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: https://ariadnestribe.wordpress.com/. 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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Guess what - that's not Minoan!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

The Minoans are a constant source of fascination to modern people. That means that Minoan artifacts are also fascinating, and images of them circulate online every bit as fast as the latest meme.

Unfortunately, a lot of the photos that regularly make the rounds online labeled as Minoan artifacts aren't Minoan at all.

Like those lovely gold bee goddess plaques up top. They're from Rhodes and date to the 7th century BCE, many centuries after the end of Minoan civilization. So they're not Minoan, though it's possible that they represent continued reverence for the Melissae from Minoan times through the LBA collapse and into the Hellenic era.

I also see a lot of Hellenic-era coins labeled as Minoan because they have labyrinths on them, like this one that dates to 350-235 BCE, a millennium after the destruction of the Minoan cities:

Greek coin with labyrinth 350-325 BCE
Image CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

or Minotaurs, like this one that dates to 425-360 BCE (such amazing abs he has!):

Greek coin with Minotaur 425-360 BCE
Image CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Both of these coins are from Knossos, which may be the source of confusion. Though the Minoan city of Knossos was destroyed around 1350-1300 BCE, people continued to live in the area and throughout the island of Crete after that - the island didn't just magically become empty. And those people who stayed there had descendants who eventually rebuilt some of the cities, though without the grand temples and huge villas that existed in Minoan times.

To be clear: The Minoans didn't have coins. Coins hadn't been invented yet when the Minoans were around. They traded used a standardized barter system, just like the Egyptians, the Mesopotamians, and everyone else during the Bronze Age. So if you see a coin with what looks like a Minoan theme on it, just understand that it's from a time long after the Minoans.

I often find Etruscan artifacts labeled as Minoan, too - that's an especially big problem on Pinterest. The Etruscans lived in Italy, not Crete, many centuries after the Minoans. There are some tantalizing clues that suggest a possible (but not proven) connection between the Etruscans and the Minoans - the likely subject of a future blog post here. But the two cultures are distinct, and the Etruscans were definitely not Minoan.

There's also a problem with Minoan-inspired modern art being labeled as ancient Minoan. That happens frequently enough that I've already written about it here. If you're not well-versed in Minoan art and artifacts, it's easy to mistake Minoan-themed modern art for the real thing. I have a carefully curated Pinterest board of actual Minoan artifacts here - and a board of Minoan-inspired modern art here, for comparison.

Why is any of this important? First, there's the basic idea of accurate representation: Let the Minoans be their marvelous real selves so we can discover who they really were instead of some made-up modern image of them. And second, many people (including all of Modern Minoan Paganism) base their spiritual practice on Minoan religion and culture. If you're going to do reconstructionist or revivalist spirituality, it's important to accurately identify the information you're basing it on. That's the respectful way to pursue that type of spirituality.

So let the Minoans inspire you - just be sure it's really the Minoans whose work you're looking at.

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

 

Last modified on
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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