Modern Minoan Paganism: 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. Modern Minoan Paganism is not a purely reconstructionist tradition, but a journey 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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The Equinoxes in Modern Minoan Paganism: A problem of location

I live in the southeastern US, which is almost literally half a world away from Crete, where the ancient Minoans lived. In this modern day, what with the Internet and all, that's not such a big deal, except for one thing: the seasons aren't the same in the two places. That makes the equinoxes... interesting.

Though we don't know for sure what the ancient Minoans' year looked like, we have managed to create a sacred calendar for Modern Minoan Paganism that hits the high points based on educated guesses. It works for us and it helps us relate to the Minoan deities and the ancient culture that we're drawing on for our spiritual practice.

But the world is a varied place, splendid in its differences. One of those differences is the seasons. I'm at the far southern edge of the northern temperate zone, so I get the storybook set of four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter. Crete, in contrast, is in the Mediterranean, where there are functionally only two seasons: rainy and dry.

One thing I love about Pagan spirituality of all sorts is that it encourages its practitioners to connect with the natural cycles wherever they live. But the cycles where I live don't match those in the Mediterranean. Here, I'm preparing my garden and planting the seeds for the first few cool-weather vegetables. On Crete, this is the time of year the Minoans harvested field crops like grain (they grew barley, rye, and several different kinds of wheat).

For folks who live in the southern hemisphere, this isn't such a big deal: now is the autumn for them, so it's harvest time. But for me and the other folks who live in North American and non-Mediterranean Europe, it's a mental stretch. We have to hold both ends of the cycle in our heads at the same time. Ultimately, I think that's a good thing, but it can be tricky to master.

Enter Amalthea. That's her up top of this blog post.

She's the one with the cornucopia that overflows with the bounty of harvest, the sister-twin of the earth mother goddess Rhea. But before you can have that bounty, you have to do the work: preparing the fields, planting the seeds, tending the crop. In the days before mechanized farming, this meant plowing with oxen, maintaining a watch over the field until the seeds sprouted so the birds wouldn't dig up your seed, then hoeing the weeds out by hand. Harvest, of course, was similarly hands-on, with bronze scythes and good old-fashioned elbow grease. Then comes the threshing and winnowing, and you've got not only the grain for your food but also the seed for next year's crop.

It's all of a piece, the agricultural cycle. Whenever we touch one part of it, we touch it all. So even though I'm just beginning to plant, I can still reach over to the folks who are harvesting their fields now and find where they are on the spiraling path of the seasons.

And to me, that's magical.

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

Art: Amalthea by Laura Perry

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I'm an artist, writer, and lover of all things ancient and mysterious. The Minoans of Bronze Age Crete have been a particular passion of mine since a fateful art history class introduced me to the frescoes of Knossos back in high school. My first book was published in 2001; one of my most recent works is Labrys and Horns: An Introduction to Modern Minoan Paganism. I've also created a Minoan Tarot deck and a Minoan coloring book. When I'm not busy drawing and writing, I enjoy gardening and giving living history demonstrations at local historic sites.

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