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 polytheist 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 shared 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?

Find out all about Modern Minoan Paganism on our website: We're a welcoming tradition, open to all who share our love for the Minoan deities and respect for our fellow human beings.

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Enter the Mysteries with me!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

The longest single event in the Modern Minoan Paganism sacred calendar is the Mysteries. This ten-day-long festival, running from September 1 to September 10, is our revival of what may have been the Minoan precursor or cousin of the Eleusinian Mysteries in mainland Greece.

A number of different groups have recreated some of the rituals from the festival in mainland Greece that lasted into classical times. But those recreations aren't based on Minoan mythology.

As I've written before, the MMP version of the Mysteries centers on the cycle of Ariadne's movements between the Underworld and the World Above. In the Mediterranean, the growing season for field crops like grain and vegetables begins in the autumn with the planting of the seeds as the rainy season picks up steam. The crops grow through the mild winter and are harvested in the spring. Then the rainy season ends, and the long, dry summer begins.

The summer is the "dead time" in the Mediterranean. This is the time when Ariadne willingly descends to the Underworld to care for the spirits of the dead, the beloved ancestors who reside in the World Below.

This time of year, a few weeks before Autumn Equinox, she is preparing to return to the World Above for her other job: she embodies the grain crop, rising up into our world with the first green sprouts in the fields. The preparation for her return is contained in the Mysteries, ten days of rituals and celebrations that remind us of the connection between the World Above and the Underworld, the living and the dead.

The Greeks feared the dead and assumed they were jealous of the living. But we think the Minoans had a different kind of relationship with the dead, something a little more like the ancient Egyptians had, involving love and caring from both sides, with the living tending the dead in this world via offerings and rituals and the dead aiding the living via auguries, visions, and the all-important selection of souls to be reborn into the world once again.

How can we, as modern Pagans, celebrate the Minoan Mysteries? Here are some ideas you can do by yourself or with others:

Make offerings to your beloved dead, to those on whose shoulders you stand, whether those are blood ancestors or spiritual ancestors or both. And yes, you can skip problematic relatives if need be. Most important, develop a relationship with your ancestors that goes beyond this one festival so you can support each other year round. They aren't vending machines, any more than the gods are. You don't put in an offering and out pops a goodie. Treat them as you would any beloved elder or favorite grandparent: tell them about your day, your joys and sorrows; offer them your gratitude and love; keep in touch with them on a regular basis. And remember, of course, that you'll be one of them one day.

Walk a labyrinth - with your feet on the ground, with your hand on a finger labyrinth, or with your mind via a guided meditation. The labyrinth is a tool for personal growth, yes, but it's also much greater than that. It's the pathway between lifetimes, from life to death to life again. As the Queen of the Dead, Ariadne oversees the labyrinth and safeguards those who travel within it. Those of us who wish to do so can use the labyrinth as a way to journey to the Underworld for more direct contact with the ancestors and with the deities who reside there either part-time or full time: Ariadne, Minos, the Minotaur, Eileithyia, the Melissae.

Read the story of the Mysteries, either online or in a book. I'm working on a book of Minoan mythology starring the deities of the MMP pantheon, but since it's nowhere near finished, I'm afraid I can't offer that just yet. I can promise that it will have an extended, detailed version of the tale of Ariadne's sojourn in the Underworld and her return to the World Above, including all the other deities who participate in the process.

Set up a Mysteries altar. What kinds of objects and symbols represent the Mysteries to you? Which deities would you choose to include? Don't forget to make offerings - incense, wine, honey, poppyseed - and spend a little time meditating in front of your altar every day. Since it's just for the Mysteries, your last activity with it should be on September 10. Then you should dismantle it, giving thanks for the insights you've received during the festival, and dispose of any remaining offerings respectfully.

You can do any of these things just once or every day until the 10th. Or you could do different activities on different days. I expect we'll eventually have a formal ritual, or set of rituals, for celebrating this festival. But for now, we have some good options that will keep us going.

May the Mysteries touch your heart and help you heal and grow.

In the name of the bee,
And of the butterfly,
And of the breeze, amen.

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Laura Perry is a priestess and creator who works magic with words, paint, ink, music, textiles, and herbs. She is the founder and Temple Mom of Modern Minoan Paganism. When she's not busy drawing and writing, you can find her in the garden or giving living history demonstrations at local historic sites.


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