{August 7, 2012}   Scar and the Hero’s Journey

The “Lion King” was my son’s first movie. He was three years old when we bought him the video and he watched it over and over–at least three times a day for about a year. Every morning before my first cup of coffee, I heard the call of the wild as zebras, elephants and giraffes bowed down to good king Mufasa, King of Pride Rock.

Today, my son is moving  into his college apartment, so to celebrate, we watched “The Lion King” again for the first time since he was four years old. I’d forgotten how the story rang true as a tale of the archetypal Hero’s Journey that Joseph Campbell wrote about.


The journey starts when the hero is first given notice that everything is going to change. After he accepts the challenge and starts the adventure, there are tests, tasks, and ordeals that the person must undergo. Often, this leads to the lowest point in the hero’s life. Once he/she passes this phase, there is a transformation or insight that leads to achievement of the goal. The previous steps serve to prepare and purify the hero for this achievement. Lastly, there is the return, which the hero may refuse at first. After all, the hero has achieved his goal–why return to the place where he started? The whole point of the return is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom, and figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world.

Along every hero’s journey, as told in the Lion King, there will be a “Scar”. This is a person who symbolizes the test, and devises the ordeal the hero must suffer in the struggle for freedom or justice or self knowledge–whatever the goal.

Sometimes Scar is a former friend. Sometimes Scar is a family member who betrays the hero’s trust. Whomever the Scar is in your life, it will take courage to struggle against them.  But in the end, just as it is in Simba’s story, the struggle is worth the effort when the kingdom is finally restored.



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