What’s in a Name?

Some of you may wonder why I have chosen this particular title for my blog. The following shares a little insight.

When my Colombian father read a Greek Mythology book in his youth he read about the goddess “Ariadne”. He loved the name so much that he decided right then and there that someday he would name a daughter Ariadne. Fast forward to when I was born when he anointed me with the name Ariadne. Fortunately for him, my mother approved of the name as well. Ariadne is a relatively easy name to pronounce in Spanish and other languages. It is completely phonetic with every letter pronounced. However, English speaking Americans have great difficulty with its pronunciation.  Some dictionaries show its pronunciation as “air-ee-ad’-nee”. I prefer “ah-ree-odd-nee”.

I remember clearly my first day of kindergarten in the US, when my father said to me, “Don’t let anyone shorten your name or mispronounce it”. As many international folks know, shortening names or using nicknames is a very common practice in the US.  And so started my quest to ensure that no one would nickname me or mispronounce my name. I have spent my whole life politely correcting, acquaintances, teachers, bosses, friends and even distant relatives. And when asked, what do you use for short, I respond with a smile, “Ariadne”.

I have always loved my name. It is so unique, that I have only met one Ariadne in my lifetime and that was just this year at age 50. She is my daughter’s classmate of Greek decent. The name Ariadne is still very uncommon. There are many variations to the mythology story. The quick version I like to tell on elevator rides when someone sees the name on my name tag and asks for its meaning is:

“There was a town in Crete where King Minos ruled. His daughter was Ariadne. Ariadne was the keeper of the labyrinth of the town. In this labyrinth lived a Minotaur, a half bull half human monster. Anyone who entered the labyrinth was either killed by the Minotaur or got lost in the labyrinth. Ariadne’s boyfriend, Theseus, decided to go into the labyrinth to kill the Minotaur. Ariadne gave Theseus a roll of thread, so that he could mark his path as he navigated the labyrinth. He killed the monster but most importantly found his way out by following the path he had marked with the thread. Ariadne and Theseus escaped to Naxos together but soon Theseus abandoned her. Ariadne then married Dionysus, the God of Wine. At their wedding, Dionysus gave her a crown of jewels as a gift. When Ariadne died, he threw the crown into the heavens, and a constellation was formed, the constellation of Corona Borealis. THE END”

… And as the elevator doors open I say goodbye to my curious acquaintance, who is standing there wondering how he got way more than he bargained for, when he asked for the meaning of my name.

A Floral Labyrinth

There is a spiritual significance attached to the name as well. One source says that Ariadne signifies wisdom in womanhood, and the thread she carries symbolizes knowledge and intelligence. The Labyrinth is considered an ancient symbol of wholeness. Finding the path to its center and returning corresponds to finding one’s life purpose. The thread is the tool that helps you accomplish this.  Plato said the labyrinth represented the physical world and the thread the connection from the physical world to the spiritual world. In Hinduism, Ariadne’s Thread is called Antakharana and represents the fine line that divides matter from the realm of divinity. Antakharana is the force through which one reaches serenity, courage, and happiness.

I also recently researched the difference between the words labyrinth and maze. In some sources, these two words are used interchangeably. However, some scholars like to make a differentiation between the two as follows:

– A labyrinth has only one path to the center. The path can be winding and complex. A labyrinth is unicursal, one path with no dead ends or branches.

– A maze is multicursal having multiple solutions. The maze can have many paths, dead ends, branches, and many exits to emerge from.

I like to use the metaphor of life as a labyrinth. I like to think that we all have a purpose; the center of the labyrinth, and that living our daily life is the navigation through that labyrinth. However, we can also look at life as a maze, and depending on how we navigate it we can choose a different outcome.  The metaphor of life as a labyrinth is strong since sometimes we feel we are walking in circles, aimlessly, trying to navigate its challenges. Perhaps I am in agreement with those who feel the words are interchangeable. Either way, I am a strong believer that the collective experience of many serves as an invaluable guide to others. And it is my hope that this blog, Ariadne’s Thread, serve as a tool, be it as a guide or simply as a form of entertainment to readers who are also navigating their own labyrinth.  In essence, we are all trying to appreciate life’s challenges as adventures, solving the puzzle, finding the center of the labyrinth and more importantly, finding the path back.

The Path

Join me in this Journey.

And by the way, if you are planning on naming a child, choose wisely because

Words have meaning and names have power.

Author Unknown