Modern Minoan Paganism: Walking with Ariadne's Tribe

Walk the sacred labyrinth with Ariadne, the Minotaur, the Great Mothers, Dionysus, and the rest of the Minoan pantheon. Modern Minoan Paganism is an independent polytheist spiritual tradition that brings the gods and goddesses 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 Modern Minoan Paganism on our website: https://ariadnestribe.wordpress.com/. We're a welcoming tradition, open to all who share our love for the Minoan deities and respect for our fellow human beings.

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The Minoan Herb Garden and Spice Cabinet

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Last time, we looked at what kinds of vegetables the Minoans grew in their gardens. But they needed to season those veggies so they were especially tasty to eat, right? So what kinds of herbs and other seasonings did they use?

The first and most obvious one is salt. Like other island-dwelling people, the Minoans used sea salt. It's easy to make - just collect up some sea water and evaporate the liquid, using heat from the Sun or from fire. The Minoans were surely doing this all the way back in the Neolithic, though most of the evidence for it comes from later on.

But what about other seasonings? Herbs, for instance?

While basil didn't make it to Crete until long after Minoan civilization was just a memory, the other herbs that we think of as Mediterranean were already there, many of them native plants growing on the hillsides: rosemary, thyme, sage, lavender, dittany of Crete, oregano. The Minoans probably also grew them in their gardens so they would be close at hand when they wanted to cook with them. You don't want to half to hike up a mountain when you're halfway through cooking dinner.

Other herbs and spices we know the Minoans had, either from vessel residues or from written evidence on the Linear B tablets, include the following:

anise
bay laurel
chamomile
coriander
cumin
dill
fennel
mint
parsley
tilia
wormwood

The Minoans also grew saffron; the saffron crocus figures large in Minoan art. But we don't know how expensive it was. Just like today, it was probably a valuable commodity, available only to those who could afford it.

Herbs are pretty easy to grow in pots or in very small gardens, so a lot of people probably had fresh herbs available at home an dried any excess they grew to save for later. But for those city dwellers who didn't grow their own, the local markets likely offered both fresh herbs (in season) and dried ones for culinary and medicinal use.

Other seasonings that people might have grown or bought in the market include sesame seeds, poppy seeds, bindweed seeds (Convulvulus species), myrtle, rock rose, and verbena.

To this day, people still hike up into the mountains to harvest mountain tea (Sideritis syriaca, locally called malotira). And some folx still gather herbs from the wild, as I'm sure people have been doing on Crete since the first settlers arrived there in the Neolithic.

Some of these herbs, both cultivated and wild, had a sacred aspect, a connection with deity - saffron and Therasia, for instance, or myrtle with Rhea and Ariadne. There were probably many connections between herbs and deities and/or seasonal festivals - most of them lost to the ravages of time. But we can still honor the living spirits of the plants as we grow them in our gardens and use them in our kitchens.

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 is the founder and Temple Mom of Modern Minoan Paganism. 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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