In the ancient myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, Theseus takes up the challenge to slay a horrible beast. In the shadows of the labyrinth Theseus metaphorically goes through what we would call doing his shadow work.
The myth of the Labyrinth, the Minotaur, and Theseus has parallels with the experience of spiritual awakening, greater personal understanding and in becoming and feeling more whole.
The ancient King Minos of Crete defeated the Athenians in war and demanded that at nine-year intervals seven Athenian boys and seven Athenian girls were to be sent to Crete to be devoured by the Minotaur, a half-man half-bull monster that lived in the Labyrinth (a dark underground matrix of passageways) created by Daedalus.
Theseus, son of Athenian king Aegeus, volunteered to slay the monster to stop the sacrifices and so he took the place of one of the Athenian youths. On his arrival in Crete, Ariadne, King Minos’ daughter, fell in love with Theseus and on the advice of Daedalus gave him a ball of thread so he could find his way out of the Labyrinth. As soon as Theseus entered the Labyrinth, he tied one end of the ball of string to the door post and brandished his sword which he had kept hidden from the guards inside his tunic.
Theseus came to the heart of the Labyrinth and also upon the sleeping Minotaur. The beast awoke and a tremendous fight ensued. Theseus overpowered the Minotaur with his strength and stabbed the beast in the throat with his sword. After decapitating the beast, Theseus used the string to escape the Labyrinth and managed to escape Crete with all of the young Athenians and Ariadne. 1
Taking a closer look at this myth and its relationship to personal Thesian challenges reveals what will help us through the labyrinth of the psyche’s dark passageways and overcome the monster of our fear and pain. (more…)