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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Offering to the Minoan Gods

Modern Minoan Paganism is a pretty broad path. People come to it from many different directions and backgrounds; our commonalities are the pantheon, the Minoan sacred calendar, a standard ritual format, and a few basic practices that we all share. Prominent among these is making offerings to the Minoan gods and goddesses. The image at the top of this post is a lovely three-footed offering table from Akrotiri decorated with dolphins. Perhaps its owner left fruit, flowers, seashells, or some other offering on it, dedicated to the ocean goddess Posidaeja or another favorite deity (though I'd vote for Posidaeja because of the dolphins).

Solid items can be set out on the altar or offering stands or at an appropriate outdoor location. Liquid offerings, called libations, should be poured - into another container (a bowl, for instance) or onto the ground. A libation can even be the centerpiece of a ritual for abundance.

The thing is, it's hard to tell exactly what kinds of offerings the ancient Minoans made to each deity, so we have to figure that part out ourselves. We usually determine that kind of thing by a combination of meditation/journeywork and actual practice. In other words, we ask the gods whether the offering would be a good one, then try it and see what happens. Sometimes I'll set a proposed offering near the altar and point my thoughts in the direction of the deity I want to give it to. Then I pay attention to what I sense: Do I feel compelled to go ahead and put the item on the altar? Do I get an uncomfortable feeling, like maybe the deity doesn't want that particular offering?

Each person has an individual relationship with the gods, but there will always be some commonalities with other Pagans who worship those deities. You could say the same thing about offerings. I like to organize offerings into three broad categories. There are some offerings that are "safe" for certain deities, items you can be sure that they'll accept and be happy with under pretty much any circumstances. Then there are offerings that they'll accept from one person but not another; there's a surprising amount of variance here, and I suspect it has a lot to do with which aspect of the deity each person focuses on. After all, the gods are every bit as multi-faceted as we are, maybe more. The last category of offering is the "no-go's." These are the ones a particular deity doesn't like and will be miffed if you give it to them. Fortunately, there aren't a whole lot of these.

Today I'd like to share some of the "safe bets" for the Minoan deities. These are offerings the deity enjoys receiving. If you think about it, they tend to resonate with each deity's qualities and characteristics. I've also included a few that you can experiment with to see if they work for you. Let's start with the Three Mothers:

Rhea: Milk is always a safe bet. Some people can offer her wine, but she doesn't always like it. She seems to like white wine better than red. Fruit that would have grown in ancient Crete (figs, dates, grapes, quinces) is generally acceptable. Grain offerings also work well; Rhea is the Grain-Mother, after all. You could offer dried grain, porridge, or some home-baked bread. The Minoans had three kinds of wheat plus barley and rye, so those are your best choices. Interestingly, Rhea also enjoys offerings of wool, especially unspun and otherwise unprocessed (unscoured, for those of you who are into the fiber arts). If you can get some fresh fleece from a farmer or a spinning and weaving supply shop, that's your best choice.

Posidaeja: water from any natural source. It doesn't have to be sea-water, since ultimately she is the Mother of all the Waters. Avoid chemical-treated tap water if you can. Bottled springs water is OK. She also loves flowers and seashells. Putting flowers on the altar is lovely, but if you have the chance, making a flower wreath or garland (out of fully biodegradable materials, of course) and tossing it into the ocean or some other body of water is a marvelous little offering rite.

Therasia: Fire offerings please our Sun goddess. She seems to prefer oil lamps to candles, though she likes the wood wick candles that crackle like a fire. But she really likes an actual fire: campfire, bonfire, fire in your fireplace, little fire in your cauldron. She also likes fiery scents like frankincense. Some of us like to offer "hot" scents like cinnamon and ginger, which were unknown to the Minoans but which fit the bill in the modern world. Therasia also likes retsina, the stronger the better, and she's the only Minoan deity who appears to enjoy distilled liquor, preferably amber in color (dark rum, whiskey/Scotch, that sort of thing). And of course, saffron is also her thing - either plain saffron threads or dissolved in some white wine so you can see the sunny yellow color develop.

And now their children:

Ariadne: saffron, pomegranates (fruit, seeds, juice), poppyseeds, red or white wine. Different colors of wine tend to evoke different faces of the goddess; use red wine if you're aiming for Queen of the Underworld (guardian of the Labyrinth and the spirits of the dead), but choose white wine for her aspect as the Goddess of Green Growing Things, the first sprouts that appear in the fields as the growing season begins. Saffron evokes her World Above face, while pomegranates and poppyseeds, as foods of the dead, call on her Underworld aspects.

Antheia: fresh flowers, especially yellow/gold and white ones. She's especially fond of daisy chains, garlands, and fresh flower necklaces and crowns.

Dionysus: wine, beer, mead. He doesn't generally like distilled liquor, but he adores brewed alcoholic beverages (though do be careful with the stranger modern flavored ones - sometimes he decides he doesn't like ones with certain herbs, fruits, or other flavorings). Interestingly, he will also generally accept offerings of homemade red wine vinegar, but not the store-bought stuff.

Amalthea: milk and/or honey. Goat's milk is preferred, but cow's milk will do if it's all that's available. Like Rhea, she also accepts offerings of wool - apparently sheep as well as goats are in her domain. She often accepts fresh goat cheese as well; just avoid adding anything to it except maybe a little honey. New World ingredients like cranberries (which show up in a lot of store-bought goat cheese, oddly) tend to confuse her.

Europa: cow's milk, red wine, white wine, or a combination of milk and wine. Choose the color of the wine based on the symbolism of your purpose for the offering.

The Male Horned Gods (Minotaur, Moon-Goat, Moon-Stag): red wine, the darker, the better. The kind whose name translates as "bull's blood" is a good choice for the Minotaur.

The Melissae: honey, mead, honey ale. Do you get the theme? At harvest time you can offer them bread (preferably homemade), porridge, and grain, preferably drizzled with honey. They also really like beeswax candles, even though the ancient Minoans didn't have candles, only oil lamps. The more your beeswax candles smell like honey, the more the Melissae will like them.

Eileithyia: honey and poppyseed are the traditional offerings to the midwife-goddess who may also be the Underworld face of our Sun goddess Therasia. But she also enjoys milk of all sorts and fresh-baked bread, especially if it's still warm from the oven (spread a little honey on it before offering it).

There are a few offering items that provoke strong reactions from the Minoan deities, so it's best to check carefully beforehand via meditation and prayer before offering them, and seriously consider not making them a part of your practice. High up on this list is meat. I've known people who hunted, who offered a portion of their venison kill to the Moon-Stag or Britomartis and had it graciously accepted. But I would still check first to be sure before making that offering, because Their answer might be "no." Offering meat that you've purchased is a very iffy thing, so tread carefully, even if you're simply trying to share one of your favorite foods with the gods. They have taste preferences every bit as much as we do. Always do your best to ascertain whether the deity will accept the item before offering it.

Another dicey offering item is blood. Blood of any sort (venous blood, menstrual blood, birthing blood, the blood from an animal you've hunted or slaughtered) has powerful connotations. Its presence in a sacred setting can easily offend or anger any number of deities. Offering your own blood can also tie you to the deity in ways you may not intend. Be especially careful when offering blood of any sort to Underworld deities unless that's where you want to end up.

If you feel compelled to offer blood of any sort, please take the time to connect with the god or goddess and make sure you understand the implications of what you're doing. The gods' reactions will tend to differ from one worshiper to another, so you can't necessarily depend on someone else's experience here. We know the ancient Minoans collected and used the blood of sacrificed animals in some way, but there were doubtless strong rules and taboos associated with the practice. Quite a few people have shared visions of private/secret women's rituals involving menstrual blood, but we aren't sure exactly what was involved or what the protocol was. Since we don't know for certain what any of those were, it's best to tread very carefully. There is no one-size-fits-all answer for this one.

Making offerings is a fairly easy way to connect with the deities, in much the same way that we might offer food or drink to special guests, family members, or dear friends when they come to visit as a way to show them how much we care about them. Offerings outline a path between us and the gods. They're not payment for services rendered (the gods aren't cosmic vending machines) but part of a relationship. Take your time to get to know the deities you'd like to connect with. You can start with the "safe bet" offerings, then try asking them what they would like from you in particular. Listen carefully and learn directly from the source. Then you're on your way.

What offerings have you made to the Minoan deities? How were they received?

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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