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 not a reconstructionist tradition, but a journey in relationship with Minoan deities in the contemporary world. Ariadne's thread reaches across the millennia to connect us with the divine. Will you follow where it leads?

To join the discussion about ancient Minoan culture and Modern Minoan Paganism, head on over to our welcoming community at Ariadne's Tribe on Facebook.

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Bulldozing History

Modern Minoan Paganism harks back to the Minoan civilization of ancient Crete: its beautiful towns, its sprawling temple complexes, its sacred caves and mountaintops. We know about the ancient Minoans - the way they lived, worked, and worshiped - because of a century's worth of efforts by archaeologists to uncover the remains of this fascinating ancient culture.

But sometimes these irreplaceable traces of ancient civilization are endangered by the modern desire for profit. A luxury holiday resort development that was turned down by the Greek government in 2011 has now received approval and will soon begin construction in Cavo Sidero, the beautiful wild peninsula on the northeastern coast of Crete. I understand the reasoning: The Greek economy is still in dire straits and anything that will bring in tourist income looks like a saving grace.

The problem, though, is that in addition to damaging a fragile Mediterranean ecosystem, including 'forests' of the native Cretan date palm that was sacred to the Minoans, this short-term boon will cause the permanent destruction of archaeological remains. This is stuff we can't get back once it's gone, information we'll never have about an ancient society that informs not just a particular Pagan path but also the history of the Mediterranean region.

Just look at how many already identified ancient Minoan sites there are in northeastern Crete:

 

Minoan Peak Sanctuaries and Hilltop Shrines

 

 

Minoan Palaces, Villas and Peak Sanctuaries

 

And these are just the ones we already know about. Because this area has been largely uninhabited since Byzantine times, "Neolithic and Minoan farms, terraces and fields and check-dams of Ancient Greek and Byzantine cultivators survive on a landscape-wide scale, not hidden or destroyed by the works of later cultivators. Here, as nowhere else except on a few remote islets, one can see what the farmed countryside of Mediterranean Antiquity looked like" (from the original petition that aimed to stop this development).

Crete is not alone in the struggle between ancient history and modern profit. This kind of situation happens all over the world all the time, and it's not limited to eras of economic difficulty. I've personally seen a well-to-do developer in Florida dig up artifacts, throw them away, and keep on building without notifying anyone because 'time is money and those damned archaeologists just want to shut me down.'

But time is the one thing we don't have. Once ancient remains are gone, they're gone. It's our own history, and that of our ancestors, that we're obliterating. Your family didn't come from Crete, you say? The further back in time you go, the fewer people there are, until we're all related, one way or another. It's all our history. Humanity's history.

I pray that in time, we'll learn to change our priorities, learn to value knowledge of our precious past over a few dollars in the present. Then, finally, our ancestors might be proud of us.

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen!

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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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