Resourceful Ariadne saw me not at all, although I am sure that she felt my presence as I glided silently at her shoulder. How ingeniously she wound the skein of thread that would be unwound by Theseus, there in the tortuous corridors of the Labyrinth. Ah, bold Theseus, claimed by myth as a hero for slaying the Minotaur that waited for his arrival at the heart of the winding ways. Hero indeed! The wretched monster already knew its own destiny, and needed only to await the arrival of the son of King Aegeus for it to be fulfilled.
I tell you that Ariadne’s deed was more heroic, providing as she did the means for Theseus’ return. And what was her reward? To be deserted by him on the island of Naxos, left behind like any castaway, to be rescued by a god who showed clever Ariadne more honour than he ever did.
All these things I have seen, for I am the witness of history, although history sees me not. Secretly I stand at the gate of every labyrinth, and as you enter the gate of your own labyrinth you will be sure to pass me. But you as well will not notice as I slip my skein into your hands. Unknowingly, you will begin to unwind it as you enter the turning ways. And at every turn it will be laid down, and every measure of it records the event which you experience. Here at this turn you made the decision to go either to the right or to the left, never being sure which path might be the right one to follow. Here farther along, you fell in love, and the path ahead changed for you because of this. And here, you suffered a loss, and the path changed direction once again.
All this is known, because all of these things, these life events, are recorded on the unwinding skein as they happen. Look closely: you can see them written on the skein. All which you experience is faithfully set down, a true document of your passage inwards.
But what you cannot know is what will be written on the part of the skein which has yet to be unwound, because you can only discover that by unwinding it. And you can only unwind it by travelling farther on your journey. And since you cannot see what is ahead of you, you must have trust. You can read readily enough what has been written as it unwinds behind you. But what is yet to be written is negotiable, and up to you, and dependent upon the paths of choice which lie ahead of you in the labyrinth. And I, who have wound the skein which you now unwind, will help you to make those choices if, like Ariadne, you allow me to help you to reach the labyrinth’s heart.
Painting: Labyrinth, by Jake Baddeley.