Modern Minoan Paganism: Walking with Ariadne's Tribe

Walk the sacred labyrinth with Ariadne, the Minotaur, the Great Mothers, Dionysus, and the rest of the Minoan pantheon. Modern Minoan Paganism is not a reconstructionist tradition, but a journey in relationship with Minoan deities in the contemporary world. Ariadne's thread reaches across the millennia to connect us with the divine. Will you follow where it leads?

To join the discussion about ancient Minoan culture and Modern Minoan Paganism, head on over to our welcoming community at Ariadne's Tribe on Facebook.

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Laura Perry

Laura Perry

I'm an artist, writer, and lover of all things ancient and mysterious. The Minoans of Bronze Age Crete have been a passion of mine since a fateful art history class introduced me to the frescoes of Knossos back in high school. My first book was published in 2001; one of my most recent works is Labrys and Horns: An Introduction to Modern Minoan Paganism. I've also created a Minoan Tarot deck and a Minoan coloring book. When I'm not busy drawing and writing, you can find me in the garden or giving living history demonstrations at local historic sites.
The Minoan Pantheon: Gods and Goddesses Galore!

A while back I wrote up a list of the Minoan gods and goddesses we focus on in Modern Minoan Paganism. But since this is a living, evolving spiritual tradition, it turns out I need to update that list. We've discovered (rediscovered?) a new deity or two and have changed some other details of our practice. So here's the pantheon as we're experiencing it these days. Please note that the Minoan deities don't fit neatly into a human-style family tree the way the Greek and Roman gods do.

First of all, in Modern Minoan Paganism we consider the threefold division of Land/Sea/Sky to be fundamentally important. This triplicity is represented by three goddesses:

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Labrys and Horns: Minoan Devotionals

Devotionals are common practice for many Pagans: short prayers or meditations to help us connect with the gods. In my book Labrys and Horns: An Introduction to Modern Minoan Paganism I wrote devotionals for many of the gods and goddesses in the Minoan pantheon.

Now I've made a video with some of those devotionals, an easy way for you to listen and focus on some of the Minoan deities: Ariadne, Dionysus, Rhea, the Horned Ones, the Melissae, Ourania, and Posidaeja. Here you go:

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Modern Minoan Paganism: What about the rules?

Different people approach spiritual practice in different ways. Some people like detailed rules for how to set up their altar, prepare for ritual, perform ritual, and clean up afterward. Others prefer a more open approach, following general guidelines but allowing their intuition to guide them for much of what they do.

Some spiritual traditions fall squarely in that first category as well, practices such as Hellenic and Roman Paganism, simply because we have extensive texts from those cultures telling us exactly how those people practiced their religion: What was allowed, what was required, what was forbidden. But for many ancient religions, we have few to no written sources to tell us how it was done. The religion practiced by the Minoans of Bronze Age Crete is one of those.

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Minoan Bell Jar Goddesses: All the funny hats

When someone says "Minoan" many people immediately think of the snake goddess figurines from Knossos. But there are other goddess figurines from ancient Crete that are just as interesting, maybe more so. Case in point: the Poppy Goddess shown at the top of this post.

She wears a crown with three poppy seed pods that have visibly been scored so the latex will ooze out, part of the process for making opium, which the Minoans appear to have used ritually. Like all the other bell jar goddess figurines (so called because of the shape of their skirts), she has her arms raised in a gesture that looks a lot like the Minoan sacred horns.

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Food and Cooking in Minoan Crete

One way to connect with an ancient culture like the Minoans is to learn about their daily life: what they did for a living, what their houses looked like, and especially what they ate. Food is a powerful way to connect with other cultures, and that includes those of the ancient world.

A while back I wrote about how the Minoans cooked - what their kitchens and cookpots were like, how they used braziers or outdoor cookfires instead of hearths. Today I'm going to talk about what they cooked. Most of this information comes from an appendix in my book Labrys and Horns.

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Lady of the Labyrinth: A Chant

I was recently inspired to write a chant that's designed for labyrinth walking. It invokes the Lady of the Labyrinth, a goddess some people identify with Ariadne or with the Serpent Mother (snake goddess) from Minoan Crete. The name that works for me is Basilissa.

Please feel free to use this chant in your rituals and your labyrinth walking, and let me know how it goes.

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Does Aphrodite have Minoan connections?

I'm regularly asked if there's a counterpart in the Minoan pantheon to some foreign god or goddess. It's a game many of us play, trying to make connections and see where beliefs and practices were similar around the ancient world. Heck, even the ancients did it, especially the Greeks and Romans, trying to figure out which one of their deities each foreign one was the equivalent to.

One of the most common ones I'm asked about is Aphrodite. If you think about it, she is pretty likely to have some kind of Minoan connection: She dates back at least to the Bronze Age, the time the Minoans flourished. Her mythos tells us that she's from Cyprus or Kythera, both islands within the Minoan sphere of influence (Cyprus even had a script that derived from the Minoans' Linear A). And she was probably much more complicated than her later depiction as a shallow sex/love/beauty goddess suggests. At the very least, the well-traveled Minoans are sure to have known about her.

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