I’m working on my latest book–which will be called Immortal Combat- the Way of the Warrior Priest
It will be a study of the true nature of evil and how to combat it, and my reflections have brought me to consider some of the monsters of myth. Dante populates hell with them, and I’m realizing in a new way the depth of psychology behind many of the ancient myths.
Dante is wise to place the various mythical monsters in hell because they symbolize the monsters in the underworld of our own human personalities and human society. These beasts are like something out of nightmares, and rightly so because they inhabit the twilight world, not only of hell but also of our subconscious.
They come from the realm of the dark–the underground–the caves–the desert places of our mind where the wild things are.
One of the most fascinating myths is that of the Minotaur. You can read more about it here if you are unfamiliar with the story.
The Minotaur was half bull, half huge and powerful man. The various mythic adventures about him and how Theseus defeated him are of secondary interest. What interests me is the symbolism of the myth.
The Bull-Man is just what it looks like–a frighteningly powerful beast from hell. Like a bull he is powerful, unpredictable, hot blooded and stubborn. Not only immensely powerful, but the Minotaur is hidden– locked in the underground labyrinth beneath the palace of the king.
In the book I am developing, Minotaur stands for the underground evil–the lurking, potent force in the subterranean passageways of our lives. Beneath the shining successful surface of the palaces we create for ourselves, the Minotaur roams and roars.
What is this monster in our lives? It is the stubborn, unpredictable, chthonic urges rumbling below like a dormant volcano. This beast roams at will within the labyrinth of our underground lives. It is there that our kinship with Cain wanders about seeking whom he may devour.
Without redemption, the Minotaur dwells beneath our silken palaces and our shining exteriors.
Out of the darkness of the labyrinth the man speaks.
To defeat this underground monster of the dark we need the courage and cunning of Theseus whose name reminds us of “Jesus” which means “Savior”.
The Minotaur is all that is secret, dark and deep. He is the Balrog in the depths of Moira, and Lent is the time when we should be gathering our courage to face the foe.
This is why I love the economy and precision of the gospels. The more I read them, the more I realize what inspired literary brilliance they contain. In Mark’s account of Christ in the desert he says in passing that Jesus went into the desert and was “with the wild beasts.”
I do not think the evangelist is referring to lions and tigers and bears.
I believe he is telling us that Jesus was doing battle with the Minotaur, Medusa, Cerberus and all the other unthinkable monsters of the underworld.