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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Minoan

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Minoan Fate: Ariadne, Arachne, Ananke

I've been thinking a lot about Fate lately, what with all the crazy things going on in the Big World. Fate has always been a focal point for people's thoughts, and the Fate goddesses of the ancient pantheons have a lot to teach us. What I didn't realize until I had been in relationship with the Minoan deities for some time is that there is a Minoan Fate goddess. You may know her as Ariadne.

My first clue that Ariadne is a Fate goddess should, in retrospect, have been obvious: She has a thread. That's my picture of her up top, the Fate (Wheel of Fortune) card from my Minoan Tarot deck. In the Greek version of Ariadne's story, which dates to almost a millennium after Minoan times, Ariadne is just a girl who uses a ball of string to aid the strapping hero Theseus. But really, she's much more than that.

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Modern Minoan Paganism: Is there a rule book?

When people find out that my main spiritual path is Minoan, they usually want to know more. And somewhere in that round of questions, they'll ask how to "do" Modern Minoan Paganism - what the rules are, the forms each practitioner must follow, and so on. When I tell them that it's a largely spirit-led practice, some people balk. That's understandable.

We live in a society whose most influential religions have whole books full of rules to follow, required forms of worship that are prescribed down to the exact words you must say, the exact ideas you must believe. We're taught from an early age that deviating from these rules will consign us to the flames of Hell or some equally horrible fate. It can feel positively heretical and even frightening to walk out onto a spiritual path that doesn't tell you what to do each and every step of the way. And of course, if there are rules, that gives a certain type of person the opportunity to notify others when they're doing it wrong.

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Minoan Shields: Shamanic Tool of the Kouretes?

The figure-eight shield that shows up in Minoan and Mycenaean art is endlessly fascinating and has inspired a broad range of theories as to its religious and military significance. You can see above part of the reconstructed Shield fresco from the Minoan temple complex at Knossos; the figure-eight shield also appears on Minoan seals and seal impressions as well as a fresco from the Mycenaean palace at Tiryns. The seals and seal impressions combine the figure-eight shield with other images from Minoan religion and nature, like these:

 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Dividing the Minoan World

We divide our world into all sorts of segments based on time and space: day and night; the four seasons; the ground, the air, and space. Organizing the world into understandable parts is a natural human inclination, and the Minoans did it, just like everyone else. So how did they divide their world?

I have a few ideas. The most obvious is the seasons. Crete lies in the sea just south of Greece and has a Mediterranean climate. That means that, instead of the spring-summer-autumn-winter cadence we're used to in most of North America and Europe, the year flows from the rainy season to the dry season and back again: only two major seasonal divisions. In Mediterranean climates, the dry season lasts from what we might call late spring, through summer, and into early autumn. On Crete, plant life turns crispy-brown and dry. All but the largest creeks dry up, and even the rivers diminish to a flow much smaller than their wet season. This is the dead time of year, the counterpart to winter in the northern temperate zone.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Sacred Saffron: A bit of autumn magic

The lovely young lady in the image above is picking the stigmas of the saffron crocus, also called the autumn crocus, to give as an offering to the goddess. We see this whole scene play out in a series of frescoes from Akrotiri, the ancient Minoan-era town on the Mediterranean island of Santorini. Saffron crocus blooms float in mid-air across the backgrounds of these frescoes, reminding us where our focus should lie. Below, we see a girl pouring her gathered saffron into a large basket while a monkey presents some to the enthroned goddess.

 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Offering to the Minoan Gods

Modern Minoan Paganism is a pretty broad path. People come to it from many different directions and backgrounds; our commonalities are the pantheon, the Minoan sacred calendar, and a few basic practices that we all share. Prominent among these is making offerings to the Minoan gods and goddesses. The image at the top of this post is a lovely three-footed offering table from Akrotiri decorated with dolphins. Perhaps its owner left fruit or flowers or seashells some other offering on it, maybe dedicated to the ocean goddess Posidaeja or another favorite deity (though I'd vote for Posidaeja because of the dolphins).

Solid items can be set out on the altar or offering stands or at an appropriate outdoor location. Liquid offerings can also be set out in a cup or pitcher, or they can be poured out as libations. A libation can be poured into another container (a bowl, for instance) or onto the ground. A libation can even be the centerpiece of a ritual for abundance.

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The Minoan Threefold Goddess: The Great Mothers

The Triple Goddess is a major component of modern Paganism, but the Maiden-Mother-Crone triplicity doesn't appear in ancient Crete. The closest we can come to that kind of "life phases" division is a Younger and Elder Goddess, exemplified by Rhea (the Great Mother) and Ariadne (the daughter). This mother-daughter duo is the possible origin of the Eleusinian Mysteries, whose sacred pair of Demeter and Persephone are well known in the modern Pagan world (check out Charlene Spretnak's inspired book Lost Goddesses of Early Greece for more on this subject). I like to think of this twofold goddess as Maiden and Matriarch, the two stages of womanhood in a society in which women's ability to birth children for men wasn't their primary function in life.

But there is a Minoan triplicity associated with the Goddess. It doesn't have to do with the life stages and fertility functions of women, but with the world around us and how the Sacred Feminine manifests in it. It's the ancient threefold division of Land/Sea/Sky. This triplicity unfolds around each and every one of us every day of our lives.

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