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?

Find out all about Ariadne's Tribe at We're an inclusive, welcoming tradition, open to all who share our love for the Minoan deities and respect for our fellow human beings.

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Minoan Bell Jar Goddesses: All the funny hats

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

When someone says "Minoan" many people immediately think of the snake goddess figurines from Knossos. But there are other goddess figurines from ancient Crete that are just as interesting, maybe more so. Case in point: the Poppy Goddess at the top of this post.

She wears a crown with three poppy seed pods that have been scored so the latex will ooze out, part of the process for making opium, which the Minoans appear to have used ritually. Like many of the other bell jar figurines (so called because of the shape of their skirts), she has her arms raised in a gesture that looks a lot like the Minoan sacred horns. In Ariadne's Tribe, we call this post Upraised Arms. It's one of several ecstatic postures that we use in our spiritual practice.

All the bell jar figurines date from very late to post-Minoan times, after the destruction of the Minoan cities, but when there were still people living on the island, doing their best to carry on their traditions in spite of chaos and hardship. And they all have striking similarities: Their skirts are wheel-thrown jar shapes and their torsos and heads are hand-sculpted. They all have 3-D breasts. They're all in ecstatic postures, most commonly the Upraised Arms pose. And they're all wearing symbolic headdresses.

Where it gets interesting is the differences. Here's the Poppy Goddess with a few "friends" in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum:


Minoan Bell Jar Goddess Figurines

"Museu arqueològic de Creta a Heràkleion, foto feta per J. Ollé el 6 d'agost del 2005" by Jolle~commonswiki is licensed under CC BY 3.0


Besides the fact that these are pretty large figurines (there's a woman standing to the left of the display case for size comparison), they all have different items on their headdresses. The one on the far left has birds flanking a pair of sacred horns, and her hair is arranged so it looks like a mountain peak viewed through the horns. The figurine next to her has snails on her head. Yes, snails. No, we haven't figured out the spiritual significance of that, but I'm sure there is one (the ancient Minoans, like the modern French, ate snails, so there's that). To the Poppy Goddess's right is a figurine with a bird about to take flight from her head.

If you're aiming to have a look at these in person, most of them are in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum in Crete.

These figurines were typically found in shrine settings, so we can be pretty sure the Minoans used them the way we modern Pagans use goddess figurines - as focal points for devotion. But it's also pertinent that they're all in ecstatic postures. Ecstatic body postures are poses that help to induce altered states of consciousness for spiritual journeying.

Most of the Minoan ecstatic body postures that I've explored have been ones that were used by worshipers, as depicted by the votive figurines people left as offerings at the peak sanctuaries and cave shrines. But our experience in Ariadne's Tribe with the Upraised Arms pose suggests that it was meant to be used by a priestess, to call down the goddess for trance possession. 

There's a lot of tech, for lack of a better term, that ancient cultures used but that we've lost along the way. The only way to retrieve it is to experiment and see what works - and what doesn't. But we should always keep something in mind: No matter how fun and exciting this experimentation is, its purpose isn't entertainment. It's meant to help us create a closer connection with the divine.

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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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