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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Dionysus

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Let's Celebrate the Feast of Grapes

It's time for the grape harvest! In Ariadne's Tribe, the last day of August is the Feast of Grapes, the celebration of the grape harvest and the death of the vine-god Dionysus.

The Feast of Grapes is set on a particular calendar date for the convenience of modern Pagans. In ancient Crete, the harvest happened when the grapes were just the right ripeness for picking. Depending on the weather and other influences, the date might have varied by as much as a week or two from year to year.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
It's the Wine Talking

There are two ritual activities we can be pretty sure the Minoans practiced: libations and divination.

We have lots of pictures of libations (poured offerings of liquids) in the frescoes, seals, and other art from ancient Crete. As for divination, besides the fact that pretty much every civilization has done its best to foresee the future, there are some interesting “floating organs” (hearts, livers, bones) on some of the seals that suggest the Minoans took part in the same kind of animal-organ auguries that many other ancient cultures used.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Minoan Midsummer: Layers of Religion

Religion isn’t a static thing. We don’t invent a religion once and leave it as is for centuries. Cultures change, people change, and spiritual practices change, too.

Minoan civilization lasted for centuries. The “palace” periods alone, the times when the big temple complexes were being built and rebuilt, lasted about 500 years. Minoan civilization as a whole lasted more than two thousand years. During that time, the spiritual practice in ancient Crete changed and grew.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Eating the Flesh of the Goddess

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Snakes! Why did it have to be snakes?

When I mention the Minoans of ancient Crete, the first thing that comes to mind for many people is the famous Snake Goddess statues. For us modern folks, they're icons of this ancient civilization. But what, exactly, do they represent? If we're really honest, the answer to that question is, "We're not sure."

There are many theories, of course. I think that falls under the umbrella of "Everyone has an opinion." But we simply don't know for sure because we don't have any Minoan-era documents that tell us anything about these figurines, no art that shows them being used. Linear A, the script the ancient Minoans used to write their native language, has never been deciphered. And the few documents we have that are written in Linear B, the script that records Mycenaean Greek from the time toward the end of Minoan civilization, don't say anything about snakes.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • tehomet
    tehomet says #
    I was lucky enough to visit Crete, many years ago. I got chatting to a local guy and he mentioned that the one thing he knew about
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    Wow, how interesting! So the reverence for snakes has come all the way down to the present day, even if it doesn't look quite the

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Moon, Stars, and Questions: Who is Asterion?

It’s always tricky, reconstructing ancient religious practices. We may or may not have reliable sources of information and from a distance of centuries, it’s hard to tell what really happened way back then. It’s especially tricky when the only written records we have were recorded by people who weren’t exactly friendly to our chosen culture, as I discussed in a recent guest post on a friend’s blog. This is the case with the ancient Minoans. Most of the mythology we know about from ancient Crete comes down to us from the Hellenic Greeks, who lived a thousand years after the collapse of Minoan civilization and whose Big Man culture held radically different values from the Minoans.

One Minoan deity whose identity we’ve been grappling with lately is known by the Greek epithet Asterion, which means ‘the starry one.’ The few references we have to this deity come from Pausanias, a Greek traveler and geographer who lived in the second century of this era; Pseudo-Apollodorus, the pen name of a Greek or Roman author who lived in the first or second century BCE; and Diodorus Siculus, a Greek historian who lived in the first century BCE.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I like Asterion as the sky-bull/constellation Taurus. Have you tried seeking personal communication with Asterion yet? I know so
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    No, I haven't, mainly because I only recently came up with this correlation. I've been grappling with the identity of Asterion for

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Many Faces of Minoan Dionysus

Most people are familiar with Dionysus as a vegetation god. In fact, that’s how he started life (so to speak) among humans, dying each year at the time of the grape harvest. In the Mediterranean, where Crete is located, that happens most years in late August or early September. So in many ways Dionysus is similar to the other dying-and-reborn vegetation gods we’re familiar with from the Near East, Europe and other regions.

But as so often happens, cultures change over time, inventing or importing new ideas and layering them onto what’s already there. Something like that happened with Dionysus in ancient Crete.

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