Saturday, 2 June 2012

minotaurs and psyche

minotaurs and psyche

 the Minotaur represents our basic nature: a complex mixture of animal, god, and human. Indeed, as mentioned in my prior post, the Minotaur was spawned from the liaison of a woman and a bull, and symbolizes this coincidentia oppositorum (meeting of opposites) of feminine and masculine, creature and human, rational and irrational, spiritual and instinctual, deity and demon, good and evil. The Minotaur also embodies both fate (our biological nature) and destiny (our freedom) and the integral interrelationship between the two. But why do we find it such a dreadful image? Because to confront the Minotaur in the dark labyrinth is to confront ourselves: our fears of the unknown, our ferocious, beastly nature, our rage, aggression, sexuality, mortality, the daimonic.  This self-confrontation is successfully accomplished by proceeding carefully yet courageously along one's own Ariadnean thread. The secret is that, metaphorically, we each have been given this thread to follow and lead us to our destiny-- but only if we are brave enough to do so.

Fundamentally, the Minotaur represents the primal fear of the unknown. Fear of the unknown is deeply-seated in the human psyche. It appears to be a genetic inheritance geared to guard and preserve our tenuous survival in a potentially dangerous universe, in much the same way as our biologically-rooted "fight or flight" response. Developmentally, all infants predictably pass through a brief phase of "stranger anxiety," and children a fear of the dark, a direct manifestation of this innate dread of the unknown. While we eventually more or less outgrow this stage, learning to trust, we never completely leave behind our instinctual fear of the unknown. Anxiety is one way we adults still experience this primitive fear. Indeed, it could be argued that anxiety is the subjective experience of the threatening unknown, whether we are facing or avoiding it.

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