Modern Minoan Paganism: Walking with Ariadne's Tribe

Walk the sacred labyrinth with Ariadne, loving goddess of ancient Crete who lives on in the hearts and minds of the modern world. Modern Minoan Paganism is not a purely reconstructionist tradition, but a journey in relationship with Minoan deities in the contemporary world. Ariadne's thread reaches across the millennia to connect us with the divine. Will you follow where it leads?

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The Minoan Goddess: Double? Triple?

The Maiden/Mother/Crone configuration of goddesses is popular in modern Paganism. It resonates with a lot of us, but there's no evidence the Minoans viewed their goddesses this way. In fact, the Maiden/Mother/Crone triplicity was invented by Robert Graves in the mid-20th century. Yes, it works, but it's not historically accurate so we shouldn't apply it to the Minoans. If you're interested in Graves' process and teasing out which of his ideas are historic and which are purely poetic, I recommend Mark Carter's excellent book Stalking the Goddess.

But back to the Minoans.

There are two "goddess numbers" that were common in ancient times (besides the obvious single goddess with no other forms): double and triple goddesses. A few examples of triple goddesses include the Roman Matronae, Hekate who has a triple form, and possibly Brigit. But none of these are Maiden/Mother/Crone triplicities; they're all triple within themselves, if you see what I mean. And there are double goddesses - sister/twins or mother/daughter pairs. We find these pairs in Minoan mythology, or at least, in the remnants of it that have come down to us via the Greeks (the Minoans weren't Greek).

For instance, the mythology tells us that the Minoan Earth Mother goddess  Rhea and the goat-goddess Amalthea were either sisters or twins. Rhea is also paired with the willow-goddess Helice. And then we have the mother-daughter pair of Rhea and Ariadne; I like to think of them as the elder goddess and the younger goddess, or perhaps the Matriarch and the Maiden. Vicki Noble provides a lot of background information about these kinds of two-fold goddesses in her book The Double Goddess: Women Sharing Power. This paired goddess format appears to go back to Old Europe, especially Neolithic Anatolia, which is very interesting considering that DNA evidence shows that's where the Minoans' ancestors migrated from before settling in Crete.

It's quite possible that the Minoans had triple goddesses (a single goddess with three forms or faces) but that information didn't make it through in the fragments of myths that survived the centuries. One triplicity that we have found, that works well for us in Modern Minoan Paganism, is the three goddesses of land, sea, and sky: Rhea, Posidaeja, and Therasia. We don't know for sure whether this triplicity existed in Minoan times, though shared gnosis tends to support our theory that it did. The triplicity of land, sea, and sky is an ancient one and is found in many different cultures. I find it makes a solid foundation for my spiritual practice: the three realms of the material world, made sacred as embodied goddesses.

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

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I'm an artist, writer, and lover of all things ancient and mysterious. The Minoans of Bronze Age Crete have been a particular passion of mine since a fateful art history class introduced me to the frescoes of Knossos back in high school. My first book was published in 2001; one of my most recent works is Labrys and Horns: An Introduction to Modern Minoan Paganism. I've also created a Minoan Tarot deck and a Minoan coloring book. When I'm not busy drawing and writing, I enjoy gardening and giving living history demonstrations at local historic sites.

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