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?

Find out all about Ariadne's Tribe at We're an inclusive, welcoming tradition, open to all who share our love for the Minoan deities and respect for our fellow human beings.

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Mysterious Minoan Tentacles

The Minoans were a seafaring people, so it's no surprise that their art is full of marine life, exhibiting their deep connection with the sea goddess Posidaeja. Most people are familiar with the dolphins and octopuses that appear on so many Minoan marine ware vessels and frescoes. But there's another sea creature that shows up in Minoan art, mostly on ceramic containers, a creature that was so odd, it took us a while to figure out its identity.

Have a look at the marine ware jug at the top of this post. The critter painted on it looks like an octopus that's holed up in a nautilus shell, sticking its tentacles out and waving them.

But it's not a regular octopus. It's an argonaut, also called a paper nautilus. It's a unique kind of deep-sea octopus whose female secretes a papery egg sac that looks very much like a nautilus shell.

The Minoans would have seen these amazing creatures as they sailed around the Mediterranean. They apparently liked them a lot, because argonauts were one of the most popular types of marine life depicted on Minoan ceramics, along with dolphins and regular octopuses.

Here are a few examples of Minoan marine ware with argonauts on, for your enjoyment:

This lovely pitcher was made in Crete but found in Egypt - that gives you an idea of how popular Minoan marine ware was and how extensive the trade routes were in the Bronze Age Mediterranean.

Minoan marine ware pitcher with argonauts, found in Egypt
CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

This conical rhyton from Phaistos has argonauts and a lot of coral, plus some wavy fronds of seaweed:

Minoan marine ware conical rhyton from Phaistos
CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

And this fragmentary vessel from Phylakopi (on the island of Melos) has argonauts beneath a wavy border:

Minoan vessel with argonauts from Phylakopi
CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

There is one Minoan artifact with argonauts on it that I find curious and a bit confusing. It's this larnax, now in the Archaeological Museum of Rethymno, Crete:

Minoan larnax
CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

You can see that the two front panels show an ibex and a goat eating some blooming papyrus. But what's odd is that it looks like there's a single argonaut under each animal. I have no idea what this means or why there would be argonauts flopping around on the ground underneath land animals. Maybe argonauts had significance for the family this larnax was made for.

Regardless, they were a popular motif on Minoan marine ware and a joyful part of our experience of Minoan art.

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

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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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