The Minoan Path: Walking with Ariadne's Tribe

Walk the sacred labyrinth with Ariadne, loving goddess of ancient Crete who lives on in the hearts and minds of the modern world. This is not a reconstructionist tradition, but a journey of modern Pagans 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?

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Baking from Scratch, Minoan Style

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Have you ever tried to bake a cake from scratch? Not terribly difficult, right? But what if you didn’t have a recipe? That’s pretty much what we’re doing over at Ariadne’s Tribe these days. Bear with me here and I’ll do my best not to flog the metaphor too badly.

Reconstructionist traditions like Hellenism and Ásatru rely on written texts from earlier times for a lot of their information. The Hellenists have all the works that have come down to us from the classical writers, many of whom were devoted to the Hellenic deities themselves; the Ásatru folks have the eddas, the sagas and more. Though the ancient Minoans left us their writing in the form of Linear A, we can’t read it; in fact, we don’t even know what language the script records. So, essentially, we don’t have a recipe. But we’re good cooks, at least, I’d like to think so.

An accomplished cook knows the basic ingredients for a cake and is familiar with the process for creating the batter and baking it. A good cook probably has a collection of cookbooks that contain recipes similar to the one they want, but not exactly the same, and it might be hard to tell exactly how different the desired cake should be from the available recipes. That’s about the situation we’re in as we collaborate to create a Minoan spiritual tradition that’s accessible to modern Pagans but still true to the practices and beliefs of the ancient Cretans.

So we’ve been digging through academic journals and popular books about the archaeological finds from Crete, doing our best to piece together the information, as I did when I was writing Ariadne’s Thread, but on a larger scale. One of the big stumbling blocks is that most academics, including archaeologists, aren’t practicing Pagans. They don’t have the mindset that encompasses modern Paganism, much less ancient Minoan spirituality. So when they look at, for instance, the stones with ‘cup hole’ carvings in them, found at many of the ancient palace sites on Crete, their first thought is ‘board game.’ They don’t know about the ancient cup hole carvings in stones in the British Isles and other locations, where people to this day still leave offerings of milk and booze for the Fairies and the Wights. So we have to work our way around the academic mindset and see what we can find, sometimes glimpsing bits and pieces out of the corner of an eye.

So far we’ve collected up a rudimentary calendar. The temple-palaces on Crete, as well as the ancient beehive-shaped communal tombs, all have distinctive and repeating alignments to particular dates in the solar year. So we’ve included the solstices and equinoxes, as well as a grape-harvest festival at the end of August. We know about many of the deities, at least by the names the later Greeks called them (Rhea, Ariadne, Dionysos), and we have a basic idea of the attributes of those gods and goddesses. So we have the outline, but now we have to fill in the blanks. And that’s where the non-academic mindset comes in.

Go with your gut, my first priestess used to tell me. When you’re trying to figure something out, formulate the question clearly, and pay attention to the very first thing that slips across your mind before you’ve begun to properly think about the issue. That very first item that sneaks in under the radar of your analytic mind is probably the right answer. Often, it’s fleeting, and if you can grab onto it, it will turn out to be odd, uncomfortable. But experience tells me, it’s very often the right answer.

So we’re doing that on a collective level, asking each other how the goddesses and gods speak to us, what feels right or doesn’t. What colors does Ariadne bring to mind? How shall we set up an altar to Dionysos? If they celebrated the harvest this way in ancient Crete, how shall we celebrate it in our modern lives? As much as anything, this is an exercise in listening – to our hearts, to the gods, to the whisper of ancient Crete.

I’m sure we’ll end up discarding some ideas and changing others as we go along, as people try out the ritual calendar and the liturgy we’re building. I’m also sure the goddesses and gods of Crete will give us hints as to how we might go about honoring them, and we’ll do our best to listen. Because ultimately, it’s not about the people or the gods, but the relationship between the two. And the strongest, most lasting relationships are built on respect and the practice of listening, truly listening, to the other.

If you’d like to join us on our journey to build a modern Minoan spiritual practice, or just hang out and watch the process, please drop in at Ariadne’s Tribe. We’d love to meet you!

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I'm an artist, writer, and lover of all things ancient and mysterious. The Minoans of Bronze Age Crete have been a particular 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; my most recent work 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, I enjoy gardening and giving living history demonstrations at local historic sites.

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