the Hero to answer The Call. The herald gets the story moving.
Often, when the Hero is stuck or uncertain about his next step, it is the Herald that appears to remind the him of his purpose, the reason for his journey, the goal he seeks or the deed that must be done.
Frequently the Herald also serves as another archetypal figure, the Mentor or Guardian.
In Star Wars, A New Hope, the Mentor and Herald come to Luke Skywalker in the form of Obi-wan “Ben” Kenobi. Obi-wan inspires Luke with a promise of the adventure he craves, although not in the way he imagined it. Along the way to rescue the princess, Obi-wan initiates young Luke in the ways of the Force, starting him on the road that will lead the hero to become a Jedi knight, “like his father.” In later films, this role passes to Yoda who continues Luke’s training.
In The Hobbit it is Gandalf the Wizard who fills the role of Herald, Mentor. and Guardian. Gandalf appears one day at the home of Bilbo Baggins with an offer to share in a grand adventure. Gandalf comes and goes throughout the story, appearing at times when Bilbo needs his guidance and wisdom.
In the mythology of Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Gandalf is one of the Maiar, a race of beings analogous to angels who are sent to aid the inhabitants of the earth in their fight against evil.
Alex Rogan, in the Last Starfighter, is visited by Centauri. Centauri serves as a Herald and Mentor, but also as something of a Trickster. Nevertheless it is Centauri that brings Alex a way to escape his Ordinary World and achieve something great, even if Alex takes a little convincing.
The journey of the Spirit is an interior journey, a journey through the invisible world of the spirit. The characters we meet along the way may be physical objects, events, and people. But they are also just as likely to come from the invisible realm.
It is a doctrine of faith that each person, at their birth, is given a guardian angel to watch over that person. Although we woefully neglect their influence in our lives, polls consistently show that about 80% of people believe in angels.
An ancient prayer asks our angels to govern, guard, guide, and enlighten us. The role of our guardian angel is to serve as our Guardian and Mentor. Angels are always attuned to the voice of God. They guide us inspired by divine wisdom. But the angel also serves as a Herald, specifically God’s herald. Heralds in ancient times were the messengers of kings. Angels, a name that means “messenger,” bring to us messages from the King of Kings.
Our Guardian Angel reminds us that God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, dwells within each one of us. God’s law is written on our hearts and expresses itself in our conscience. A conscience that is well formed in the teachings of the Church, is a powerful guide in itself, urging us to always choose good over evil, encouraging us to choose the path of righteousness, and giving us a sense of honor and dignity as children of God.
Heroes learn, mentors teach. And we may have several mentors, in addition to our Guardian Angel, to help us along our way – teachers, friends, loved ones, all those who encourage us to continue on the road to find our true self.
Allies and Gifts
Our mentors may also become our allies, our helpers along the way. Like all of these archetypes, allies may be actual people or they may may be powerful internal forces that come to our aid in the time of a spiritual crisis. Visible or invisible, allies often suggest alternative paths to solve a problem.
Heroes are often given gifts by their mentors, a magic sword, a talisman, or a piece of armor to protect them on their journey. The greatest gift that we can take on our journey, given to us by all of our guardians and mentors, is the gift of faith. The gift of faith is the ability to trust in God, the knowledge that if we listen to God’s promptings in our hearts and are obedient to Him, He will not let us fail.
When we have reached that point in our lives where we feel that something is not right, that we have lost the straightway path and something needs to change, the Herald appears to call us to adventure. But the truth is that our angels are always calling us to discover who God intended for us to be. We finally hear them only when we are ready to listen.
images courtesy of pixabay.com