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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Minoan
Red and White: The clues in the colors of Minoan art

For a long time, I wondered what on Earth possessed the Minoans to paint women as white (not Caucasian-toned, but the color of a sheet of paper) and men as dark-dark red. After all, DNA evidence shows that, like their ancestors in Neolithic Anatolia, the Minoans all had skin in various shades of brown. So why the weirdness in the art, like the Bull Leaper fresco above?

Then I began to learn about Mediterranean folk dance. Dance ethnography isn't a subject I ever really thought about before, to be honest. Then a talented dance ethnographer began to share her insights with us, and a lot of things began to make sense. (Check out her book The Ancient and Martial Dances for some fascinating info.)

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    My copy of "The Ancient & Martial Dances" arrived in the mail today. It looks intriguing. Thank you for mentioning it.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Modern Minoan Paganism: Looking back at 2019

2019 was a busy year for Modern Minoan Paganism (MMP). We had our first public ritual, put on by the talented folks of Puget Sound Minoan Pagans at a park in their local area. We made our first official appearance at a Pagan conference, the very awesome Mystic South (we'll be there again this year, hopefully putting on a ritual as well as a workshop). We drew up By-Laws, installed a Board of Directors, and began officially accepting members and chapters (the Puget Sound Minoan Pagans are our first official chapter!). We've topped 1400 members in our Facebook group, which is the official public forum of MMP, and we're still growing.

So yeah, busy year. I expect 2020 isn't going to let us slow down much, either. When I started the Facebook group back in 2014, I was just looking for other folks who shared an interest in Minoan religion and culture. I had no idea we were going to end up with a practicing Pagan tradition. But here we are, and I thank the Mothers every day that I'm surrounded by so many marvelous people whose enthusiasm and skill has helped us move forward in a way that (I hope) serves our members and respects the gods and goddesses with whom we have a formal relationship.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
A Midwinter Labyrinth Journey

The labyrinth: that winding, twisting, single-path maze that takes you surely into the center and out again. Ariadne, the Lady of the Labyrinth, leads us onward and inward, to our own shadow self where the Minotaur helps us face our inner darkness. The labyrinth is a place of exploration and discovery, full of shadows and strange turnings. Let's see where the labyrinth of mythos takes us today.

As we approach the Winter Solstice here in the northern hemisphere, darkness is very much on my mind, as is the labyrinth. In a sense, the labyrinth is a kind of cave. Caves were important sacred sites to the ancient Minoans, and they're important symbols in Modern Minoan Paganism.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
A Mother's Love, Minoan Style

Whenever I check on my blog statistics, I always find that the post I wrote about topless Minoan women is the number one in terms of hits. The female breast is such a source of titillation (ha!) in modern society, it's hard to wrap our minds around the idea that exposed breasts might have represented something other than sexual innuendo to the ancient Minoans. But we're pretty sure they did.

In addition to the frescoes and figurines that show women with exposed breasts, Minoan art also includes quite a few representations of animals suckling their young. The image at the top of this blog is a drawing of a faience plaque found at Knossos. It shows a mama goat suckling a kid. There's a similar plaque with a cow and her calf. Images of mother animals suckling their young - cattle, goats, sheep, even deer - appear on a number of Minoan seals.

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Chasing the Minoan Sun Goddess: two book reviews

Modern Pagans are used to pantheons that have a Sun god and a Moon goddess. But it hasn't always been that way. Some of the oldest and earliest religions in the world have a Sun goddess. When we went looking for the Minoan deity who was associated with the Sun, we found not a god but a goddess. We call her Therasia.

How did we find her? Two books were very helpful, as was the author of one of them. Until I read The Ancient and Martial Dances by Arlechina Verdigris, I had no idea that dance ethnography could be such a powerful tool for teasing out bits of mythos. Ms. Verdigris's study of Mediterranean folk dance shows clearly that it still holds layers that go back at least to late Minoan times, and probably much earlier, giving glimpses of not only a Sun goddess but also a grain goddess and the Mountain Mother who rules over the crafts that use her substance to create beautiful objects: pottery and metal-smithing.

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"Don't believe everything you read on the Internet" - King Minos

I love the Internet. There's so much information so readily available. It's such a contrast to my early days of researching the Minoans, back in the 1970s and 80s, when I had to scratch and scrabble for a sentence here, a paragraph there, in books about other ancient cultures. But that ease of access to the online world comes with a price.

Anyone can put up a website and say anything they want to in it. That's good; freedom of speech and expression is something I'm all for. The problem comes when websites repeat outdated and inaccurate information, either because the writer doesn't know any better or because they have a theory they want to prove. Of course, this sort of thing happens in books as well, but it's more common online, simply because it's easier to put up a website than to publish a book.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Minoan archaeology: It's still a thing

When I talk with people about the ancient Minoans, I find they often believe that everything we know about ancient Crete was dug up by Sir Arthur Evans a century ago, and that's it. But that's not the case.

Evans is famous, sure, but did you know that the Minoan site at Gournia was originally excavated by the American archaeologist Harriet Boyd-Hawes? Work at the site was still ongoing this summer (2019). In fact, work at a lot of Minoan sites is still in progress, and we're learning and discovering more all the time. Here's a sampling of what's happening these days in the world of Minoan archaeology:

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