Category Archives: Mythology

Belabouring the Labyrinth Both Sunwise And Widdershins

Week Three, Tuesday, April 9th

When the Mariposa group assembled in Week Three to continue their Hunt for the Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice, they found that Mayor Josie Smith had called in the artists and had them paint decorated lines for a Cretan labyrinth on the floor. This did not please the badminton club, who had come to treat the old auditorium as their private space. They liked it because they were used to the low ceilings and century-old dust, while visiting competitive clubs were not. The TUROSJ hunters were delighted, however, and resolved to walk the labyrinth to open and close each meeting.

Thoreau Drone, Deanna’s brother, always called Thor, always ready with an alternative point of view, suggested they should walk in at the beginning of the meeting, and out at the end, to keep them centred. Mayor Josie had doubts. “I’m not sure that the point of the labyrinth is to be centred,” she said. “The human brain is not centred, it’s convoluted. I think the labyrinth is a simple image for that. I think the end comes when you return to the world outside, having walked back out the way you came in. The centre is half-way. The meditation process ends at the end. You walk seven rings in, going to the middle first and then in convoluted order from there, alternating sunwise and widdershins, outer then inner. You find the centre, then walk back out the reverse way. That’s fifteen stages, or sixteen if the way in and out of the centre is two, which I think it is.”

“The king told Alice to begin at the beginning, go on to the end, and then stop,” said Deanna.

“Josie thinks the labyrinth is telling us to begin in the outer middle, go to the outside in stages, then back through the inner middle to the inside, then to the centre, then back through the inside through the inner middle to the outside and finally through the outer middle to the outside world. That’s a lot more complicated. But then so is the Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice, I suppose.” Sheldon Uttermost, as did many Mariposans, liked to live up to his name.

“Better that than riding madly off in all directions,” said Thorpe Bagshaw. Much nodding of heads.

“Maybe we should name all these stages,” said Sheldon. So they did that, as logically as they could. They were beginning to suspect that logic wasn’t going to get them far when the real Hunt started, but it might get them as far as some names. They decided to acknowledge the classical planets, those orbiting creatures visible to the naked eye, thereby adding them to their battery of metaphors: a hunt; a wilderness, a labyrinth; heavenly spheres. “There’s no such thing as too many metaphors,” said Martha Yodel, being the English teacher, and everyone was willing to agree, whether they really did or not. Here’s what the chart looked like when they had it, numbering the rings from the outside.

3. First & Last (Sixteenth) walked. Outer Middle. Sun.
2. Second & Fifteenth. Inner Outer. Mercury.
1. Third & Fourteenth. Outer Outer. Venus.
4. Fourth & Thirteenth. Inner Middle. Moon.
7. Fifth & Twelfth. Most Inner. Mars.
6. Sixth & Eleventh. Middle Inner. Jupiter.
5. Seventh & Tenth. Outer Inner. Saturn.
8. Eighth & Ninth. Centre. Earth.

“I am bothered by the names we are using,” said Thor with much hesitation. “They are our names, but they are not the world’s names. There’s a lot more to this naming business. If we’re going to take a pluralistic approach to Unsolved Riddles and Social Justice, maybe we should take it to the names of our labyrinth, then maybe we need to be a little more inclusive in our understanding. These names represent stories, after all. Why should we take just one?”

“Are we taking a pluralistic approach?” asked Josie.

“I sure hope so,” replied Thor. More head nodding at that.

“Yes,” said Deanna, “we must. That’s what everybody dislikes about us, that we always want to impose our names, our stories, on everything. If we’re going to have Social Justice, it’s got to be everybody’s Social Justice, not just ours.”

“I expect that goes for everybody in the plurality,” said Sheldon, “if we’re going to be one, that is. How can we be reconciled, in all the directions we’re supposed to be, if we don’t know each other’s names and make ourselves familiar each other’s stories?”

“It’s harder work being a pluralist than a singularist,” said Mayor Josie. “That’s the first thing I learned when I got onto Council. It’s all about doing as much good as you can for everybody. If you start playing favourites among all the different groups, then the whole thing falls apart. It’s very difficult, when they want different things.”

“Maybe that’s why Social Justice is an Unsolved Riddle,” said Thor, and the head-nodding brigade fired up again.

“Okay,” said Josie. “Here’s what we’ll do. We’ll walk the whole labyrinth to start and end each meeting, to keep the whole process in mind. Then we’ll take it one ring at a time each week, in walking order. That’s sixteen weeks. That should take us through to the end of July. Then we should pull things together and see where we are. Then we might take some time off. Then we should repeat the whole process, and wrap it up in December. What do you think?”

They all thought that was good.

“All right. Next week it’s Ring Three, the Outer Middle Ring on the Way In, called Sun and anything else we can find. Everybody look for names and stories, but we’ll have to be quick about that. We’re here for Social Justice, not to play games with mythology. But I think the mythology is going to help, especially with the Pluralism of it. But just how, I don’t know yet. It may take us a few weeks to find out.”

“We may have to make up our own mythology,” said Thoreau Drone.

“Maybe we will.”

Some refreshments remained when the meeting was over, but not for long.