This month's God of the Month is Ariadne, an ancient Cretan Moon Goddess connected with rebirth and transformation. Ariadne, Who has aspects as both Maiden and Mother, figures prominently in the legend of the Labyrinth.
The legend of the Labyrinth comes from Classical Greece, but has its origins far back in history, as the ancient paleolithic carvings of Labyrinth designs suggest. It is believed that the first Labyrinths were the subterranean caves that the ancients used for worship, and at times for shelter.
Nearly everyone knows the story, and of the Minotaur within it. But the legend has many levels of interpretation which are less commonly known.
It is said that King Minos of Crete had a son who was half man and half beast. This was the Minotaur, or "Minos Bull." To contain this monstrous son the King had his architecht Daedalus build a maze, called the Labyrinth, or "House of the Double Axe." Minos ruled a great empire, and from the cities under his control he demanded a tribute of young people, who were sent into the Labyrinth. Once inside the maze, the young people could not find their way out, and would be consumed by the Minotaur.
From the city of Thebes Minos demanded seven young men and seven young young women each year, who were fed to the Minotaur in this manner. Considering this intolerable, Theseus, Prince of Thebes, volunteered to be one of the young men -secretly vowing to kill the Minotaur and end this awful practice.
Delivered to Crete with the other youths and maidens to be sent into the Labyrinth, Theseus attracted the attention of Minos' daughter, the Princess Ariadne. Having fallen in love with Theseus, Ariadne formed a plan to help him escape the Labyrinth. Ariadne gave Theseus a ball of thread, instructing him to unwind it as he entered the Labyrinth, so that he could follow the thread back out after he had killed the Minotaur.
Theseus did as Ariadne had told him. When the time came for him to be put into the Labyrinth, he took the ball of thread with him, unwinding it as he went. He went deep into the Labyrinth, twisting and turning along the paths of the maze, until he had no idea how he had come, except for the trail of thread.
At the very heart of the Labyrinth Theseus met the Minotaur. The beast attacked and they fought. The fight was long and hard, but after much effort the Minotaur was defeated.
Then Theseus followed the trail of thread back out of the Labyrinth to find Ariadne waiting for him.
What does this mean?
There are of course several levels of interpretation to this myth, which speaks of the triumph of Spring over Winter, Life over Death, Spirit over Matter. But for the purposes of this lesson, let us point out that at its heart it is the story of Involution and Evolution, which is mirrored in each of these different things.
As Theseus goes into the Labyrinth he is going through Involution. That is to say, he comes from the outside world of light and life, into a narrow passage in complete darkness that winds in a disorienting manner, forcing him to look inside and focus very narrowly, since all external stimuli are removed. In this way his attention can only go to those inner issues which require it, as there is nothing else to focus on.
It is even so when the soul enters the world of matter. The veil of the physical world removes all other influences, forcing the soul to deal with the lessons before it. The soul is forced into a completely focused mode that allows no distraction. This is the Dark Half of the journey.
Fighting and defeating the Minotaur represents the nadir of this process. The rock bottom we must hit before the spiral back upward can start. When this point is hit, and its lessons accomplished, Evolution can begin.
Now we can spiral back outward, reuniting with all of creation. To do this we follow the thread of Ariadne, the Cord which has never ceased to connect us to Deity throughout our physical adventure. This is the Light Half of the journey.
In this way the myth of the Labyrinth speaks to the very nature of Life itself.
Ariadne then is the Goddess Who sends Theseus (the soul) into the Labyrinth (the physical world). Though the soul may feel alone during the journey, it is in fact always connected to the Goddess even as Theseus was connected to Ariadne by the trail of thread.
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