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Goddess in the Spotlight
by Fiana Sidhe
Beltane 2002, Vol 1-3
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Ariadne
courtesy Sacred Source
Ariadne
"...for the Lady of the Labyrinth, a jar of honey."
Linear B tablets, Knossos, circa 1500 BCE

Winding corridors, hidden passages, and possible danger lurking around every corner -- this is Ariadne’s realm. Often called the mistress or priestess of the Labyrinth, Ariadne began her journey as the mortal daughter of Minos, king of Crete. Early in her story we see her as a mortal maiden, tied down by family secrets and obligations. As her story progresses, we see her take on aspects of the mother, and the crone.

King Minos angered the god Poseidon by not paying him the proper homage. With the help of Aphrodite, Poseidon gained his revenge by making Minos’ wife Pasiphae fall in love with a bull. From Pasiphae’s union with the bull, the Minotaur was born. To hide this family secret, King Minos had a labyrinth built as a prison for the Minotaur.

Theseus in the Labyrinth
Sir Edward Burne-Jones.Courtesy of CGFA.

As Minos’ daughter, Ariadne was put in charge of this labyrinth. It was built so that it was easy to reach the center, the Minotaur’s lair, but impossible to find the way back out of the labyrinth. Trying to finally correct his problems with Poseidon, King Minos captured men and women from Athens and sent them into the labyrinth to be taken by the Minotaur as sacrifices.

The hero Theseus was sent to Crete by his people to be one of the sacrifices to the Minotaur. His true intent was to kill the Minotaur and finally end the sacrifices. Young Ariadne fell in love with Theseus the second she saw him and went against her family to help her lover. She gave Theseus a special thread that he could unwind on his way to the center of the labyrinth, so that he could kill the Minotaur and then follow the thread back out. Theseus succeeded in his quest, and in exchange for her help, he promised to make Ariadne his bride.

"And when, by the virgin Ariadne's help, the difficult entrance, which no former adventurer had ever reached again, was found by winding up the thread, straightway the son of Aegeus, taking Minos' daughter, spread his sails for Dia; and on that shore he cruelly abandoned his companion." (Ovid, trans. Miller; book VIII, line 172-176)

 
Ariadne
John William Waterhouse, Oil on Canvas, Courtesy of ArtMagick

Together, Theseus, Ariadne and the rescued sacrifices sailed toward Theseus’ home in Athens, but along the way they stopped to rest on the island of Naxos. When the ship set sail again, Ariadne was not aboard. Theseus had left her alone and broken hearted on the island as he sailed toward home. Dionysus, god of wine, intoxication, and creative ecstasy, saw the sorrow of the beautiful Ariadne and came to rescue her. In some versions of the myth, Dionysus was in love with Ariadne all along and, through his trickery, caused Theseus to abandon Ariadne on the island. In either case, Ariadne fell in love with Dionysus. When the two married, she became a true and immortal goddess. The constellation of Corona is said to be Ariadne’s crown, as the goddess wife of Dionysus.

Cretan Labyrinth
Digital Art Copyright © 2002 Sage Starwalker. All rights reserved.

Ariadne is the keeper of the labyrinths, which are symbolic of the many paths in life, and the womb. When our life paths come to a fork, Ariadne is the one we should turn to for guidance. We may also call on her when doing womb chakra work or other magical workings involving the womb. Ariadne’s story teaches us that things may not always happen the way we expect or hope they will, but sometimes these unexpected turns on our paths can lead us to wonderful new options that we hadn’t even considered.

References
+ Whence the Goddesses, By Miriam Robbins Dexter
+ Aiadne's Thread, By Shekhinah Mountainwater
+ Ariadne in Myth," Mythography
+ Ariadne by June Brindel, 1980, St. Martin's Press.

Further References on Labyrinths
Jo Edkin's Maze Page
Labyrinth: Ancient Mystical Tool for Tending of Soul

Graphic Credits
+ Ariadne courtesy Sacred Source. "Sacred Source (www.sacredsource.com) is a source for images of the divine, and joins this web site in spreading healing archetypes to every corner of modern culture."
+ Theseus in the Labyrinth, Sir Edward Burne-Jones. Courtesy of CGFA.
+
Ariadne, John William Waterhouse, Oil on Canvas, Photo courtesy of ArtMagick.
+
Cretan Labyrinth, Digital Art Copyright © 2002 Sage Starwalker. All rights reserved.

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