At the end of the stereotypical western, the hero rides off into the sunset. The town is now safe from the desperadoes, and there are other wrongs elsewhere that need righting.
The arc of the Virgin's Promise never ends this way. As much as it seems to be the story of the Virgin coming into her own as an individual and making a place for herself in her community, it is also a story about the way in which the Virgin heals her community. The hero averts an external threat and his job is done when the village is once again safe. The Virgin had to undergo her transformation because of forces internal to the community and she hasn't addressed the real problem if she simply walks away. Even though her personal development culminates in the previous beat, Chooses Her Light, the story of her community isn't over until it passes through the Re-ordering (Rescue) phase.
Kim Hudson* defines the Re-ordering (Rescue):
"The Virgin has moved from secretly claiming some personal authority to being authentic in all parts of her life. ... the Virgin has challenged her kingdom to accept she has her own vision for her life. This is The Re-ordering.The community that dismissed, vilified, or banished the Virgin in an attempt to make her conform to the Dependent World now acknowledges her value--that she has more to offer when she Chooses Her Light than she would by conforming to the expectations of her Dependent World. This is not simply a grudging admission that the Virgin many have had a point. "The obstacle," says Hudson, "established in the Dependent-World, that kept the Virgin from living her dream, must be addressed in the Re-ordering."
"A good Re-ordering, from the feminine perspective has two elements: it recognizes the Virgin's true value when she is fulfilling her dream; and it reconnects the Virgin with a community."
The process reconnecting the Virgin with her kingdom is not a trivial one.
"The Virgin has brought chaos to the kingdom and now it is time to put the kingdom back together again. This may happen through love, where the Tyrant grows into the Lover/King. Alternatively, the actions of the Hero may eliminate the evil force, to the benefit of all."If the evil force resists the re-ordering, particularly if it focuses on the Virgin as its primary antagonist, she may be in danger of being destroyed.
".... This is when the Re-ordering is also known as the Rescue. It is not the nature of the Virgin to assert her will over the will of others. She inspires others to change out of love or a drive towards joy. The Hero, on the other hand, does assert his will against evil. When the Dependent World of the Virgin includes an oppressive force that the kingdom needs to be free of, the Hero takes on the task of eliminating it, inspired by the Virgin.It is critical that the Re-ordering (rescue) recognizes the Virgin's worth and reconnects her with her community. A rescue that accomplished only one of those aims is a false one. Reconnecting the Virgin with her community without recognizing her worth is nothing more than capitulating to her Dependent World. A rescue that recognizes her worth but places her in another community simply replaces her old Dependent World with a new one. Stories often tempt the Virgin with false rescues, but thanks to her transformation, she now sees them for what they are.
Seeing things for what they are is also critical to our development as writers. We start with dreams that are the literary equivalent of the girl in the chorus line who catches the producer's eye and is whisked away to stardom. Granted, our dreams have more to do with an agent getting us a great deal and an editor getting us award-winning prose, and sales people putting us on the bestsellers list.
Notice, though, how passive the object of all the attention is in these dreams. Like the arc of the Virgin's promise and its fundamental message that in order to establish yourself as an individual who has a valued place in the community, you must act and not simply be acted upon. This will mean different things for different writers, but they will all have the general character of doing things for motives that flow from you and not because of externally imposed expectations. For example, you will not write because you hope to catch the next market wave but because you have a story you want to tell.
* Kim Hudson, The Virgin's Promise
Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net