A few weeks ago, I wrote about Minoan deity names in Linear B, the script the Mycenaean Greeks used to write their language toward the end of Minoan civilization. We still can't read Linear A, the script the Minoans used to write their native language, but the Mycenaeans borrowed so much of Minoan religion and culture that their texts give us a lot of information, even if most of them are just inventory lists of donations to temples.
Last time, I mentioned Atana Potnia, the early precursor to Athena who was apparently worshiped at Knossos. But we have quite a few more names of gods and goddesses, some of whom are manifestly Minoan and some of whom look to be a part of the blended Minoan-Mycenaean culture that lasted for several centuries before the Late Bronze Age collapse of cultures around the Mediterranean.
It snowed in the Blue Mountains, where I live. It's always colder here than in Sydney, the mountains - which are not really mountains at all, but a plateau pushed up from the sea one hundred and seventy million years ago - are a kilometre above sea level and have their own weather. Which means that, although it never snows in Sydney, it does sometimes snow up here.
I was coming back from Sydney, on the train and I watched as the rain drops falling outside the window somehow seemed to get lighter, to become blown about by the wind, I watched them becoming snow as the train moved higher and further west. It was late afternoon and out the window I saw small dips in the land filled with ferns carrying a delicate blanket of snow on their fronds, like icing, it was truly magical. I stared and stared.
When I tell people I follow a Minoan spiritual path, one of the first things they ask about is the labyrinth. Often, all they know about the labyrinth is what they've heard from the Theseus-and-the-Minotaur story. The thing is, the Greeks invented Theseus as a culture hero centuries after Minoan civilization had ceased to exist, so the Minoans never even knew about him. In Theseus' tale, the labyrinth is a deadly maze full of confusing twists and turns, impossible to escape with the help of Ariadne's thread. In reality, the labyrinth is very different from that.
If you have a look at the labyrinth design at the top of this post, you'll see that it has a single path that leads unerringly to the center. Sure, there are twists and turns. These are designed to disorient the person walking the labyrinth so they can enter altered states of consciousness and reach their own inner spiritual understanding. But there's only one way in and the same way back out. This is called a unicursal (one-route) maze. And it's not a tricky trap. It's a spiritual tool.
I planned a beautiful ritual with my magic group for Samhain in the Blue Mountains; at night in the labyrinth, with a fire and masks and an underworld trance. But I wasn’t even there for it – instead I found myself in Northern New South Wales, the place where the Circle of Eight was birthed and I had lived for so long. It wasn’t a time I’d planned to travel, or to travel there in particular; a tenant in my house gave notice and I knew I couldn’t organise the number of things that had to happen from where I live, a thousand kilometres away. I asked my son to drive with me, amazingly he had already taken a week off work, though it wasn’t the week that suited me. It was the week over Samhain.
We stood in the labyrinth to cast our circle. It’s an intimate space, about six metres across with the paths made of brick and the curves between the paths mosaic. The mosaic is in rainbow bands of colour, the outermost circuit red, then orange, yellow, greens blues and purples with the centre piece mainly white, an ‘om’ symbol picked out in a small glittering pattern of colour. Set into the grass in the community gardens it’s where we do our public rituals and – on this occasion – where we were for our monthly meeting. We walked the labyrinth in, passing and passing each other as our circuits lapped and turned and threaded through the journeys of others; separate but companionable. It was cooling down; the day had been warm and the bricks and tiles retained that warmth, fed it back to us when we arrived in the centre and sat down, welcoming, sheltering us.
The world mourns the loss of one of its premium entertainers, the beloved singer, actor, and icon David Bowie. Join us today as we have a special Airy Monday in tribute to the man known as Ziggy Stardust, the Thin White Duke, Jareth the Goblin King, and so much more.
When I think of Nashville, I think of country music and the Parthenon. I probably never would have associated the spot with meditation and summer magic, even after I visited the town, if it weren’t for a lucky chance. I attended a writing conference in Nashville a few years ago, held at the gothicly beautiful Scarritt Bennett retreat and conference center. That was the last year the conference was small enough for that particular venue, and if I’d attended a year later, I never would have discovered the peace and beauty of the labyrinth that waits in Tennessee.
I’d never walked a labyrinth before, and when I stepped out of my on-site dorm to discover the familiar pattern of the Chartres labyrinth laid in the grass in front of the building, I got incredibly excited. There’s already something magical about wandering around a facility that feels like a Southern Hogwarts in the purple gloaming of June, but then to spot that mystical shape, complete with dancing fireflies, completes the sensation of having stepped into another world.