Modern Minoan Paganism: Walking with Ariadne's Tribe

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The Minoan Seal Ring Project: Sacred Art

In addition to being a writer, I'm also an artist, and I find myself inspired by the works of the ancient Minoans. One of the unique traditions the Minoans had was creating gold seal rings with ritual scenes on them. I've created my own modern art versions of these seal rings as a way of bringing the scenes alive.

Up top you can see my version of the gold seal ring found in the Isopata tomb at Knossos. Here's the original:

Isopata Minoan gold seal ring

The scene shows four women, presumably priestesses, in an ecstatic dance. If you look closely, you can see small round objects (probably bells) attached to the top layers of their skirts. The women are surrounded by lilies while interesting shapes float through the air around them and a small goddess figure floats in midair.

When I'm making my modern art versions of these seal rings, I take the best photo I can find of each seal ring and enlarge it quite a lot so I can see all the detail. It's truly amazing how much tiny, tiny detail there is on these rings - most of them are 3 cm wide or less.

The second piece I created for my Minoan Seal Ring Project is my version of the so-called Ring of Minos. Here's the original:

Minoan gold seal Ring of Minos

Now, it turns out that this one might be an early twentieth century forgery and not an actual ancient Minoan ring. Sir Arthur Evans' art director, Émile Gilliéron, and his staff had a thriving business making forgeries. Most of the pieces they made were copies of existing Minoan artifacts; they sold the copies to tourists. But some were original pieces designed to bolster Evans' various theories about Minoan religion and society.

The thing is, even if this ring is a forgery, it's an excellent example of Minoan religious iconography: the sacred boulders, the tree-shaking ritual, the goddess seated on her shrine, the sacred boat with its little shrine on board. So I find it inspiring, and I created my own version of it:

Ring of Minos by Laura Perry

I love the scale-like pattern the Minoans used to depict water. It makes me think of both the waves on the surface and the way light refracts through the water to make a pattern on the ocean floor beneath.

The third piece I've done in this series is a ring from the Minoan cemetery at Phourni near the modern town of Arkhanes. It shows a ritual scene with three people participating:

Arkhanes Phourni Minoan Seal Ring

I can just imagine the people actually performing this ritual, maybe with the rattle of sistrums going on in the background. The movement in their figures is so realistic even though this is such a tiny piece. Here's my take on it:

Arkhanes Phourni by Laura Perry

The realism and vibrancy of Minoan art continues to inspire me, both as an artist and as a priestess. Which Minoan seal do you think I should do next in this series?

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; one of my most recent works 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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