Minoan Mystery Theater

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Most of the people I know who practice Modern Minoan Paganism are solitaries. There aren’t any Minoan temple complexes we can go to anymore to experience big seasonal rituals (unless you count a tour through the ruins of Knossos or Malia as a ritual, which I suppose it could be). Of course, the Minoans had their own solitary practices; we’ve found plenty of personal shrines and altars in the ruins of homes from ancient Crete. But they also had something pretty amazing that I really wish I could experience myself: big public ceremonies that enacted parts of the Minoan mythology. In other words, they had Mystery plays.

You may have heard the term Mystery play used to refer to theatrical enactments of Christian biblical stories during the Middle Ages in Europe. But the concept was not new to that time or place. In fact, the “living nativity scenes” that many Christian churches put on around Christmas are the modern remnants of those Mystery plays.

Many ancient cultures included reenactments of mythological tales as part of their religious practice. Sometimes these plays were meant for just a small audience, like the one that probably took place at Winter Solstice in Knossos. But many others were meant for the general public.

At the top of this post you can see an image of the Sacred Grove fresco from the temple complex at Knossos. It’s an ancient Minoan painting that depicts a big ritual being performed in the theatral area on the plaza west of the temple complex. Here’s an image of that area as it looks now, nearly four thousand years after that ritual was performed:

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You can see the paved walkways and the stepped areas where the audience (congregation?) would have stood to watch.

I’ve often wondered exactly what the Sacred Grove ritual entailed, what kinds of things that audience would have seen and heard – and felt. Was there music and drumming? Incense? Which portion of the Minoan mythology did this ritual enact? Were there offerings, maybe libations made as part of the process? I’ve always thought the women in those matching blue-and-gold outfits look like they’re performing some kind of sacred dance. Is this a depiction of the famed Crane Dance? There’s really now way to know, from this far away in time. But it’s fascinating to think about.

We modern Pagans don’t often get to participate in big rituals, especially not as big as the one in the Sacred Grove fresco. And even when we’re lucky enough to take part in a large public rite like the ones that take place at many Pagan gatherings, it’s rare to find one that’s Minoan in flavor. I suspect the movies take the place of Mystery plays for many people in the modern world. After all, they’re huge public spectacles where you get wrapped up in the story that’s being told, as if it were happening live right before your eyes (Lord of the Rings, anyone?).

Is this something that’s missing from our modern spirituality? Sometimes I feel like there’s an empty space where there should be Minoan Mystery plays. Maybe one day there will be enough of us to have a big Minoan gathering somewhere, with enough people to put on our own Mystery play. Yes, that’s just a dream, but it’s a nice one, isn’t it?

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

 

Fun Fall Activities for Parents of Tweens

When school starts in the fall, it seems like all our time and energy is spent on studying and activities. My girls are active in many activities and sports. In a single week, we’re diving, riding horses, practicing martial arts, taking music lessons, and participating in school clubs.

spicer-millIn the few nights we have without a scheduled activity (most Saturdays–but not all,) we seem to be focused on keeping up the house, doing shopping, or sitting in a zombie coma in front of the news. The news, as always, is full of violence, drama, and junk reporting.

So this fall, we’re planning to make time for some family activities like:

  1. Visit a cider mill. The mills in our area have trails and lots of stuff to do.
  2. Go hiking in our local state park. The dog can even come with us.
  3. Make a medieval town from Legos. We have thousands of pieces for fun and creativity.medieval-lego
  4. Grounding rituals to help us feel part of nature and celebrate the Goddess Earth.
  5. Finally film that movie Wife and Twin #2 have been writing–Night of the Wild Rogue Chicken. That should be a blast.

When life gets busy, it’s important to take time to ground yourself–connect with family and the Earth–otherwise you risk losing yourself in the back-to-school melee.

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: September 16th: HARVEST MOON & ECLISPE!!!!!

I am publishing this one a day early so everyone has time to prepare!

It is Harvest Moon day AND we will be having a Harvest Moon Eclipse, around 12:45 PM, I think Eastern? Here is the Old Farmer’s Almanac link and a TIME, WHERE and WHEN to help you figure out your area.

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For Witches or those of the Craft,  those who practice Divination or anyone needing a boost with their fertility magics, make sure to hold onto to your seats and get ready for a super-powered punch because not only is today the Harvest Moon, but it’s also packing the punch of an Eclipse!

The Harvest Moon is Ancient & Pagan Calendars generally fall on the first full moon on or after this date (15th). With it being on this day , the 16th) and an eclipse to boot, well I’d say we are all in for a special treat.

For those wanting to be pregnant or use a fertility rite in other areas of your life, this is or was said to be the day that such magics could happen. It is said that more women conceive under the Harvest Moon than any other.

This will also be the FINAL eclipse of the Moon for the remainder of the year.

Quoting: It will be visible across Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. Those across North America and South America will have to wait until 2017 to see another eclipse. Source  : End Quote

The Harvest Moon originated in Europe, but also, it came from the American Indians because the Moon itself told them when it was time to Harvest their Corn. The light given from this Moon allowed and allows Farmers to work longer hours in order to bring in their harvest.  The Harvest Moon stretches across the globe into many Cultures. Even China.

This is a penumbral eclipse. That’s when the Moon, itself, travels through the outer edges of the earth within’ the planet’s shadow.  The Moon or part of it will darkened but not completely disappear. Some say this is when the Moon has the power of ALL Moons.  This is when the energies of the Moon, the Earth and the Sun all combine.

This is a great time to Draw down the Power of the Moon, or give honor to Lunar Goddesses and Gods. It is a fabulous time for healing or well, any sort of productive ritual—even the final completion of one- a time to harvest the benefits of all your hard work.

If you wish to increase your physic powers or use divination or strengthen your intuition, well, jump on the moon wagon. Tonight if your night!

This is a time for Dark Magic (Not evil, but Dark, as in how all life began, in the womb.) It is a great time for Sidhe magic and even connecting with the Otherworlds.

This is a time of the Crone. Think Hecate, if you need a mental aspect of that or Sekhmet of Egypt.

Egyptian Priests believed the Moon was the Mother of the Universe. What I think is particularly interesting right now is, we have just had Lammas, a time when the God (Sun) enters the Earth (the Mother’s Womb) where he dies in order to bring life to the Grain—where in spring, he will be reborn like the Grain.

With this Eclipse, the Moon (the Mother) will become one with the Earth (her womb) and the Sun (the Father & Son).

Moonstruck or moon-touched was said to be the doings of the Great Mother, who was picking out her chosen ones. Those who were moonstruck were described as “Silly” which happened to be a word that originally meant, “Blessed.”

Regardless of your intentions or needs, prepare for a powerful burst of energy that will affect all.

Get Ready!

Ancient Calendar & pagan holidays:September 14th: A Day to Honor the Hazel Tree & Foretelling of a Harvest Moon Eclipse

It is said that the Hazel tree holds great power. So much so, a time was noted on the Calendar claiming when it was most productive to tap into the magic of that tree. Today is that day, a time to harvest the nuts and what the Hazel has to offer.

Known in the Middle Ages as the “Day of the Holy Nut”, people believed that the branches, bark and whatever else of the tree could do miraculous things like, but not limited to, warding off the evil intensions of another (especially one of power) or to heal.  There were a few rules, though, like avoiding the nuts of the tree which were not ripe and everything pretty much revolved around the nuts itself.

Later, this day was called, The Devil’s Nutting Day. The “Devil” got stapled to everything Pagan sooner or later.

Still, the Hazel Tree will forever be known as a tree of great magic and wisdom.

May your day be so blessed! Until tomorrow…..

WAIT! Before I forget!!!!!

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Speaking of tomorrow or, well, Friday, it is a Harvest Moon day AND we will be having a Harvest Moon Eclipse, due around 12:45 PM, I think Eastern? Here is the Old Farmer’s Almanac link and a TIME, WHERE and WHEN to help you figure out your area.

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Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: September 13th: Rome By Three, Runic Half Month, And Fire of Egypt

Egypt had long names for their Holidays. Today was called, “The Festival of Lighting the Fires of Neith.” Neith was one of the Originals in the early days of Gods and Goddesses. She was a Creator, having spit into the waters, creating Apep, which happened to be an evil serpent, an arch nemesis of Ra. She was also the mother of Ra. So in a sense, she gave birth to the dark and light, creating gods who would represent light and death. The Heavens and the Underworld.

The curious thing about Apep is, the Great Serpent did not begin as a thing of evil or an enemy of Ra. While Ra was of the Sun and of light, Apep was of the Underworld. The Underworld consisted of many “Chambers”, which was represented by the Serpents body. Ra had to pass through this Underworld and it’s Chambers each time he was swallowed up by Night with the triggering of the Sunset. I think that maybe, Ra Priests misrepresented Apep and Ra’s journey by labeling the Serpent as Evil, suddenly placing some sort of fear over the Underworld. We see this often, even in Egyptian History. Priests of one God coming along and changing things up a bit to suit the image of their own God. I think the original story represents something positive and not a thing to be feared. It represents phases of life and death—the moral, Rebirth, Regeneration and Renewal. Rebirth, Regeneration and Renewal is something else the Pagan Serpent has always represented. Each time, we come back stronger.

Do you feel the strong urge to be thankful on this day? Perhaps you have been blessed with unexpected good fortunes. If so, maybe that is the Roman Ancestors living within your blood screaming out for you to take notice of all that you have – no matter how simple or complex—and give appreciation and thanks for it.

Today in Ancient Rome, they would have had a Festival for three Deities: Minerva, Juno and Jupiter. The official name was, Lectisternium. A Roman would take images of these Gods/Goddesses and sit meals in front of them because today was about having a Feast in celebration for all the things, big and small, that the Gods have blessed you with.

Today in Rune-Lore, marks the beginning of the Runic Half-Month called, Ken. Fitting, considering Egypt will be lighting fires on this day. While Egypt has nothing to do with the Culture of Runes, we do see one Civilization bleed it’s influence into the next. How? Ken is symbolized by the sacred Torch—fire. Fire which burns through the haze bringing forth enlightenment. Fire which lights a Great Hall where ordinary objects are turned into magical wonders. Do you need knowledge? Do you need to tap into your female energies and secrets? Do you need an ability or intuition? Invoke that of Ken, and may this entire half-month burn through you like a flame of eye-opening, boundless possibilities made real!

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Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: September 12th: The Last to Leave the World of Men

Today in Ancient Greece, there was an observance for Astraea. Now, this Goddess was known for being much more than the daughter of Themis and Zeus. She was honored because of her grand exit, one could say, or for being so selfless. Astraea happened to be the very last of her kind that left the world of Men to take her place with the other Greek Pantheon in Heaven.

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: September 8th: When the Present Echoes the Past

There is a place which can still be found on the map and it’s called, Baviaria.  In this beautiful spot located in the southern regions of Germany, a tradition continues that has it’s roots stretched from a long past. The festival is called, Almabtrieb. (Also known as Viehsheid.)

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Almabtrieb marks the end of a season when the the cattle return from the mountain. They spent approximately 100 days grazing there in what is known as, the Alpine Meadows.

Now while this is a tradition that still goes on today, it touches on a fertility rite from more ancient times. In centuries past, cattle were dressed in colorful ribbons, if the season had been a good one, and even in bells—which were said to drive away demons and the evils the most superstitious folk, fear.

Fertility Rites were a very important part of our Ancient History because not only did we want to further our own bloodlines, but we needed our animals to do the same. The Rites were a way to tap into the productive powers of the earth, of water, of all important life-giving things. We need and needed good and abundant harvests and we needed the world to renew itself within the Seasons and for those Seasons to close only to be reborn again. 

In a way, when biblical writers said, “We are made in the imagine of God,” this was correct in all things even in Paganism, which the sentence also mimics.

We mirror nature and nature mirrors us. There is a connection. And together, we mirror the myths, beliefs and legends of the Gods and Goddesses.

As the God goes into the earth for his sacrificial death, so do we when we die. So does the Seasons when they come to an end. But just as the Great Mother gives renewed life to the God come spring and he is reborn, so are the Seasons – as so reflects the proof that we can be in one form or another (depending on your belief).

These Rites survived even when more dominant Religions swept across the land attempting to drive out the Old Ways and Ways of the Goddess. Yes, even Christians and Muslims had and have prayers and blessings done by those who were and are ordained by their Faith, hoping to invoke their God’s blessing over the fields and seasons.

Whether it be Religion, Seasons, Life, Deity, Spirit… it seems nothing ever really dies or disappears forever. It changes. It is renamed. Maybe it’s rejected but sure enough, an echo of it lives in something, somewhere.

May every single one of you have a blessed day, whether you celebrate Almabtrieb or something or nothing else. Be thankful for all you have gained or have even lost from the previous Season as we are able to witness a new one unfold.

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