Ariadne's Tribe: Minoan Spirituality for the Modern World

Walk the sacred labyrinth with Ariadne, the Minotaur, the Great Mothers, Dionysus, and the rest of the Minoan family of deities. Ariadne's Tribe is an independent spiritual tradition that brings the deities of the ancient Minoans alive in the modern world. We're a revivalist tradition, not a reconstructionist one. We rely heavily on shared gnosis and the practical realities of Paganism in the modern world. Ariadne's thread reaches across the millennia to connect us with the divine. Will you follow where it leads?

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Ancient Minoan Good Doggos

The Minoans had dogs. I remember being a little surprised to learn that, some years ago. Somehow, I just never connected "Minoans" with "dogs" in my mind. Cats, sure, but dogs?

Yep, they had them - in fact, the breed the Minoans had still exists on Crete. It's called the Cretan Hound and is considered to be the oldest European dog breed. That's one of them in the image above, on a carved stone pyxis lid from Mochlos dating to about 2400 BCE. I can imagine the person who owned that pyxis (a lidded jewelry box) choosing it because their dog loved to lie in the same pose, stretched out in the shade of an olive tree.

The Cretan Hound shows up quite a bit in Minoan art. Sometimes the dogs are having a nice lie-down, like the one on the pyxis lid. There are a lot of dogs on Minoan seals, too. Sometimes they're doing other typically doggy things like having a good skritch (this and all following images are from The Palace of Minos by Sir Arthur Evans and are in the public domain):

Minoan seal of dog scratching

Or just generally being a Good Boi (or Girl):

Minoan seal with man and dog

But a lot of the images of dogs on Minoan seals involve hunting scenes. Hunting is an activity the Cretan hound has been a part of for millennia and still is today on Crete. So for instance we have this seal from Sphakia Siteia with a scene of a dog taking down an agrimi (a Cretan feral goat):

Minoan seal of dog taking down feral goat

But the hunt isn't always successful, which can lead to frustrated Good Bois (and Girls):

Minoan seal of dog barking at goat

So far I haven't found any seals that show dogs helping to herd goats or sheep, so I don't know whether that was something the Minoans had canine help with. The Cretan hound isn't a typical herding type dog, though, so I'm not sure it's likely.

We also don't know whether the Minoans associated a deity with dogs. There's the possibility of the Horned Ones being connected with them somehow via the hunting tradition. There are a few seals with dogs set in what appears to be religious iconography, but there aren't enough clues to tell us anything more. Since new Minoan seals turn up pretty regularly in excavations, maybe we'll eventually find one that clarifies the subject.

Regardless, there are some lovely doggos whose heritage goes all the way back to Minoan times. And that makes me happy.

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Laura Perry is a priestess and creator who works magic with words, paint, ink, music, textiles, and herbs. She's the founder and Temple Mom of Ariadne's Tribe, an inclusive Minoan spiritual tradition. When she's not busy drawing and writing, you can find her in the garden or giving living history demonstrations at local historic sites.


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