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.

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Minoan 3D, Part 3: Critter Rhytons

This is the third in a four-part series about the 3D elements in Minoan art. Find the other posts here: Part One, Part Two, Part Four.


In my previous post in this series, I explored Minoan ceramics with 3D decorations on them. This time, we're going to look at some ceramic containers where the entire piece is the 3D element. And no, these are definitely not ordinary pitchers.

Pitchers / rhytons of all sorts are among the more numerous Minoan ceramics. They were used both for ordinary cooking and dining as well as for ritual libations. And they appear in ordinary pitcher format as well as a wide variety of animal shapes.

For instance, there's the bird-shaped rhyton at the top of this post - or maybe I should call it a borb? It's definitely unusual, from the modern point of view.

But bird-shaped rhytons were actually pretty popular in Minoan Crete. They came in a wide variety of forms, based perhaps on each individual artist's creative vision. And they might be related to the nippled ewers and beaked pitchers I've talked about before, homages to the Neolithic Bird Goddess the Minoans continued to revere well into the Bronze Age.

Here's one example that appears to have been made purposely without a head and with textured wings:

Minoan headless bird rhyton
Image CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

And a few funky, weird ones that are officially classified as bird rhytons. But I have questions.

Minoan bird rhyton with looped handle
Image CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons


Minoan bird rhyton?
Image CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons


Minoan bird shaped rhyton
Image CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Here's one that's labeled in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum as a bull, but it's pretty clearly meant to look like a ram from the curly-horned sheep breed the Minoans raised. Though I will say, that pitcher spout rising up out of its back looks quite uncomfortable.

Minoan sheep ram rhyton
Image CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Cattle were a popular form for rhytons. They're all labeled as bulls in the museums because apparently archaeologists and museum curators are unaware that until quite recently, both bulls and cows had horns. Some rhytons are clearly bulls, like this gorgeous fellow with his heavy neck musculature and glorious curly coat:

Minoan bull's head rhyton
Image Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

This one may be a friendly cow rather than a bull:

Minoan bovine rhyton
Image Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

In Ariadne's Tribe, we have both cow and bull Horned Ones deities, so we're delighted to see both bovine sexes represented in Minoan art. Of course, they're not all realistic enough to be able to tell whether they're bulls or cows. Like this interesting, cartoonish one - and no, I don't know why it has Frankenstein bolts sticking out of the sides of its neck. They may have been anchors for a cord used as a handle, but no one is sure.

Minoan spotted bovine rhyton
Image CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

I'm quite fond of this pig-shaped rhyton. Yes, the Minoans had pigs along with all their other livestock.

Minoan pig-shaped rhyton
Image CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

And I would be remiss if I didn't include this hysterical rhyton, shaped like the human animal. I love the curly bangs!

Minoan footed rhyton shaped like human head
Image CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

That completes our brief tour of 3D Minoan rhytons. But never fear, there's even more 3D fun to come... in the form of carved stone vessels and faience plaques.


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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.


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