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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in iconography

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Ancient Minoan Good Bois

The Minoans had dogs. I remember being a little surprised to learn that, some years ago. Somehow, I just never connected "Minoans" with "dogs" in my mind. Cats, sure, but dogs?

Yep, they had them - in fact, the breed the Minoans had still exists on Crete. It's called the Cretan Hound and is considered to be the oldest European dog breed. That's one of them in the image above, on a carved stone pyxis lid from Mochlos dating to about 2400 BCE. I can imagine the person who owned that pyxis (a lidded jewelry box) choosing it because their dog loved to lie in the same pose, stretched out in the shade of an olive tree.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs



When, while camping this summer, I lost the little silver goddess that I've worn for years—alas the day!—I did what any “21st” century pagan would do.

I gave myself some time to mourn, then image-searched “goddess pendant silver.”

Of course, I turned up many different images of many different pendants. What surprised me most—try it for yourself—was that not just the majority, but that the vast majority of them, took on a single iconic form:

a stylized (usually nude) female with legs together, pointed toes, and arms raised over her head, often in such a way that her raised arms form a circle whose curves mirror those of her lower body.

What intrigued me most about this imagery is that it does not reflect any known (to me, anyway) historical prototype. This representation of the Goddess is new to our day.

If this really is so—at this point, of course, all conclusions must be tentative ones—just what does this new iconography say about the Goddess and her reemergence in our time?

First off, of course, we must remark that the image does, in many ways, follow historical precedent: the nudity, the pointed toes, are characteristic of much ancient “goddess” imagery. Our new imagery has continuity with the old.

It is the port-de-bras which distinguishes these figures from those that came before them. Goddesses with raised arms, of course, do occur in antiquity, though not commonly (detached arms invite breakage): certain pre-Dynastic Egyptian figurines come to mind, not to mention the charming little faience “Snake Goddesses” from Knossos.

It is the joined arms though, in their circularity, that mark off this representation as new.

Stand up tall. Raise your arms over your head and touch the tips of your fingers together, enhaloing your head. What do you feel?

This is not, of course, an everyday gesture. It has a special, balletic feel. What we see here, paradoxically, is kinesis in stillness: one movement from a dance.

This is a goddess in motion.

The gesture is one of opening, of self-revelation. This is a goddess revealing herself, herself her own revelation. This is a glyph of the Return of the Goddess.

The main axis of the image being primarily vertical, heightened by the upswept arms, we see here, frozen in mid-movement, the act of upward self-extension. Behold the Goddess Rising.

Her arms frame her head. She is her own context, rotating on her own axis.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Getting stuck in the MMP Pantheon series

I figured this would happen sooner or later. I guess I'm lucky I made it through so much of the Modern Minoan Paganism pantheon before it happened.

For nearly a year now I've been writing posts in the MMP Pantheon series, talking about where we can find our deities in Minoan art. Some of the connections are pretty obvious - the Serpent-Mother and the Snake Goddess figurines, for instance. But some aren't as easy to see.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Reading Minoan Art: A How-To

I feel a little bit like an elementary school teacher: OK, everyone, we're going to learn to read Minoan art!

We're all a bit past elementary school, but learning to understand the iconography of any ancient culture is a big step toward understanding their religion and worldview. Iconography is the set of symbols (icons) that have meaning in religious art. They're pictures, but in a sense, we can "read" them and they'll tell us their story. Archaeologists and historians of religion have pieced together the basics, and we've fleshed it out just a bit more in MMP using dance ethnography and shared gnosis.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The MMP Pantheon: Dionysus

This is one in a series about the deities in the pantheon of Modern Minoan Paganism (MMP). You can find the full list of posts in this series here.

Today we're focusing on a well-known god, Dionysus, and the places we can find him in Minoan art and artifacts. The ecstatic god that many people know from classical times (a millennium after the destruction of the Minoan cities) is actually a syncretic deity, a combination of the Minoan god (or at least, whatever remained of him after the Bronze Age collapse) with a similar ecstatic god from Phrygia.

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The MMP Pantheon: The Young God Korydallos

This is one in a series about the MMP pantheon. Find the other posts here.

In this post, we'll have a look at Korydallos, one of the gods who are the sons of our three Mother Goddesses. Korydallos (or The Lark, as we sometimes call him) is a new name for an old god. We discovered him via dance ethnography, Mediterranean folklore, and a close look at some of the interesting details of Minoan art and artifacts. In MMP, we consider him to be the son of our Sun goddess Therasia, though there is a sense in which all the son and daughter deities are children of all the Mothers - more about that in a bit.

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Two Blades: Minoan ritual labryses and practical tools

The labrys is one of the most iconic symbols of Minoan civilization. The two-bladed axe shape evokes ideas ranging from bloody human sacrifice to butterflies in a spiritual garden. I have my own ideas about what the labrys means to me, and may have meant to the Minoans as well.

One thing I've noticed, though, is that a lot of people use the term "double axe" to refer to these artifacts, conflating them with practical tools. But they're not the same thing.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Weight is an important part of a useful ax, not just for strength. A ceremonial ax would not need weight. I have never seen a bu

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