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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in ecstatic

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Modern Minoan Paganism: Ecstatic upraised arms

Strike a pose! Ecstatic postures have been a part of human religious practice for millennia, possibly going back as far as the Paleolithic. I've explored ecstatic postures and their place in Modern Minoan Paganism before. They're a kind of spiritual "tech" - like yoga and tai chi, ecstatic postures make energy move via the mechanism of holding the body in particular ways. We find examples of these postures in the form of votive figurines from Minoan sacred sites such as cave shrines and peak sanctuaries. The best-known of these postures is probably the famed Minoan salute.

Most ecstatic postures appear to have been used by spiritworkers and worshipers to journey to specific places in the Otherworld or to connect with particular deities or spirits. In that sense, the usual museum label of "worshiper figurine" is accurate.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Fun Is Magic

Celebrate your Pagan heart.

 

Everything and everyone has magic.

 

Fun is magic. We can change our lives and the world for the better through fun during ritual.

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Minoan Bell Jar Goddesses: All the funny hats

When someone says "Minoan" many people immediately think of the snake goddess figurines from Knossos. But there are other goddess figurines from ancient Crete that are just as interesting, maybe more so. Case in point: the Poppy Goddess shown at the top of this post.

She wears a crown with three poppy seed pods that have visibly been scored so the latex will ooze out, part of the process for making opium, which the Minoans appear to have used ritually. Like all the other bell jar goddess figurines (so called because of the shape of their skirts), she has her arms raised in a gesture that looks a lot like the Minoan sacred horns.

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Minoan Ecstatic Postures: The Realm of the Dead

A couple of weeks ago I started exploring some of the ritual postures we find in Minoan art, mostly in the form of bronze and terracotta figurines. I began with the famous Minoan Salute and then had a look at the posture I call Shading the Eyes (and no, that’s not an ancient Minoan Weeping Angel, I promise! LOL).

This week I’ve done some experimentation with a posture that’s most common in Cycladic art, one that appears to link the user to the Realm of the Dead. You can see an example of it in the photo at the top of this post. These figurines, usually made of marble, show a person (most often a woman) with their arms across their abdomen, the left arm above the right.

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Minoan Ecstatic Postures: Shading the Eyes

Last week I began exploring Minoan ecstatic postures, starting with the most famous and familiar one: the Minoan salute. Many modern Pagan traditions use specific poses and gestures in ritual in much the same way that some varieties of Christianity use the gesture of making the cross. These are meant to symbolize parts of the spiritual belief system and to remind us of those during the rite. Ecstatic postures look very much like ritual gestures - in fact, they can be used as ritual gestures - but ultimately they have a different purpose.

A ritual gesture is a pose or motion you make briefly during a religious ceremony. If you hold it for a few seconds or maybe a minute, it might give you a particular feeling or sense of something sacred. An ecstatic posture is a pose you hold for an extended period of time while undergoing ecstatic (shamanic) trance. If that sounds really deep and freaky, it's not. Most people can enter a light trance state simply by focusing on their breathing for a minute or two. A little drumming in the background helps to deepen the state. You don't have to take drugs or go through extended initiations in order to use these postures to expand your spiritual experience. If you've ever done a guided meditation, you've been in trance.

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Minoan Ecstatic Postures: Beginning the Adventure

One aspect of ancient religious practice that’s not terribly familiar to modern Pagans is ecstatic postures. No, I'm not talking about what you do at the local nightclub when your favorite music is playing! But ecstatic postures are kinda-sorta related to that kind of experience. These are poses or positions of the body and arms that are designed to produce specific experiences during shamanic trance work. At least a dozen different Minoan ecstatic postures appear in the form of little bronze and terracotta figurines from ancient Crete. Many of these were votive offerings at peak sanctuaries and cave shrines, but some have been found in the temple complexes as well. 

A while back I reviewed Belinda Goodman’s excellent book Ecstatic Body Postures which includes a couple of poses that are found in ancient Crete. Reading that book was the inspiration for the shamanic work I’ve done since then that centers around the Minoan postures. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share with you my experiences using these poses. I encourage you to try them out on your own and let me know what you experience.

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Minoan Ecstatic Postures: Saluting the Sacred

If you participate in ritual, you're probably familiar with the idea of sacred postures. Many modern Pagan traditions include gestures such as the "Osiris pose" (arms crossed over the chest with hands on the shoulders) or the "Goddess pose" (arms raised to the sides with hands up and palms facing forward). Ancient religions included sacred postures as well. One of the most famous is the Minoan salute, shown above, with the right arm raised and the loosely-curled fist placed with the back of the hand against the forehead (all images in this post are from Wikimedia Commons).

Those of us who practice modern Minoan Paganism have worked extensively with the Minoan salute. Like other sacred postures, if held for a while, it will induce a gently altered state of consciousness. Belinda Gore and the folks at the Cuyamungue Institute in New Mexico have studied the effects and uses of ecstatic postures for years; I reviewed Belinda Gore's excellent book on ecstatic postures a while back. It turns out, the use of ritual postures goes back to the Stone Age and each one induces an altered state with a slightly different focus. And the Minoans had a whole collection of postures they used, not just the famous salute. Over in Ariadne's Tribe, we've been experimenting with these postures for a while and sharing our experiences so we can have an experiential window into ancient Minoan spirituality.

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