Dissertation Title:

The Minotaur is the Thread: Seeking the Mythical Beast in the Contemporary Labyrinth


Dennis Hall

Date, Time & Place:

September 26, 2023 at 10:00 am


This dissertation examines the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur in the labyrinth as an exemplar for an active, agential labyrinth meditation practice. The myth’s applicability for meditative practice is ascertained through three psychological interpretations of the myth. A collective meaning and two interdependent individual psychological meanings are produced through use of Marie-Louise von Franz’s four-step method for interpretation of archetypal stories. Both individual psychological meanings are analogous to the collective meaning in that they also represent the resolution of an internal conflict.

Keeping with von Franz’s assertion that myths are archetypal yet bound to their culture of origins, the story is interpreted through a mytho-historical lens that engages philosophy, orality, and depth psychology. The peripeteia are examined as processes in relation, and are interpreted through two lenses: Jung’s Four Functions and Gilbert Simondon’s theory of transindividuation. Each peripeteia is composed of four elements; each of the elements is analogized as one of Jung’s four functions. The elements act and interact to create wholeness. The actions and interactions indicate processes in relation. Consequently, Gilbert Simondon’s theory of individuation as process is applied to the interpretation to reinforce and extend the findings from von Franz’s method.

The labyrinth is examined as a mytho-historical structure as depicted by ancient writers who catalogued the labyrinths of antiquity. The two-dimensional, unicursal structure employed in contemporary meditative practices is explored as a metaphor for the three-dimensional, multicursal structure of the mythical labyrinth at Knossos. Theseus’s labyrinth experience is explicated and presented as an exemplar for a meditative labyrinth practice. The psychological interpretations produced in this dissertation indicate that Theseus’s labyrinth experience is active and agential. Deconstructive meditation techniques that require active meditation and personal agency are employed to achieve a contemporary practice modeled on Theseus’s exemplar.

  • Program/Track/Year: Mythological Studies with Emphasis in Depth Psychology, I, 2017
  • Chair: Dr. Patrick Mahaffey
  • Reader: Dr. Dana White
  • External Reader: Dr. Kimberly Lowelle Saward
  • Keywords: Labyrinth, Meditation, Greek Mythology, Minotaur, Asterion, Theseus, Minos, Von Franz, Psychological Interpretation, Mytho-historical, Mythikon, Historikon, Gilbert Simondon, Four Functions