The Minoan Path: Walking with Ariadne's Tribe
Walk the sacred labyrinth with Ariadne, loving goddess of ancient Crete who lives on in the hearts and minds of the modern world. This is not a reconstructionist tradition, but a journey of modern Pagans in relationship with Minoan deities in the contemporary world. Ariadne's thread reaches across the millennia to connect us with the divine. Will you follow where it leads?
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Offering to the Minoan Gods
Modern Minoan Paganism is a pretty broad path. People come to it from many different directions and backgrounds; our commonalities are the pantheon, the Minoan sacred calendar, and a few basic practices that we all share. Prominent among these is making offerings to the Minoan gods and goddesses. The image at the top of this post is a lovely three-footed offering table from Akrotiri decorated with dolphins. Perhaps its owner left fruit or flowers or seashells some other offering on it, maybe dedicated to the ocean goddess Posidaeja or another favorite deity (though I'd vote for Posidaeja because of the dolphins).
Solid items can be set out on the altar or offering stands or at an appropriate outdoor location. Liquid offerings can also be set out in a cup or pitcher, or they can be poured out as libations. A libation can be poured into another container (a bowl, for instance) or onto the ground. A libation can even be the centerpiece of a ritual for abundance.
The thing is, it's hard to tell exactly what kinds of offerings the ancient Minoans made to each deity, so we have to figure that part out ourselves. We usually determine that kind of thing by a combination of meditation/journeywork and actual practice. In other words, ask the gods whether the offering would be a good one, then try it and see what happens. Sometimes I'll set a proposed offering near the altar and point my thoughts in the direction of the deity I want to give it to. Then I pay attention to what I sense: Do I feel compelled to go ahead and put the item on the altar? Do I get an uncomfortable feeling, like maybe the deity doesn't want that particular offering?
Each person has an individual relationship with the gods but there will always be some commonalities with other Pagans who worship those deities. You could say the same thing about offerings. I like to organize offerings into three broad categories. There are some offerings that are "safe" for certain deities, items you can be sure that they'll accept and be happy with under pretty much any circumstances. Then there are offerings that they'll accept from one person but not another; there's a surprising amount of variance here, and I suspect it has a lot to do with which aspect of the deity each person focuses on. After all, the gods are every bit as multi-faceted as we are, maybe more. The last category of offering is the "no-go's." These are the ones a particular deity doesn't like and will be miffed if you give them. Fortunately, there aren't a whole lot of these.
Today I'd like to share some of the "safe bets" for the Minoan deities. These are offerings the god or goddess enjoys receiving. If you think about it, they tend to resonate with each deity's qualities and characteristics. I've also included a few that you can experiment with to see if they work for you.
Rhea: Milk is always a safe bet. Some people can offer her wine but she doesn't always like it. She seems to like white wine better than red. Fruit that would have grown in ancient Crete (figs, dates, grapes, quinces) is generally acceptable.
Amalthea: milk and/or honey. Goat's milk is preferred but cow's milk will do if it's all that's available.
The Melissae: honey, mead, honey ale. At harvest time you can offer them bread (preferably homemade) and grain. They also really like beeswax candles, even though the ancient Minoans didn't have candles, only oil lamps.
Eileithyia: honey, poppyseed.
Dionysus: wine, beer, mead. He doesn't generally like distilled liquor but he adores brewed alcoholic beverages (though do be careful with the stranger modern flavored ones - sometimes he decides he doesn't like ones with certain herbs, fruits, or other flavorings). Interestingly, he will also generally accept offerings of homemade red wine vinegar (but not the store-bought stuff).
The Horned Gods (Minotaur, Moon-Goat, Moon-Stag): red wine.
Ariadne: saffron, pomegranates (fruit, seeds, juice), poppyseed.
Posidaeja: water from any natural source (it doesn't have to be sea-water).
There are a few offering items that provoke strong reactions from the Minoan gods, so it's best to check carefully beforehand via meditation and prayer before offering them, and seriously consider not making them a part of your practice. High up on this list is meat. I've known people who hunted who offered a portion of their venison kill to the Moon-Stag or Britomartis and had it graciously accepted, but I would still check first to be sure before making that offering. Offering meat that you've purchased is a very iffy thing, so tread carefully, even if you're simply trying to share one of your favorite foods with the gods. They have taste preferences every bit as much as we do. Always do your best to ascertain whether the deity will accept the item before offering it.
Another dicey offering item is blood. Blood of any sort (venous blood, menstrual blood, birthing blood, the blood from an animal you've hunted or slaughtered) has powerful connotations. Its presence in a sacred setting can easily offend or anger any number of deities. Offering your own blood can also tie you to the deity in ways you may not intend. Be especially careful when offering blood of any sort to Underworld deities unless that's where you want to end up. So if you feel compelled to offer blood of any sort, please take the time to connect with the god or goddess and make sure you understand the implications of what you're doing. The gods' reactions will tend to differ from one worshiper to another so you can't necessarily depend on someone else's experience here. We know the ancient Minoans collected and used the blood of sacrificed animals in some way, but there were doubtless strong rules and taboos associated with the practice. Quite a few people have shared visions of private/secret women's rituals involving menstrual blood, but we aren't sure exactly what was involved or what the protocol was. Since we don't know for certain what any of those were, it's best to tread very carefully. There is no one-size-fits-all answer for this one.
Making offerings is a fairly easy way to connect with the gods, in much the same way that we might offer food or drink to family members or dear friends when they come to visit. Offerings outline a path between us and the gods. They're not payment for services rendered (the gods aren't cosmic vending machines) but part of a relationship. Take your time to get to know the deities you'd like to connect with. You can start with the "safe bet" offerings, then try asking them what they would like from you in particular. Listen carefully and learn directly from the source. Then you're on your way.
What offerings have you made to the Minoan deities? How were they received?
In the name of the bee,
And of the butterfly,
And of the breeze, amen.
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