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Modern Minoan Paganism: Walking with Ariadne's Tribe

Walk the sacred labyrinth with Ariadne, the Minotaur, the Great Mothers, Dionysus, and the rest of the Minoan pantheon. Modern Minoan Paganism is an independent polytheist spiritual tradition that brings the gods and goddesses of the ancient Minoans alive in the modern world. We're a revivalist tradition, not a reconstructionist one; we rely heavily on shared gnosis and the practical realities of Paganism in the modern world. Ariadne's thread reaches across the millennia to connect us with the divine. Will you follow where it leads?

Find out all about Modern Minoan Paganism on our website: https://ariadnestribe.wordpress.com/. We're a welcoming tradition, open to all who share our love for the Minoan deities and respect for our fellow human beings.

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The Ariadne's Thread Rituals: Adapting them for MMP format

One of the aspects of spiritual practice that we've developed in Modern Minoan Paganism (MMP) is a standardized ritual format. It took a lot of research and even more experimentation, but what we ended up with is, we believe, true to the spirit of religion in the Bronze Age Mediterranean.

What that means, though, is that it doesn't look like Wicca's circle-casting and quarter calls, which is what many modern Pagans think of when someone says "standard ritual format." Much of Wicca's ritual basis comes from ceremonial magic, which is fascinating and nifty but has no relation to the centuries-earlier religious practices of the Bronze Age.

What we ended up with looks more like what you might have seen in a temple in ancient Crete: processions, the unveiling of deity statues, offerings, chants. Though we're not reconstructing Minoan religion (we're creating a modern Pagan revival, which is different), we have kept to the spirit and probable format of worship from Minoan-era Crete.

That leads me to the main subject of this blog. I've now written two books about Minoan spiritual practices in the modern world: Ariadne's Thread and Labrys & Horns. The two books are different but complementary; you can find more details about how they compare in this blog post.

The thing is, I wrote Ariadne's Thread before MMP developed as a tradition, so all the rituals are in a Wiccan-esque format (I'm a third degree Wiccan priestess, and I wrote the original versions of those rituals as part of my degree work in a Wiccan coven). But now we have a more Minoan-appropriate ritual format in MMP. You can find it in the new second edition of Labrys & Horns, and it's also available in the Files section of our Facebook group.

I'm going to give you a simple formula for "translating" the rituals in Ariadne's Thread into the MMP standard ritual format. That way, you'll have even more resources for seasonal rituals and rites of passage within MMP.

The six parts of the MMP ritual format are Preparing, Inviting, Welcoming, Offering, Listening, and Returning. We consider these to be the threads that weave us into relationship with the deities of our pantheon. Our deities consecrate the temple space by their presence, so there's no need to cast a circle. We don't invoke the gods and goddesses, but invite and welcome them, because it's not our place to order them around. We give the offering before asking anything of the divine, listen carefully to what they have to share with us, and carry the blessings they bestow on us back out into the world when the rite is ended.

Here are the steps to perform any of the Ariadne's Thread rituals in the MMP standard format:

Preparing: This takes the place of marking the sacred space and acknowledging the elements. We do not call to directional elements in the MMP standard format. Though the Minoans used the cardinal directions in their sacred architecture and possibly in their religious practice as well, the classical elements date to centuries after the fall of Minoan civilization.

Inviting: This takes the place of calling to the deities. Whichever deities are called upon in the ritual in Ariadne's Thread, invite them instead using the MMP format. If the ritual in Ariadne's Thread includes the actual physical appearance of the deities, save that part until you get to the Listening portion of the MMP rite.

Welcoming: Welcome the deities into your temple; their presence consecrates the sacred space. This portion of the ritual is unique to the MMP format and doesn't take the place of anything in the Ariadne's Thread rituals.

Offering: Light your candles and/or oil lamps and make any offerings at this point. In MMP, we make the offerings before we ask anything of the deities. That's only polite.

Listening: This is the "meat" of the ritual. If clergy will appear and embody the deities in a Mystery play or for a rite of passage, now is the time for that. If some other activity is indicated - writing something on parchment and burning it, for instance - this is the time to do that.

Returning: This takes the place of bidding farewell to the deities and returning the sacred space to the mundane world.

There you have it. The process is pretty straightforward, and the activities are pretty much in the same order. You can also use this formula to adapt any other Wiccan-style ritual that calls on Minoan gods and goddesses. Be aware, though, that in MMP we have developed relationships specifically with the Bronze Age faces of these deities, so calling on the Minoan deities as the classical Greeks viewed them centuries later might produce... interesting results.

FYI the four seasonal rituals in Ariadne's Thread all include Mystery plays, if you're looking for ideas about how to stage one of those with the Minoan deities. The book also includes betrothal and marriage ceremonies as well as a rite of parting (divorce), a memorial rite and a ceremony to honor the ancestors, among others.

In our standard ritual format, we use chants during the opening and closing processions. The words are included in the ritual format write-up, but if you want to hear the melody, you'll find the Opening Chant and the Closing Chant on my Youtube channel.

So set aside some time and try out one of the Ariadne's Thread rituals in the MMP format. I think you'll be glad you did.

In the name of the bee,
And of the butterfly,
And of the breeze, amen.

 

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Laura Perry is an artist, writer, and the founder and facilitator of Modern Minoan Paganism. The Minoans of Bronze Age Crete have been a passion of hers since a fateful art history class introduced her to the frescoes of Knossos back in high school. Her first book was published in 2001; one of her most recent works is Labrys and Horns: An Introduction to Modern Minoan Paganism. She has also created a Minoan Tarot deck and a Minoan coloring book. When she's not busy drawing and writing, you can find her in the garden or giving living history demonstrations at local historic sites.

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