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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The Mysteries: The cycle of being

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

You've probably heard the story of Persephone's abduction to the Underworld by Hades and her mother Demeter's frantic search for her afterward.

But what if the original story was a little different from that?

Instead of the young goddess being taken against her will and needing to be rescued, what if she descended to the Underworld of her own free will, to aid and guard the spirits of the dead during the fallow season when she wasn't needed in the World Above? And what if her mother didn't frantically search to find her, but simply went to where she already knew her daughter was, in order to let her know it was time to ascend from the Underworld?

The Persephone-and-Demeter story was enshrined in the Eleusinian Mysteries, which were so popular they survived from classical times several centuries into the Christian era. It's possible that the Eleusinian Mysteries began in the pre-Greek era, perhaps in Minoan Crete and/or mainland Greece among the people who lived there before the arrival of the Indo-European Mycenaeans (check out Karl Kerenyi's book Dionysos for some interesting theories along these lines).

If the Mysteries began among the Minoans, what might that story have looked like?

To begin with, the daughter goddess would be Ariadne and the mother goddess would be Rhea. In her book Lost Goddesses of Early Greece, Charlene Spretnak offers a lovely, poetic imagining of just such a tale. And in Ariadne's Tribe, we've developed our own mythos for this festival, incorporating it into our sacred calendar.

Our story is not one of abduction, loss, and grief, but of loving responsibility, caring, and compassion. Ariadne is a psychopomp: She escorts the spirits of the dead to the Underworld and cares for them there. But she's also the embodiment of the grain crop, the green growing things in the fields - a gift to the people from her mother, the grain goddess Rhea.

So Ariadne splits her time between the World Above and the World Below every year, spending the growing season "up top" and the dead/fallow season (which, in the Mediterranean, is the summer) "down below." She does this not under duress but out of love and compassion.

This time of year in the Mediterranean (early September), the dry season is coming to an end. The rains will begin soon, and the farmers will plow their fields and plant their crops. It's time for Ariadne to come back up from the Underworld and join the dance of life in the World Above. So Rhea asks the young Dionysus to bear a torch for her and lead her to her daughter in the World Below - Dionysus can do this because he, like Ariadne, is a psychopomp. Rhea has to go fetch Ariadne because time passes differently in the Underworld than it does in the World Above.

The Underworld is a big place, and it takes a while for Rhea to find her daughter - ten days, to be exact. When Rhea finds Ariadne, the young goddess knows it's time to shift from one set of responsibilities to another, from caring for the dead to supporting the living. Together she and her mother rise up from the Underworld as the growing season begins.

For us in Ariadne's Tribe, the Mysteries are a ten-day festival that runs from September 1 to September 10, dates we've chosen based on the time of the heliacal rising of two stars during the Bronze Age. Arcturus, the star that represents young Dionysus' torch, had its heliacal rising on September 1 during Minoan times. And Spica, the grain of wheat in the hand of the Mother Goddess (the constellation Virgo) had its heliacal rising ten days later.

You can find some ideas for how to celebrate the Mysteries here.

So we give thanks for the gifts the Great Mother and her Daughter share with us. We give thanks for the grain that sustains our bodies, for the sacred love that sustains our souls, and for the goddess whose caring and compassion will sustain our spirits in the World Beyond.

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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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