Apr 30, 2013

The Labyrinth of Warren Jeffs: Another Tour

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

The other day I posted a video tour of Warren Jeffs's estate conducted by Willie Jessop who recently claimed it at auction. The new video above was shot by Jim Dalrymple of Salt Lake Tribune's Polygamy Blog.

What strikes me in both these videos is the incredible devotion to secrecy and this video makes it in even more apparent. These are heavy walls within heavy walls. The doors are so thick and solid they need four hinges. Everything is practically soundproof.

As Dalrymple takes the viewer past the outer walls of the compound and through succeeding sets of walls, leading finally into the house, I have the sense of being drawn into the center of a maze -- one that leads to a central but externally obscured "rape room." This is the labyrinth of the Minotaur.

The Minotaur was a monstrous half bull, half man creature of Greek myth.

After he ascended the throne of Crete, Minos competed with his brothers to rule. Minos prayed to Poseidon to send him a snow-white bull, as a sign of support (the Cretan Bull). He was to kill the bull to show honor to Poseidon, but decided to keep it instead because of its beauty. He thought Poseidon would not care if he kept the white bull and sacrificed one of his own. To punish Minos, Aphrodite made Pasiphaë, Minos' wife, fall deeply in love with the bull. Pasiphaë had the archetypal craftsman Daedalus make a hollow wooden cow, and climbed inside it in order to mate with the white bull. The offspring was the monstrous Minotaur. Pasiphaë nursed him in his infancy, but he grew and became ferocious, being the unnatural offspring of man and beast, he had no natural source of nourishment and thus devoured man for sustenance. Minos, after getting advice from the oracle at Delphi, had Daedalus construct a gigantic labyrinth to hold the Minotaur. Its location was near Minos' palace in Knossos.

. . .

Androgeus, son of Minos, had been killed by the Athenians, who were jealous of the victories he had won at the Panathenaic festival. Others say he was killed at Marathon by the Cretan bull, his mother's former taurine lover, which Aegeus, king of Athens, had commanded him to slay. The common tradition is that Minos waged war to avenge the death of his son and won. Catullus, in his account of the Minotaur's birth,[10] refers to another version in which Athens was "compelled by the cruel plague to pay penalties for the killing of Androgeos." Aegeus must avert the plague caused by his crime by sending "young men at the same time as the best of unwed girls as a feast" to the Minotaur. Minos required that seven Athenian youths and seven maidens, drawn by lots, be sent every seventh or ninth year (some accounts say every year[11]) to be devoured by the Minotaur.

Some of the parallels are obvious. Jeffs's use and abuse of children -- girls and boys -- throughout his life is well-documented. And he apparently needed a regular supply of underage brides to sacrifice in sometimes highly ritualized sexual abuse. He was also noticeably bizarre and inappropriate from an early age, which along with frequent illness often resulted in isolation. And he was the son of the leader of FLDS.

There are other subtleties that point toward that archetype. The bull that sired the Minotaur was pure white. Jeffs required that many of the details of the compound were white. The cement used for much of the external construction is brilliant white. Even little touches like pipes and garage door opener hardware had to be hand-painted white. It's bizarre little touches like these that suggest to me a longing for purity and perfection even as he was evermore consumed by his own demons.

In the end, the Minotaur was conquered by Theseus. He was aided by Ariadne's thread which helped him find his way out after he'd slain the monster. Jeffs is dying the death of a thousand cuts as followers find their way out of his maze and tell their stories to police and in courtrooms.

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