Modern Minoan Paganism: Walking with Ariadne's Tribe

Walk the sacred labyrinth with Ariadne, the Minotaur, the Great Mothers, Dionysus, and the rest of the Minoan pantheon. Modern Minoan Paganism is an independent polytheist spiritual tradition that brings the gods and goddesses 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 Modern Minoan Paganism on our website: We're a 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 Ecstatic Postures: Shading the Eyes

Last week I began exploring Minoan ecstatic postures, starting with the most famous and familiar one: the Minoan salute. Many modern Pagan traditions use specific poses and gestures in ritual in much the same way that some varieties of Christianity use the gesture of making the cross. These are meant to symbolize parts of the spiritual belief system and to remind us of those during the rite. Ecstatic postures look very much like ritual gestures - in fact, they can be used as ritual gestures - but ultimately they have a different purpose.

A ritual gesture is a pose or motion you make briefly during a religious ceremony. If you hold it for a few seconds or maybe a minute, it might give you a particular feeling or sense of something sacred. An ecstatic posture is a pose you hold for an extended period of time while undergoing ecstatic (shamanic) trance. If that sounds really deep and freaky, it's not. Most people can enter a light trance state simply by focusing on their breathing for a minute or two. A little drumming in the background helps to deepen the state. You don't have to take drugs or go through extended initiations in order to use these postures to expand your spiritual experience. If you've ever done a guided meditation, you've been in trance.

Ecstatic trance states are considered kind of unusual, even 'fringe,' in modern society but that hasn't always been the case. As recently as the Middle Ages, people entered trance states on purpose in order to come closer to the divine. I tend to think we're a bit ecstasy deprived these days. We spend our days in the mechanical-electronic modern world but we're not mechanical-electronic beings. Sometimes we need something more, something beyond the material and the ordinary.

Why would anyone be interested in ecstatic postures? I use them to deepen my relationships with the Minoan deities and to ask them for help with personal and spiritual issues. Each posture or set of postures has a particular 'wavelength' that focuses on a deity. The Minoan salute, for instance, always leads me to Rhea's cave. I'd love to hear whether it does the same for you.

This week I'm sharing another pose from the Minoan repertoire. I call this one Shading the Eyes. You can see an example of it in the image at the top of this post. In this pose, you stand straight up (as opposed to arching your back for the Minoan salute) with your head tilted just a bit downward. Your hands are open flat or lightly curled, side by side, touching your forehead as if you were shading your eyes.

For me, this pose is also connected with Rhea. But in this case it leads me to the mountains, not the caves. When I use Shading the Eyes, I consistently end up at a waterfall in a gorge high in the mountains of Crete. For such a small island, Crete has some really astounding mountains - they're tall and craggy, almost like the Rockies. And like Rhea herself, they're awe-inspiring.

There's a variation of this pose that involves shading the eyes with your right hand and crossing the left hand over to rest on your right shoulder. Here's what it looks like:


Shading the Eyes variation


This variation leads me to the mountaintops of Crete - those jagged, windy, towering peaks that held the Minoans in such awe that they built sacred sanctuaries atop them. And there I come face-to-face with Rhea as the Mountain Mother. It's this face of the Minoan Great Mother Goddess that I believe is depicted in the famous Peak Goddess seal impression from Knossos:


Peak Goddess seal impression from Knossos


I hope you'll take the opportunity to explore some of these postures and discover where they lead for you. I'd love to hear your experiences, either in the comments below or in our welcoming community on Facebook: Ariadne's Tribe.

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

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Laura Perry is a priestess and creator who works magic with words, paint, ink, music, textiles, and herbs. She is the founder and Temple Mom of Modern Minoan Paganism. 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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