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 an independent polytheist spiritual tradition that brings the gods and goddesses of the ancient Minoans alive in the modern world. We're a revivalist tradition, not a reconstructionist one; we rely heavily on sharedl 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?

Find out all about Modern Minoan Paganism on our website: https://ariadnestribe.wordpress.com/. We're a welcoming tradition, open to all who share our love for the Minoan deities and respect for our fellow human beings.

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Meet the Minoan Deities: Korydallos

One of the tricky bits about revivalist Pagan religion is that lots of information gets lost over time, either because oral traditions die out or because written sources are destroyed - or both. That means there are deities we may not even realize exist until we stumble across them in our research. So today I'm introducing a new god who's also a very old god. This is the section I've written about him as I revise and update Labrys and Horns for the new second edition that will be released in June:

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This enigmatic god comes to us via the fascinating field of dance ethnography. The Red Champion still exists in folk dances around the Mediterranean today. A shamanic spirit warrior of a sort, he is the son of an ancient goddess figure. He may very well predate the Minoans, possibly going back as far as the beginning of farming in the Neolithic, given the content of the dances he appears in. But our experience with him in MMP links him with Therasia, so that’s how he fits into our pantheon: he is her son.

He’s one of the three Young Gods, each one a son of one of our mother goddesses. In that role, he acts as an intermediary between the people and the Mothers. Like his brothers, he’s forever young: youthful, energetic, exuberant. But of course, he’s also old, as old as the gods themselves. So he’s wise but also playful, which can be a nice change sometimes.

One popular item in ancient Crete was the dagger, an object made via metalsmithing, the purview of Korydallos’ mother Therasia. Young men owned daggers as elaborate as they could afford. They all had bronze blades and the fanciest ones had gold hilts. They wore these daggers upright (with the handle up and the blade downward) at the waist right next to their codpieces. You can’t get a more obvious phallic symbol than that.

For a long time we thought these daggers might have been associated with Dionysus because of the sexual symbolism—the Greeks certainly portrayed Dionysus as promiscuous. But in MMP we’ve come to relate the dagger more to Korydallos instead. After all, metalsmithing is the craft Therasia gives her blessing to. And some of the dances we find Korydallos in involve bladed weapons. I find it interesting that traditional Cretan dress for men well into the 20th century, and still occasionally today, includes an upright dagger worn at the waist in very much the same style as the ancient Minoans.

But if you’re looking for Korydallos’ spirit weapon in the form of a dagger or sword, you’re not going to find it. Instead, he carries a staff. Like his brothers, he’s a shamanic god, traveling between the worlds, and his staff acts like a World Tree as he moves energy around. He’s not a psychopomp the way Dionysus is, and he isn’t nearly as earthy as Tauros. Instead, you might think of him as a dancer, not just in those folk dances, but in the dance of life itself.

Korydallos is a joyous god. He sparkles and shines, and he has a sense of humor—sometimes a fairly trickstery one. Like his namesake the lark, he flies merrily above the shadows of life, singing a jubilant song and reminding us not to take ourselves too seriously. He loves wordplay and riddles, so be aware of that if you’re listening for messages from him; he may make you work for the answers you seek. Those of us who have relationships with him hear him laughing on a regular basis, as if he is overcome by the sheer joy of existence. Hang out with him long enough and that joy will rub off on you, too.

Some of us view Talos, the mythical bronze automaton that guarded the shores of ancient Crete, as a face of Korydallos—not a mechanical man, but a god whose mother gave the gift of bronze-smithing to her people. In that sense, we can think of Talos (and Korydallos) as an embodiment of that gift. Talos’ connection with the Sun in classical-era mythology points us back to Korydallos and his mother, Therasia. Apparently the word talôs can mean “the Sun” in the Cretan dialect of Greek, so there’s another connection. The Greek mythographer Pseudo-Apollodorus said that Talos was the last of the “bronze generation” and was a “bronze man.” Maybe he wasn’t an actual man made of bronze, but rather, a patron deity of bronze-smithing in the era in which that skill died out, to be replaced by iron-working.

In MMP we connect him with shades of gold and with the metal itself, as well as with other metallic colors and materials, especially bronze, and with the color red. He seems especially fond of red ochre, a natural iron-rich pigment that’s been used in a sacred context since the Paleolithic. Sometimes he appears to people as golden all over or with thick golden hair almost like a lion’s mane (and very different from the dark brown to black hair the Minoans had). Something many people don’t realize is that new bronze, if it's well-polished, looks very much like gold and not like the dark, brownish metal we’re used to thinking of when we see the aged, corroded bronze artifacts the archaeologists have found.

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So get to know Korydallos, a.k.a. the Red Champion or the Lark (that's what his name means in Greek). Dance the joyous dance of life with him and see where it leads.

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

 

Image: Original line art by Laura Perry based on the Chieftain Cup from Hagia Triada with border design from frescoes in the Corridor of the Processions, Knossos.

 

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Laura Perry is an artist, writer, and the founder and facilitator of Modern Minoan Paganism. The Minoans of Bronze Age Crete have been a passion of hers since a fateful art history class introduced her to the frescoes of Knossos back in high school. Her first book was published in 2001; one of her most recent works is Labrys and Horns: An Introduction to Modern Minoan Paganism. She has also created a Minoan Tarot deck and a Minoan coloring book. 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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