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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Modern Minoan Paganism
Deeper Into the Labyrinth: Exploring Modern Minoan Paganism

Back in 2015, I responded to a request from some members of Ariadne's Tribe by creating an online course in Modern Minoan Paganism (MMP). Thus, Into the Labyrinth was born. The course wends its way through the basics of the MMP sacred calendar. I've taught it every year since then, and even though I wrote the course, I learn something new every time I teach it - that's one of the perks of being a teacher whose students are really interested in the subject.

As soon as that first class was over, those students asked for a second course that delves deeper into some of the deities and practices of MMP. So I dug into our pantheon and our calendar and created Deeper Into the Labyrinth. And once again, I discovered that my students often had as much to teach me as the other way around.

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Red and White: The clues in the colors of Minoan art

For a long time, I wondered what on Earth possessed the Minoans to paint women as white (not Caucasian-toned, but the color of a sheet of paper) and men as dark-dark red. After all, DNA evidence shows that, like their ancestors in Neolithic Anatolia, the Minoans all had skin in various shades of brown. So why the weirdness in the art, like the Bull Leaper fresco above?

Then I began to learn about Mediterranean folk dance. Dance ethnography isn't a subject I ever really thought about before, to be honest. Then a talented dance ethnographer began to share her insights with us, and a lot of things began to make sense. (Check out her book The Ancient and Martial Dances for some fascinating info.)

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    My copy of "The Ancient & Martial Dances" arrived in the mail today. It looks intriguing. Thank you for mentioning it.

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Modern Minoan Paganism: Looking back at 2019

2019 was a busy year for Modern Minoan Paganism (MMP). We had our first public ritual, put on by the talented folks of Puget Sound Minoan Pagans at a park in their local area. We made our first official appearance at a Pagan conference, the very awesome Mystic South (we'll be there again this year, hopefully putting on a ritual as well as a workshop). We drew up By-Laws, installed a Board of Directors, and began officially accepting members and chapters (the Puget Sound Minoan Pagans are our first official chapter!). We've topped 1400 members in our Facebook group, which is the official public forum of MMP, and we're still growing.

So yeah, busy year. I expect 2020 isn't going to let us slow down much, either. When I started the Facebook group back in 2014, I was just looking for other folks who shared an interest in Minoan religion and culture. I had no idea we were going to end up with a practicing Pagan tradition. But here we are, and I thank the Mothers every day that I'm surrounded by so many marvelous people whose enthusiasm and skill has helped us move forward in a way that (I hope) serves our members and respects the gods and goddesses with whom we have a formal relationship.

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A Midwinter Labyrinth Journey

The labyrinth: that winding, twisting, single-path maze that takes you surely into the center and out again. Ariadne, the Lady of the Labyrinth, leads us onward and inward, to our own shadow self where the Minotaur helps us face our inner darkness. The labyrinth is a place of exploration and discovery, full of shadows and strange turnings. Let's see where the labyrinth of mythos takes us today.

As we approach the Winter Solstice here in the northern hemisphere, darkness is very much on my mind, as is the labyrinth. In a sense, the labyrinth is a kind of cave. Caves were important sacred sites to the ancient Minoans, and they're important symbols in Modern Minoan Paganism.

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A Mother's Love, Minoan Style

Whenever I check on my blog statistics, I always find that the post I wrote about topless Minoan women is the number one in terms of hits. The female breast is such a source of titillation (ha!) in modern society, it's hard to wrap our minds around the idea that exposed breasts might have represented something other than sexual innuendo to the ancient Minoans. But we're pretty sure they did.

In addition to the frescoes and figurines that show women with exposed breasts, Minoan art also includes quite a few representations of animals suckling their young. The image at the top of this blog is a drawing of a faience plaque found at Knossos. It shows a mama goat suckling a kid. There's a similar plaque with a cow and her calf. Images of mother animals suckling their young - cattle, goats, sheep, even deer - appear on a number of Minoan seals.

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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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Modern Minoan Paganism: Ecstatic upraised arms

Strike a pose! Ecstatic postures have been a part of human religious practice for millennia, possibly going back as far as the Paleolithic. I've explored ecstatic postures and their place in Modern Minoan Paganism before. They're a kind of spiritual "tech" - like yoga and tai chi, ecstatic postures make energy move via the mechanism of holding the body in particular ways. We find examples of these postures in the form of votive figurines from Minoan sacred sites such as cave shrines and peak sanctuaries. The best-known of these postures is probably the famed Minoan salute.

Most ecstatic postures appear to have been used by spiritworkers and worshipers to journey to specific places in the Otherworld or to connect with particular deities or spirits. In that sense, the usual museum label of "worshiper figurine" is accurate.

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