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: 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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Minoan Auguries: For the Birds?

Birds abound in Minoan art: swallows (shown above in a detail from the Spring fresco from Akrotiri), doves, partridges, hoopoes, and other birds whose exact species we can't identify. I've looked before at the variety of our feathered friends who appear in the frescoes, statuary, and other Minoan art.

In Modern Minoan Paganism, we associate swallows with Therasia, doves with Rhea, and larks with Korydallos. But how did the Minoans view birds, through the lens of their culture and beliefs?

Obviously, we can't know for certain what the Minoans thought of birds in general or any type in particular. But there is one thing I'd bet on: they used birds for divination.

Divination by watching birds, a.k.a. ornithomancy, was surprisingly common in the ancient Mediterranean. That makes sense, given that large numbers of birds fly across the Mediterranean Sea twice a year in the course of seasonal migrations from Europe to Africa.

Around the world and across time, birds have been seen as messengers from the gods because they're able to cross boundaries and travel to places humans simply can't (at least, not without airplanes and space ships).

So how might the Minoans have looked for messages from the divine in the movements of birds? The departure and return dates of migratory birds like swallows probably signaled not just the change of seasons but also messages for how the upcoming season would turn out: plenty of strong, healthy swallows coming back to nest in the spring might bode well for a good summer, for instance. Birds leaving earlier than usual in the autumn might predict a bad winter.

Birds behaving unusually might also be a message from deity: vultures coming down from the mountains to fly over a town, for instance, or a falcon snatching a lizard from your garden, or a flock of songbirds repeatedly circling a nearby field.

Another possibility is divination using tame or domesticated birds. In my novel The Last Priestess of Malia, part of the celebration of the Blessing of the Ships involves releasing a small flock of tame doves and reading auguries in their movements as they fly up into the sky then back toward their home - the dovecote at the temple.

How might you watch the birds around you as a part of your divination practice? You could start with a bird identification guide and some basic birdwatching information for your region: Which birds migrate to and from your area, and which ones stay year round? What does their normal behavior look like?

Once you know what's typical, you can keep an eye out for unusual activity - and listen for that inner voice that tells you it's not just coincidence. Watching and listening are valuable skills that keep you open to messages from the divine.

May all your auguries be auspicious!

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

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Laura Perry is a priestess and creator who works magic with words, paint, ink, music, textiles, and herbs. She is the founder and Temple Mom of Modern Minoan Paganism. 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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