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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Crete

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Minoan Epiphany: Come on Down!

Have the gods ever appeared to you? If the artwork is any indication, they seem to have put in a few appearances to the Minoans of ancient Crete. The image at the top of this blog is of the Isopata ring, a gold seal ring from a Minoan-era tomb near Knossos. The scene shows four women, presumably priestesses, dancing ecstatically in a field of lilies. Interesting stuff floats around their heads: snake-like serpentine lines, a beehive, and... a small female figure. She is dressed like the other women, in a flounced skirt, but she's tiny; her hair and skirt are flying out as if she is moving quickly through the air. She is, perhaps, a goddess who has been invoked in this ritual.

The interesting thing is, figures like her show up on several other seal rings, as does a small floating male figure who holds a spear. And all the artwork depicts ritual settings, so I think the identification of these floating figures as deities is a pretty sound one. For instance, this ring from the Minoan port city of Amnisos has a floating goddess hovering over a boat full of people and being greeted by more people to the left:

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Archaeological Dating: A thorny issue, even for the Minoans

I've been a big fan of archaeology ever since I discovered the ancient Egyptians back in grade school. Indiana Jones aside, I think it's absolutely fascinating that we can dig up the remains of civilizations from centuries ago, put the pieces back together (mostly) and get a glimpse into those long-ago lives.

Ah, but there's the big question: Exactly how long ago did it all happen?

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Sacral Scarf: Minoan Symbolism

A while back, I shared some information about some snake-like sacred knots in Minoan art that may or may not have anything to do with the tet knot associated with Isis in Egyptian symbology. There's another "sacred knot" found in Minoan art that's very different, made from a length of fabric that's loosely looped and knotted. Scholars often lump it in with the other sacred knots, but it's not the same. Those of us who practice Modern Minoan Paganism have taken to calling this object the sacral scarf to differentiate it from the knots made of cord or rope.

Some time ago I offered a few thoughts about the sacral scarf. Since then several of us in Ariadne's Tribe have worked with the sacral scarf and have come up with some ideas about what it represents and how we can use it in ritual to connect with the divine. First of all, from the artwork we can clearly see that this is a length of woven fabric, fringed on the ends and knotted with a loop:

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Book Review: Lost Goddesses of Early Greece

Over in Ariadne's Tribe we have a list of recommended books about Minoan spirituality and related topics. One of the books from that list that I find myself pointing out frequently to anyone who is interested in Modern Minoan Paganism and/or goddess spirituality (besides my own books, of course) is Charlene Spretnak's classic work Lost Goddesses of Early Greece: A Collection of Pre-Hellenic Myths. Originally published in 1978, this amazing little volume is still in print, and with good reason.

Ms. Spretnak addresses herself to nine goddesses, eleven if you count the Moon Triad as three separate ones: Gaia, Pandora, Themis, Aphrodite, the Moon Triad (Artemis, Selene, Hecate), Hera, Athena, Demeter, and Persephone. She offers some fascinating information about each one, detailing where they originated, what their early worship was probably like, and how the Hellenes and other later cultures "demoted" them from their original places of honor and power. It's both enlightening and a little sad to discover how these goddesses were purposely tarnished over time. But this book helps to polish them back to their original glow.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
What do you call a Minoan midwinter god?

I've talked before about the names the ancient Minoans used for their gods, here and here, and the difficulties of trying to figure out what those original names were. All we really have to go on is the administrative texts written in Linear B by the Myceneans (or their Minoan scribes). So all that information is filtered through the lens of the Mycenaean Greeks. Case in point: Dionysus.

He's very apropos for today - Winter Solstice - since this is his birthday in the Minoan sacred calendar, when he is born to the great mother goddess Rhea in her cave at sunrise. If you want to view the Minoan pantheon in terms of hierarchy, you'd have to say Rhea is at the top (at least, of the earthbound and Underworld gods - the ocean goddess Posidaeja and the cosmic goddess Ourania could be considered to be "above" her but that's another blog post).

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  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Thank you. I very much enjoyed this piece
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    You're very welcome!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Call their names: the Minoan gods and goddesses

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Minoan deity names in Linear B, the script the Mycenaean Greeks used to write their language toward the end of Minoan civilization. We still can't read Linear A, the script the Minoans used to write their native language, but the Mycenaeans borrowed so much of Minoan religion and culture that their texts give us a lot of information, even if most of them are just inventory lists of donations to temples.

Last time, I mentioned Atana Potnia, the early precursor to Athena who was apparently worshiped at Knossos. But we have quite a few more names of gods and goddesses, some of whom are manifestly Minoan and some of whom look to be a part of the blended Minoan-Mycenaean culture that lasted for several centuries before the Late Bronze Age collapse of cultures around the Mediterranean.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Who were the gods of ancient Crete?

The description of my Facebook group Ariadne's Tribe states that Modern Minoan Paganism isn't a reconstructionist tradition. That's true. Reconstructionist traditions use texts from the original culture to figure out what the religion looked like back then, and we don't have any Minoan texts that we can read. Linear A, the script the Minoans used to record their native language, is still untranslated. But we do have something close that has been deciphered: Linear B.

I know, the names of these scripts are maddeningly non-descriptive, but they tell us one thing right up front: Linear A came first, with the Minoans, who were one of the indigenous peoples of Old Europe and who inhabited Crete beginning in Neolithic times. Later, during the Bronze Age, the Mycenaean Greeks (who were an Indo-European people) came down through the Greek peninsula and met up with the Minoans. They learned a lot from the Minoans, including how to write (they were illiterate before contact with the Minoans).

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