Modern Minoan Paganism: Walking with Ariadne's Tribe

Walk the sacred labyrinth with Ariadne, loving goddess of ancient Crete who lives on in the hearts and minds of the modern world. Modern Minoan Paganism is not a purely reconstructionist tradition, but a journey in relationship with Minoan deities in the contemporary world. Ariadne's thread reaches across the millennia to connect us with the divine. Will you follow where it leads?

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Spring Equinox, Minoan harvest, and upside-down calendars

I live in the northern hemisphere, specifically in the southeastern US, and here it's Spring Equinox today. But in the southern hemisphere it's Autumn Equinox. And even more confusingly, in the Mediterranean, even though we still call it the Spring Equinox, it's harvest time, so in Modern Minoan Paganism we acknowledge the harvest festival on this day. Before you go reaching for the aspirin to quell your headache, allow me to explain...

The ancient Minoans lived on the island of Crete, just south of Greece in the eastern Mediterranean. That region has a unique climate that can be confusing for those of us who are used to spring-summer-autumn-winter. But it's important to understand the Mediterranean seasons so we can have a clue about how the Minoans experienced their world.

In the northern temperate zone (Europe north of the Mediterranean, most of North America, and regions with similar climates) we're used to planting crops in the spring, watching them grow throughout the warm summer, and harvesting them in the autumn. In these regions, winter is the "dead time" when nothing grows, when the life force withdraws. But that's not the case in the Mediterranean.

In Crete and the surrounding regions, there are really only two seasons: wet and dry. Summer is the dry season, hot and arid - the creeks on Crete dry up completely and the rivers slow to a trickle. Plants turn brown and crispy. People seek air conditioning and cool drinks. In the Mediterranean, this is the "dead time." Nothing grows because it's just too hot and dry. No farmer worth their salt, even today, would attempt to grow field crops (grains, vegetables) in this season. So when do they grow these crops? During the rainy season, of course.

In the Mediterranean, the rains start up in early autumn, softening the soil so it's easy to plow and plant. The crops grow throughout the mild winter and are harvested... wait for it... in the spring. Yes, even today, farmers follow this schedule. It's far easier to work with Nature than against her, even with modern innovations like irrigation and fertilizer. And of course, the ancient Minoans knew better than to attempt what would absolutely have been a losing fight.

So while my local world is springing alive just now, I also turn my gaze toward Crete, toward the harvest: the grain reaped and threshed and winnowed, weighed and blessed, a portion sacrificed to the Ancestors and the gods in thanks for the abundance that allows us to survive another year.

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

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I'm an artist, writer, and lover of all things ancient and mysterious. The Minoans of Bronze Age Crete have been a particular passion of mine since a fateful art history class introduced me to the frescoes of Knossos back in high school. My first book was published in 2001; one of my most recent works is Labrys and Horns: An Introduction to Modern Minoan Paganism. I've also created a Minoan Tarot deck and a Minoan coloring book. When I'm not busy drawing and writing, I enjoy gardening and giving living history demonstrations at local historic sites.

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