HELP!Deus ex Machina? Rescue from Without!
In some tellings of the monomyth, that core of archetypes that so many of the world's stories and myths share, the hero, after apotheosis and the magic flight, may require the outside world to pull them back from the world of adventure. This step is not necessarily present in all versions of the tale, but if the hero has been wounded or weakened by their experience, it is often necessary.
Prof. Joseph Campbell: "For the bliss of the deep abode is not lightly abandoned in favor of the self-scattering of the wakened state. 'Who having cast off the world,' we read, 'would desire to return again? He would be only there.' And yet, in so far as one is alive, life will call. Society is jealous of those who remain away from it, and will come knocking at the door. If the hero. . . is unwilling, the disturber suffers an ugly shock; but on the other hand, if the summoned one is only delayed—sealed in by the beatitude of the state of perfect being (which resembles death)—an apparent rescue is effected, and the adventurer returns."
In many stories, rescue is a major theme. An audience enjoys hearing about a hero’s family, friends, or others going after them and having their own adventures along the way. Supernatural helpers are often involved in myths, too, because the world from which the hero must be rescued operates under other rules, rules that their contacts in the real world cannot always understand.
In comparing the Hero’s Journey to the process of personal change, remember that “rescues” happen in the real world all the time. Once a hero has gone through change and gained wisdom, they may not think of themselves as having received a boon. So it is with people who have undertaken intense work on their Self. It isn't until someone else connects them with a fellow sufferer and they share something of their journey that they realize they have something to give that others need.
The outside forces, natural or supernatural, may recognize the worth of the hero's boon more clearly than the hero themselves, and may rescue the hero by bypassing their reluctance to return. Those who push or pull the hero to return with their boon help the hero see beyond the boundaries of our personal triumph. The point is that by nudging each other to share our wisdom or boon, we spread it around. Just as important as the hero are those who enable and encourage them.
At this point in the momomyth, the most "heroic" act comes not from the hero, but his or her friends and family, or even their environment, i.e. the natural world. The boon the hero has won is recognized by the whole of the universe as virtuous, and at this point the universe itself, and all of the forces of unity conspire together to ensure that the much-needed knowledge the hero has attained not only for themselves, but for eternity, are passed on to the rest of existence.