A few weeks ago, I wrote about Minoan deity names in Linear B, the script the Mycenaean Greeks used to write their language toward the end of Minoan civilization. We still can't read Linear A, the script the Minoans used to write their native language. But the Mycenaeans borrowed so much of Minoan religion and culture that their texts give us a lot of information, even if most of them are just inventory lists of donations to temples.

Last time, I mentioned Atana Potnia, the early precursor to Athena who was apparently worshiped at Knossos and who may have been part of the Minoan pantheon. But we have quite a few more names of gods and goddesses, some of whom are manifestly Minoan and some of whom look to be a part of the blended Minoan-Mycenaean culture that lasted for several centuries before the Late Bronze Age collapse of cultures around the Mediterranean.

Today we'll look at a couple who are native to Crete, members of the Minoan pantheon. Here's a goddess who's very important to those of us who practice Modern Minoan Paganism:


Lady of the Labyrinth


The Lady of the Labyrinth is, of course, Ariadne, who was maligned by the Greeks as a mere maiden with a ball of string, but who has finally come back to us as the powerful goddess she truly is.

Though the Greeks tried to turn the Labyrinth into an actual building constructed by the architect-god Daedalus, it was never a physical structure; the Labyrinth is a spiritual pathway to the Underworld and your own inner world. The Crane Dance, sacred to Ariadne, is the ritual embodiment of the Labyrinth, the motion that takes us on the sacred journey. So when we walk the labyrinth, the design that's marked on the ground isn't the real labyrinth: our motion and life energy creates a sacred labyrinth that is generated out of the sacred act.

How about a god from Minoan times? This one is appropriate for this time of year, as we approach Solstice:



The Psychro Cave on Mt. Dikte has been sacred to the Minoan mother goddess Rhea since early Minoan times. It's here that the divine infant Dionysus, the Minoan sacred year-king, is born at sunrise on Winter Solstice.

The Greeks liked to call foreign gods by the names of their Greek equivalents (the Romans took up this practice later on as well). So the Greeks said it was "Cretan Zeus" who was born in that cave. But really, it was Dionysus, whom they called Cretan Zeus (which some writers later truncated to just "Zeus") because he appeared to be the highest-ranking male deity in the Minoan pantheon. And one of this names was Diktaios, the One Born in Her Sacred Cave. If you'd like to know more about Minoan Dionysus, I recommend Karl Kerenyi's classic work Dionysus: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life.

In the name of the bee,
And of the butterfly,
And of the breeze, amen.