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?

To join the discussion about ancient Minoan culture and Modern Minoan Paganism, head on over to our welcoming community at Ariadne's Tribe on Facebook.

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Laura Perry

Laura Perry

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.

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A Mother's Love, Minoan Style

Whenever I check on my blog statistics, I always find that the post I wrote about topless Minoan women is the number one in terms of hits. The female breast is such a source of titillation (ha!) in modern society, it's hard to wrap our minds around the idea that exposed breasts might have represented something other than sexual innuendo to the ancient Minoans. But we're pretty sure they did.

In addition to the frescoes and figurines that show women with exposed breasts, Minoan art also includes quite a few representations of animals suckling their young. The image at the top of this blog is a drawing of a faience plaque found at Knossos. It shows a mama goat suckling a kid. There's a similar plaque with a cow and her calf. Images of mother animals suckling their young - cattle, goats, sheep, even deer - appear on a number of Minoan seals.

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Chasing the Minoan Sun Goddess: two book reviews

Modern Pagans are used to pantheons that have a Sun god and a Moon goddess. But it hasn't always been that way. Some of the oldest and earliest religions in the world have a Sun goddess. When we went looking for the Minoan deity who was associated with the Sun, we found not a god but a goddess. We call her Therasia.

How did we find her? Two books were very helpful, as was the author of one of them. Until I read The Ancient and Martial Dances by Arlechina Verdigris, I had no idea that dance ethnography could be such a powerful tool for teasing out bits of mythos. Ms. Verdigris's study of Mediterranean folk dance shows clearly that it still holds layers that go back at least to late Minoan times, and probably much earlier, giving glimpses of not only a Sun goddess but also a grain goddess and the Mountain Mother who rules over the crafts that use her substance to create beautiful objects: pottery and metal-smithing.

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Modern Minoan Paganism: Ecstatic upraised arms

Strike a pose! Ecstatic postures have been a part of human religious practice for millennia, possibly going back as far as the Paleolithic. I've explored ecstatic postures and their place in Modern Minoan Paganism before. They're a kind of spiritual "tech" - like yoga and tai chi, ecstatic postures make energy move via the mechanism of holding the body in particular ways. We find examples of these postures in the form of votive figurines from Minoan sacred sites such as cave shrines and peak sanctuaries. The best-known of these postures is probably the famed Minoan salute.

Most ecstatic postures appear to have been used by spiritworkers and worshipers to journey to specific places in the Otherworld or to connect with particular deities or spirits. In that sense, the usual museum label of "worshiper figurine" is accurate.

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"Don't believe everything you read on the Internet" - King Minos

I love the Internet. There's so much information so readily available. It's such a contrast to my early days of researching the Minoans, back in the 1970s and 80s, when I had to scratch and scrabble for a sentence here, a paragraph there, in books about other ancient cultures. But that ease of access to the online world comes with a price.

Anyone can put up a website and say anything they want to in it. That's good; freedom of speech and expression is something I'm all for. The problem comes when websites repeat outdated and inaccurate information, either because the writer doesn't know any better or because they have a theory they want to prove. Of course, this sort of thing happens in books as well, but it's more common online, simply because it's easier to put up a website than to publish a book.

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Minoan archaeology: It's still a thing

When I talk with people about the ancient Minoans, I find they often believe that everything we know about ancient Crete was dug up by Sir Arthur Evans a century ago, and that's it. But that's not the case.

Evans is famous, sure, but did you know that the Minoan site at Gournia was originally excavated by the American archaeologist Harriet Boyd-Hawes? Work at the site was still ongoing this summer (2019). In fact, work at a lot of Minoan sites is still in progress, and we're learning and discovering more all the time. Here's a sampling of what's happening these days in the world of Minoan archaeology:

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Modern Minoan Paganism: Reconstruction vs. revival

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.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    You have a group of fellow travelers to work with and support each other on your journey. I think that is wonderful. I've recent

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There's more than one Minoan goddess!

When I mention "Minoan," most people think of the famous Snake Goddess figurines. And many people think those figurines represent "the Minoan goddess," as if there were only one of them. But there are many Minoan goddesses, not just one.

In fact, there's a whole pantheon.

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