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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Minoan Subcultures and the Sacred Calendar

We tend to think of ancient cultures as monolithic: the Minoans, the Sumerians, the Greeks, the Romans. But there were subcultures and differing groups within those larger labels, just like there are now among, say, Americans or modern Greek people.

It can be difficult to tease out the identities of the subcultures, but it's important to do so. Why? Because choosing not to bother has the effect of erasing those people from history. I think they deserve better than that.

So, for instance, the Minoans. There are three identifiable subcultures within Minoan society: farmers, sailors/traders, and herders.

The farmers worked the lower-elevation land that rings the island's central mountain chains. They stayed in one place year-round.

The sailors and traders were gone to sea from May to October each year, but came home for the winter. They lived in the port cities that ringed Crete's coastline.

The herders lived in the mountains that dominate the center of the island. They moved their herds seasonally (this is called transhumance), from their winter home in the foothills to higher pastures in the summer, where water and grass was more abundant thanks to snow melt from the mountain peaks.

It's likely that these three groups worshiped overlapping sets of deities, with some in common and others not so much. Goat herding communities might have focused their religious practice on the caprine Horned Ones. Sailors and traders surely would have given Posidaeja a prominent place. And the farmers may well have honored Rhea in addition to other deities.

Our MMP sacred calendar includes festivals from the agricultural cycle (the farmers) and the sailing season (the sailors and traders). So far, we haven't been able to pin down any festivals that the herders might have celebrated, though we do think the time in the spring when they were getting ready to move their herds up into the mountains probably coincided with both the farmers' harvest and the sailors' preparations to go to sea.

The herding folx in the west of Crete are still very much their own subculture, though I doubt they have maintained traditions intact from Minoan times. I hope one day we'll be able to incorporate some more festivals into the calendar to more accurately reflect all the major groups that made up Minoan society.

Until then, we give thanks for the recent harvest on Crete and look forward to the beginning of sailing season.

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'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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