To Infinity... And Beyond! Who knew it had road access?
The ultimate boon is the last step before the return, and the hero's achievement of the goal of their quest. All previous steps, from the call to adventure to the road of trials straight on through to atonement have prepared and purified the hero-in-the-making for this ultimate step.
Prof. Joseph Campbell: "What the hero seeks through his intercourse with them is therefore not finally themselves, but their grace, i.e., the power of their sustaining substance. This miraculous energy-substance and this alone is the Imperishable; the names and forms of the deities who everywhere embody, dispense, and represent it come and go. This is the miraculous energy of the thunderbolts of Zeus, Yahweh, and the Supreme Buddha, the fertility of the rain of Viracocha, the virtue announced by the bell rung in the Mass at the consecration, and the light of the ultimate illumination of the saint and sage. Its guardians dare release it only to the duly proven."
The boon is often represented in myths as food, drink, or fire with magical powers or that’s never finished and always renews itself. However, the real prize the hero wins at this stage is the knowledge of their indestructibility. The boon is the hero's new certainty that material existence covers up something eternal that can’t be understood through language, time, or space. That enlightenment removes the cover and makes what was separate united.
Professor Campbell describes the hero overcoming the obstacles of the journey as them piercing through to the source of all life, even that which gives the gods life. As the hero crosses threshold after threshold, conquering trial after trial, their mind breaks through the bounding sphere of the material, temporal cosmos to a realization transcending all experiences of form.
Sometimes the hero’s tests give him easy access to the boon, but at other times, it’s fiercely guarded and has to be won through courage or trickery. However, apotheosis has already happened, so the test isn’t difficult for him to pass. He’s reached such a high state of consciousness that the boon is essentially knowledge remembered, not knowledge discovered for the first time.
Like the hero in myths, we may need to pass one final, definitive test to get the boon. When going for a college degree, we literally have to pass the final test before we get the boon.. An abuse survivor may be years out of the abusive relationship before the fragment of the unabused one is integrated. They may still have blocks and fears to trusting in their new state of wholeness that delay inner peace, but they will never again succumb to an abuser.
Myths invite us to move beyond what’s depicted, beyond the rational mind, and even beyond emotion to experience that which is indestructible. The gods and goddesses do not represent this indestructibility themselves and should therefore not be worshiped as if they did. Reading about them and understanding what’s going on in their myths symbolically produces a kind of visceral experience of the indestructible life that we can only sense when we move beyond thought and feeling.