It was a great delight to interview Geoff Stray about his take on myths and legends. I was surprised to hear his views. Geoff is a local Glastonbury author and bus driver who has written many books, from stories on his bus through to a series of very popular books on the Mayan calendar and 2012. More recently, he has written a book exploring the tales of tunnels underneath Glastonbury town.
A book that Geoff is currently working on is based on his theories relating to a labyrinth on the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France. He is investigating (and found evidence that) the labyrinth was designed as a calendar to enable the calculation of Easter in advance, since most of the Christian calendar is based on the date of Easter (the Sunday following the first full Moon after Spring Equinox). It was originally based on the Jewish Passover, but the Popes wanted to do it for themselves., with an elaborate system of sunlight that shines through the windows. The light is cast onto the floor where the labyrinth is situated at certain times of the year. But, he has not yet been able to prove his theories. He was hoping to return to Chartres Cathedral this Summer Solstice just gone, but due to the COVID-19 lock down, he was unable to travel. So, we will sadly have to wait at least one more year to hear about his findings.
The book he has written about the Glastonbury Tunnels – which you can currently read – has come across a lot of controversy. Because it talks about buried treasure under the Abbey, some in the town are very concerned that it might incite treasure hunters to try to enter these tunnels and look for gold. There have been many stories of treasure at Glastonbury Abbey; from the relics of saints, to the Glastonbury Sapphire, to even the body of Christ and the Holy Grail. Many of these treasures have been made famous by stories of King Arthur.
Interestingly, Geoff’s favourite myth is the Greek story of the Minotaur and the labyrinth. He especially likes the symbolism of Ariadne giving a thread to Theseus to find his way out after his adventures in the labyrinth. He tells me the thread symbolises the umbilical cord and the labyrinth represents the womb; the journey is going back to revisit your birth and, as you come out, it’s like a rebirth. Killing the Minotaur represents integrating all your repressed inner emotional ‘stuff’, like killing off the monster within.
The symbol of the Minotaur is very interesting. When you look at it deeply, it represents the ‘Beast’ that is hidden in the depth of one’s own labyrinth. It is something you want to hide and feel ashamed of, but we all have a beast. This is the way of man.
"And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is 666."
But really, 666 is the number of free will. We forget that we have a choice between the beast and the humane man. With the help of going into the subconscious and facing the beast, we can acknowledge that we are that beast. We can tackle it and be reborn (hopefully) as the man - refreshed, renewed, and learned from facing our demons.
Geoff explained to me how some psychologists specialise in using Greek mythology to illustrate certain patterns in man’s psyche; of people reliving certain problems and re-integrating the parts of themselves that they have lost.
“There seems to be a Greek myth for every psychological problem there is out there.”
I pointed out that myths connected to a labyrinth often relate to the subconscious mind and that myths themselves come from that subconscious. They are beyond the rational mind; if we make up a story from the ego or one that has an agenda, it won’t last. However, myths and legends that have come from thousands of years ago have evolved into a modern day understanding. Geoff pointed out that the Egyptian gods correspond to Greek gods and the Greek gods correspond to Roman gods and all those gods are archetypes within modern psychology.