Skellig part 2 of (I think) 3


Today I’ll continue to outline the hero’s journey through Skellig, and next post I’ll look at the bird-man to try to find what he represents in the story.

The baby goes back into the hospital. Mina shows Michael the old house she owns, and the owls in the upstairs room. This is a gift from an Ally and Mentor, and we know it will be needed. Mina and Michael trade gifts of knowledge and secrets, cementing their friendship, and Michael is ready to show Mina the man in the garage. He tells the man, “She’ll know how to help you.” The next day Mina gives Michael a Mentor‘s gift; she teaches him to listen. He will use this gift to hear the heartbeat of his sister and carry it with him. She teaches him that the lightness of a bird’s hollow bones. In the hospital, Michael makes Allies, deals with a Threshold Guardian and gains knowledge of how to help arthritis.


Michael takes Mina to meet the winged man, and the direction of the story changes. It’s now clear that the winged man is not a menace and that he will not starve. Michael is addressing his arthritis with aspirin and cod liver oil, as he learned in the hospital. The major threat to the winged man is the dilapidated condition of the garage, and we know about the old house that Mina owns, so we can foresee the move. The two interacting stories become the relationship between Mina and Michael and the threat of the baby sister dying, played out against the background of the winged man. Mina and Michael are Approaching the Inmost Cave.

Michael’s dreams make clear the relationship between the bird-man and his baby sister. Michael and Mina take the bird-man past the DANGER sign and into Mina’s old house. Mina is given the gift: “My name is Skellig.” Skellig is in a safe place, and Michael feels the baby’s heartbeat beside his own, and concentrates on keeping the baby safe. Michael has ignored the real world, and it will not be ignored.

Leakey and Coot have been Michael’s friends in the Ordinary World, but they cannot see his journey, only that he is not with them. They tease Mina and Michael.  Coot and Michael fight, pushing against the garage and knocking it partially down. Coot offers the fact that his father is a builder. Mina and Michael fight. Michael is alone, and unsure even of whether he’ll be able to see Skellig again.

But Michael does go to meet Mina that night and she is waiting for him. Their friendship passes the Test, as the owls look on. They enter the house and find that Skellig has gone up to the top floor, the first time he has moved independently in the book. The owls are feeding him. He takes Michael’s hand and Mina’s hand and they stand in a circle. He steps sideways, moving all three in a circle. Michael is scared, but Mina encourages him. This is the Ordeal, a transformation in which Michael and Mina are reborn to a new life. They have wings, which lift them off the floor. Their hearts beat in tandem with Skellig’s and with each other.

The curtain opens on Act III. On the Road Back, Michael must face Dr. Death and return to school to face Leakey and Coot. He is able to turn his Threshold Guardians to Allies because of the transformation he has undergone with the Ordeal, but the baby is still sick, and Michael still carries its heartbeat next to his own. Michael writes and draws freely, using the gifts Mina and Skellig have given him. He has Seized the Sword, and we see part of the Reward. The next day, the doctors operate on the baby’s heart.

Michael and Mina go to see Skellig but he isn’t there. The baby’s heart stops beating in Michael’s chest.


When Michael awakes he can feel his own heart beating, but cannot feel the baby’s. But the baby lives.

Michael’s mother tells of the dream she had the night before of a filthy man in an ancient dusty suit with a great hunch on his back, who had tender eyes. He lifted the baby and looked into her eyes and they spun round and round. And finally, she saw the wings on the baby and the old man. Michael has been Resurrected, and Returned with the Elixer to his family. Skellig leaves, as he must, but not before making a circle once again with Mina and Michael, and thanking them for giving him life.

Skellig resonates in our minds and hearts as truth, as do myths, or myths would not survive. Michael is a mythic hero.

Whew. More next post.


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