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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Minoan
Adventures in Sort-of-Reconstruction: Modern Minoan Paganism

Modern Minoan Paganism is something of a hybrid, combining reconstructionism (to the extent that we can) with a lot of do-it-yourself methods: shared personal gnosis, shamanic journeying, psychic archaeology. We're not trying to revive the exact religious practices of the ancient Minoans because, to be honest, we really can't. And there are all sorts of obstacles in our way, even if we did want to revive "the real thing."

We can't read the Linear A script that the Minoans used to write their own language. Yes, someone or other comes out with a supposed "translation" every few years but they're always wrong, but any well-trained linguist will tell you that we simply don't have enough text to do a proper decipherment. There are a few things we can tell about the script, but we honestly can't read it so we don't Minoan texts to go by (yes, I'm positively envious of the Norse and Irish reconstructionists and all their historic texts).

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Book Review: The Dawn of Genius - Minoan super-civilization?

I freely admit to reading pretty much anything I can get my hands on about the ancient Minoans, simply because there's not that much available. I began this particular book with a bit of trepidation, since its cover is full of hype ("The Minoan Super-Civilization and the Truth about Atlantis" is a bit much, I think). The author, Alan Butler, has previously collaborated with Christopher Knight to write some fairly controversial books such as The Hiram Key Revisited and Before the Pyramids, which didn't help my confidence. Fortunately, it appears that when he's writing by himself, Mr. Butler does an excellent job of collecting up known facts and strong evidence and drawing reasonable conclusions from them. The cover is the wildest thing about the book; I quite enjoyed the contents.

So what's the book about? The first section does an excellent job of organizing and explaining the things we know fairly surely about the ancient Minoans, including all the latest data that often gets left out of the articles that get passed around online so frequently (the book was published in 2014 so it's pretty up-to-date). Unlike many writers who rely on outdated references, Butler gets the timeline right: The Mediterranean island of Thera (modern Santorini) erupted in about 1628 BCE, dealing a heavy blow to Minoan civilization and creating a weakness that allowed the Mycenaeans to enter into their sphere and eventually take over (and ultimately, destroy Minoan culture since they don't seem to have been able to adapt well enough to wrangle Crete's stubborn native population into compliance). Minoan civilization itself officially ended about two centuries after the eruption, with the systematic destruction of all the major cities and temple complexes.

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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 -
Overflowing Abundance: A Ritual with Amalthea's Horn of Plenty

I'm in the middle of revising the first book I ever published, Ancient Spellcraft, for a second edition. In the sixteen years since it came out (good grief, has it really been that long?) I've learned a thing or two and have deepened my relationships with many of the deities the book addresses, including Amalthea, the Minoan goat-goddess. She has been with me for years, since I was a teenager, if I'm really honest, but she's one of the lesser-known Minoan goddesses. I wrote a bit about her in a blog post a while back and today I thought I'd share a working from Ancient Spellcraft that involves her.

Her horn is the cornucopia, out of which so many good things come. Here in the U.S., cornucopias spring up around Thanksgiving, but I have one on my altar all the time. Amalthea is a goddess of abundance and like the Roman goddess Fortuna, who inherited her cornucopia, she's very generous.

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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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