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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Crete
Cultural Exchange in the Minoan World: Egypt and Others

Today, it's not at all uncommon to see people in New York wearing fashions from Paris, or kids in California watching Japanese anime TV shows (and kids in Japan watching American TV shows). It's called cultural exchange, and it has always happened, as long as people have traveled and traded and interacted with each other.

The way ancient cultures are presented in the history books often makes them sound as if they were completely separate from each other, sealed away in some sort of etheric ziptop bag, as if the borders of the various empires and cultures were non-permeable. But that's far from the case. During the Bronze Age - the time when the Minoans were being all Minoan-y - the whole eastern Mediterranean was one great big cultural exchange area, with people trading objects, ideas, styles, and fashions from one spot to another as fast as the ships could ply the seas.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Tyger
    Tyger says #
    What are your thoughts on 'cultural appropriation'? I've been hearing that a lot lately.
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    Cultural appropriation is an issue with living cultures, such as Native Americans, and it's a very real problem that I wish more p

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Minoan Pottery: It's NOT all Greek to me

One of the more frustrating aspects of practicing Modern Minoan Paganism and studying ancient Minoan culture is that we can't read Linear A, the script the Minoans used to write their native language. So we have to rely on the fragments of Minoan myth and history that have trickled down to us via the Greeks (the Minoans weren't Greek - they were their very own independent Bronze Age culture).

This means we don't even know the words the Minoans used for ordinary objects like cups and bowls. The archaeologists who first excavated Minoan sites had backgrounds in Greek history, myth, and culture, so they simply used the Greek terms for the pottery they unearthed. That's why libation pitchers from ancient Crete are called rhytons (or rhyta, if you want to use the Greek plural); rhyton is the Greek word for this kind of container.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Minoan Goddess: Double? Triple?

The Maiden/Mother/Crone configuration of goddesses is popular in modern Paganism. It resonates with a lot of us, but there's no evidence the Minoans viewed their goddesses this way. In fact, the Maiden/Mother/Crone triplicity was invented by Robert Graves in the mid-20th century. Yes, it works, but it's not historically accurate so we shouldn't apply it to the Minoans. If you're interested in Graves' process and teasing out which of his ideas are historic and which are purely poetic, I recommend Mark Carter's excellent book Stalking the Goddess.

But back to the Minoans.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Music among the Minoans

Like every culture, the Minoans had their music. We can see that in their art and artifacts. The image at the top of this post is of a group of terracotta figurines from Palaikastro. There are three women holding hands and dancing in a semicircle around a fourth woman who is playing the lyre. We don't know what the occasion was here: a celebration? A ritual? One of the famous harvest dances on a circular threshing floor? (There was a circular piece found with these figurines that might have been a model threshing floor.)

It could even have been a funeral; there's a lyre-player on the "death" side of the Hagia Triada sarcophagus.

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Minoan Gods and Goddesses: The Collection

It occurs to me that in the nearly four years that I've been writing this blog (!) I've created quite a collection of posts about the individual Minoan deities, the gods and goddesses that make up this fascinating pantheon. So you don't have to go scrambling back through the archives to find them all, I've collected them up here. I did recently post a "whole pantheon" list here that's pretty comprehensive - all the deities we work with in Modern Minoan Paganism. But you might want to know a little more detail about individual gods and goddesses. So here you go:

The Minoan Earth Mother Goddess Rhea whom some of us also call Ida

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Ancient Minoan Clothing and Fashion

One of the subjects I'm asked about most often is what daily life was like in ancient Crete. I've written about Minoan food and cooking here and here. And I posted about Minoan cosmetics here, including do-it-yourself recipes. But one thing I haven't really talked about much is the clothes the Minoans wore.

I did write up some information about why women in Minoan art are shown with bare breasts - that one turns out to be my most popular post ever, probably thanks to the word "topless" in the title. But there's more to Minoan clothing than open-front tops, like the ones shown in the fresco at the top of this post (the Ladies in Blue fresco from Knossos). In fact, the Minoans were surprisingly fashion-conscious.

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The Heraklion Museum: A Critique of the Neolithic Display by Carol P. Christ

If I had been asked to write the words that introduce visitors to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum of Crete to its earliest inhabitants, I would have said something like this:

While there is evidence that human beings visited Crete as early as 150,000 years ago, the first permanent settlers arrived from Anatolia in the New Stone Age or Neolithic era, about 9000 years ago, bringing with them the secrets of agriculture and soon afterward learning the techniques of pottery and weaving. As the gatherers of fruits, nuts, and vegetables and as preparers of food in earlier Old Stone Age or Paleolithic cultures, women would have noticed that seeds dropped at a campsite might sprout into plants. Women most likely discovered the secrets of agriculture that enabled people to settle down in the first farming communities of the New Stone Age. As pottery is associated with women’s work of food storage and preparation, and as weaving is women’s work in most traditional cultures, women probably invented these new technologies as well. Each of these inventions was understood to be a mystery of transformation: seed to plant to harvested crop; clay to snake coil to fired pot; wool or flax to thread to spun cloth. The mysteries were passed on from mother to daughter through songs, stories, and rituals.

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Testify, sister! They should have asked for your input. Didn't they realize that you actually live and work in their backyard?

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