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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in dumb supper
Dining with the Ancestors: A Modern Minoan Rite

We're approaching Samhain here in the northern hemisphere, so my thoughts naturally turn toward the Ancestors. The Minoans didn't celebrate Samhain - it's a Celtic festival from a time many centuries after the fall of Minoan civilization and a place a great distance away from Crete. But the Minoans did honor the Ancestors and the spirits of the dead. In fact, as far as we can tell, that's something all ancient cultures did in one way or another.

The Minoans appear to have performed dining rites, something along the lines of a Dumb Supper, a meal where the spirits of the dead are invited as honored guests. The image at the top of this blog post is a fascinating terracotta model from the Minoan tholos tomb at Kamilari. It depicts four people in a dining shrine, seated with little tables in front of them. Two of the tables hold what appear to be loaves of bread. In front of the tables, two human-like figures are rising up out of the floor: the spirits of the dead.

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Honoring the Dead: Modern Minoan Seasonality

Where I live in the northern hemisphere, the wheel of the year is turning inexorably toward Samhain, and my thoughts of course turn toward the ancestors and the Blessed Dead.

Like many other ancient cultures, the Minoans held their ancestors in high regard and honored them in their spiritual practice. But they didn't celebrate Samhain. I'm sure many people in ancient Crete did a little something to honor their ancestors on a regular, perhaps daily basis the way I light a candle on my ancestor altar every evening. But their big ancestor celebration happened at harvest time, which in the Mediterranean occurs in the spring. So...not Samhain.

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