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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Minotaur
Walking the Labyrinth in Modern Minoan Paganism

The labyrinth. Everyone has heard of it. It's one of the first things people think of when I mention that my spiritual practice has a Minoan focus. They might think of the beautiful labyrinth set into the floor at Chartres cathedral, or the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, or modern projects like the Pulse Memorial in Orlando, Florida (USA).

It's interesting, then, that no one has ever found an actual labyrinth at a Minoan site. There are lots of almost-but-not-quite-labyrinth meander patterns in Minoan art. And the labyrinth does show up on Cretan coins, but not until many centuries after Minoan civilization was gone.

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Minotaur: A book review of a Sir Arthur Evans biography

Sir Arthur Evans is the name most closely associated with the rediscovery of ancient Minoan civilization. Though local Cretan archaeologist Minos Kalokairinos discovered the site of Knossos and did some preliminary digging there, it's Evans who undertook a large-scale, systematic excavation of the largest of the Minoan cities with its enormous temple complex and who introduced the ancient Minoans into the modern world. Joseph Alexander MacGillivray is another archaeologist whose focus is on Minoan civilization, and he has written a fascinating biography of Evans, titled Minotaur: Sir Arthur Evans and the Archaeology of the Minoan Myth.

First, let me point out that this book is a biography of Evans, not a retelling of the Minotaur myth. I've seen a few reviews from people who weren't able to suss out that fact (seriously, did you read the back cover or the online description?) and were disappointed when they read the book. It helps to pay attention before buying a book so you know what you're getting. What you're getting, in this case, is an amazingly detailed biography of a fascinating, complex, contradictory man who made quite a place for himself in history.

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Witchcamp 2017:  Dancing With Bulls

It is late afternoon and the slanting light is filtering through the redwoods.  I am barefoot feeling the redwood roots intertwined and alive under the trail.  We are laying a maze/labyrinth with rooms of challenge and healing for our community of witches of all genders to move though later this night as part of our evening ritual.  I move off the trail and begin building a altar of bee healing, using a low redwood stump.  There is honey to drizzle on skin with an invitation to feel its sticky goodness before licking it off, pieces of honeycomb to break off and roll around in their mouths, healing honey salve to work into rough skin, a lantern draped with a floral cloth illuminating this place since the ritual will be held after the sun sets in the west.

 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Moon, Stars, and Questions

It’s always tricky, reconstructing ancient religious practices. We may or may not have reliable sources of information and from a distance of centuries, it’s hard to tell what really happened way back then. It’s especially tricky when the only written records we have were recorded by people who weren’t exactly friendly to our chosen culture, as I discussed in a recent guest post on a friend’s blog. This is the case with the ancient Minoans. Most of the mythology we know about from ancient Crete comes down to us from the Hellenic Greeks, who lived a thousand years after the collapse of Minoan civilization and whose male-centric culture held radically different values from the egalitarian Minoans.

So how can we connect with the spirituality of a people who lived so long ago and about whom we have little reliable information? We take what we have and build on it using our own experience of the numinous – the divine. This is one case in which we must simply say, if it works for you, then do it. But we must also remember that what works for one person may not be  satisfying for another, so respect for a diversity of views needs to hold high priority. My friend Nimue put this especially well in a recent blog post.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I like Asterion as the sky-bull/constellation Taurus. Have you tried seeking personal communication with Asterion yet? I know so
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    No, I haven't, mainly because I only recently came up with this correlation. I've been grappling with the identity of Asterion for

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Bull Dance

Our Minnesota weather's been lushly Mediterranean of late, so naturally (such is the life of the wandering scholar) I've been thinking about bull-leaping.

I'm wondering if maybe—just maybe—the scholars have got it wrong.

Admittedly, my knowledge of the literature on the subject is not exhaustive. Still, on the basis of information available (to me, at any rate), I have the impression that much, if not most, current scholarship assumes that what we see depicted in Minoan art—what Mary Renault so charmingly calls the Bull Dance—is a sport, if perhaps a sport with religious overtones. Discussion tends to center on whether such a sport would actually have been physically possible or not.

I am given to understand that the scenes of bull-acrobatics that we see—on the golden ring-seal shown above, for example—are simply not possible; that bulls gore sideways rather than upwards, as the leaping scenes would imply. Contemporary athletes have been unable to duplicate the classical frontal bull-leap shown in Minoan art.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Wendilyn Emrys
    Wendilyn Emrys says #
    Europa; Minotaur; & Pasiphae's luring of the Bull are all possible mythological memories of the bull dance.
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    I'm totally with you about the need for a mythological basis for bull leaping. It must have been inspired by some portion of the m
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    My thanks to you both: I was hoping to hear from people with more personal knowledge of the subject than this son of the suburbs c
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    BTW some of my information comes from animal trainers whose bulls appear in movies and commercials. Bulls are quite trainable and
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    Steven, I love your thoughts on this subject. Having grown up on a farm, I can tell you, a bull calf that is used to being handled

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_bull-leaping-ring-before-2000-bc-phourni.jpg

 

Sometimes we think of Greek myth as a pre-patriarchal or less patriarchal alternative to the stories of the Bible. After all, Goddesses appear in Greek myths while they are nearly absent from the Bible. Right?

So far so good, but when we look more closely we can see that Greek myth enshrines patriarchal ideology just as surely as the Bible does.  We are so dazzled by the stories told by the Greeks that we designate them “the origin” of culture. We also have been taught that Greek myths contain “eternal archetypes” of the psyche. I hope the brief “deconstruction” of the myth of Ariadne which follows will begin to “deconstruct” these views as well. 

Ariadne is a pre-Greek word. The “ne” ending is not found in Greek. As the name is attributed to a princess in Greek myth, we might speculate that Ariadne could have been one of the names of the Goddess in ancient Crete. But in Greek myth Ariadne is cast in a drama in which she is a decidedly unattractive heroine. 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    What is interesting to me is that myths that are so clearly anti-female as the ones about Pasiphae are not recognized as such, but
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    You have many good things to say, Carol. It would be nice sometimes if you could learn to say them without the inevitable misand
  • Aryós Héngwis
    Aryós Héngwis says #
    I don't read any misandry in "sometimes we think of Greek myth as a pre-patriarchal or less patriarchal alternative to the stories

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