First Monster Meditation

What is a Monster?

The dictionary definition is broad, with four different meanings for monster.
One, legendary creatures that combine aspects of animals and humans — like centaurs, griffins and werewolves
Two, anything that is huge, gigantic or oversized
Three, any animal or human that deviates from the norm in size, shape, character or behavior
Four, a person who inspires fear and horror with evil, cruelty or wicked behavior

There are a whole lot of monsters out there! This month, I’ll endeavor to share my thoughts on a variety of monsters and monstrous creatures. Every culture has monsters and monster stories. By flickering torchlight in the cave of Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc, I’m sure monster stories were shared with a backdrop of bison cave paintings.

Myths and fables are filled with fascinating monsters. Some have magical powers and others live with curses. They are ALL great starting points for stories. Long before I started writing my Candy’s Monsters series, I fell in love with Greek Mythology.

As a young teenager, I was very fond of the story of the story of Ariadne (the daughter of King Minos), Theseus and the Minotaur. Ariadne helps the hero Theseus kill the half human/half bull monster, by giving Theseus a string that he uses to find his way back to the entrance of the Minotaur’s labyrinth. A string was certainly a better navigational tool than Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs and — for someone like me with a dreadful sense of direction — it was very appealing. I wouldn’t walk around a labyrinth without one!

Of course Theseus, like many heroes in Greek myths, turned out to be less than heroic in romance. He dumped Ariadne after they escaped her father’s kingdom. In most versions of the myth, she becomes the mortal wife of the God Dionysos and she often turns up on vases surrounded by dancing Satyrs and Maenads. Marrying the god of wine is a definite upgrade over life with a deadbeat hero.

What about the monster?

I don’t think the Minotaur ever got a fair shake in the story. His origin goes back a generation to King Minos before he won the throne of Crete. Minos, jockeying for the crown with his brothers, prayed to Poseidon for a white bull, figuring that the appearance of such a creature would demonstrate that the gods picked him as king. He promised to sacrifice the bull, but it was just too beautiful, so he sacrificed the best bull from his herd instead. Poseidon was not happy with the substitute and made Minos’ wife, Pasipha, fall in love with the bull.

Now that is a serious kind of revenge.

Pasipha asked Daedalus (the most famous architect in the ancient world) to build her a wooden cow. Pasipha hid inside the wooden cow and had sex with the beautiful white bull. Then Pasipha gave birth to the Minotaur — with the head and tail of a bull and the body of a man, plus a disturbing appetite for human flesh. Daedalus was brought back to build a labyrinth for the Minotaur and every year seven youths and seven maidens were led to the labyrinth where they became the Minotaur’s buffet.

The Minotaur is a true monster on many levels. He’s a classic human/animal hybrid; he deviates from the norms of appearance and behavior; and he inspires monstrous fear. Most of the time he’s also depicted as HUGE. So he’s a monster four times over.

All in all, the Minotaur is a monster’s monster.


  1. Bill Dowling

    I wonder if the minotaur would’ve been such a monster if someone had just fed him, I don’t know, a sandwich? Sure if you feed him nothing but maidens, he’s going to develop a taste for human flesh- odd, since cows are not normally carnivorous or cannibalistic. I’m guessing he was a cautionary tale about the proper treatment of livestock!

    • Candy

      I guess there’s no way we can ask King Minos why they started the youth and maiden menu, but I guess the son of a white bull is not your usual kind of guy. No stuffed grape leaves for him!

  2. Shanna lee

    I have a strange idea about monsters. I simply think they are our inner freaks. If monsters were religious I think your Minotaur friend would follow the Native Cherokee people. Werewolves would probably be pagen. Vampires would have to be atheist otherwise they would believe they were damned (they might even glitter in the sun). Dragons..mmm are dragons monsters? I would say dragons would be evangelistic.. taking all our treasure and sleeping on it, the whole time pretending to protect us! Giants might be catholic, I’d speculate but I’m afraid of wrath! Shape-shifters would have to be Mormon, they keep changing their rules to fit in. Mermen lets say Muslim, only instead of 72 virgins in heaven, they have 72 virgins under the sea! Now good old Frank would be the most likely be a Hindu yogi… Understanding the idea that we are all one. He’d probably be pretty good at meditating.. Certainly and expert in silence. Dont forget, he is always looking for his guru.. Lol… just a thought!

  3. Winston

    One aspect of monsters that you mention that is brought up time and again in a vast array of monster stories is the question of revenge. Whether it is the god’s seeking revenge for being ignored, or someone being tricked and wanting revenge for anything that was kept from them or not allowed to have for their own, revenge often times is a great underlying theme. This might be a topic to explore in further Monster Mediations.