Theseus and the Minotaur is another mythological teaching that can be interpreted in varied ways. I have to admit that I had written this piece a few weeks ago but lost my draft copy. In writing it again I seem to have posed more questions than answers.
One interpretation could be to see the Labyrinth as representing the subconscious, or unconscious, mind and the Minotaur, our Shadow or dark aspect which has to be overcome.
What is the Minotaur seeking to destroy?
One answer could be Youth.
As a result of a plague sent upon Athens, the Athenians send seven maidens and seven young men, each year, as sacrifice to Minos. This represents the killing of Youth on the orders of an older King; a situation that creates a few thoughts to contemplate.
On the third year of this tribute being paid, Theseus intervenes.
How is the Minotaur defeated?
The hero Theseus is helped by the King’s daughter, Ariadne. The feminine aspect of our psyche is accessed to allow safe passage into and out from the labyrinth of our sub-conscious. The integration of the feminine into the psyche of the male hero allows him to defeat the shadow, the bestial, untamed side of himself, maintaining balance and health between opposites.
There are other interesting dynamics at play within this tale. It is Ariadne’s father, Minos, who creates the Labyrinth and demands the sacrifices, yet she helps to put a stop to it. Later, Theseus’ inaction leads to the death of his father. He also takes Ariadne with him but soon abandons her. She is consoled by Dionysus; another interesting layer if we consider what Dionysus represents and think about the Maenads. It is almost as if in the same way that the hero, Theseus, has had to tame his wildman nature, the quest of the heroine is to be introduced to wildness, to her inner wild, untamed aspect, to integrate that part of herself into an organised and, up to that point, controlled psyche.
Theseus eventually is killed by being thrown into the sea. The element of water is, traditionally, linked with emotion.