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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Modern Minoan Paganism
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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The Minoan Sacred Year: A Modern Pagan Calendar

Most modern Pagans are familiar with the eightfold Wheel of the Year: the solstices and equinoxes and the points halfway in between. But that's a modern construct. It also doesn't match the unique seasons of the Mediterranean region, where Crete is (and where the Minoans lived).

So in Modern Minoan Paganism, we've worked out a sacred calendar based on the Mediterranean seasonal cycle. We've combined information from Minoan artifacts and ruins, archaeoastronomy, the few fragments of myth that made it down to us via the Greeks, and a bunch of shared gnosis. That gives us a set of festivals that work for us as modern Pagans but that still reflect what we think went on among the Minoans in Bronze Age Crete.

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The Blessing of the Waters: Building Modern Minoan Paganism

Since the Minoans aren't around anymore and we can't read the things they wrote (Linear A has not been deciphered), we have to build our practice of Modern Minoan Paganism based on whatever kind of inspiration we can find.

It turns out, there are still remnants of ancient rites that cling to life in the folk practices of Crete and other parts of Europe in this Christian era. You probably already knew this: the Christian church took over Pagan practices and renamed them, like the Irish goddess Brigit becoming a Christian saint.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Alethea Leondakis
    Alethea Leondakis says #
    I only discovered this yesterday, but I believe in 2015 or 2016, the Phaistos discus was decoded. Here is a link where it is read
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I'm given to understand that in Venice there's a Great Blessing of the Waters to mark the beginning of sailing season; if Minoan C
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    That would be a separate rite and would involve Posidaeja, the Minoan sea goddess, rather than the spirits of local streams and la
I don't like changing my mind: an essay in the evolution of Modern Minoan Paganism

One thing any researcher knows is that new information is liable to blow old theories to smithereens. The same holds true for Modern Minoan Paganism, an evolving path that incorporates not just archaeological information but also shared gnosis as we work our way forward in spiritual practice.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't like having to change my views. Once I think I have something figured out, it's very pleasant to just hang there, in that space, all smug and satisfied. But I've learned the hard way that nothing is that easy, not just in archaeology, but also in spirituality.

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Modern Minoan Paganism: Reviving ancient spirituality

I've been in relationship with the Minoan gods and goddesses since I was a teenager, but it was only a few years ago that Modern Minoan Paganism began to take shape as a specific spiritual path. I've been walking that path with the lovely folks in Ariadne's Tribe, and together we're creating a tradition that works for us as Pagans in the modern world. The hardest part, believe it or not, is explaining what we do to other people.

The name Modern Minoan Paganism gives you a pretty good idea from the start: We're combining the bits and pieces we know about ancient Minoan religion and culture in a modern Pagan context. We can't really reconstruct ancient Minoan religious practice in detail. There are too many gaps in our knowledge, we don't live in the same kind of culture the Minoans did, and we probably don't want to go back to sacrificing bulls and goats (and possibly people) anyway.

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