The description of my Facebook group Ariadne's Tribe states that Modern Minoan Paganism isn't a reconstructionist tradition. That's true. Reconstructionist traditions use texts from the original culture to figure out what the religion looked like back then, and we don't have any Minoan texts that we can read. Linear A, the script the Minoans used to record their native language, is still untranslated. But we do have something close that has been deciphered: Linear B.
I know, the names of these scripts are maddeningly non-descriptive, but they tell us one thing right up front: Linear A came first, with the Minoans, who were one of the indigenous peoples of Old Europe and who inhabited Crete beginning in Neolithic times. Later, during the Bronze Age, the Mycenaean Greeks (who were an Indo-European people) came down through the Greek peninsula and met up with the Minoans. They learned a lot from the Minoans, including how to write (they were illiterate before contact with the Minoans).
Many women are drawn to the image of the Sacred Marriage—perhaps especially those raised in Roman Catholic or Protestant traditions where sex is viewed as necessary for procreation but nothing more, and who learn that the naked female body as symbolized by Eve is the source of sin and evil. In this context, the positive valuing of sexuality and the female body found in symbols of the Sacred Marriage can feel and even be liberating.
Birds of all kinds are a common theme throughout Minoan art. We find them in natural settings and in ritual art, and in some very interesting combinations that suggest the Minoans worshiped a Bird Goddess.
In many cases, the artist depicted the birds with naturalistic realism, to the point that we can often identify the specific species. These images include swallows and partridges:
Max Dashu’s Witches and Pagans: Women in European Folk Religion 700-1000challenges the assumption that Europe was fully Christianized within a few short centuries as traditional historians tell us. Most of us were taught not only that Europe became Christian very rapidly, but also that Europeans were more than willing to adopt a new religion that was “superior” to “paganism” in every way. Careful readers of Dashu’s important new work will be challenged to revise their views. When the full 15 volumes of the projected series are in print, historians may be forced to hang their heads in shame. This of course assumes that scholars will read Dashu’s work. More likely they will ignore or dismiss it, but sooner or later--I dare to hope--the truth will out.
History has been written by the victors—in the case of Europe by elite Christian men. These men may have wanted to believe that their views were widely held, but Dashu suggests that they were not.
"[T]he Old European sacred images and symbols were never totally uprooted; these persistent features in human history were too deeply implanted in the psyche. They could have disappeared only with the total extermination of the female population." Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess, 318.
August 15 is known to Greek Christians as the date of the Koimisi, "Falling Asleep" or Dormition of the Panagia, She Who Is All Holy. December 25 is a minor holiday in the Orthodox tradition, while Easter and August 15 are major festivals. The mysteries of Easter and August 15 concern the relation of life and death. In Orthodox theology, both Easter and August 15 teach that death is overcome: Jesus dies and is resurrected; Mary falls asleep and is assumed into heaven. These mysteries contain the promise that death is not the final end of human life. Yet this may not be the meaning of the rituals for many of those who participate in them.