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 Winter Solstice: A Gathering of Posts

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

It's December already (how did that happen?) which means we're moving inexorably toward Winter Solstice where I live in the northern hemisphere. In Modern Minoan Paganism, our celebration of Midwinter involves several different layers of myths and practices. Since I've written about this festival a number of times already, I thought I would gather up all the posts here along with a little explanation.

First, a few introductory thoughts from the section about Winter Solstice in Labrys & Horns: "This festival has two layers in MMP, one that focuses on our Sun goddess Therasia and one that centers around Rhea and her Divine Child. In both cases, the central symbolism is that of birth and rebirth, of the old cycle ending and a new one beginning. Minoan civilization lasted for many centuries, and during that time religion changed and grew. Like the Egyptians, the Minoans tended to simply add new ideas, gods, and celebrations on top of what was already there instead of substituting the new ones and removing older ones. So over time, Minoan religion became a lot more complicated, with multiple reflections of the same ideas throughout the sacred year. We’ve included some of these nuanced layers in our sacred calendar because they have meaning for us as modern Pagan practitioners."

So let's begin with what's probably the oldest layer: the symbolic death and rebirth of the Sun goddess. Check out this blog post to find out more about her. Given the prevalence of ancient sacred caves on Crete, it's likely that Therasia's rebirth took place in a cave, like many other ancient Eurasian Sun goddesses (find out more of them in Patricia Monaghan's awesome book O Mother Sun!, which is out of print but worth seeking out at used booksellers).

Over time, the emphasis at Midwinter shifted from the Sun to the Earth, until eventually we find a divine child being born to a mother (with no father) in a cave, surrounded by animals. Sound familiar? That divine child is Dionysus, and the bits of his tale that survived the Bronze Age collapse involve him being born to the mother goddess Rhea in her sacred cave on Crete. Christmas with Dionysus? Well, sort of. :-)

For a glimpse of what it might have been like to experience a Winter Solstice ritual at the Knossos temple complex in Minoan times, check out this blog post. The Minoan temples and peak sanctuaries had a wide variety of astronomical alignments, including Winter Solstice sunrise, with the sunlight, moonlight, and appearance of stars adding to the drama to make those sacred days even more special!

In addition to the mythos, we also have practices that we hold dear in MMP. One of those is walking the labyrinth. Believe it or not, labyrinth walking can be a powerful part of Midwinter. This blog post can help you navigate the path inward and back out at the darkest time of the year. Even if the weather is too cold in your part of the world to comfortably walk a labyrinth outdoors, you can use a finger labyrinth or follow a guided visualization. Though I will say, I've walked an outdoor labyrinth on the shore of Lake Michigan in February (well bundled up, of course) and found the experience profoundly moving. So do whatever works for you.

I hope you find some things worth celebrating over the solstice season this year, despite all the challenges 2020 has thrown at us. Like the Sun Herself, may we be reborn at Midwinter to begin anew.

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 head facilitator 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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