We call the people of ancient Crete Minoans thanks to the whim of the archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, the man who excavated Knossos over a century ago. He knew the Hellenic Greek myth of King Minos of Crete, took it for historical fact, and named the civilization after the king: Minoan. The thing is, Minos is more likely a god than a historical king.
Of course, it’s possible that priests in ancient Crete took the name or title Minos when they took on certain governmental responsibilities. Some people call these men priest-kings, though I’m not sure the term is terribly accurate, since none of them ever ruled more than just a single Minoan city and its surrounding area; ancient Crete did not have a unified, island-wide government during Minoan times. And it’s probable that priestesses as well as priests took part in the governing of the temple complexes and the cities.
Exactly three years after a Pentecost service helped me see that I was a Pagan, I descend into the underworld. I spent last weekend in ritual with a group of Witches, most of them oblivious to the fact that it was Pentecost in the Christian tradition. Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit fell upon the followers of Jesus, tongues of fire upon their heads. They were filled with courage and started preaching, they spoke in languages they didn’t know, sang in the tongues of angels, and prophesied. Pentecost is usually seen as the birthday of the Christian church.
For us modern folks, it can be hard to understand the worldview of ancient people. They didn't know about outer space or the heliocentric view of the solar system, but they did their best to understand the world given the information they had at hand. In fact, the pre-Indo-European inhabitants of Europe didn't even think of the sky as a separate realm the way Indo-European cultures did. So what does that mean in terms of the way the Minoans viewed the cosmos?
You're probably familiar with the three-worlds cosmos that many pre-Christian Indo-European cultures had. The Norse version is especially popular, given that J.R.R. Tolkien adapted it for his own imaginary world. In the three-worlds view, the 'top' or upper world is the sky; the middle realm is the Earth and the area right above it where people and animals live; and the lower realm is beneath the Earth - the Underworld.
The next deity that I’m honoring from the atheist graveyard is Veles (#12) of the Slavic Pantheon. Now I’ve written several posts about deities from this pantheon under different names and every time I write about them, I grow a little more in knowledge. There is a lot of variety in names but with similar roles. Before I’ve described this divinity as the bad guy, but he reminds me a little bit of Loki in that he isn’t necessarily the bad guy but he does take on the adversarial or trickster role. It seems Christian influence made him appear worse than he really is.
At the time of writing, several friends of mine are engaged in formal initiation proceedings, leading me to consider my own experiences with initiations.It was easy to pinpoint those formal initiations such as being initiated into the National Honor Society, or being initiated into a co-ed social group at my college that I can only explain as being modeled on the Merry Pranksters.But the experience that first came to mind when thinking of initiatory experiences was working the Twelve Steps.
Anyone who has a desire to stop using can become a member of a Twelve Step group.You do not have to work the Twelve Steps.However, the process of working the Twelve Steps is the manner in which one draws closer to the program or becomes truly initiated.It is how we begin to view fellowship as family.Since we work the Twelve Steps with a sponsor, we are forced to reach our hand out and ask for help.No longer are we able to sit in the back of the room, not talking to anyone.We must make connections in order to move forward.As we reveal ourselves to our sponsor, we learn how to become open and more vulnerable.We become open to taking suggestions, and learn about humility.These are essential elements for being part of a society instead of being a party of one.Not only does the process of the Twelve Steps change us into better people, but we also learn how to be with people as we work the steps.