Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Asterion

“The Greeks told the story of the minotaur, the bull-headed flesh-eating man who lived in the center of the labyrinth. He was a threatening beast, and yet his name was Asterion – Star. I often think of this paradox as I sit with someone with tears in her eyes, searching for some way to deal with a death, divorce, or a depression. It is a beast, this thing that stirs in the core of her being, but it is also the star of her innermost nature. We have to care for this suffering with extreme reverence so that, in our fear and anger at the beast, we do not overlook the star.”

-Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul

There are so many things I love about the writing of Thomas Moore. He is such a wise and insightful man and the thing that resonates most with me is his insistence on using myths and stories (instead of theories and analysis) to better understand ourselves. He turns the tables on notions of “caring” and “curing”. So often, when there is something I don’t like about myself, I want to eradicate that thing, make it go away forever. Cure it. But Thomas Moore takes a different approach, one that is braver and scarier and more holistic. In Care of the Soul, he talks about pressing into the thing you want to go away, instead of avoiding or exterminating it – because that will never work. Instead, he suggests that at the center of the problem (anger or envy or insecurity or whatever else) is the solution. Lying there in the heart of the beast is the seed (or the star) that needs to be cherished and preserved and brought into the light. The point isn’t to kill the beast, but to listen to it and love it and, in time, learn tame it.

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