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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Minoan
Chasing the Minoan Sun Goddess: two book reviews

Modern Pagans are used to pantheons that have a Sun god and a Moon goddess. But it hasn't always been that way. Some of the oldest and earliest religions in the world have a Sun goddess. When we went looking for the Minoan deity who was associated with the Sun, we found not a god but a goddess. We call her Therasia.

How did we find her? Two books were very helpful, as was the author of one of them. Until I read The Ancient and Martial Dances by Arlechina Verdigris, I had no idea that dance ethnography could be such a powerful tool for teasing out bits of mythos. Ms. Verdigris's study of Mediterranean folk dance shows clearly that it still holds layers that go back at least to late Minoan times, and probably much earlier, giving glimpses of not only a Sun goddess but also a grain goddess and the Mountain Mother who rules over the crafts that use her substance to create beautiful objects: pottery and metal-smithing.

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"Don't believe everything you read on the Internet" - King Minos

I love the Internet. There's so much information so readily available. It's such a contrast to my early days of researching the Minoans, back in the 1970s and 80s, when I had to scratch and scrabble for a sentence here, a paragraph there, in books about other ancient cultures. But that ease of access to the online world comes with a price.

Anyone can put up a website and say anything they want to in it. That's good; freedom of speech and expression is something I'm all for. The problem comes when websites repeat outdated and inaccurate information, either because the writer doesn't know any better or because they have a theory they want to prove. Of course, this sort of thing happens in books as well, but it's more common online, simply because it's easier to put up a website than to publish a book.

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Minoan archaeology: It's still a thing

When I talk with people about the ancient Minoans, I find they often believe that everything we know about ancient Crete was dug up by Sir Arthur Evans a century ago, and that's it. But that's not the case.

Evans is famous, sure, but did you know that the Minoan site at Gournia was originally excavated by the American archaeologist Harriet Boyd-Hawes? Work at the site was still ongoing this summer (2019). In fact, work at a lot of Minoan sites is still in progress, and we're learning and discovering more all the time. Here's a sampling of what's happening these days in the world of Minoan archaeology:

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Modern Minoan Paganism: Reconstruction vs. revival

I spend a lot of time telling people that Modern Minoan Paganism is not a reconstructionist tradition. But the issue is actually a little more complicated than that.

When I was at Mystic South this past summer, one of the other presenters, Joseph Beofeld, attended my workshop about Modern Minoan Paganism. What was his presenation about? Reconstructionism! He came up to me afterward and pointed out that even though I had said we aren't a reconstructionist tradition, we use reconstructionist methods extensively. And that's quite true.

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    You have a group of fellow travelers to work with and support each other on your journey. I think that is wonderful. I've recent

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There's more than one Minoan goddess!

When I mention "Minoan," most people think of the famous Snake Goddess figurines. And many people think those figurines represent "the Minoan goddess," as if there were only one of them. But there are many Minoan goddesses, not just one.

In fact, there's a whole pantheon.

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Hands of Great Skill: A few "handy" Minoan deities

Modern Minoan Paganism's pantheon includes a variety of gods and goddesses with varying attributes. One group I haven't talked much about is the set of deities we call Hands of Great Skill: those whose purview is highly skilled handcrafts of various sorts.

Taking the raw materials of the Earth and transforming them, turning them into something new and different: that's a kind of magic. Rhea's gifts to us - clay and metal ore - are the body of the Earth Mother, offered up to those whose can make blades from rocks and vessels from mud using their hands and the equally magical power of fire.

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Calendar conundrums: harvest time in Modern Minoan Paganism

Over the past few days, my family and I have celebrated Lammas, a European harvest festival. But we don't include Lammas in the sacred calendar for Modern Minoan Paganism. Why not? First, there's the fact that the modern Neopagan eight-fold wheel of the year hadn't been invented yet back in the Bronze Age. But there's also the fact that in the Mediterranean, this isn't harvest time.

Many of us live in the northern temperate zone - the parts of North America and Eurasia that have four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter. Those seasons may be milder or more severe depending on the local climate, but they're still there.

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