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.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Moon, Stars, and Questions: Who is Asterion?

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

It’s always tricky, reconstructing ancient religious practices. We may or may not have reliable sources of information and from a distance of centuries, it’s hard to tell what really happened way back then. It’s especially tricky when the only written records we have were recorded by people who weren’t exactly friendly to our chosen culture, as I discussed in a recent guest post on a friend’s blog. This is the case with the ancient Minoans. Most of the mythology we know about from ancient Crete comes down to us from the Hellenic Greeks, who lived a thousand years after the collapse of Minoan civilization and whose male-centric culture held radically different values from the egalitarian Minoans.

So how can we connect with the spirituality of a people who lived so long ago and about whom we have little reliable information? We take what we have and build on it using our own experience of the numinous – the divine. This is one case in which we must simply say, if it works for you, then do it. But we must also remember that what works for one person may not be  satisfying for another, so respect for a diversity of views needs to hold high priority. My friend Nimue put this especially well in a recent blog post.

One Minoan deity whose identity we’ve been grappling with lately is known by the Greek epithet Asterion, which means ‘the starry one.’ The few references we have to this deity come from Pausanias, a Greek traveler and geographer who lived in the second century of this era; Pseudo-Apollodorus, the pen name of a Greek or Roman author who lived in the first or second century BCE; and Diodorus Siculus, a Greek historian who lived in the first century BCE. Bear in mind that all three of these men were born more than a millennium after the fall of Minoan civilization, and the Minoans left no written records that anyone back then (or even now) could read. So all the Greeks had to work with was the traces of Minoan mythology that were passed down in oral folklore, plus a few tantalizing fragments of Minoan artifacts. The world of ancient Crete was as lost to them as it was to us ‘moderns’ until Sir Arthur Evans began his excavations at Knossos just over a century ago.

So…Asterion. One view is that he is the Minotaur, the Moon-Bull of the Minoan pantheon who was later demonized as a monster by the Hellenic Greeks. This view is supported by a single entry from Pausanias’ Description of Greece: “In the market-place of Troizenos [in Argolis] is a temple of Artemis Soteira (Saviour), with images of the goddess. It was said that the temple was founded and the name Soteria (Saviour) given by Theseus when he returned from Krete after overcoming Asterion the son of Minos.” (Description of Greece 2.31.1) The Hungarian scholar Karl Kerényi popularized this view based on Hellenic-era Greek coins (minted a millennium after the fall of Minoan civilization) that had labyrinth designs coupled with images of bulls and stars. Of course, these coins may have been inspired by the garbled remains of Minoan tales rather than any accurate information; we simply can’t know for sure.

Now obviously, if Asterion as the Minotaur works for you, then use it. It’s certainly a reasonable interpretation of the scant and nebulous information we have, and the whole point of spirituality is to practice it, not just to read and talk about it. But there's more to Asterion's story because of the information we have from Pseudo-Apollodorus and Diodorus Siculus.

According to the listings on, Pseudo-Apollodorus and Diodorus Siculus wrote the following about Asterion: “A son of Teutamus, and king of the Cretans, who married Europa after she had been carried to Crete by Zeus. He also brought up the three sons, Minos, Sarpedon, and Rhadamanthys whom she had by the father of the gods.” (Apollod. iii. 1. § 2, &c.; Diod. iv. 60.) There is no mention of this Asterion being vanquished by Theseus, nor is the Minotaur ever described in the Greek myths and legends as having a wife, especially not a goddess. It’s a good idea also to bear in mind that the Greeks often equated the Minoan Dionysus with their Zeus because Dionysus was the most prominent male deity in the Minoan pantheon. The Greeks were also liable to ‘demote’ the deities from other pantheons into mere mortals, as they did with the goddess Ariadne, who becomes a human maiden in the Greek tale of their culture hero Theseus, and the Minoan god Minos, who becomes a human king. So any 'king of the Cretans' mentioned in Greek writings is liable to have been a god in the original Minoan version.

Where does that leave us regarding Asterion? It's possible that Asterion was originally an epithet applied to multiple deities, including the Minotaur and the Minoan Dionysus, who had a bull form: Zagreus, the Dismembered One – the shamanic bull sacrifice. The bull-god forms in the Minoan pantheon tend to blur together, and some of us (who practice Modern Minoan Paganism) feel that the bull deities may be aspects of each other or divine siblings/twins. Zagreus and the Minotaur both act as psychopomps and can be called up with similar imagery and symbolism, after all.

A thousand years after the fall of the Minoan cities, the Greeks may have had trouble teasing out all the different bovine symbolism from the long-dead Minoan civilization. After all, there was the Minotaur, Zagreus, and the Moon-Cow as well (who we know as the goddess doublet of Pasiphae and Europa in later mythology), not to mention all those disembodied horns atop Minoan temples and shrines and the dozens, maybe hundreds of horned bovine pitchers and figurines.

Creating a modern spiritual practice based on scant and scattered evidence is tricky at best, but for me, it’s an activity worth pursuing. And I’ll repeat what I said above: The most important thing is to find what works for you.

UPDATE: Since I originally wrote this post, we've done a great deal more research and also developed more shared gnosis, and have a better idea of where the god we're now calling Tauros Asterion fits in the Minoan pantheon. Though the pantheon became pretty tangled by late Minoan times (during the Mycenaean occupation), it appears that Tauros Asterion was originally Rhea's son. In MMP we consider the bull-gods Zagreus and the Minotaur to be two of his faces that can be addressed separately from him by those names. And we associate Tauros Asterion with both the constellation Taurus and the earthly animal, the bull.

In the name of the Bee -
And of the Butterfly -
And of the Breeze - Amen!

[Updated 15 August 2020]

Last modified on
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.


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Wednesday, 16 December 2015

    I like Asterion as the sky-bull/constellation Taurus. Have you tried seeking personal communication with Asterion yet? I know some people are uncomfortable with personal gnosis, but if you know nine other people who are working with the Minoan godforms and six of you come up with the same information about Asterion I think your on pretty safe ground, at least for contemporary Minoan practice.

  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry Thursday, 17 December 2015

    No, I haven't, mainly because I only recently came up with this correlation. I've been grappling with the identity of Asterion for a while now but I couldn't clarify who I thought the epithet really belonged to. My next step will be to try to reach him in meditation and ritual. I'm completely open to personal gnosis, especially if it comes in the form of multiply reproduced experiences (that's usually referred to as multiply corroborated gnosis). One of the things we're doing in Ariadne's Tribe is sharing our experiences and seeing where they overlap and reinforce each other, then exploring in those directions. That's the challenge in creating a functional modern Minoan practice, since we have such a small amount of physical evidence to go on.

  • Please login first in order for you to submit comments

Additional information