Ariadne's Tribe: Minoan Spirituality for the Modern World

Walk the sacred labyrinth with Ariadne, the Minotaur, the Great Mothers, Dionysus, and the rest of the Minoan family of deities. Ariadne's Tribe is an independent spiritual tradition that brings the deities 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?

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This little piggy went to Knossos...

CW: animal sacrifice

Everyone knows the Minoans had cattle - the Minotaur is testament to that fact, as are the many bovine head rhytons and cattle figurines found at Minoan sites. Most people have heard that they had sheep and goats, and no one is surprised that they ate fish and shellfish, given that they lived on an island.

But did you know they also had pigs?

That's a ceramic boar's head rhyton from Akrotiri, circa 1625 BCE, at the top of this post (photo courtesy of He's sort of cute, in a tear-your-guts-out-with-my-tusks kind of way.

So the Minoans had pigs. They aren't as well known from the art as bulls are, even though there are dozens of Minoan seals showing boars, sows, and even piglets. But the remains of their bones show that they were a consistent part of the Minoan diet and were offered as animal sacrifices in some places.

The temples kept pigs along with all their other livestock. Most farms probably had them as well, since they're easy to raise. Archaeologists have suggested that pigs might have been the preferred livestock for poorer families, just as they are in the developing world today, where many families will raise a single hog per year, feeding it on their table scraps.

At least some people must have enjoyed their presence, given the rhyton above and this one from Agios Ioannis on Crete, both of which have a lot of personality:

Pig rhyton from Agios Ioannis Crete
Image CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

We don't know whether the Minoans connected any kind of sacred symbology with pigs. The Egyptians, with whom the Minoans traded extensively, connected pigs with the Underworld and the god Set. But despite these apparently negative connotations, the Egyptians raised pigs, ate pork, and even used pigs to trample seeds into the ground at planting time (while probably fertilizing the soil at the same time!).

So really, all we can say at this point is that the Minoans raised pigs, ate pork, and occasionally made nifty containers shaped like the animals. Whether those containers were meant as sacred libation vessels or simply fun kitchenware is anybody's guess.

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Laura Perry is a priestess and creator who works magic with words, paint, ink, music, textiles, and herbs. She's the founder and Temple Mom of Ariadne's Tribe, an inclusive Minoan spiritual tradition. 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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