Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ariadne's Red Thread

Our local co-op art Gallery has periodic juried shows, where non-members may also exhibit. February is one of those times, with a Red Show, & in 2013, I created a couple of pieces for the show. 

The phrase 'Ariadne's Red Thread' immediately came to mind, & I envisioned a labyrinth, with the red thread leading into the center. I began researching both the story of Ariadne, Theseus & the Minitaur, Cretan labyrinths, and other aspects of the story. 

The Cretan labyrinth is simpler than that in the one in the Chartes cathedral, & I enjoyed learning the pattern. A Labyrinth differs from a Maze, in having one path in & out, rather than different options that take you to a dead end. So Theseus wouldn't need the cypher of a thread to guide him to the center and the bull. Greek myths, as other early stories, were passed on by oral tradition, so several variants have come down to us.

Sired by a god, (Poseidon, god of the seas & oceans) Theseus was half human, and lived in Athens.  Previously, Daedalus and Icarus had resided in the kingdom of Minos, known today as Crete. Daedalus, an architect, designed the labyrinth to contain the Minotaur, half-human and half bull, with a taste for human flesh.  Due to his violent disposition, he was  imprisoned in the labyrinth beneath the palace of Minos.  In order to appease the monster, the King demanded that other nations, including Athens, provide annual human sacrifices for the creature to devour. 

in process
Theseus joined the other youth from Athens, & fell in love with the Princess Ariadne, who vowed to help him challenge the Minotaur, and escape from the dungeon.  She gave him a spool of red yarn, to unwind as he travelled, & a sword.  After killing the Beast, he followed the thread back to the entrance and escaped with the other sacrificial youth & Ariadne.  

In several accounts, Theseus abandoned Ariadne sleeping on the island of Naxos, and Dionysus rescued and wed her. With her association with thread spinning & winding, she is seen by many to be a weaving goddess, like Arachne. Her wedding diadem became the constellation Corona, & there the Minotaur has association with the constellation Taurus.

Ariadne's Red Thread

Researching the legend, I found an article whose author observed a connection between Sarah Winchester, with her labyrinth of a house & fascination with spider webs and this myth of Ariadne, Theseus and the Minotaur. As I worked on this piece, I incorporated a buffalo nickel button, the blues of the ocean, a piece of red yarn tracing a path through the labyrinth, and surrounded it with a spider web.  

Though my pieces weren't accepted for the show, it was fun researching & creating them. Ariadne herself is nudging me do her portrait, in the Colour of Woman style. 

In our workshop with Elisabeth last weekend, we did a Red Thread Ceremony, based on Shiloh McCloud's teaching. An ancient Chinese legend bespeaks that those who are destined to meet are connected by an invisible red thread from before our birth.Shiloh was given instruction to use 'the Red Thread ceremony ' as she journeyed to join a circle of Native American women. After the ceremony, they told her they sew with red thread to show solidarity among Native Americans.
In the same article, she shares the tradition from the Orthodox Church that (mother) "Mary was weaving with a red thread, which was to become the veil of the temple to the holy of holies."

We each looped red thread around our wrists, then cut the thread and made a bracelet. When painting, we can don the bracelet, & use it to symbolically connect with others in the red thread circle of artists and women, & harken back to Ariadne ...

3 comments:

Paula - Buenos Aires said...

Knowing the background story adds so much to a piece! Powerful piece. Great interpretation of the myth.

denthe said...

Looks complicated, but i really like it! Thnks for sharing the background ....

Dia said...

Thank you Paula & Denthe!
I do love the stories! Since writing this piece, I DID decide to glaze and work on it more - will blog about THOSE changes soon!