Ariadne's Tribe: Minoan Spirituality for the Modern World

Walk the sacred labyrinth with Ariadne, the Minotaur, the Great Mothers, Dionysus, and the rest of the Minoan family of deities. Ariadne's Tribe is an independent spiritual tradition that brings the deities of the ancient Minoans alive in the modern world. We're a revivalist tradition, not a reconstructionist one. We rely heavily on shared gnosis and the practical realities of Paganism in the modern world. Ariadne's thread reaches across the millennia to connect us with the divine. Will you follow where it leads?

Find out all about Ariadne's Tribe at We're an inclusive, welcoming tradition, open to all who share our love for the Minoan deities and respect for our fellow human beings.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Grandmother Ocean: constant inspiration

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

The Minoans revered the sea, and that makes perfect sense. After all, they lived on an island just south of Greece. Granted, it's a fairly large one as islands go: about 260 km (160 miles) long and 60 km (37 miles) wide.

Still, the weather on Crete has always been mediated by the sea. And the Minoans plied their trade, becoming the wealthiest merchants of their time, by sailing large ships around the Mediterranean and probably even out the Straits of Gibraltar, up the Atlantic coast of Europe.

In Ariadne's Tribe, we call the Minoan sea goddess Posidaeja, a name that first appears in written form on Linear B tablets during the Mycenaean occupation of Crete.

The island of Crete rises up out of the water, born from the sea, if you will. Its weather and all the life on the island are directly influenced by the Mediterranean that surrounds it. You can tell how important the sea was to the Minoans from its presence in their art and their sacred spaces.

Some of us also address the Minoan sea goddess as Thalassa, a name the Greeks connected with the primal spirit of the sea. Considering that life on Earth began in the oceans, it makes sense for the sea to be at the base of it all.

Minoan merchants made their living on the sea, and throughout the many centuries of Minoan civilization, the people relied on the sea as a source of food. But I think the Minoans also appreciated the beauty of the marine world, with its varied and fascinating plant and animal inhabitants.

For instance, as far as we know they didn't eat dolphins, but there are a lot of dolphins in Minoan art, and not just the famous fresco at the top of this page. Here's a lovely stirrup jar with a leaping dolphin on it (all images are from Wikimedia Commons):


Minoan pottery stirrup jar from Crete 1400-1200 BCE


And dolphins leaping around boats in the harbor of Akrotiri on the island of Thera (the island's modern-day name is Santorini):


Akrotiri fresco of boat and dolphins in harbor


Now, the Minoans did eat octopus, but they also appreciated the beauty of this fascinating creature, with its undulating legs and body.  Here's a big-eyed octopus on a larnax (a box-shaped sarcophagus) from ancient Crete:


Minoan larnax with octopus


And another one, this time on a vase:


Minoan vase with octopus


The Minoans also created whole seascapes of marine life. The waters around Crete are fairly clear, so even someone in a boat would have been able to view some of what lived beneath the waves. And I'm sure people swam in the ocean as well, possibly to dive for shellfish and other tasty morsels, and they would have gotten an even better view. Here's a lively seascape on a pottery jug:


Minoan wine jug with marine life


Those funny-looking shapes at the top of the jug, the ones with the honeycomb-looking stuff inside them, tell us that this is an underwater scene, possibly at or near one of the sea caves that ring the island - that's how the Minoan artists depicted coral. Here's another lovely one:


Minoan pottery jug with marine life


Those interesting creatures with the tentacles flowing out from them are paper nautiluses, also known as argonauts. They're a type of deep-sea octopus that makes a nautilus-shaped floating egg case. The Minoans must have encountered them on their many sailing voyages.

The Minoans also prized triton shells. Many such shells have been found at Minoan sites. In fact, the Minoans loved triton shells so much, they even made fake ones out of pottery and stone. Here's an artificial one carved from stone:


Minoan pottery conch shell


Throughout the centuries of their civilization, the Minoans revered the sea, but the number of representations of marine creatures in Minoan art drastically increased after the Thera eruption in about 1625 BCE. That's the era when marine ware ceramics practically exploded onto the scene.

Before that time, Minoan society was pretty stable and secure. But when the tsunamis and earthquakes came in the wake of the Thera eruption, destroying the coastal cities of north and east Crete, the Minoans probably had to turn back to the sea for survival. And Grandmother Ocean always provides: fish, flying fish, octopus, squid, and more.

Last modified on
Laura Perry is a priestess and creator who works magic with words, paint, ink, music, textiles, and herbs. She's the founder and Temple Mom of Ariadne's Tribe, an inclusive Minoan spiritual tradition. When she's not busy drawing and writing, you can find her in the garden or giving living history demonstrations at local historic sites.


Additional information