"Every woman has to learn where her true source of validation is."
― From The Heroine's Journey: Woman's Quest for Wholeness
Welcome to my website, which is devoted to memoir writing and the heroine’s journey. My work explores the mysteries of the psyche, a fascination with mythology and a love of story telling and memoir writing. In 1990 I wrote the best selling book The Heroine’s Journey as a response to Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. It was groundbreaking at the time and continues to inspire a new generation of women. A critical stage of The Heroine’s Journey addresses every woman’s yearning to create so my blog will explore memoir writing as a powerful creative expression of each person’s desire to understand their life and the lives of their loved ones. My blog will also explore the public policy issues relating to mental health, addiction and the criminal justice system as they affect our world today. I hope you will also visit my photography gallery Changing Woman: Contemporary Faces of the Goddess where I present portraits and interviews of women whose focus is feminine spirituality.
The Heroine's Journey Anniversary Edition Now Available
In celebration of the 30th anniversary of its original publication, Shambhala Publications is reissuing Maureen’s groundbreaking book, The Heroine’s Journey: Woman’s Quest for Wholeness, as well as The Heroine's Journey Workbook: A Map for Every Woman's Quest. The new edition of the book will include an updated preface from Maureen reflecting on the last 30 years of women’s experiences and a new foreword by Christine Downing, PhD.
The Heroine’s Journey explores the rich territory of the feminine psyche and delineates the psycho-spiritual journey for women. Author Maureen Murdock wrote the book in response to Joseph Campbell’s A Hero with a Thousand Faces when he said to her, “Women don’t need to make the journey. In the whole mythological tradition the woman is there.”
Drawing upon cultural myths and fairy tales, ancient symbols and goddesses, and the dreams of contemporary women, Murdock illustrates the need for—and the reality of—feminine values in Western culture today.
The publication of The Heroine’s Journey touched a nerve in women’s consciousness around the world. It was quickly translated into French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Yugoslavian, Italian and Korean and Farsi. It has been used by screenwriters and novelists alike as a model of the woman’s journey.
On Memoir, an Interview with Maureen Murdock
Some of the best memoirs you can read are those that are reflective, those which are informed by dreams, myth, and synchronicities, maintains Maureen Murdock, a Jungian-oriented psychotherapist and the author of multiple memoirs and books about memoirs. In other words, there’s a depth psychological perspective that can facilitate, enhance, and deepen the telling of one’s story in a profound way. Murdock is co-leading a 9-month certificate program on writing memoir at Pacifica Graduate Institute starting in March 2017, along with Dr. Jennifer Selig and Dr. Daphne Dodson, and with the participation of Kelly Carlin who wrote her own memoir about her famous father, in part as a result of her education with Murdock at Pacifica. In a recent interview, Maureen was asked to expound on what it takes to produce a good memoir.
> Read the interview
View Maureen's extraordinary portraits and interviews with women artists, dancers, activists, and writers whose focus is feminine spirituality.
Poets and Writers Recommendation
I’m honored that Poets and Writers recommended my book Unreliable Truth as one of its “Best Books for Writers.”
“The job of writing memoir is to find one’s truth, not to determine the accuracy of what happened; that is history, a testimony, perhaps even an interesting tale. The memoirist, instead, both recounts an event and makes meaning from it.”
- Maureen Murdock, Unreliable Truth: On Memoir and Memory
The Heroine's Journey Audiobook
The audiobook version of The Heroine's Journey Anniversary Edition in now available, narrated by Laurel Lefkow. Learn more at Shambhala Publications.
“Anything is possible for women as we find our voice, honor our identity, work together for a common goal, and stand unapologetically with our arms wide open to the skies in a stance of pride and acknowledgment of the sacredness of the feminine.” (from the preface to the 30th anniversary edition)
July 22-28, 2022
Endicott College, Beverly, MA
The Heroine’s Journey as a Narrative Structure for Memoir and Myth
Join Maureen Murdock at the International Women's Writing Guild 2022 Conference for this workshop, offered daily on the schedule.
Like Hermes, the archetypal mediator between the realms of heaven, earth and the underworld, the memoirist mediates between time past and time present. Memoirs bring forward an event of the past and re-enact it by giving it form in writing. Myth fuels the psychic desire of humans to understand their origins and therefore their destinies, and contemporary memoirs address some of the same archetypal themes found in ancient myths such as origins, the fall, the parent-child relationship, quest, descent, and return.
The story we tell ourselves and others gives us a sense of identity. It helps us organize our life in a way that gives it meaning and direction. Although not every memoir reflects a mythic theme, most memoir writers unconsciously reveal mythic themes in their desire to find meaning in their lives. Who am I? What is my tribe, my family? Where am I going? How do I make my way? What is my purpose? Both myth and memoir arise from a human need for connection and that is why memoirs are so popular in culture today.
In 1949, Joseph Campbell presented a model of the mythological journey of the hero, which has since been used as a template for the psycho-spiritual development of the individual and a pattern for many screenplays. The mythic pattern we will explore, however, is the journey of the heroine, the quest to heal the deep wound of our feminine nature on a personal, cultural and spiritual level. We will use the stages of The Heroine’s Journey as a framework for our writing to look at the most significant moments in our lives. The journey often entails an initial separation from the mother and feminine values, seeking recognition and success from the metaphorical father, experiencing spiritual aridity and death, and turning inward to reclaim the power and spirit of the sacred feminine. Through memoir exercises and examining excerpts from published memoirs, we will write our own journey.
For more information and registration visit the IWWG website.
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Books by Maureen Murdock
Maureen Murdock’s books have enriched the lives of thousands of people and been translated into over a dozen languages.
“Combining personal experience and painstaking erudition, Maureen Murdock's The Heroine's Journey shares with us the essence of the female journey. A fine, warm, and insightful book.”
—Carol Pearson, author of The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By
"What I love about the 30th Anniversary Edition of Maureen Murdock’s The Heroine’s Journey is that the premise and inquiry the author put forth originally, borne of her own desire for the expression of a woman’s quest rich with story and meaning, still bears fruit for us today. Companioned by a workbook which guides the reader through each of the stages of the Heroine’s Journey, the books provide context and a way to work through writing, ritual, and art making, that brings one toward wholeness. But it is not a straight path. It is not a clear road. It is labyrinthine, there are questions posed which could cause the reader to pause for days, for a week. And there are questions that will set our pens on fire. This paired set of books is an able and deeply provocative guide. The voice is that of the Wise Woman, a Crone to urge us on our journey towards what we all crave: wholeness, connection and integration of our inner and outer lives. Many thanks to Shambala Publications for this special edition of Maureen Murdock’s necessary and illuminating work."
—Suzi Banks Baum, artist, actress, writer, teacher
“Maureen Murdock's important book on the heroine's journey contains a wealth of insight that is of great value to contemporary Western women. It explores a rich territory of the feminine psyche and opens an understanding of female development that relates not only to personal transformation but cultural transformation as well.”
—Joan Halifax, author of Standing at the Edge
“Though the book is rich with examples drawn from myths and Jungian psychology, it is surprisingly easy to read. The journey requires serious, often frightening, wandering before one's true identity and power are known. Like the journey Murdock describes, there are no cheap, easy lessons. There are many rich, rewarding lessons, but these are gained only through integrity, courage, and the willingness to meet challenge with all the resources one can muster.”
“Murdock's personal journey will surely speak to many women, but I hope also to those men willing to hear these newly awakened female voices—and of the feminine in their own souls.”