Modern Minoan Paganism: Walking with Ariadne's Tribe

Walk the sacred labyrinth with Ariadne, the Minotaur, the Great Mothers, Dionysus, and the rest of the Minoan pantheon. Modern Minoan Paganism is not a 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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What can we compare Modern Minoan Paganism to?

When people hear about Modern Minoan Paganism, they often ask, "Oh, is that like Wicca but with labryses and that snake goddess?" Um, no.

Granted, a lot of my early Minoan rituals were very Wiccan in flavor, because like many modern Pagans, Wicca is where I started out. So my first book about Minoan spirituality, Ariadne's Thread, has rituals that follow a roughly Wiccan outline. But once we started developing Modern Minoan Paganism as its own thing, we moved away from that framework and to something more in keeping with the way the ancient Minoans probably worshiped. So the rituals in Labrys and Horns are definitely not Wiccan in flavor. (You'll find a discussion of the differences between the two books here.)

But saying that Modern Minoan Paganism (MMP) isn't like Wicca doesn't tell us what it is like.

If I had to compare MMP to any other modern Pagan tradition, I'd choose Druidry. Why? The similarities turn out to be a bit surprising.

First, modern Druidry isn't exactly a reconstructionist tradition; there simply isn't enough information to recreate an accurate version of ancient Druid practice (as compared to, say, Norse or Hellenic Paganism where there are loads of texts to do the reconstruction from). So modern Druids have had to fill in the blanks themselves, using both gnosis and educated guesses based on what we do know and what works in practical terms.

This is very much the way we do it in MMP. There are no Minoan texts to tell us how they practiced their religion (I promise you, clickbait titles notwithstanding, that no one has translated Linear A yet). We have loads of artifacts and the ruins of temples and other buildings, but nothing written by the Minoans themselves. So we take what we do have and fill in the blanks with shared gnosis and educated guesses based on our experience as practicing Pagans.

But wait, you say, what about all that stuff written in Linear B? That's another thing MMP and modern Druidry have in common: both traditions are based on cultures whose history we know mostly from the writings of people who weren't exactly friendly to them.

We know a certain amount about the Druids and their culture from stuff the Romans wrote. But the Romans aren't exactly an unbiased source; they viewed the Druids as backward and primitive and worked hard to wipe them all out.

Likewise, the Mycenaeans (early Greeks) weren't exactly friendly to the Minoans. Those Linear B tablets record the Mycenaean Greek language and show how the Mycenaeans, who took over Knossos and apparently tried to take over all of Crete, became wealthy and powerful. But they don't really tell us much about Minoan religion. And the few fragments of Minoan myth that made it through the Bronze Age collapse into Hellenic times were purposely twisted into versions designed to make the Greeks look good.

Another parallel is an interesting example of confluence that no one really noticed until after the fact: both modern Druidry and MMP have a reverence for the three realms of land, sea, and sky. In MMP we have three mother goddesses who represent these realms. We often refer to them simply as The Three.

So there you have it. If you want an analogy, a way to get your bearings about Modern Minoan Paganism, try comparing it to Druidry rather than Wicca. Though the two traditions are different in many ways, they share some interesting parallels that show us how ancient spiritual practices can be reborn in the modern world in ways that have meaning and value.

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

 

Image: Isopata, original artwork by Laura Perry based on the Minoan gold seal ring from the Isopata cemetery near Knossos

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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 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, you can find me in the garden or giving living history demonstrations at local historic sites.

Comments

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Wednesday, 26 June 2019

    So, the process is something like:
    1. Start with what you know.
    2. Garner what you can from scholarship.
    3. Adapt scholarship for practical application.
    4. Pay attention to personal gnosis.
    5. Modify practice based on personal gnosis.
    6. Keep what works.
    7. Bear in mind that changes in geography will necessitate changes in practice.

  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry Friday, 28 June 2019

    Essentially, yes. Though in terms of personal gnosis, we do our best to rely only on widely shared gnosis rather than stand-alone individual experiences.

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