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 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 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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Minoan Birds: Goddess on the Wing

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Birds of all kinds are a common theme throughout Minoan art. We find them in natural settings and in ritual art. Some of them probably belong to the iconography of specific Minoan deities. But some of them may point back to the Neolithic Bird Goddess who was worshiped in Anatolia back in the time and place that the Minoans' ancestors came from.

In many cases, the artist depicted the birds with naturalistic realism, to the point that we can often identify the specific species. These images include a wild rock dove (upper left), swallows (upper right and lower left) and red-legged partridges:

 

Realistic Birds in Minoan Art

 

There are many other birds that aren't shown in natural settings, but in the context of rituals and sacred settings. Here, for instance, some birds of unknown species are sitting on top of the labryses in a funeral rite depicted on the Hagia Triada sarcophagus.

 

Hagia Triada sarcophagus detail

 

And these lovely doves are perched on top of columns in a similar way:

 

Doves on Pillars

 

In addition to these realistic-looking birds, the Minoans produced some very imaginative ones. For centuries on the island of Thera (modern name: Santorini), in the city of Akrotiri and nearby, artisans produced jugs and pitchers that had eyes painted on them so the spouts became beaks and the jugs became birds. These are called, appropriately enough, beaked pitchers:

 

Bird shaped jugs from Thera

 

This combination of bird imagery with a vessel from which liquids are poured is interesting, especially since libations were such a big part of Minoan spiritual practice. In ancient Crete, libation pitchers often included breast symbolism, suggesting a connection with the Mother Goddess and her ability to nurture and nourish her children. That makes this particular rhyton all the more interesting, since it has both wings and a beaked face but also breasts from which the liquid pours:

Breast rhyton with bird characteristics

 

Pitchers and rhytons like these suggest a more general Bird Goddess, like the one from back in Neolithic Anatolia, rather than a particular species of bird that might be associated with a specific deity.

Who was this Bird Goddess? What was her name? Why did her worship apparently continue alongside newer, more specific goddesses? These are questions we may never be able to satisfactorily answer, but we can certainly explore these images and do our best to connect with her through meditations and spirit journeys. We can't go back in time, but I'm pretty sure the gods can come forward with us. How will you seek the Minoan Bird Goddess and what will she tell you when you find her?

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

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Laura Perry is a priestess and creator who works magic with words, paint, ink, music, textiles, and herbs. She is the founder and Temple Mom of Modern Minoan Paganism. 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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