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 Sacral Scarf: Minoan Symbolism

A while back, I shared some information about some snake-like sacred knots in Minoan art that may or may not have anything to do with the tet knot associated with Isis in Egyptian symbology. There's another "sacred knot" found in Minoan art that's very different, made from a length of fabric that's loosely looped and knotted. Scholars often lump it in with the other sacred knots, but it's not the same. Those of us who practice Modern Minoan Paganism have taken to calling this object the sacral scarf to differentiate it from the knots made of cord or rope.

Some time ago I offered a few thoughts about the sacral scarf. Since then several of us in Ariadne's Tribe have worked with the sacral scarf and have come up with some ideas about what it represents and how we can use it in ritual to connect with the divine. First of all, from the artwork we can clearly see that this is a length of woven fabric, fringed on the ends and knotted with a loop:

  

Sacral Scarf 1                   Sacral Scarf 2

 

Sacral scarves are found on Minoan seals in the company of bulls and stags, two of the animals associated with the Minoan Horned Ones (the bull-god a.k.a. the Minotaur and the stag-god a.k.a. the Minelathos):

  

Sacral scarf with bull

 

Sacral Scarf with Stag

  

We began working with the sacral scarf expecting it to represent the Horned God in some way, but everyone's experience was that this object belonged to the goddess, not the god. How on earth did we figure that out? Through meditation, spirit journeys (what some might call shamanic work), dreamwork, as well as actually using the scarf, or images of it, in ritual and paying attention to our experiences, listening to the gods.

During the time we were doing all this work, someone pointed out that the sacral scarf is also depicted in Minoan art hanging from some kind of stand (I don't recall who said this - whoever you are, please let me know and I'll give you credit!):

  

Sacral scarves on a stand

  

After some more spiritual work, we came to the conclusion that these pieces of fabric were garments the Minoan priestesses had worn during ritual and hence were sacred. We believe Minoan religion involved trance possession, the priest or priestess being 'ridden' by the deity during ritual and hence becoming the god or goddess incarnate. It makes sense, then, that the Minoans would have considered the garments the priestess wore during ritual to be sacred since they had been touched by the goddess. There are several frescoes depicting priestesses being dressed or undressed and quite a few seal stones showing priestesses carrying garments. Some of us have had visions of people approaching the garments as they were hung on the stands, touching them for healing and blessings.

How does this translate to modern Pagan practice? You can see a sacral scarf in the photo at the top of this post. This is one I made from a length of fabric and hung alongside a poster that I use to represent Ariadne above my Minoan altar. Now, I haven't been ridden by Ariadne, not yet, anyway - I do practice trance possession so there's always the possibility. But the sacral scarf reminds me of her presence. It feels right in that place, as part of my spiritual practice. It's another symbol of the goddess, and maybe one day I'll wear it in ritual and invite her into my body. It will be interesting to see what happens to the scarf in that context, whether its nature changes, its 'vibe' as my slightly-hippie husband would say. 

Bear in mind, there's no real way to prove these ideas given the artifacts we have at this time. But then, there's no real way to prove a great many of the things archaeologists say in the papers they publish. We're not trying to impress an archaeological symposium, but to develop a functional spiritual practice that rings true both to modern Pagans and to the echo of the ancient Minoans that still sounds all these centuries away.

The sacral scarf reminds me that the goddess can and does come among us. She's not 'out there' somewhere but right here, in our lives, touching us in so many ways. Sometimes we forget that, in this fragmented, mechanistic culture we live in. It's good to be reminded.

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

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Laura Perry is an artist, writer, and the founder and facilitator of Modern Minoan Paganism. The Minoans of Bronze Age Crete have been a passion of hers since a fateful art history class introduced her to the frescoes of Knossos back in high school. Her first book was published in 2001; one of her most recent works is Labrys and Horns: An Introduction to Modern Minoan Paganism. She has also created a Minoan Tarot deck and a Minoan coloring book. 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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