The Rebirth of the Hero: Mythology as a Guide to Spiritual Transformation

The Rebirth of the Hero: Mythology as a Guide to Spiritual Transformation

ISBN: 9781908995056
March 2013
RRP: £17.95
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About the Book

The portrayal of the hero in classical myths and modern films continues to exert a compelling influence on the collective imagination, entertaining and inspiring audiences the world over. On a deeper level, the myth of the hero’s adventure is recognized as a fundamental pattern of human experience itself, a symbolic expression of the individual’s struggle for greater consciousness, psychological wholeness, and spiritual realization.

In The Rebirth of the Hero, Keiron Le Grice draws on the ideas and life experiences of C. G. Jung, Joseph Campbell, and Friedrich Nietzsche to explore the spiritual journey of the modern self, from existential crisis and the “awakening of the self” to the dramatic encounter with the underworld of the psyche and the arduous labor of spiritual transformation. In a work of wide-ranging scope and penetrating insight, Le Grice analyzes scenes from a number of popular films—Jason and the Argonauts, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Pan’s Labyrinth, and more—to illuminate the themes and stages of psychospiritual rebirth and individuation, helping to make the deepest of transformative experiences more readily accessible and intelligible to us all.

Drawing interchangeably on classical Greek myths, Christianity, alchemy, Romanticism, and depth psychology, the author also relates the individual’s personal journey of transformation to the relationship in Western civilization between spirit and nature, reason and instinct, and masculine and feminine. In so doing, The Rebirth of the Hero demonstrates the critical significance of the archetypal pattern of the hero not only for the individual, but also for cultural renewal and the wider spiritual transformation of our time.


“In this much-needed accessible navigation of the hero’s journey, Le Grice gathers dynamic sources––C. G. Jung, Joseph Campbell, and Friedrich Nietzsche––to provide a fresh perspective on the evolution of consciousness and psychospiritual transformation. Exploring the often-avoided subject of death and rebirth experiences from a non-pathological view, he makes an outstanding contribution in offering a freshly-laid path for the individuation process. Most importantly, he invites us to renew the value of myth, which, in turn, transforms the individual, culture, and the heartbeat of the earth.”

Kathryn Madden, Ph.D.,

Editor-in-Chief, Quadrant: The Journal of the C. G. Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology, and author of Dark Light of the Soul.


“It is a great gift when a scholar has the ability to synthesize ideas from several deep thinkers and multiple disciplines, and then write with a clarity and directness that renders those ideas accessible to a wide readership. It is an even greater gift when that author has integrated these ideas with his own personal journey, so that what he writes has the emotional authenticity and existential relevance of life lived, not merely books studied. In The Rebirth of the Hero, Keiron Le Grice has brought those gifts to his readers in a way that many will find of immense value as they pursue the spiritual adventure of our age.”

Richard Tarnas, author of The Passion of the Western Mind and Cosmos and Psyche.




About the Author

Keiron Le Grice, Ph.D., is a guest lecturer in Jungian and Archetypal Studies at the Pacifica Graduate Institute, California, and adjunct faculty in the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He is the author of The Archetypal Cosmos and Discovering Eris, and the founding editor of Archai: The Journal of Archetypal Cosmology. Keiron was educated at the University of Leeds (B.A. honors Philosophy and Psychology) and the California Institute of Integral Studies (M.A. and Ph.D. Philosophy and Religion). In 2006, he was awarded the inaugural Joseph Campbell Research Grant from the Opus Archives at Pacifica Graduate Institute (in association with the Joseph Campbell Foundation) for furthering the work of Campbell, C. G. Jung, and James Hillman. Keiron currently lives in Wales with his wife and son.


Complete Table of Contents

Table of Figures



PART ONE:  The Context


1. Joseph Campbell and the Place of Mythology in Modern Culture

Approaching Myths

Definitions of Myth

Christianity and Science

The Enlightenment and Romantic Views of Myth

Romanticism and Depth Psychology

The Functions of Myth

Religion, Spirituality, and Belief


2. Mythology: East and West

Distinctions Between Eastern and Western Mythology

Mythic Dissociation

The Withdrawal of the Gods

Myth and Monotheism: The Emergence of Linear Time

The Psychological Significance of Christianity

Evolution and the Ego


3. The Death of God and the Übermensch

Disenchantment and the Death of God

The Will to Power and the Übermensch

Nihilism and Mythology

Depth Psychology and the Archetypal Hero

The Coming Together of East and West, Ancient and Modern


4. Creative Mythology and Individuation

The Creative Artist and Modern Myths

The Three Metamorphoses of the Spirit


PART TWO:  The Journey


5. The Hero’s Adventure: Call and Refusal

The Wasteland and the Renewal of Civilization

The Mythic Model of the Hero’s Journey

A Note on Gender

The Beginning of the Journey

The Call to Adventure

Call as Spiritual Awakening

Further Varieties of the Call

The Actualization of Destiny

The Refusal of the Call

Existentialism, Sin, and the Dark Side

State Power, the Herd, and Mechanical Man


6. Across the Threshold and Through the Opposites

Supernatural Aid

The Guardian of the Threshold

The Point of No Return

The Belly of the Whale

Passing Through the Opposites  


7. Dual Threats: The Empire of the Ego and the Beast Within

Initiation and Transformation: Overcoming the Ego

The Double Bind of Consciousness

The Relationship Between the Ego and the Unconscious

Romanticism and the East

The Descent into the Underworld

Alchemy and the Nigredo

Transformation and Purification in Alchemy

The Test of Power

The Inner Child


8. The Encounter with the Goddess and the Sacred Marriage

The Goddess as Great Mother

The Evolution of the Archetypal Feminine

Anima as Temptress

Paradise Found?

Personal and Transpersonal

Atonement with the Father

Apotheosis, Wholeness, and the Hieros Gamos


9. The Return Journey: The World Transformed

The Path of the Return

Crossing the Return Threshold

Communication: Sharing the Boon

Hospitality to the Gods

Freedom and the Transcendence of Self-will

The Re-enchantment of the World 










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