The World Myth

The Hero

What is the significance of the Underworld descent?

The descent into the Underworld is a metaphor for what has been called the “night journey of the soul.” It speaks to the need of individuals to descend into the self to face the demons and other dangers that lie there. The world hero on the descent is the germinating seed in the great mother. Having spent the allotted time in the depths, the hero can return as the one who has broken through the barriers that stand in the way of growth and self-knowledge.

The returning hero, like Jesus, the revived Osiris, or Arthur as the “once and future king,” is our symbol of hope.

A hellish vision of the Underworld by seventeenth-century artist Jan Brueghel the Elder.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Mythology Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App