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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Minoan

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Offering to the Minoan Gods

Modern Minoan Paganism is a pretty broad path. People come to it from many different directions and backgrounds; our commonalities are the pantheon, the Minoan sacred calendar, and a few basic practices that we all share. Prominent among these is making offerings to the Minoan gods and goddesses. The image at the top of this post is a lovely three-footed offering table from Akrotiri decorated with dolphins. Perhaps its owner left fruit or flowers or seashells some other offering on it, maybe dedicated to the ocean goddess Posidaeja or another favorite deity (though I'd vote for Posidaeja because of the dolphins).

Solid items can be set out on the altar or offering stands or at an appropriate outdoor location. Liquid offerings can also be set out in a cup or pitcher, or they can be poured out as libations. A libation can be poured into another container (a bowl, for instance) or onto the ground. A libation can even be the centerpiece of a ritual for abundance.

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The Minoan Threefold Goddess: The Great Mothers

The Triple Goddess is a major component of modern Paganism, but the Maiden-Mother-Crone triplicity doesn't appear in ancient Crete. The closest we can come to that kind of "life phases" division is a Younger and Elder Goddess, exemplified by Rhea (the Great Mother) and Ariadne (the daughter). This mother-daughter duo is the possible origin of the Eleusinian Mysteries, whose sacred pair of Demeter and Persephone are well known in the modern Pagan world (check out Charlene Spretnak's inspired book Lost Goddesses of Early Greece for more on this subject). I like to think of this twofold goddess as Maiden and Matriarch, the two stages of womanhood in a society in which women's ability to birth children for men wasn't their primary function in life.

But there is a Minoan triplicity associated with the Goddess. It doesn't have to do with the life stages and fertility functions of women, but with the world around us and how the Sacred Feminine manifests in it. It's the ancient threefold division of Land/Sea/Sky. This triplicity unfolds around each and every one of us every day of our lives.

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More Than Meets the Eye: The Minoan Goddess Amalthea

When I talk about Minoan spirituality, people tend to recognize the names Ariadne and Dionysus, and maybe Rhea and Minos as well. But there's one that often leaves them shaking their heads: Amalthea. I actually had someone ask me one day if Amalthea was one of the characters from Game of Thrones. Um, no. LOL

Amalthea is a Minoan goddess who, like Ariadne and the others, was absorbed into later Greek myth as something less than divine (FYI the Minoans weren't Greek). But I promise you, she was originally a full-fledged goddess and not just a goat-herding foster mother of Zeus. In fact, you'll note that Zeus is a Greek god, not a Minoan one. Like the Romans, the Greeks enjoyed equating foreign deities with their own, both as a way to understand other pantheons and as a handy method for taking over those cultures and absorbing them. So when the Greeks say that Amalthea was the foster mother of "Cretan Zeus," they're talking about Dionysus, the Minoan god who is born in his mother Rhea's cave at the Winter Solstice. And Amalthea plays a role in that story.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    I haven't heard of Liny Srinivasan before, but I see that he has a page on academia.edu where he has posted some of his papers, so
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I'm slowly making my way through "Crete to Egypt: Missing Links of the Rig Veda" by Dr. Liny Srinivasan. The author's premise is

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
Minoan Ecstasy: Filling the empty spaces

What's missing in modern life (and most modern western religion) that sends people in search of everything from Peruvian ayahuasca rituals to Native American sweatlodges and peyote ceremonies? Ecstasy.

No, I don't mean the street drug, but the state of consciousness that takes us out of the ordinary and transports us closer to the numinous, the divine. A while back I wrote about how most of the modern world is ecstasy deprived. We're so steeped in the post-Enlightenment materialist mindset that we forget to look beyond the physical to see what else is around us. We also forget that each of us is more than just physical, that we have amazing abilities to transcend our "daily grind" state of consciousness.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Years ago I took my mother to a Maundy Thursday service at her church. I could feel the energy rising and I looked forward to a m
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    That kind of experience is all too common, especially among the Protestant traditions, where 'a bunch of people sitting around in

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Minoan Coming of Age: The Akrotiri Frescoes

One of the ways we can figure out how the ancient Minoans practiced their religion is by looking at their art. Much of their art - frescoes, seal stones and rings, carved vases - contains ritual scenes that give us a glimpse into their spiritual life. And some of the most famous frescoes are from the Minoan town of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini (it was called Thera in the ancient world).

One of the buildings in Akrotiri, called Xeste 3, appears to have been a ritual building where puberty rites were held for girls and boys. How do we know that's what happened there? The frescoes show us!

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    Thank you! I'm doing my best to bring the world of the ancient Minoans to life for modern people. :-)
  • Arwen Lynch
    Arwen Lynch says #
    Fascinating. I really enjoyed this piece.

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