Theseus slays the Minotaur
Once again I delve into a Greek Myth and try to link it to the depths of our psyche. This attempt is intrinsically insightful, after reading and re-reading the story of Theseus and the Minotaur. Don’t Know Much About Mythology by Kenneth Davis and Illustrated Book Of Myths by Neil Philip were the base of my readings for this article. The works of Joseph Campbell, needless to say, are always a source of inspiration.
The Minotaur, as you probably know, was yet another of the so many creatures abounding in the Greek Myths. A fearsome half-man, half-bull, it was kept inside a labyrinth meticulously engineered by Daedalus, a great sculptor and architect of the time with the deliberate intention to hide the beast and its bestiality from prying eyes. And although the Greek Minotaur was killed by Theseus, another one may still wander inside our own personal labyrinths. Think about it. We all have our Minotaur (or Minotaurs, for that matter) inside, living in the labyrinths of our minds. And we do our best to keep it (them) concealed.
The Minotaur can be understood as a representation of our shadow (Jung, C). The shadow is the part of our personalities we choose not to see, something we simply cannot uphold in our idea of ourselves. In other words, it is a set of repressed attributes we have and we keep deep inside our unconscious mind. Vulgar, shameful or corrupt in nature, such attributes might be traces of arrogance, low or high self-esteem, lust, envy, jealousy, etc. In short, we might not know the nature of our Minotaur because it’s kept so well-hidden that it’s often impossible to perceive its existence. This is a natural self-defense mechanism and we can’t blame ourselves for that. Should we kill our Minotaur(s)? From a Jungian perspective, we should not repress but acknowledge the material in our shadow as a way of disallowing its full expression in daily life. In other words, we must gather a great deal of strength and courage and go inside our labyrinth and face the beast!
We, like Theseus in the myth, should go inside the labyrinth of our mind and find out what our pet Minotaur is (e.g. arrogance) and on what it lives off (e.g. fear of not being accepted with our flaws). Then we must figure out a way to “kill it” (suppress its influence from the structure of our psyche). Finally, find our way out of the intricate labyrinth of our unconscious mind and return safe and sound from this journey. Phew!
The clue to subdue our Minotaur may lie, again, in the myth. Theseus used a thead of wool to find his way out of the labyrinth. Like him, we must retrace our path back into our past and find the mechanisms responsible for the creation and nurture of our Minotaur. Incidentally, Neil Philip mentions the labyrinth was a sort of representation or map of the underworld (psychology-wise: our unconscious mind). This journey into the unconscious mind seems to be the answer for almost all the psychological troubles in life. I also mentioned its importance when I wrote about Heracles in the post entitled WHY DO MEN FIND COMMITMENT SO RESISTIBLE?.
Theseus accomplished his task successfully. As an added bonus, he even fell in love with Ariadne, the girl who had given him the ball of thread so that he could easily find his way out of the labyrinth. What a clever girl!