in the Spotlight
by Fiana Sidhe
Beltane 2002, Vol 1-3
MatriFocus, a Cross-Quarterly Web Zine for Goddess Women Near & Far
"...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 Ariadnes 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 Pasiphaes 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.
As Minos daughter, Ariadne was put in charge of this labyrinth. It was built so that it was easy to reach the center, the Minotaurs 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.
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 Ariadnes crown, as the goddess wife of Dionysus.
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. Ariadnes 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 hadnt even considered.
References on Labyrinths