I've been thinking about Ariadne, who, the story goes, was a princess whose father was the King Minos of Crete. She was the one who helped the hero, Theseus, who came to slay the Minotaur -- half-man, half-bull -- by giving him a ball of red thread so that he could find his way out of the labyrinth, where the minotaur lay in wait. She struck a deal with Theseus that if he returned, they would marry and he would take her away with him, from her father's kingdom to a new life. But here's the interesting thing about Ariadne and the myth that has been told so many times in this way: it's not the real story. The true story is that Ariadne wasn't a princess, she was a goddess, the Mother Goddess, the primal Snake Goddess of Crete, the Great Goddess. That's the way she was seen and celebrated long before the Judeo-Christian religion took over and demoted her to the role of a princess, a daughter of the patriarchy.
But perhaps it is the later version that we can most relate to today: a maiden who must face the authority of the father, the culture, the patriarchy, and forge her own path, gain experience, until she can find the roots of her own power and divinity deep within. Until she can discover the true goddess that has been buried deep inside and almost forgotten by history, and, indeed, by Herself.
In Sue Monk Kidd's awakening and transformation beautifully told in her book, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman's Journey From Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine, she grapples with the minotaur as she casts off the role of the dutiful daughter in both the practice of her religion and in her way of writing. She describes the half-man, half-bull monster who lives at the center of the underground labyrinth as carrying the spirit of the Old King, the negative animus, the inner critic. We each have to slay our own minotaur, the self-hatred, the self-doubt, the self-destruction that would eat our own soul if it had its way, that would gladly devour the sacrificial lamb of our dreams and desires if we allowed it.
When I was working to birth my book, In the Lap of the Goddess, I was very much aware of this inner voice that tried to waylay me and tell me I couldn't do it, who, when I encountered obstacles, and didn't know where I was going, suggested I give up. I still hear that voice when I contemplate the task of marketing my book and finding an audience and a publisher. The road seems daunting, much like the long, labyrinthine tunnels Theseus had to find his way through.
But he did it with the help of the feminine, Ariadne, who provided a way back: a red thread. Red, like the color of blood, thread, like the umbilical cord that connects the newly-growing fetus to the mother, like the one the Fates spun and wove into the warp and woof of each person's life. It's important to hold onto that thread, that lifeblood, when we are in the midst of it, when we don't know our way.
It's important to have something to hold onto, to remind us of what we wanted when we started, so we can feel our way through the uncertainty, the unknown, and to help us return home, to ourselves. And so it was for me. I held onto a thread that I started with, and it became a lifeline I dared not let go of, that allowed me to move into uncharted territory and find my way back.
It took the inner masculine and inner feminine working together to set the course, kill the beast, and complete the journey. The feminine provides the inspiration, the vision, and charts the creative path. The masculine does the hard work of getting it done, manifesting it in the world, and slaying dragons. Both must work together and help each other. Without the feminine muse spinning the dreams, the masculine has little to work with. Without the masculine energy to get through the day-to-day and put the ideas into form, the inspiration dissipates like a will o' the wisp.
And so each of us becomes Ariadne, a mortal princess who must leave the known, safe world on the sacred journey to reach the goddess. And to borrow a quote from Monk Kidd's book, "When I speak of Goddess I am in no way referring to an entity 'out there,' who appears miraculously as a fairy godmother and turns the pumpkin into a carriage. I am in no way referring to a Goddess 'back there,' as if I participate in resurrecting an ancient religion. In the sense that I am woman I see the Goddess in myself." - Nelle Morton
On my odyssey I have been meeting many wonderful women who are writing blogs that tell of their own journeys. I have been honored to provide guest blogs for the soulful Aja Blanc at Moon Woman Rising on the Beauty of the Crone (yes, I declare myself a beautiful crone) and on the bright and beautiful blog of Jo Crawford, Crafting the Sacred, where I talk about my Soul Work. Please visit and become acquainted with these women of wisdom and join us in the Goddess Circle.