Reimagining Ariadne

Mantelpiece in the Greyfriar's Hotel, Colchester, Essex

When I first met up with Ariadne some 20-ish years ago, I imagined her to be all about the labyrinth because of her adventures with Theseus. I’ve used Ariadne’s Thread as my moniker for a long time now, but in my mind, the emphasis has been slowly shifting from Ariadne to her Thread. And as I’ve aged (we all do it!), I’ve become more and more interested in the older Ariadne, the one whose story continued long after Theseus abandoned her on Naxos. Do you know her story? I won’t tell it now, but I’ll make sure it gets onto these pages eventually. In a nutshell, she picked herself up, married Dionysus, raised a family… in short, she reinvented herself. I think our resiliency is what marks us as mature women in today’s world. We live long lives, and thus we inevitably outlive our younger stories, our dreams change, our wounds heal. In time, we use our experiences to shape and amplify our voices in the world. This is the gift of ageing.

Sculpture of Ariadne overlooking the labyrinth in the Chaucer Room, Cardiff Castle, Cardiff

When I turn to my old muse and mentor, Ariadne, my eyes are drawn to her ball of red thread; it glows and pulses with energy, capturing my attention. I can’t help but consider the threads that are so important in my own life, not just the metaphorical threads of stories and relationships but the literal threads that weave through my life. I’m a needleworker; I knit, spin, sew, work with beads, embroider… you name it. For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to creative expression in textile form, and am rarely without some sort of needle and thread in my hands or by my side. What used to seem like a little hobby now feels like an authentic expression of the voice that I want to use in the world.

I have come to believe that Ariadne is about more than just the hero and the labyrinth. She was – and is – an incredible woman who demonstrated her resiliency by reinventing her life as needed to keep up with her circumstances. Never forget that she saved more people than just Theseus! There was a whole contingency of Athenians set to meet death that year alone, with more to come at regular intervals afterwards. She demonstrated in her youth that she was creative and willing to draw on every resource available to her (including her family connections to Daedalus, the Master Builder). She wasn’t just a lovestruck kid, she was an early activist who changed her culture forever, whose story is told to this day. Her courage and her thread, however we define it, are needed in today’s world, as is all the creative expression we can possibly muster!

I’m wildly excited about exploring this new vision of Ariadne and her archetypal influence, and I’m looking forward to sharing some of my projects as the edges of my worlds and interests blend together. How amazing that Ariadne stands at their intersection!


5 Replies to “Reimagining Ariadne”

  1. Well, that’s quite an announcement! I can see how you are spinning together, or plying maybe, the strands of your life up to now, some silk, maybe a little hemp, plenty of woolgathering (though it’s way past time to come visit me and get some qiviut)—can mulberry stand in for the parchments you’ve collected on the way? And soy yarn for the dietary laws? How about husky fur for all the miles and kms you’ve logged with that man-of-the-world?

    Looking forward to your next check-in, as always.

    Vanessa amongst WIPs beyond counting

  2. I love where you are going with your understanding of Ariadne. I’ve always been interested in what happened after Theseus was such a cad. She found her own way in the world. Thanks for following the thread of this story.

  3. I absolutely love this post, Kimberly, and especially loved what you wrote about how we “inevitably outlive our younger stories, our dreams change, our wounds heal”. What a fresh way to look at getting older! A lovely gift. I look foward to reading more AND seeing your projects, especially as a fellow thread spinner, knitter & weaver. Maybe it’s time to get back to darning that basket of handknit socks with the holes in them. 🙂

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