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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Modern Minoan Paganism: Reconstruction vs. revival

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I spend a lot of time telling people that Modern Minoan Paganism is not a reconstructionist tradition. But the issue is actually a little more complicated than that.

When I was at Mystic South this past summer, one of the other presenters, Joseph Beofeld, attended my workshop about Modern Minoan Paganism. What was his presenation about? Reconstructionism! He came up to me afterward and pointed out that even though I had said we aren't a reconstructionist tradition, we use reconstructionist methods extensively. And that's quite true.

We rely on archaeology: the ruins of Minoan-era temples, houses, shrines, and tombs as well as the art and artifacts found in and around those structures. We sift through Greek mythology and legend, which contains garbled fragments of earlier Minoan myth. We use dance ethnography and comparative religion to help flesh out how we think the Minoans did their thing.

These are all reconstructionist techniques.

But there are two things that set us apart from typical reconstructionist traditions, one thing we don't have and one extra thing we add.

What don't we have? Any kind of reliable written text about Minoan religion. Linear A, the script the Minoans used to write their native language, has not yet been deciphered, sensationalist headlines notwithstanding.

Some enterprising person or persons adapted the Linear A script to write Mycenaean Greek. This is similar to the way the Greek alphabet was transformed into the Glagolitic, and later Cyrillic, script to write Slavic languages.

This new script, Linear B, is mostly readable. But it tells us about the time of the Mycenaean occupation on Crete, not about native Minoan practices. And what information the Linear B tablets offer is pretty scant to start with. They appear to be accounting records of donations and offerings brought to the temples.

What's the extra thing that we add? Shared personal gnosis. Before you run away screaming, take a deep breath and I'll explain.

Unverified personal gnosis, often known as UPG, is a shaky thing. Each of us filters our spiritual experiences through our own psyche, and that can lead to understandings that work for an individual but not for a large group. Often, single-person UPG is kind of weird and way off from what we think we know about deities and ancient spiritual practices.

However - and it's big however - if you have a number of people whose UPG coincides, that suggests you're on to something real. Shared gnosis can be very helpful in creating religious practices that work for us as Pagans in the modern world. For instance, Diana Paxson and her folks have used shared gnosis very effectively to build a modern seiðr practice.

We've used shared gnosis to connect with deities, to develop the Modern Minoan Pagan worldview, and to create rituals. We share with each other, then we experiment and listen for the gods' responses. It's an active process that often involves changing how we thought things would work, when it turns out the divine has a different idea.

So we rely on shared gnosis, combined with archaeological and ethnographic methods, in the ongoing process of creating our spiritual practices. We're not reconstructing exactly the way the ancient Minoans worshiped. Instead, we're reviving ancient Minoan religion in spirit, but adapting it for modern Pagan practice. That's why we say we're a revivalist tradition. Not ancient Minoan religion, but Modern Minoan Paganism.

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 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.


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Thursday, 12 September 2019

    You have a group of fellow travelers to work with and support each other on your journey. I think that is wonderful. I've recently started reading "Egregores" by Mark Stavish. I was wondering if you've noticed weather or not your shared gnosis experiences have become more frequent as you've continued to work together?

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