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 sharedl 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 MMP Pantheon: The Sea Goddess Posidaeja

This is the third in a series of blog posts about the MMP pantheon. Find the list of the whole series here.

This time we're focusing on our sea goddess Posidaeja. She's another of our trio of mother goddesses, the Three who preside over the pantheon and represent the sacred realms of land, sky, and sea. Her name is attested in the Linear B tablets, though we also call her Grandmother Ocean or Thalassa.

What's especially interesting about Posidaeja is that she's rarely shown in human-like form in Minoan art, at least that we've been able to find. The seal impression at the top of this blog post is the only instance I'm aware of that clearly shows our sea-mother goddess in anthropomorphic (gynopomorphic?) form. She looks so peaceful there, floating on and in the water. That scale-like pattern is the way Minoan artists depicted water. It might represent waves, but it might also depict the way light plays through the water onto the surface below.

Where else can we find Posidaeja in Minoan art, if we don't see her in human form? How about all the images of the ocean and sea life that the talented ancient artists created? The Minoans were an island people, surrounded by water and relying on the sea for food, travel, and trade. In an animist, polytheist world, the sea goddess is literally the ocean itself, so every image of the Mediterranean in Minoan art is ultimately a picture of Posidaeja. Here's a fresco from Akrotiri that shows the city and its harbor plus a fleet of ships and dolphins among the waves:

Akrotiri Flotilla fresco detail

Image Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

There's an entire class of Minoan ceramics called marine ware that all depict ocean scenes. Favorite subjects include octopuses and argonauts (paper nautiluses, which are also a type of octopus). The scenes on these vessels range from picturesque to mildly humorous - I can almost hear Posidaeja's laughter in the bubbling of running water. Here's an awesome marine ware pithamphora with a fun octopus on it:

Marine ware pithos with octopus

Image CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Or how about a fish-and-water patterned larnax (sarcophagus) to see you through the depths and safely to the Underworld? Many ancient cultures viewed the sea as a passageway to the Underworld where the spirits of the dead dwelled, and we see it that way in MMP as well.

Marine style Minoan larnax

Image CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Finally, we have a proud young fisherman from Akrotiri with his catch of mahi-mahi, showing us how much the Minoans relied on Posidaeja not just for transportation but for food as well:

Akrotiri fresco fisherman

Image Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

The sea is one of the three earthly realms: land, sky, and sea. Posidaeja is the mother goddess who presides over that realm, and over all the water on Earth, for that matter, because it's all a part of the water cycle. So when you see water and marine life in Minoan art, remember that these images point back to our Grandmother Ocean, the "blue" in the Big Blue Marble.

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

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Laura Perry is an artist, writer, and the founder and facilitator of Modern Minoan Paganism. The Minoans of Bronze Age Crete have been a passion of hers since a fateful art history class introduced her to the frescoes of Knossos back in high school. Her first book was published in 2001; one of her most recent works is Labrys and Horns: An Introduction to Modern Minoan Paganism. She has also created a Minoan Tarot deck and a Minoan coloring book. 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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