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?

To join the discussion about ancient Minoan culture and Modern Minoan Paganism, pop on over to our Ariadne's Tribe group on Facebook.

  • 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

Let's Celebrate the Feast of Grapes

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

It's time for the grape harvest! In Modern Minoan Paganism, the last day of August is the Feast of Grapes, the celebration of the gathering of the grapes but also the death of the vine-god Dionysus, who sacrifices himself for us in a way similar to the grain-gods of northern Europe.

Like the northern European harvest festivals of Lammas and Autumn Equinox, the Feast of Grapes is set on a particular calendar date for the convenience of modern Pagans. In ancient Crete, the harvest happened when the grapes were just the right ripeness for picking. Depending on the weather and other influences, the date might have varied by as much as a week or two from year to year. If I were celebrating based on my own grapevine, I would have done it two weeks ago, when we picked the deliciously ripe muscadines and savored them in our own casual ceremony that included a bottle of muscadine wine from a previous year's brewing.

What might an interested Pagan do to celebrate the Feast of Grapes? Bull-leaping and other funeral games for Dionysus are probably beyond the scope of most of us. But setting up an altar to Dionysus isn't. Wine is an obvious choice; red wine in particular is historically accurate. If you don't drink alcohol, purple grape juice will also work, but if you do drink (even if you can't right now due to pregnancy or other medical issues) I recommend that you use actual wine for offerings and other activities that don't involve actually drinking it, in order to keep in Dionysus' good graces.

So, besides drinking it, what can you do with wine for the Feast of Grapes? How about pouring a libation and making a toast to Dionysus? You can even do some interesting divination using wine. Dionysus has access to the Underworld and the Ancestors, so he can help you find the answers to all kinds of questions.

Some people think any kind of ritual honoring Dionysus must involve drunkenness or other forms of intoxication. It's true that ancient cultures, including the Minoans, used intoxicants and hallucinogens in many of their rituals. The Minoans appear to have been quite fond of wine laced with opium and probably ergot as well. But they weren't wild partiers. They took these substances in controlled circumstances, monitored by people with experience, and with particular goals and purposes in mind. If you know what you're doing, go right ahead, but I strongly recommend saving any experimentation with this sort of thing for times when someone more experienced can lead and teach you. Dionysus may sound like a great party-god, but he's quite powerful and can lead you into some really dark areas that you might not be prepared for if you don't know what you're doing.

If you'd like to experience Dionysus' energy in a gentler way, you might try the intoxication of rhythm. The deep, repetitive rhythm of drumming entrains the human brain into a light trance state. Dancing to drumming adds to the effect. You don't have to do anything fancy - simply stepping around a circle in time with the rhythm is sufficient.

A big part of what Dionysus helps people do is break down boundaries - the boundaries between the ordinary and the numinous, the walls we build up to hide parts of us from ourselves and others, the barriers we erect to keep ourselves from attaining whatever we think we're not worthy of. If you ask him, he'll help you release these limits, but be careful what you ask for - you're likely to get it!

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen!

Last modified on
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.

Comments

Additional information