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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Minoan
Can modern fiction be sacred literature?

I've spent a large part of the past two years writing a novel. It's not my first one, and it won't be my last one. But it's the first one that has brought up an interesting question: can modern fiction also be sacred literature?

The novel, titled The Last Priestess of Malia, is set in ancient Crete - so it's historical fiction. Here's the summary of the story:

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Mariah Sheehy
    Mariah Sheehy says #
    I look forward to reading it! I love well-done world-building & description- Ursula K. Le Guin & Marion Zimmer Bradley come to min
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Did you find yourself gaining new religious insights from writing this novel? (That's a phenomenon I'm familiar with.)
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    I did, and in ways that I didn't expect. Writing it was definitely a transformative experience.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I remember reading a magazine; Green Egg I think, in which an author wrote about how meaningful the Lord of the Rings was to her a
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    I always listen to what my beta readers say about typos and continuity errors; I'm a professional copyeditor but even I can't alwa
What can we compare Modern Minoan Paganism to?

When people hear about Modern Minoan Paganism, they often ask, "Oh, is that like Wicca but with labryses and that snake goddess?" Um, no.

Granted, a lot of my early Minoan rituals were very Wiccan in flavor, because like many modern Pagans, Wicca is where I started out. So my first book about Minoan spirituality, Ariadne's Thread, has rituals that follow a roughly Wiccan outline. But once we started developing Modern Minoan Paganism as its own thing, we moved away from that framework and to something more in keeping with the way the ancient Minoans probably worshiped. So the rituals in Labrys and Horns are definitely not Wiccan in flavor. (You'll find a discussion of the differences between the two books here.)

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    So, the process is something like: 1. Start with what you know. 2. Garner what you can from scholarship. 3. Adapt scholarship for
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    Essentially, yes. Though in terms of personal gnosis, we do our best to rely only on widely shared gnosis rather than stand-alone
Incense for Ancient Minoans and Modern Pagans

Like so many other ancient cultures, the Minoans used incense in a sacred setting. Though we can't be certain of the exact uses, it appears that they burned incense as offerings and to purify sacred areas such as ritual rooms, altars, and shrines. These were common practices in the Bronze Age Mediterranean region.

They didn't have the incense sticks and cones that so many of us are familiar with; those are self-igniting due to their saltpeter content. Just hold a flame to the end and voila, incense smoke! What they did have was hot coals and chopped or powdered incense mixtures.

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Modern Minoan Paganism: A bunch of book reviews

I've posted a good handful of book reviews on this blog, and it occurred to me that it might be helpful to have them all in one place so no one has to sift through five years of blog posts (good grief, has it really been that long?) to find them.

These are in-depth reviews of books that I think you'll find helpful and interesting if you're exploring Modern Minoan Paganism. We also have a long, long book list over in Ariadne's Tribe of books we've all found helpful. But that doesn't include reviews, just simple descriptions. Some of the books I've reviewed below are now out of print, but they're well worth tracking down via interlibrary loan or the various online used booksellers. A good reference is a good reference, after all.

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Modern Minoan Paganism: a logo for Ariadne's Tribe

It has taken us a while, but we finally came up with a logo for Modern Minoan Paganism. Until we started tossing ideas around, I had no idea it was going to be such a tricky issue.

There are lots of symbols that people associate with the Minoans. Perhaps the most famous is the labrys - the double-bladed ax that was used not to sacrifice animals (it appears they used swords and daggers for that) but as a sacred symbol with many layers of meaning.

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The Blessing of the Ships: A Minoan celebration

Minoan culture centered on the island of Crete, which lies in the Mediterranean Sea just south of Greece. The Minoans were a seagoing people: they fished, they traded, and they traveled in boats and ships. So it makes sense that they would have incorporated these major facets of their lives into their spiritual practice.

We don't know for certain what the Minoans did to bless ships before a voyage. But tidbits that made it through the Bronze Age collapse and ended up in the works of later writers, combined with archaeoastronomy research, suggest that the Minoan sailing season had a definite beginning and ending: the heliacal rising of the Pleiades in May and the acronychal rising of that constellation in October or November.* This makes sense, given that the winds during the wintertime would have made sailing in that era quite hazardous (not that it's a whole lot easier today, but at least we have modern gadgetry and gas-powered engines to help).

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Music for Ritual in Modern Minoan Paganism

One aspect of ritual that we don't often think about until we're armpit-deep in actually performing one is music. The ancient Minoans, like other Bronze Age cultures in Europe and the Mediterranean, used music in ritual - we know because we see it in the art. But we don't know what it sounded like. So how can we incorporate music into Minoan ritual? It's not that hard, really.

Like many aspects of Minoan religion, we have to base our choices on two points: what we see in the archaeological record and what evokes the ancient Minoans to us as modern Pagans. In other words, we have to make some educated guesses as to what Minoan music probably sounded like. We know a lot about Minoan music from Minoan art. And we have a pretty good idea about what other types of ancient music from the Mediterranean and the Near East sounded like. So what we tend to go for in Modern Minoan Paganism is music that makes us feel like we're in the ancient world. It's a psychological trigger, in other words.

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