Editor’s observe: As we speak we now have a guest column from Laura Perry, founder and facilitator of Trendy Minoan Paganism. This overview of the tradition is part of an occasional collection right here at The Wild Hunt, where we’ve invited comparable introductions from the Gaulish Polytheist revival and the Lokean group. We might love to spotlight more lesser-known Pagan traditions – please think about pitching a column on your tradition by way of the Contact Us hyperlink at the prime of the page.
Step outdoors on a transparent night time and locate the constellation Orion; it appears like an enormous labrys tilted across the sky. Turn your face up to the celebs, arch your again, and press the again of your loosely-curled fist to your brow. This is the Minoan salute, and you’re honoring the labrys and the goddess to whom it belongs: Ariadne. You’re working towards Trendy Minoan Paganism.
As I write this, I look excessive of my laptop display to see a replica of the Blue Women fresco from Knossos on my wall. The smoke from saffron and labdanum incense wafts round me, and for a second, I think about myself in historic Crete, kneeling earlier than an altar in my residence: a shrine to the Snake Goddess, or perhaps the sea-goddess Posidaeja, or the Minotaur.
I’m not in historic Crete, although. I’m in the trendy world, a 21st century Pagan who feels a connection with the religion and tradition of the Minoans, who flourished on the Mediterranean island of Crete four millennia ago. And I’m not alone. But there was a time once I thought I used to be.
It’s an previous joke within the Pagan group, that when someone can’t discover the resource they’re in search of, they’ve to exit and create it for themselves. Many people have carried out precisely that. Once I set out looking for a Pagan group that shared my reference to the Minoans, the few options I discovered weren’t open to me. For 25 years or so, I did my thing alone.
Then someday I made a decision to courageous the waters of the web world and set up a Fb group for individuals of all stripes who felt referred to as to the Minoan gods and goddesses. I assumed I’d get fortunate and find a handful of other people who shared my interests. I used to be shocked to uncover that there are various people who feel a profound reference to the Minoan pantheon and the culture of historic Crete. Thus, Trendy Minoan Paganism was born.
This can be a thing we’ve constructed together, the thousand-plus members of the web group and some small clusters of people all over the world who’re lucky sufficient to find a way to meet in actual life. We’ve developed a pantheon, a sacred calendar, and a set of practices that we all share. It’s been a collective effort with lots of trial and error, and it’s an ongoing process: turning into as well as being.
Trendy Minoan Paganism is just not a reconstructionist custom. We will’t read Linear A, the script the Minoans used to write their native language. What we do have is Linear B, the script that was adapted from Linear A to write the Mycenaean (early Greek) language. A few of the Linear B tablets report offerings introduced to the temple at Knossos in very late Minoan occasions, when the Mycenaeans have been occupying the place.
We also have fragments of Minoan fantasy, garbled and perhaps even purposely changed by way of retelling by the later Greeks. And we’ve got archaeology: the ruins of Minoan temples, cities, villas, peak sanctuaries, cave shrines, and artifacts from all these locations, including ritual ware and votive figurines.
From these bits and items we will make educated guesses about how the Minoans practiced their faith, but we will’t really know for certain. We’re not recreating historic Minoan spirituality, however creating one thing new that harkens back to the Bronze Age. In that context, we rely to some extent on shared personal gnosis, in addition to the sensible issues of what works and is suitable in trendy Pagan follow. (We’ve chosen to skip the animal sacrifice, as an example.) We’re a revivalist tradition, if you will: trendy Pagans connecting with historic deities within the 21st century world.
Who are these deities? Most Pagans are in all probability already acquainted with lots of them. Let’s begin with the Three, the mother goddesses who symbolize the three sacred realms of land, sea, and sky:
- Rhea: the Minoan Earth mother goddess, the island of Crete in divine type.
- Posidaeja: the sea-goddess, Grandmother Ocean, out of whom the land rises.
- Therasia: goddess of the Solar, hearth, and the sky.
As for the rest of the pantheon:
- Ourania: the cosmic or common goddess, Mother-of-Darkness-and-Stars.
- Ariadne: Woman of the Labyrinth, psychopomp and goddess of healing and progress.
- The Snake Goddess: perhaps probably the most acquainted figure from Minoan Crete, the Snake Goddess has totally different meanings for different individuals. She is all the time associated with the Underworld, typically with Ariadne and typically with Ourania, and infrequently each.
- Dionysus: ecstatic vine-god, born to the goddess Rhea in her sacred cave on Crete.
- The Horned Ones: they come in male-female pairs, so we have now the Minotaur and Europa (cattle deities), the Minocapros and Amalthea (goat deities), and the Minelathos and Britomartis (deer deities). The Minotaur holds a special place in our pantheon, helping to guide seekers to the middle of the Labyrinth. And no, he’s not a monster, I promise.
- Eileithyia: midwife goddess who safeguards pregnant ladies and newborns.
- Minos: underworld decide of the lifeless.
- Daedalus: inventor and smith god. He constructed the labyrinth and Ariadne’s dancing flooring.
- The Daktyls and Hekaterides: demi-gods and goddesses who characterize the sacred expertise of bronze smithing and pottery.
The sacred calendar for Trendy Minoan Paganism doesn’t comply with the fashionable Neopagan eight-fold wheel of the yr, though a number of the dates overlap. We have fun the solstices and the equinoxes like many different traditions, but we also rejoice the grape harvest, a Minoan model of the Eleusinian Mysteries, and the beginning of crusing season within the Mediterranean, among others.
A number of the dates on our calendar come from alignments of Minoan temples, tombs, and shrines. Lots of them have been constructed to align to the solstice and equinox sunrises and sunsets, whereas some have been positioned in correlation with the lunar standstills or the heliacal rising of certain stars. Mediterranean dance ethnography and regional festivals that have survived into trendy occasions have additionally offered us with inspiration for the sacred calendar.
What can we do to have fun the excessive factors of the yr — or any day, for that matter? Our practices are usually simple, the sorts of issues Pagans have finished of their houses for millennia – the kinds of activities most trendy Pagans are already acquainted with. We create and keep altars. We honor the sacred with the Minoan salute and other ecstatic postures. We make choices (meals, flowers, saffron, and incense) and we pour libations (wine, milk, honey, and other liquids). We scry in bowls of wine. We meditate and ask the gods for steerage. And when the opportunity arises, we stroll the labyrinth.
We don’t have the sorts of assets the ancient Minoan temples did to put on thriller plays and large public rituals. But once we can gather a number of buddies together, we have fun as a gaggle. Our rites don’t contain Wiccan-style circle casting or quarter calls, but we do take pleasure in processions and we like to consecrate the ritual area and the individuals with incense or sprinklings of herb water, or both.
Trendy Minoan Paganism just isn’t a dogmatic custom. It’s not about what we consider; it doesn’t matter whether or not we expect the gods and goddesses are individual beings or Jungian archetypes or something else altogether. It’s about how we apply and which deities we honor. It’s also about who we permit to be a part of us: everyone who feels a connection with the Minoan deities and who respects their fellow human beings.
Right here’s our official description: Trendy Minoan Paganism is an unbiased tradition, separate from another Minoan group or tradition. We are a welcoming path, fortunately open to individuals of any race, ethnicity, gender or gender id, sexual orientation, age, capability degree, disability, geographic location, language, schooling, or socio-economic status. We’re all in this together.
Our on-line group, Ariadne’s Tribe, might be found on Facebook. By the time you learn this, we may have had our very first tiny little local pageant in the Pacific Northwest. We’re growing, one step at a time, gods prepared.
I’ll finish with a benediction that Emily Dickinson wrote, one that captures the great thing about nature and, coincidentally, some essential symbols from the Minoan world.
Within the identify of the bee,
And of the butterfly,
And of the breeze, amen.
Laura Perry is the founder and facilitator of Trendy Minoan Paganism. She is a Pagan writer and artist, a lifelong animist, and a dwelling historical past demonstrator. She blogs about Trendy Minoan Paganism on Witches & Pagans. You will discover all her work, including the Minoan stuff, on her website. If she’s not writing, drawing, or main ritual, she’s in all probability digging in the garden and communing with the spirits of the land where she lives, close to Atlanta, Georgia.