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.

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Modern Minoan Paganism: Is there a rule book?

When people find out that my main spiritual path is Minoan, they usually want to know more. And somewhere in that round of questions, they'll ask how to "do" Modern Minoan Paganism - what the rules are, the forms each practitioner must follow, and so on. When I tell them that it's a largely spirit-led practice, some people balk. That's understandable.

We live in a society whose most influential religions have whole books full of rules to follow, required forms of worship that are prescribed down to the exact words you must say, the exact ideas you must believe. We're taught from an early age that deviating from these rules will consign us to the flames of Hell or some equally horrible fate. It can feel positively heretical and even frightening to walk out onto a spiritual path that doesn't tell you what to do each and every step of the way. And of course, if there are rules, that gives a certain type of person the opportunity to notify others when they're doing it wrong.

The ancient Minoans certainly had formal rituals that they performed on a regular basis, forms of worship that were repeated at certain times on certain days. Theirs was a highly developed religion with a professional priesthood and permanent temples and shrines, in addition to whatever kinds of observances the ordinary people held in their own homes.

But we don't know what those formal rituals were. If the Minoans ever wrote them down in the first place (they may not have - there was often a prohibition in the ancient world about recording that sort of thing) it would probably have been on papyrus, which doesn't survive the ravages of time outside of the mummifying climate of Egypt.

We can make educated guesses about Minoan religion based on the artifacts we've found on Crete: altars, libation tables, incense burners and so on. We can contemplate the content of the rituals depicted in Minoan frescoes and seal rings. But we can't know for certain what they did. So how on earth do we figure out what to do?

We ask.

And then we listen for the answer.

The gods are always there, waiting. No, they're not likely to tell us exactly how the ancient Minoans spoke a blessing or poured a libation or made a sacrifice, but that's not what we need. We don't need to know how they did it. We need to know how we should do it.

The world changes over time, and the gods understand that fact. They understand that we need to connect with them now, through our modern psyches, in our contemporary world.

So when we experiment with ecstatic postures or meditate on a particular deity, we're not going to get a set of instructions for how the ancient Minoans did things (though many of us do receive visions and past life memories of ancient Minoan religion and culture). Instead, we get guidance for how we should do things. And when a bunch of us have the same vision, the same experience, we consider that to be evidence of the gods pointing us strongly in a particular direction (it's called Multiply Corroborated Gnosis).

I've written a book about ways to practice Modern Minoan Paganism, but it's not a rulebook. If you feel led to do something different, that's your prerogative - I'm not going to tell you that you're doing it wrong. As one of my shamanic teachers used to remind me, the spirits and the gods are our ultimate teachers. We should listen to them over any human being, since they're the ones we're aiming at in the first place.

So no, there are no rules for Modern Minoan Paganism. There are symbols and deities and common practices such as making offerings. But it's up to each practitioner to listen - really listen - to what the gods are telling them, and then follow up on that. That can be scary, especially if you're used to being told what to do. It's a lot of responsibility. But it opens up a whole pathway, a set of experiences that you simply can't access if you're following someone's rules instead of listening.

I expect that, eventually, we'll develop some standard rituals that people will repeat and share and enjoy. But I hope we never lose the wonder, the open-minded ability to let the gods lead us directly. To me, that's the most precious part of this path.

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; 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.

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