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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Modern Minoan Paganism
Minoan Spiritual Practice: Ecstatic upraised arms

Strike a pose! Ecstatic postures have been a part of human religious practice for millennia, possibly going back as far as the Paleolithic. I've explored ecstatic postures and their place in Tribe spirituality before. They're a kind of spiritual "tech" - like yoga and tai chi, ecstatic postures make energy move via the mechanism of holding the body in particular ways. We find examples of these postures in the form of votive figurines from Minoan sacred sites such as cave shrines and peak sanctuaries. The best-known of these postures is probably the famed Minoan salute.

Most ecstatic postures appear to have been used by spiritworkers and worshipers to journey to specific places in the Otherworld or to connect with particular deities or spirits. In that sense, the usual museum label of "worshiper figurine" is accurate.

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Hands of Great Skill: A few "handy" Minoan deities

Modern Minoan Paganism's pantheon includes a variety of gods and goddesses with varying attributes. One group I haven't talked much about is the set of deities we call Hands of Great Skill: those whose purview is highly skilled handcrafts of various sorts.

Taking the raw materials of the Earth and transforming them, turning them into something new and different: that's a kind of magic. Rhea's gifts to us - clay and metal ore - are the body of the Earth Mother, offered up to those whose can make blades from rocks and vessels from mud using their hands and the equally magical power of fire.

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Calendar conundrums: harvest time in Ariadne's Tribe

Over the past few days, my family and I have celebrated Lammas, a European harvest festival. But we don't include Lammas in the sacred calendar for Ariadne's Tribe. Why not? First, there's the fact that the modern Neopagan eight-fold wheel of the year hadn't been invented yet back in the Bronze Age. But there's also the fact that in the Mediterranean, this isn't harvest time.

Many of us live in the northern temperate zone - the parts of North America and Eurasia that have four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter. Those seasons may be milder or more severe depending on the local climate, but they're still there.

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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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Inclusive Minoan Paganism: a logo for Ariadne's Tribe

It has taken us a while, but we finally came up with a logo for our Minoan spiritual tradition. 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 was 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 heliacal setting of that constellation in late October.* 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 Ariadne's Tribe

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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