Many symbols and images have held sacred meaning within religious traditions around the world and throughout time: the circle, the cross, the pillar, the pentagram. These symbols don’t necessarily mean the same thing in every tradition, and sometimes we can’t even be sure what the original significance was for each culture. One such symbol is the knot. You may be familiar with the tale of the Gordian knot from Greek and Roman mythology (the one Alexander the Great famously sliced with his sword) or the tyet of Isis from Egyptian mythology, often found in the form of amulets but also related to the knot on some Egyptian deities’ garments. But there’s another one you might not have heard of: the Minoan sacral knot. Let’s explore this symbol and see what we can discover about it.
The famed ‘snake goddess’ figurine from Knossos (in the photo at the top of this post) has an object that Sir Arthur Evans identified as a sacral knot between her breasts, at the top of the girdle that encircles her waist. A second ‘snake goddess’ figurine, also found at Knossos, has a similar, though larger, knot between the front edges of her top. I find it interesting that the snakes themselves form a large knot over her lower abdomen. I have to wonder if that has any significance. What do you think?
A mudra that links Star Trek, Orthodox Jewish liturgy, and the god of witches.
The “Vulcan salute” premiered in 1967 during Star Trek's second season. Series creator Gene Roddenberry felt that the words of the newly-invented Vulcan greeting needed some sort of physical gesture to go with them. Actor Leonard Nimoy held up his hand, palm facing out, thumb extended, fingers divided between the second and third fingers. In that moment, a pop-culture icon was born. Live long and prosper, folks.
Nimoy knew the gesture from his childhood. Six times a year in the Orthodox synagogue that his grandfather took him to, the kohanim—men from priestly families—would face the congregation, raise both hands before their faces making the same hand-sign, and pronounce the ancient Threefold Blessing:
Bulls.Big, strong, temperamental creatures that have had loomed large in man’s past.Bull jumping, bull baiting, bull fights and running of the bulls are events where they were, and in some cases still are, featured.They were used in the form of oxen to pull plows and carts.Their virility kept up herds, generating wealth for their owners. In some areas, placing a bull head above a door gives protection and luck much like the horse shoe. As sacrifices, few animals were more costly.From them we get the terms ‘seeing red’ and ‘bull-headed’.A lot of myths feature bulls, even modern myths like Paul Bunyan and his blue ox.In some cultures, earthquakes are blamed on a rowdy celestial bull believed to have the world upon its horns.A lot of masculine divinities, particularly those of the sun and the sky, are associated with bulls.