We climbed through the narrow streets of Chartres towards the Cathedral that rises like a megalith from the wheat fields surrounding this ancient town.
Upon entering Chartres Cathedral, if the rows of pews are in place, it is possible to miss the circular labyrinth, inlaid in the paving the width of the nave.
The enigma of the labyrinth drew me to crawl beneath those chairs, to touch the inlaid tiles, to hunt for the centre. The central copper plaque is missing, leaving only the metal studs that held it in place. This plaque was said to have represented the combat between Theseus and the Minotaur.
The greatest of Theseus's adventures was the slaying of the Minotaur at Knossos. Every ninth year this half-man half-bull demanded that the people of Athens should deliver to him seven boys and seven girls that he then devoured alive. Theseus, the King's son was determined to join the victims, and during the voyage he proved that Poseidon was his real father by retrieving a ring from the sea thrown there by Poseidon.
On his arrival in Crete he seduced King Minos's daughter, Ariadne, whose thread spun through the labyrinth and helped him to discover the way out. Having saved the victims, he left Crete, taking Ariadne with him. Legend has it that Theseus abandoned Ariadne on Naxsos and that she married Dionysus. The betrayal of Ariadne is most disturbing.
My interest in the Labyrinth lies not with Theseus's battle with the Minotaur. My interest lies with Ariadne whose thread spun through the labyrinth, whose invisible web provides us with something to cling to when we enter the subterranean world within. The labyrinth has been a recurring metaphor for me, has been a tool to assist me as I have sought my muse. My muse has gifted me with a ball of thread that I carry when I journey within. Take the thread and journey within the labyrinthine corridors of your subterranean world.
The Labyrinth of the Muse
Focus on the Labyrinth of the Muse. Allow your eyes to absorb the surface.
Look deep within. You see yourself walking the circular pathways of the labyrinth. It is a blazing hot day. You are by yourself, scantily clad, your feet bare. You can feel the heat of the ground, the intensity of the sun's heat. You look to see if there is any shelter from the relentless heat. There is none! As you walk you hear quickening footsteps. Someone is approaching! The voice that calls your name is soothing and reassuring. A shape emerges, offering you a gift of finely woven thread.
Where are you? Who is your guide? What do they look like? Talk to them and ask what you need to do to find your authentic voice. Ask what would happen if you were honest and spoke your truth. Ask for insight into your creative potential.
Print out an enlarged view of the labyrinth. Take out your colouring pencils and mindfully walk the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth. Keep this labyrinth as a talisman, a reminder to journey within the labyrinthine corridors of your subterranean world.
Begin writing. Do not worry about grammar or spelling. Just write for twenty minutes about your journey within the labyrinth. Include any dialogue with your guide.
From my bookshelf