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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The Minoan Vegetable Garden

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Some aspects of Minoan civilization feel very modern: big cities with paved roads, aqueducts, and enclosed sewer systems. But there were no supermarkets back in the Bronze Age, no international shipping of out-of-season produce.

I've written before about Minoan cooking methods and typical foods. I've even shared a grocery list of sorts, a compilation of all the foods we have evidence for - foods the Minoans cooked and ate.

Where did the Minoans get these different kinds of foods? They grew them! City dwellers probably didn't have extensive gardens, though they may have grown herbs and flowers (more on the herbs next time!). Instead, they bought their ingredients at local markets, just like urbanites do today. In contrast, people who lived outside the cities, on small homesteads or large farms, would have grown their own.

What did they grow?

Let's start with what most households and small farmsteads probably didn't grow: grain. Even back in the Bronze Age, grain was a specialist crop. There would have been large farms that grew fields of emmer and einkorn wheat, barley, and rye. Grain - whole, not ground into flour - would have been for sale in the marketplace of every village, town, and city.

You would buy your grain then take it home and grind it into flour as you needed it to make bread. People probably also ground it coarsely to make porridge. For those who could afford it, there would also have been ready-made bread available from bakers in the cities and towns.

But what about garden vegetables? People grew those, just like a lot of folx still do today. No potatoes, though, because those are native to South America and wouldn't make their way to Europe until many centuries after the end of Minoan civilization.

The same goes for tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant - vegetables we think of today as common in Mediterranean cuisine and that a lot of folx like to grow in home gardens today. But they're native to the Americas [Edit: Eggplant is native to India, Africa, or southeast Asia - there is still argument about this] and were unavailable in Europe back in the Bronze Age.

So what did the Minoans grow, if their gardens weren't full of tomatoes and peppers?

A typical Minoan garden would probably include some staples like chickpeas, lentils, and fava beans. These provide protein and nutrients, and because they're legumes, they also fix nitrogen in the soil, helping to support other crops and improve the soil. Along with grain, they were the basic plant foods of the ancient Mediterranean.

Onions and garlic would have been high on the priority list. They're pantry staples and the base of many delicious dishes. Onions were so important around the Mediterranean, people painted them in tombs down in Egypt. It's likely the Minoans ate them roasted, as a separate vegetable, as well as putting them in other dishes like stews.

Some other possibilities include bulb fennel (finocchio), greens like chicory and endive, radishes, purslane, and even okra. Grape hyacinth bulbs are still a popular food on Crete, often served pickled, so people probably grew them in gardens as well as gathering them from the hillsides.

So if you're looking to recreate a Minoan kitchen garden, there are lots of possibilities, most of them easy to grow in any temperate climate. Happy gardening!

In the name of the bee,
And of the butterfly,
And of the breeze, amen.

Last modified on
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.

Comments

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Friday, 02 September 2022

    Are you sure Eggplants are from the Americas? I thought they were from Southeast Asia.

  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry Sunday, 04 September 2022

    You may be right. The Wikipedia entry for eggplant states "There is no consensus about the place of origin of eggplant" but the places it lists as possibilities include Southeast Asia. Regardless, like other members of the nightshade family, eggplant was not available in the Mediterranean during the Bronze Age, and that was my point.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Sunday, 18 September 2022

    No doubt the Minoans also gathered a wide variety of wild greens, as the yiayias of Greece still do.

  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry Thursday, 22 September 2022

    Yes, horta was apparently popular in Minoan times, as far as we can tell. I commented a bit about that in my post about the Minoan herb garden, since herbs are also a wildcrafted food on Crete.

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