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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Modern Inspiration = Minoan Confusion

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Minoan art is a constant inspiration: the colorful frescoes with people in naturalistic poses, an emphasis on the beauty of nature... but a lot of the "Minoan art" that circulates online is not Minoan at all, and definitely not ancient, even if it's inspired by the ancient originals.

Take the lovely image at the top of this post. It's a modern work that's a combination of this fresco from Akrotiri, ca. 1625 BCE:

Akrotiri fresco from House of the Ladies
Image CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

and this (probably incorrect) early 20th century reconstruction of the so-called Prince of the Lilies fresco from Knossos, ca. 1450 BCE:

Prince of the Lilies fresco from Knossos
Image CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

For reference, here's the actual Prince of the Lilies as displayed at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, sans lilies:

Prince of the Lilies fresco at Heraklion Archaeological Museum
Image CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Now, the image at the top of this post is beautiful. It's a lovely work of art. I'm not debating its artistic merit. The problem is that it circulates online as an "ancient Minoan fresco," shared by well-meaning people who want to educate others about the ancient world. [Also, I have been unable to find the artist to give them credit, despite extensive online searches, so if you happen to know who created it, please let me know so I can give proper credit. Thanks.]

But it's a modern work of art inspired by the ancient Minoans that has been misidentified, repeatedly, as ancient as it is passed around online. And it's one of many. Many.

Why is this a problem?

Because we study Minoan art to figure out how the Minoans lived, what they believed, and how they worshiped. Because people create theories about the ancient Minoans based on the art they see that's labeled as belonging to that culture and era. Because the modern art, no matter how beautiful, is not a substitute for the ancient original, which was full of sacred symbology that had specific meaning beyond just looking nice and appealing to a modern aesthetic.

I'm not saying people shouldn't create Minoan-themed modern art. Far from it. Please allow the Minoans to inspire you! I have a whole Pinterest board full of Minoan-inspired modern works of art.

But please be diligent in labeling modern works of art for what they are so people who are interested in the Minoans don't develop inaccurate views of their art and culture. There's enough incorrect information about the Minoans online already. Let's not add to it if we can help it, OK?

If you're looking for reliable sources for photos of actual Minoan art, Wikimedia Commons is a good place to start. Search the term "Minoan" or the phrase "Minoan fresco" to find photos people have taken in museums - pictures of actual Minoan art and artifacts. I also have a Pinterest board of Minoan art and artifacts that I curate carefully.

Let's enjoy both the ancient culture and the modern art that's inspired by it. But let's make sure we know which is which!

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

Last modified on
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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