In addition to all the negative figures the hero and his companions meet on the journey, they also, as we have seen, encounter some difficult figures, the ‘helpers’who give them positive assistance, ranging from periods of respite to crucial guidance. And among these two very important figures predominate, who are to be met with in countless guises, not just in Quest stories but throughout literature.
We have already begun to meet them in the characters of the old seers Teiresias and Anchises on the one hand, and that of the Sibylline priestess on the other. These are the figures of a benevolent, usually wise old man and a beautiful young (though often mysteriously ageless) woman.
At the most basic level, the old man and the young woman may simply provide hospitality, rest, food, nursing care and other material assistance, as Odysseus receives from the kindly King Alcinous and his daughter, the Princess nausicaa, when he is washed up exhausted on their island, after being shipwrecked. A similar pair appear to help Allan Quatermain and his friends when they arrive in the lost land of Solomon: the old man INfadoo who warns them of many dangers and the beautiful Foulata.
In fact the ‘old man’ and the ‘young woman’ are of ever greater significance to the hero the nearer they come to being invested with supernatural powers. Their role is not so much to intervene in the action as to act as guides and advisers, drawing on supernatural wisdom and prescience. Perhaps the supreme example of such a pair of guides in literature are the venerable sage Virgil and beautiful Beatrice who lead Dante on his journey up to Paradise in the Divine Comedy.
In the stories we are considering here, the supreme example of a ‘wise old man’must be the mysterious figure who from start to finish guides the Jews on their hazardous journey to the promised land, the ‘Ancient of Days’, Jahweh himself. Not only does he appear to Moses at crucial moments of the story to reprimand, advise and warn him, but he gives many ‘signs’ to the Jews that they are on the right path, such as the miraculous ‘pillar of fire’ which leads them on through the trackless wilderness. It is no accident that in all attempts which have been made by artists or film-makers to personify this figure (as in paintings showing the handing down of the tablets of stone to Moses on Sinai), he is always represented as an immensely patriarchal, bearded, wise old man.
The outstanding example of a young but ageless feminine figure is she who assists Odysseus, the ‘flashing – eyed goddess of wisdom’ Athene, ‘tall, beautiful and accomplished’, who watches over and guides her protege through every peril, and fights for his cause in the counsels of the gods against the hero’s chief opponent, the vengeful Poseidon (a similar though less intimate role is played for Aneneas by Venus, the goddess of love).
In the Quest for the Grail, the part of the ‘wise old man’ is played by the succession of hermits and holy men, whose chief role is to interpret to the heroes the meaning of the great tests and ordeals they have just undergone, and to give warnings for the future. Similarly, at various points in the story, mysterious young women of unblemished virtue appear to guide the heroes on their way – particularly important being the beautiful maiden who at last appears to summon the three supreme heroes, Galahad, Percival and Bors, onto the ship which will take them over the sea to begin the closing stages of the Quest.
In modern storytelling there is no more memorable an example of these archetypal figures than the two who play such a crucial role in guiding Frodo on his mighty quest in The Lord of the Rings, the all seeing old wizard Gandalf and his ally, the beautiful, ethereal, visionary queen Galadriel.
What Can I Expect?
Here’s an outline of “The Seven Stories of Your Life itinerary.
PART I THE SEVEN GREAT STORIES OF YOUR LIFE
- Why Do We Need Stories?
- The Basic Stories
- Once Upon A Time
- Overcoming the Monster
- The Essence of the Monster
- The Purpose of the Monster
- Not Completely Human
- The Thrilling Escape from Death
- Rags to Riches
- The Dark Figures
- The Central Crisis
- The Dark Version
- Rags to Riches: Summing Up
- The Quest
- The Call to Adventure
- The Hero’s Companions
- The Journey
- The Trials
- Visit to the Underworld
- The Helpers
- Voyage and Return
The Dark Power: From Shadow into Light
PART II THE COMPLETE HAPPY ENDING
- The Twelve Dark Characters
- In the Zone
- The Perfect Balance
- The Unrealized Value
- The Drama
- The Twelve Light Characters
- Reaching the Goal
- The Fatal Flaw
PART III MISSING THE MARK
- The Ego Takes Over
- Losing Your Plot
- Going Nowhere
- Why Sex and Violence?
- Rebellion Against ‘The One’
- The Mystery
PART IV WHY WE TELL STORIES
- Telling Us Who We Are: Ego versus Instinct
- Into the Real World: What Legend are You Living?
- Of Gods and Men: Finding Your Authentic Story
- The Age of Loki: The Dismantling of the Self
Epilogue: What is Your Story?
About Peter de Kuster
Peter de Kuster is the founder of The Heroine’ s Journey & The Hero’s Journey
Peter is founder of the Heroine’s Journey and Hero’s Journey project where worldwide thousands of professionals shared their story of making money doing what you love. He wrote 50+ books. Peter has an MBA in Marketing, MBA in Financial Economics and graduated at university in Sociology and Communication Sciences.
You can contact Peter at email@example.com