Ariadne's Tribe: Minoan Spirituality for the Modern World

Walk the sacred labyrinth with Ariadne, the Minotaur, the Great Mothers, Dionysus, and the rest of the Minoan family of deities. Ariadne's Tribe is an independent spiritual tradition that brings the deities 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 Ariadne's Tribe at We're an inclusive, welcoming tradition, open to all who share our love for the Minoan deities and respect for our fellow human beings.

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Ariadne's Tribe: The Family of Minoan Deities

Ariadne's Tribe is a revivalist tradition. We're not attempting to reconstruct either the pantheon or the religious practices of the ancient Minoans - that's probably not possible anyway, since we can't read their writing in Linear A. So this is the pantheon we use as modern Pagans. We honestly can't say whether or not this is how the Minoans interacted with the deities, but it's pretty clearly the way the deities want us to interact with them now.

Please note that the Minoan deities don't fit neatly into a human-style family tree the way the Greek and Roman gods do. In fact, though we do have mother and daughter/son deities, overall our family of deities behaves a lot more like a carnival funhouse full of mirrors than a family tree, with some deities being twins or aspects of others, sometimes in multiple layers. Don't tell me I didn't warn you!

In Ariadne's Tribe, our primary deities are a trio of mother goddesses who represent the realms of land, sky, and sea:

Rhea: She's the Minoan Earth mother goddess, the land of Crete itself. Rhea is the name most people know her by, but some of us call her Ida (pronounced ee-DAH), another of her ancient names, as well as the Mountain Mother - there are several mountain peaks on Crete that are sacred to her. You can find out more about her here

Therasia: The very ancient but new-to-us Minoan Sun goddess. She represents the sky portion of the great triplicity and was probably the original harbinger of the seasons and apportioner of the solar year. Find out more about her here

Posidaeja: Grandmother Ocean, out of whose waters the beautiful island of Crete rises. She was very important to the Minoans, who relied on the Mediterranean Sea both for food and as a means of travel and trade. More about her here and here.

We have two more mother goddesses whose realms are a little less material but no less beautiful:

The Serpent Mother: This enigmatic figure is an Underworld or Otherworld goddess. She moves between the spaces of material reality. The Snake Goddess figurines that we sometimes use to represent her are iconic of Minoan art and religion. Find out more about her here and here.

OuraniaGreat Cosmic Mother-of-All. She is the starry night sky, the fabric of the universe itself. If you're into quantum physics, she's the quantum foam. Some of us experience her as a great black vulture, perhaps going back as far as the home of the Minoans' ancestors in Neolithic Anatolia.

The Mothers have children, of course. All the Minoan deities are their children - and so, in a sense, are all of us who have relationships with them. But specifically, the Three Mothers each have a Daughter and a Son. Here are the Daughters:

Ariadne: Who hasn't heard of Ariadne and her ball of thread? But the Greeks got her story wrong (probably on purpose). She wasn't a human girl, but a goddess. Her Labyrinth wasn't a cage for a monster, but a sacred ritual dance and path for spiritual growth along with the Minotaur, who turns out to have been a god after all (he's on this list a little farther down, among his fellow Horned Ones). She also plays a major role in the Minoan version of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Instead of Demeter and Persephone, the Minoan version tells the story of Rhea and Ariadne, with no abduction involved. So yes, Ariadne is Rhea's daughter.

Arachne: This Spinner of Fate was "demoted" to the status of mere mortal in the tale the Greeks told, but we know her as a fate goddess, daughter of our Sun Goddess Therasia. As you might guess, the ancient skills of spinning and weaving are sacred to her. It's her thread that Ariadne famously uses in the Labyrinth.

Antheia: The Star of the Sea is Posidaeja's daughter as well as the Minoan face of Aphrodite, an ancient goddess who pre-dates the Greeks. Though Aphrodite herself hails from Cyprus, she appears to have been imported to Crete in Minoan times. She's not a pin-up, but a goddess of beauty and love in an inclusive sense.

And the Sons:

Tauros Asterion: The starry bull is an ancient god, son of the Earth Mother. We connect him with the constellation Taurus. Zagreus and the Minotaur are two of his faces from Minoan times, but we approach him as Tauros Asterion when we want to build a relationship with this earthy-starry being who embodies "as above, so below."

Korydallos: The Lark, son of the Sun goddess, was a surprise discovery via research into the folk dances of the ancient Mediterranean. He's a joyous god with a sense of humor, sometimes a rather trickstery one. We associate him with culture, craftsmanship, and word play - and also with Daedalus (see below). Find out more about him here.

Dionysus: So much more than just a party god, he is the source of sacred intoxication, the god of fermentation and other kinds of magical transformations. Later on the Minoan Dionysus was combined with a similar ecstatic god from Phrygia, but during Minoan times he was very much the god of the vine and, eventually, of the solar year. He is the Divine Child born to Rhea in her sacred cave at Midwinter. In Ariadne's Tribe we consider him to be Posidaeja's son, the psychopomp for sailors and others who die at sea; the dolphin is his animal.

Now for the rest of the pantheon.

The Horned Ones: Three pairs of horned animal deities that were worshiped in different times and places in Minoan Crete. Though the cow/bull Horned Ones are the most famous, they're probably also the most recent. There was a time when there were no cattle on Crete. We think that the original Horned Ones from very early times were goat, deer, and ibex deities. In keeping with the pre-Indo-European layer of Eurasian mythos that the Minoan deities come from, in which the Sun is a goddess and the Moon is a god, it's possible to approach the Horned Ones as Sun-Moon pairs, with the female of the pair being the Sun Goddess and the male being the Moon God. For more information about this aspect of the older mythos, I recommend Patricia Monaghan's excellent book O Mother Sun!

Minotaur: The Moon-Bull, the most famous of all the Minoan Horned Ones because the Greeks turned him into a monster in their stories. He does dwell in the Labyrinth, but not as a monster, I promise. He's one of Tauros Asterion's faces, and he and Europa are a pair.

Europa: Cow-goddess; she and Pasiphaë are twins and may originally have been the same goddess, a horned Sun goddess not unlike the Egyptian goddess Hathor. A spurt of Europa's milk created the Milky Way (or maybe a spurt of Rhea's milk did it, or maybe Europa is an aspect of Rhea - remember what I said about the carnival fun house?).

Minocapros: The Moon-Goat who capers through Minoan art with long, curing horns and a mischievous nature. He's paired with the goddess Amalthea.

Amalthea: The goat-goddess who gave us the sacred cornucopia from which all good things flow. She fed the infant Dionysus with her sweet milk and is sometimes described as Rhea's sister or twin (kind of like Europa). Find out more about her here and find an abundance ritual that calls on her here.

Minelathos: The Moon-Stag found in Minoan frescoes and seal stone art, often in the form of a fallow deer stag. He's paired with the goddess Britomartis.

Britomartis/Diktynna: This deer goddess is the Huntress. She is associated with the sacred Mt. Dikte in Crete. Her later connections with the sea are due to some linguistic confusion; she was originally a mountain and land/nature goddess. Dance ethnography research shows that, like Artemis, Britomartis was originally a Sun Goddess whose associations were changed later on to make way for the Indo-European Sun/Sky God(s).

Daedalus: Inventor/smith god, creator of the Labyrinth and Ariadne's dancing floor. Some of us know him as Talos, and we connect him with Korydallos as well. The Minoans were a Bronze Age people so he would have been in charge of bronze smithing as well as the creation of metal objects of gold, silver, and copper. More about him and the Daktyls and Hekaterides here.

Daktyls and Hekaterides: Demi-gods and demi-goddesses who arose out of Rhea's fingermarks in the Earth. Because of their origin story, we call them Hands of Great Skill. The Daktyls are male and the Hekaterides are female. We associate the Daktyls with bronze-smithing and the Hekaterides with pottery-making. More about them and Daedalus here.

Eileithyia: Midwife goddess who protects women in labor and childbirth. She also delivers the soul of the newborn infant into its body. She is also Ariadne's torch-bearer during the time Ariadne resides in the Underworld, and we consider her to be the Underworld or dark face of our Sun goddess. You can find out more about her here.

Hygeia and Paean: You may be familiar with the names of these healer deities. In the Tribe pantheon, Hygeia is a face of our Sun Goddess Therasia, and Paean is her son. Both of them are associated with healing, but Hygeia is more about maintaining good health and vigor while Paean, who is similar to the later Greek god Asclepius, is connected more with healing illness and injury.

The Melissae: Ancestral bee-goddesses or spirits associated with the Underworld, the harvest, and ecstatic trance states. Ariadne is the Queen Bee, the head of the Melissae in her role as guardian of the spirits of the dead. More about them here.

Minos: Underworld judge of the dead, probably originally a lunar god. He has many faces and aspects. Like Ariadne and the Melissae, he protects the souls of the dead in the Underworld.Potnia Chromaton: The Lady of the Colors is exactly what she sounds like. Painting and dyeing are her domain, and we're pretty sure many colors had sacred meaning in Minoan religion. Potnia Chromaton is closely tied to both Arachne and Arachne's mother, Therasia. Find out more about her here.

Thaena, Sydaili, and Eshuumna: Together, these three form the Unseen Rainbow. They are the Serpent Mother's children, deities of perception. Thaena and Sydaili are the Divine Twins, and between them stands Eshuumna. Regarding these deities, we say "Between wisdom and joy lies the rainbow."

Thumia and Kaulo: These two deities are "specialists" who have, as their focus, the pleasure and joy of physical existence. Find out more about them here.

Zagreus: His name means something like "the dismembered one," which is pretty clearly a shamanic image - dismemberment is a common method of transformation in shamanic work. A face of Tauros Asterion, he's a bull-god who comes wreathed in flowers in the spring.

In addition to the information presented here, I've also written a blog series that shares where you can find each deity's symbols in Minoan art. You can find the series list here.

So there you have it, the Tribe family of deities.

Together we are joy!


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Laura Perry is a priestess and creator who works magic with words, paint, ink, music, textiles, and herbs. She's the founder and Temple Mom of Ariadne's Tribe, an inclusive Minoan spiritual tradition. 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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