The World Myth

The Hero

What is the overall significance of the heroic quest?

The heroic quest is finally significant insofar as it reflects our lives. If it has nothing to do with us, it is mere fantasy. In many cases the hero searches for something lost or for something his culture associates with its identity. The Holy Grail sought by Arthur’s knights is at the religious center of the culture Arthur represents. For us it is a symbol of whatever we need to find to know ourselves and to achieve wholeness, freedom from our demons. The difficult trials that face the hero—and us, metaphorically—represent the powerful guardians at each threshold that stand between us and progress—the giants, the femmes fatales, the evil kings. But the hero returns with something learned. Inanna returns from the Underworld with a fuller knowledge of the whole world she rules rather than just the positive side of it. Wanjiru, Hainuwele, Jesus, and Osiris return as sources for material or spiritual food for their people. Osiris returns as grain, Hainuwele as vegetables, Corn Mother as corn. These are all versions of the boon or great gift that the world hero brings on the quest.


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