Groundhog Day: A Study in Reincarnation

by David Nova [from Deus Nexus, 22 Feb 2013]

Recently, I’ve read any number of film analysis revealing hidden, negative messages. For a change, I thought I’d do an analysis of a film that portrays a positive spiritual message. When dealing with the negative, you have to dig for hidden occult symbolism. With the positive, the message just naturally rises to the surface, speaking to your intuition.

One of my favorite comedies is a wonderful, unappreciated little film called “Groundhog Day.” With every viewing I’ve picked up some new insight or inspiration. It’s the perfect film to re-watch when you’re feeling down on life and need a little inspiration to get up and go on. However, there are hidden depths to this film that are spiritually insightful, and quite possibly constitute a graduate level course in the process of Reincarnation, culminating in Ascension.

I can make no claim that the film’s creators intended this message, only that this message emerges by Synchronicity. For those unfamiliar with the plot, Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, a cynical and egocentric television weatherman who absolutely hates his job. This is one of Bill Murray’s best roles, a jaded character he seems to play different shades of in so many of his films.

As the film opens, Phil is tasked with a particularly hated assignment, covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney. The hook – Phil wakes up the next day to find himself in a “Time Loop,” repeating the same horrible Groundhog day over and over again. After indulging in bouts of pure hedonism and numerous suicide attempts, Phil finally begins to reexamine his life and change his priorities. On the surface, it’s a nice little story about personal redemption.

The Time Loop is a science fiction plot device that has been used in countless films and television shows, such as The Twilight Zone, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer. However, this 1993 film perfected the comedic plot device as a catalyst for personal transformation, giving it an almost spiritual resonance. Seen on another level, the Time Loop is a metaphor for Reincarnation.

Every morning that Phil wakes up in the same drab place, repeating the same drab day, over and over again – this is simply the process of the soul repeating incarnations in a physical, third density existence in an attempt to balance Karma and reclaim its own divinity. Each repeated day (or rather lifetime) represents a different approach of the ego toward its environment, as the soul evolves over many lifetimes to better understand and accept its situation – inside a temporal prison from which it doesn’t know how to escape.

If you watch the film, pay close attention to the psychological evolution that Phil undergoes through the course of the movie, the various life stages he goes through. At first he is comically befuddled, perhaps as new souls are unconsciously befuddled, repeating the first few incarnations.

When Phil finally accepts that the phenomenon is actually happening, he decides to use it to his advantage, indulging his base urges and vices – seducing beautiful women, stealing money, driving drunk, and leading the police on a chase, all without any apparent consequences. Yet, his attempts to seduce his producer, Rita, played by the lovely Andie MacDowell, are met with failure after failure. Phil’s soul is well ensconced in the pleasures and limitations of third density life.

Soon Phil begins to tire of his meaningless existence, smashing the alarm clock each morning, sabotaging his Groundhog Day newscast. In a vain attempt to break the Time Loop, he kidnaps the groundhog and evades a police pursuit, only to drive a stolen truck over a cliff and die in a fiery explosion. Yet he still wakes up the next morning.

His soul has spiraled down to its lowest point, as he commits suicide many more times, by electrocuting himself, getting hit by a truck, or jumping from a tall building. How many souls in human history have likewise repeated the cycle of violent death, time after time, forgoing hope, because they were stuck in some personal black hole?

Eventually, Phil tires of death and seeks something more meaningful. He attempts to seduce Rita by learning as much about her as he can, trying to manipulate her into falling in love with him. And of course this tactic fails. The ego tries to barter and scheme for love, playing ego games, yet fails to experience what love truly is. In this instance, the soul has advanced its intellect over any real emotional growth and fails to find any lasting satisfaction.

Frustrated, Phil decides to reveal his strange circumstances to Rita, that he’s reliving the same day over and over again. Of course, she doesn’t believe him at first. But because Phil has memorized every little detail in his day, he is able to predict the future with stunning accuracy, and seemingly read the minds of the Punxsutawney townspeople, as well as Rita herself. In this instance, the incarnating soul seems to have advanced spiritually, using secret knowledge and magical practices. Likewise, such an awakened individual, whose soul actually resides outside of space and time, has learned how to access universal knowledge and thus appears magical to those stuck inside of linear time. Phil has become an occult magician, yet his soul has failed to find any real satisfaction. He’s still stuck in the Time Loop of Reincarnation.

All the progress Phil makes each day is lost, Rita forgets everything he tells her, and thus he has to start all over again. This is the tragic lot of the Gnostic Magician, or the Egyptian Pharaoh, trying to Ascend the physical plane by use of the occult. He gains many party tricks, but he’s still stuck in the Loop. Though romance seems to be an impossibility, Phil and Rita eventually develop a closer bond and friendship across the Loop – perhaps because Phil’s own perspective has suddenly shifted from “Service to Self” toward “Service to Others.” She provides him some helpful advice – to make the most of himself every single day.

Phil’s repetitive life begins to find purpose. He takes piano lessons and ice sculpture, and soon becomes a virtuoso. He becomes the benefactor of the town folk. After seeing a homeless man die, Phil vows that no one will die on his watch and thus repeats several heroic rescues each and every day, performing the Heimlich Maneuver on a choking man, saving a little boy who falls from a tree. It doesn’t matter that the act itself is meaningless – that these people will be alive again the next day – what matters is that by performing them, Phil is transforming his inner consciousness. This is an amazingly complex spiritual lesson.

But for all his perceived super powers, Phil is still unable to save the homeless man. He becomes despondent again. A hospital nurse tries to console him, saying, “it was just his time.” What we see is that even performing a multitude of good deeds is not enough to break the cycle of Reincarnation. In some ways it is just another ego performance, thus partially ingenuous, though it might come from the right place. Perhaps the definition of a Saint is not in the deeds, but in how one authentically lived one’s life to the fullest potential. Despite his own super powers, which seem to bypass natural law, he cannot change the laws of nature. Everyman has “his time,” and Phil has yet to reach “his time.”

Eventually, Phil Connors finally embraces himself and his situation with unconditional love, enhancing his own life and the lives of all those around him. Phil becomes self-actualized and is beloved in the town of Punxsutawney, able to befriend everyone he meets, even the annoying insurance salesman on the street corner. He delivers a report at the Groundhog Day celebration so eloquent that all the other stations turn their microphones toward him. And to her surprise, Rita falls immediately in love with him, perhaps as if she had known him all along, from a past life. They spend the evening together, and Phil wakes up to find that she’s still there the next morning. The Time Loop has been broken.

One definition of Ascension is a graduation from third density, physical life, breaking free from the repeated cycles of incarnation and karma, stepping into a new consciousness of eternal life as a unified being that spans the memories of many lifetimes, personalities, and experiences. So by that definition, the film “Groundhog Day” seems to represent the Ascension process quite well. Grab some popcorn and enjoy this wonderfully enlightening little film.

About the Author

David Nova is the author of the metaphysical fiction series “Season of the Serpent.”  He is a truth-seeker, a Wanderer, a blogger, and was the moderator of Deus Nexus: Messages For An Entangled Universe.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.


  1. It’s my favourite movie, too.
    Aren’t we all living in a time loop?
    What puzzles me is why people seem to “wait” for ascension to happen outside of them … wrong.
    Nice review.



    1. I think perhaps in a larger context, the entire physical universe is one giant time-loop, the only way it can actually exist in infinite space/time. On a smaller level, the Earth is caught in cycles, Astrological Ages, like a clock.

      Liked by 1 person


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