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 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 sharedl 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?

If you're interested in Modern Minoan Paganism, head on over to our online forum at Ariadne's Tribe on Facebook. We're a welcoming tradition, open to all who share our love for the Minoan deities and respect for our fellow human beings - all of them.

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A Midwinter Labyrinth Journey

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

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.

This time of year, we think about Dionysus being born to the mother goddess Rhea in her sacred cave on Crete. But long before their story was told, long before there were humans to celebrate the turning of the seasons, the Sun shone down on the Earth. She flew across the sky, burning hot and high in the summer and tilting close to the horizon in the winter.

Across Eurasia, the most ancient stories tell of the Sun-Mother retreating to her cave to rest at the Winter Solstice. So at Midwinter, that's where we find her: in the cave, perhaps the same cave where Rhea births Dionysus, perhaps a different one, or perhaps all caves are the same one, ultimately. So this is where the Minoan Sun goddess Therasia spends her Winter Solstice, in her sacred cave.

We find a connection with Ariadne and her labyrinth as well, that most special of sacred caves. Ariadne spends a portion of every year in the Underworld, tending to the spirits of the dead. She is accompanied by the Melissae, the bee-spirit goddesses, for Ariadne is the Queen Bee.

The Minoan pantheon is an interconnected web rather than a human-style family tree, so we find the Melissae associated not just with Ariadne but also with the midwife-goddess Eileithyia - the Melissae guard the spirits of the dead and assist the souls in their journey back to the human world when babies are born. Eileithyia is a torch-bearer, perhaps Ariadne's torch-bearer during the time she is in the Underworld each year, so she is an Underworld goddess as well.

But bees are also a sacred symbol of the Sun-Mother, their honey a reflection of the sweet golden sunshine... so the web becomes a labyrinthine path that circles back around to the beginning again.

So if you happen to walk a labyrinth this Winter Solstice - with your feet, your finger, or your imagination - don't be surprised if you reach the center to find a gentle golden light, pale but still warm, waiting for you there. And when you turn to retrace your steps back out, you may find a golden thread that grows slowly brighter, lighting your way as the Sun rises up from her resting place and moves back toward the heights once again.

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen. 

 

Image: Handmade finger labryinth, made by the author from spice clay. Complete instructions available in the book Labrys and Horns.

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I'm an artist, writer, and lover of all things ancient and mysterious. The Minoans of Bronze Age Crete have been a passion of mine since a fateful art history class introduced me to the frescoes of Knossos back in high school. My first book was published in 2001; one of my most recent works is Labrys and Horns: An Introduction to Modern Minoan Paganism. I've also created a Minoan Tarot deck and a Minoan coloring book. When I'm not busy drawing and writing, you can find me in the garden or giving living history demonstrations at local historic sites.

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