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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Minoan
Incense for Ancient Minoans and Modern Pagans

Like so many other ancient cultures, the Minoans used incense in a sacred setting. Though we can't be certain of the exact uses, it appears that they burned incense as offerings and to purify sacred areas such as ritual rooms, altars, and shrines. These were common practices in the Bronze Age Mediterranean region.

They didn't have the incense sticks and cones that so many of us are familiar with; those are self-igniting due to their saltpeter content. Just hold a flame to the end and voila, incense smoke! What they did have was hot coals and chopped or powdered incense mixtures.

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Modern Minoan Paganism: A bunch of book reviews

I've posted a good handful of book reviews on this blog, and it occurred to me that it might be helpful to have them all in one place so no one has to sift through five years of blog posts (good grief, has it really been that long?) to find them.

These are in-depth reviews of books that I think you'll find helpful and interesting if you're exploring Modern Minoan Paganism. We also have a long, long book list over in Ariadne's Tribe of books we've all found helpful. But that doesn't include reviews, just simple descriptions. Some of the books I've reviewed below are now out of print, but they're well worth tracking down via interlibrary loan or the various online used booksellers. A good reference is a good reference, after all.

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Modern Minoan Paganism: a logo for Ariadne's Tribe

It has taken us a while, but we finally came up with a logo for Modern Minoan Paganism. Until we started tossing ideas around, I had no idea it was going to be such a tricky issue.

There are lots of symbols that people associate with the Minoans. Perhaps the most famous is the labrys - the double-bladed ax that was used not to sacrifice animals (it appears they used swords and daggers for that) but as a sacred symbol with many layers of meaning.

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The Blessing of the Ships: A Minoan celebration

Minoan culture centered on the island of Crete, which lies in the Mediterranean Sea just south of Greece. The Minoans were a seagoing people: they fished, they traded, and they traveled in boats and ships. So it makes sense that they would have incorporated these major facets of their lives into their spiritual practice.

We don't know for certain what the Minoans did to bless ships before a voyage. But tidbits that made it through the Bronze Age collapse and ended up in the works of later writers, combined with archaeoastronomy research, suggest that the Minoan sailing season had a definite beginning and ending: the heliacal rising of the Pleiades in May and the acronychal rising of that constellation in October or November.* This makes sense, given that the winds during the wintertime would have made sailing in that era quite hazardous (not that it's a whole lot easier today, but at least we have modern gadgetry and gas-powered engines to help).

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Music for Ritual in Modern Minoan Paganism

One aspect of ritual that we don't often think about until we're armpit-deep in actually performing one is music. The ancient Minoans, like other Bronze Age cultures in Europe and the Mediterranean, used music in ritual - we know because we see it in the art. But we don't know what it sounded like. So how can we incorporate music into Minoan ritual? It's not that hard, really.

Like many aspects of Minoan religion, we have to base our choices on two points: what we see in the archaeological record and what evokes the ancient Minoans to us as modern Pagans. In other words, we have to make some educated guesses as to what Minoan music probably sounded like. We know a lot about Minoan music from Minoan art. And we have a pretty good idea about what other types of ancient music from the Mediterranean and the Near East sounded like. So what we tend to go for in Modern Minoan Paganism is music that makes us feel like we're in the ancient world. It's a psychological trigger, in other words.

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The Equinoxes in Modern Minoan Paganism: A problem of location

I live in the southeastern US, which is almost literally half a world away from Crete, where the ancient Minoans lived. In this modern day, what with the Internet and all, that's not such a big deal, except for one thing: the seasons aren't the same in the two places. That makes the equinoxes... interesting.

Though we don't know for sure what the ancient Minoans' year looked like, we have managed to create a sacred calendar for Modern Minoan Paganism that hits the high points based on educated guesses. It works for us and it helps us relate to the Minoan deities and the ancient culture that we're drawing on for our spiritual practice.

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Minoan goddesses: Who is Potnia?

We don't know for certain what the Minoans called their gods and goddesses since we can't read Linear A, the script they used to write their native language. But we can read Linear B, which is an adaptation of Linear A that was used to write Mycenaean Greek way back in late Minoan times. And one of the most common goddess epithets in the Linear B tablets is Potnia.

So who is she? She is many goddesses. Let me explain why.

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