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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in knossos

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Offerings, Minoan Style

We're modern people, not Bronze Age Minoans. But in Modern Minoan Paganism, we do some things that ancient people would have found familiar. Among those is the presentation of offerings to the gods. We do this quietly on our home altars or a bit more loudly sometimes, in group ritual.

A while back, I wrote about the kinds of offerings we make to the various gods and goddesses - what they like and what they don't. But the way we make offerings, or more specifically, the kinds of containers we use for them, take their inspiration from the Minoans.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Minoan Sun Goddess: Hail Therasia!

Over in Ariadne's Tribe, we've been chasing the Minoan sun goddess for some time now. It has long been a given that there is a Minoan sun goddess; Nanno Marinatos even wrote a book that's largely about her, without being able to properly identify her (and clinging far too heavily to some of Sir Arthur Evans' ideas, in my opinion, but that's a rant for another day). Several of us have had dreams and visions of the Minoan sun goddess, and folk dance from around the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean enshrines a regional sun goddess even today. So who is she? What are her symbols? How can we connect with her?

We believe her name is Therasia, and she is the goddess whose throne so famously sits in a room just off the central courtyard in the Knossos temple complex. If you look closely at the front of that throne, you'll see the sun rising over the double-peaked sacred summit of Mt. Juktas. But there are far more clues than just the carving on the front of the throne.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Taking Myth Literally: How it trips us up

All my life, I've heard people complain about the Christians who take the stories in the Bible literally rather than as allegory or symbolic storytelling. A few days ago, I realized that Pagans sometimes do the same thing, and I think they probably have for centuries, right back into ancient times. Case in point: the Labyrinth.

The Greeks, who are ancient to us but who lived centuries later than Minoan civilization, figured that the Labyrinth must have been an actual physical structure of some sort. And they assumed that the Minoan inventor/smith god Daedalus, whom they viewed as a mortal man, had built it. The Greek historian Herodotus, who lived a solid millennium after the fall of Minoan civilization, wrote about a huge temple building in Egypt with hundreds of rooms and winding passageways, and he called it a labyrinth (yes, it's a real thing - archaeologists have found it). Then, when Sir Arthur Evans unearthed the ruins of the Minoan temple complex at Knossos a century ago, he was sure he had found the original Labyrinth, the famed home/cage of the Minotaur, built by Daedalus.

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Lovely - we just worked that myth at Reclaiming's California Witchcamp -

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Ancient Crete Was No Utopia

One of the dangers of having an ancient civilization as the focus of our spirituality is the tendency to view that culture through rose-colored glasses. That’s especially tempting when it comes to ancient Crete and the Minoan civilization that flourished there in the third and second millennium BCE.

There are so many positive aspects of Minoan culture: Women had high status and the Goddess was revered. Minoan cities and towns had paved streets, enclosed sewers, and flush toilets. The Minoans appear not to have had any sort of military, choosing instead to invest all their energy and wealth into what was probably the largest merchant fleet in the Mediterranean at the time, so their society was prosperous and relatively peaceful.

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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 practice changes, too.

Minoan civilization lasted for centuries. Just the “palace” periods, 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 millennia. And during that time, the spiritual practice in ancient Crete changed and grew.

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A toast to the Minoans!

It can be hard to figure out what kinds of rituals and traditions people of the past had, especially if we don't have any written records of them. But sometimes art can help. The image at the top of this post is part of the Camp Stool fresco from Knossos, the largest of the ancient Minoan cities. It shows a banqueting scene that includes ritual toasting, a common activity in many societies from that time. Here's a reconstruction of the whole fresco, with two rows of people participating in toasts and possibly libations (poured offerings) as well:

  

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How history changes: The Minoans and their neighbors

History changes, I'm telling you. OK, the things that actually happened way-back-when don't really change, but our interpretation of them sure does. It's amazing how much our understanding of ancient Minoan culture has changed in the century or so since Sir Arthur Evans first uncovered the ruins of the temple complex at Knossos.

For instance, Evans was caught up in the ancient Egypt craze that had been bubbling along for decades as early archaeologists began uncovering Egyptian artifacts and translating Egyptian hieroglyphic texts. He considered Egypt to be the high civilization of the ancient world. So when he discovered that the Minoans - who flourished at about the same time as Old and Middle Kingdom Egypt - had complex architecture, paved roads, enclosed sewers, and other markers of a 'proper' civilized society, he assumed they had borrowed it all wholesale from Egypt.

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