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?

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Ariadne's Tribe Pantheon: The Young God Korydallos

This is one in a series about our pantheon. Find the other posts here.

In this post, we'll have a look at Korydallos, one of the gods who are the sons of our three Mother Goddesses. Korydallos (or The Lark, as we sometimes call him) is a new name for an old god. We discovered him via dance ethnography, Mediterranean folklore, and a close look at some of the interesting details of Minoan art and artifacts. In Ariadne's Tribe, we consider him to be the son of our Sun goddess Therasia, though there is a sense in which all the son and daughter deities are children of all the Mothers - more about that in a bit.

Korydallos is a joyful god with a faintly trickstery feel to him. He invites us to take part in the dance of life, laughing along the way. But there's another side to him as well: he's a spirit warrior, a protector of those who follow him. As such, his spirit weapon is a staff - a simple length of wood, imbued with his strength and power. No, he doesn't use it to whack people (though sometimes I wish he would!) but to channel energy wherever it needs to go.

So where can we find him in Minoan art? Here he is on the Chieftain cup from Hagia Triada:

Carved stone Chieftain cup from Hagia Triada
Image CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Korydallos is the figure on the right, holding the staff. This is probably a ritual scene of a coming-of-age rite for the boy on the left - he has the shaved head that identifies him as not yet an adult.

We also see Korydallos on this seal impression from Chania:

Seal impression from Chania
Image CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Here, he's standing atop the city of Chania (ancient Kydonia) in western Crete, brandishing his staff. On another seal, this one from Knossos, we find him holding his staff while appearing as a floating epiphany figure during a ritual:

Epiphany seal ring from Knossos

Here, a female figure is performing the Minoan salute as a gesture of respect. The "capital i" symbol within the shrine may very well be one of his symbols. We find it as a floating symbol on several other seal rings.

One of the interesting aspects of Minoan religion has to do with how long-lived Minoan culture was. People migrated from Anatolia to Crete in the Neolithic, and the Minoan cities weren't destroyed until around 1400 BCE. That's a lot of centuries - millennia, really - in which religion on Crete grew and changed. But like the Egyptians, the people of ancient Crete didn't discard one set of deities or symbols when another one came along. Instead, they piled on new layers, one after another, until by the end of Minoan times, it was all fairly tangled. This is part of why I've often said that, instead of resembling a human family tree, the Minoan pantheon looks more like a carnival fun house full of mirrors.

What does that have to do with Korydallos? Though we consider him to be "officially" Therasia's son, by late Minoan times he appears to have been designated as Rhea's son, though we can't tell whether this was in addition to Therasia or instead of her. Something similar happened to Dionysus, who is the son of our sea-goddess Posidaeja but who was added into the midwinter birth story as Rhea's child in late Minoan times.

So we end up with images like the one at the top of this post, where a goddess atop a mountain is giving a staff - a spirit weapon - to the young god who is saluting her. We know this goddess is Rhea because of the lions flanking the mountain; reading the iconography helps us identify the actors in the scene. In a matrilineal society, a young man's mother provides him with his tools, weapons, and so on when he comes of age. So this is probably a scene from a myth in which Rhea gifts Korydallos with his spirit staff.

This connection with Rhea also suggests that the male figures we find on Minoan seals accompanied by lions might very well be Korydallos. Rhea's son Tauros Asterion has his own animal symbol, the bull, so the seals that combine men and lions probably aren't him. Teasing out the details of the religious iconography is an ongoing process; each answer generates more questions. While I'm sure Korydallos is happy to have been rediscovered and to be honored in our modern world, I suspect he's also having a good laugh at our attempts to unravel the threads of Minoan myth, as we get tangled up in those threads over and over.

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'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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