Mythology · Writing

The Hero’s Journey: Return with the Elixir

The hero has survived all the conflicts, ordeals and battles on the Hero’s Journey and now returns to his Ordinary World changed. He brings with him the hard-won Elixir, which could be an actual object, like treasure, or something like wisdom, freedom, love or knowledge.

The important thing is that his new skills can be used by the community to which he returns, otherwise what was the point of setting out on the journey in the first place.

This is the stage of the story where all the loose ends are tied up, scores are settled, bad guys get their dues. If you’re telling a tragic tale, the hero either dies before they can return or fails to bring anything when they do – they haven’t changed and they don’t learn anything. This is often true in comedies too.

Thor and Odin reunited
Thor and Odin reunited

Thor: Return with the Elixir

As Thor is preparing to return home, saying his farewells to Jane, the Frost Giants are sweeping through Asgard, ice spreading as they kill their way to where Odin lies sleeping. Laufey taunts Odin and prepares to kill him, but Loki, in another about-face, kills Laufey instead.

Thor bursts in and challenges Loki to tell their mother the truth – that he lied. But Loki has other ideas. He opens the Bifrost, leaving it connected in order to destroy Jotunheim. Thor tries to stop him but Loki is determined to prove he is a worthy son by saving Odin’s life and killing the Frost Giants.

Thor tries to reason with him, demonstrating his new hard-won wisdom; he refuses to fight. Loki is enraged, telling Thor he’s gone soft over a woman and maybe he’ll pay Jane a visit himself. As Loki hoped, this is enough to get Thor riled and he starts to fight. Loki uses every trick to fool Thor but it’s not enough, and finally Thor places Mjolnir on Loki’s chest preventing him from getting up from the Rainbow Bridge.

By now the Bifrost is threatening to rip Jotunheim apart and Thor desperately tries to stop it but can’t get close. He takes back his hammer and starts to pound away at the Rainbow Bridge. If he can smash it, the Bifrost will stop but there’s a price. With the Rainbow Bridge destroyed he’ll never see Jane again.

The Bridge splinters and crumbles and the Bifrost is destroyed. Thor and Loki fall but are caught by Odin, who has revived from his sleep. Realising he has failed his father, Loki lets go and falls.

Meanwhile back on Earth, Jane waits at the Bifrost landing site for Thor’s return. When the Rainbow Bridge is broken, she realises the connection has gone.

In Asgard the gods are feasting and telling tales. Odin tells Thor he will make a wise king. Thor now understands there was a purpose behind everything his father did, and recognises he has a lot to learn. Someday, he says, he will make Odin proud. Odin says (yes, you’ve guessed it) he already is.

Back on Earth, Jane is continuing her research, looking for a way to reconnect with Asgard and find her way back to Thor.

Thor has successfully completed his Hero’s Journey, transforming himself from an impetuous, pompous ass to a thoughtful, wise king in the making. He understands himself and his world. He is a true Hero.

If you enjoyed this series, you may like The Heroine’s Journey with Jane Eyre