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The Heroine’s Journey
Through Myth and Memoir
A Writing Workshop for Women

Maureen Murdock

September 9-12, 2021
Hotel Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico

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.

Most of us spend our lifetime trying to tease meaning out of the circumstances of our lives. We search for meaning as we tell the story about how and where we grew up, who our parents were, how the significant people in our lives influenced us, what challenges and obstacles we faced, and how we dealt with triumphs and failure. 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 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.

In an atmosphere of friendship, support, and safety, the workshop will include the elements of memoir writing, writing exercises, excerpts from published memoirs, time to write alone as well as in the group, and ritual work.  Please bring a picture of your mother or an object she has given you. All participants will receive a complimentary copy of The Heroine’s Journey Workbook.

Maureen Murdock, Ph.D. is the author of the best-selling book, The Heroine’s Journey: Woman’s Quest for Wholeness, which explores the rich territory of the feminine psyche. This groundbreaking book has been translated into 15 languages, including Farsi and Turkish, and has been chosen as a Luminary book club edition. A documentary entitled “The Heroine’s Journey” is being made about the impact of her work on Australian women. She was Chair and Core Faculty of the Counseling Psychology Program at Pacifica Graduate Institute and teaches memoir in Pacifica’s program “Writing Down the Soul”. She taught memoir writing in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program for 30 years and was named Outstanding Creative Writing Teacher of the Year in 1995. Murdock is also author of Unreliable Truth: On Memoir and MemoryFathers’ Daughters: Breaking the Ties that BindSpinning Inward: Using Guided Imagery with Children; and The Heroine’s Journey Workbook. She is the editor of an anthology entitled Monday Morning Memoirs: Women in the Second Half of Lifeand has published a memoir, Blinded by Hope, under a pseudonym. Murdock volunteers for the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) with inmates at Lompoc Federal Prison. You can find her blog about mental illness, addiction, and the criminal justice system on her website at www.maureenmurdock.com and follow her on Instagram at murdockmaureen.

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