Modern Minoan Paganism: 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. Modern Minoan Paganism is not a purely 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?

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I don't like changing my mind: an essay in the evolution of Modern Minoan Paganism

One thing any researcher knows is that new information is liable to blow old theories to smithereens. The same holds true for Modern Minoan Paganism, an evolving path that incorporates not just archaeological information but also shared gnosis as we work our way forward in spiritual practice.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't like having to change my views. Once I think I have something figured out, it's very pleasant to just hang there, in that space, all smug and satisfied. But I've learned the hard way that nothing is that easy, not just in archaeology, but also in spirituality.

Like many people, I started out believing the ancient Minoans were the civilization of Atlantis and their sacred island of Thera was the place that was destroyed in the famous myth. But it turns out, the eruption of Thera didn't destroy Minoan civilization - the Minoans lived on happily (well, for the most part) for a couple of centuries afterward. So much for that theory.

Then I figured I understood the Minoan pantheon. Granted, we've had to piece it back together from the garbled remnants that survived the Bronze Age collapse to be enshrined, usually in twisted form, in later classical literature. But still, it seemed pretty solid.

The Earth Mother goddess Rhea was at the top, obviously, with her midwinter-born son Dionysus. The goddess Ariadne, the Minotaur (a horned god, not a monster) and the Labyrinth fit in neatly. I saw a family, headed by a loving mother goddess, encompassing male and female (and non-binary as well, thank you Dionysus) as well as the animals and plants of the Mediterranean.

But then we discovered Posidaeja, Grandmother Ocean: a great goddess indeed. And not too much later, the sun goddess Therasia made herself known to us. And the two of them let us know, in no uncertain terms, that they were part of a triplicity with Rhea. Shared gnosis, even combined with research, isn't always fun and games, especially if we've been wrong about something and the deities are trying to get a message through to us dense mortals.

Shared gnosis has led us to include Daedalus as a smith-inventor god, to consider Minos as a moon god, and to accept that the famed Sacred Horns denote the female cow as well as the male bull (plus a good handful of other meanings - nothing in Minoan iconography is ever simple!).

So now the pantheon looks a little different than it did when we started. Hovering above all the others are the Great Mothers, whom we often simply call the Three.

Each one has her own portion of the sacred realms: land, sea, and sky. We address them individually and collectively, and we're doing our best to listen as they (and all the other deities) tell us how to be in relationship with them in the modern world.

That's a challenge we face as modern Pagans: we don't have a temple priesthood to tell us how things are, so we have to figure it out ourselves, looking back across a vast chasm of time. Sure, it's all still there in the ether or the Akashic record or whatever you want to call it. But teasing out the details and interpreting them correctly isn't easy. And having them make sense in a world four millennia removed from the Minoans is a challenge, too.

So we listen, and we learn. And when we have to, we change. It's not always enjoyable but it is necessary if we're going to move forward and stay in respectful relationship with the Minoan gods and goddesses.

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

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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; 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, I enjoy gardening and giving living history demonstrations at local historic sites.

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