Modern Minoan Paganism: What’s it all about?

Knossos
The Minoan ruins at Knossos

Ariadne. Dionysus. The Minotaur. The Labyrinth. You’ve probably heard of all of these, but did you know that they have relevance beyond the mythology books on the library shelves? They are, in fact, important aspects of Modern Minoan Paganism, a growing practice that connects ancient Crete with the modern world.

If you haven’t heard of modern Minoan Paganism (MMP), you’re not alone. MMP has no big-name organization that promotes it, no set of rules and regulations to copy from website to website, no secret initiatory rites for people to whisper about at Pagan festivals. In fact, MMP isn’t even a tradition in the formal sense of the term. Then what on earth is it? It’s an individualized Pagan path that focuses on the ancient Minoan pantheon, with each person practicing and worshiping in the way that works best for them.

Who were the Minoans? They lived on the island of Crete, just south of Greece in the Mediterranean Sea, about 4,000 years ago. Their culture flourished for centuries, centered in the big temple complexes of towns like Knossos but also at sacred sites in caves and on mountaintops across the island.

You’ve probably heard the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, how Theseus braved the confusing Labyrinth to slay the monster then found his way out again by following the thread Ariadne gave him. The thing is, this story was invented by the Greeks centuries after Minoan civilization had ceased to exist.

The Minoans weren’t Greek, even though Crete is a part of the modern nation of Greece. The Minoans were a pre-Indo-European culture that was part of Old Europe, the original inhabitants of the continent. They had never even heard of Theseus, who was a Hellenic culture hero designed to make the Greeks look good in contrast to the ‘primitive, monstrous’ Minoans. As you might have guessed, the Minoans weren’t primitive or monstrous at all.

At the head of their pantheon was the great mother goddess Rhea, who gives birth to her son Dionysus every year at Winter Solstice in her sacred cave. In addition to being a solar year-king, Dionysus is the ecstatic god of the vine. Rhea’s daughter Ariadne gives the people the gift of the Labyrinth: not a confusing maze but a spiraling design with one sure path to the center and back out again, a spiritual tool for self-discovery. And yes, the Minotaur stands at the center of the Labyrinth. He’s not a fearsome monster but a loving god whose job is to help each of us face our own darkness.

The Minoan pantheon is full of gods and goddesses who speak to every aspect of our lives: the Horned Ones in bovine, goat, and deer form (the Minotaur and Europa, the Minocapros and Amalthea, the Minelathos and Britomartis); the Melissae, ancestral bee-goddesses who help us connect with those who have gone before; Eileithyia, the divine midwife. Over the centuries, the Minoans added layer upon layer to their religion, very much like the Egyptians did. When we look back across time at Minoan spirituality, we can see all the layers that create such a rich tapestry of belief and practice.

Much of what we know about the ancient Minoans comes from archaeology. The ruins of the towns and villages across Crete speak to us across the ages. But MMP isn’t a reconstructionist tradition. It can’t be. There are simply too many gaps in our knowledge.

Most reconstructionist traditions base their practices on ancient texts that record the mythology and religion of the culture. But we can’t read Linear A, the writing system the Minoans used to record their language. The early (Mycenaean) Greeks modified Linear A to create Linear B, which they used to write their own language. We can read that, so we know a little bit about the very end of Minoan civilization. But inventory lists can only tell us so much. The rest we have to piece together from the garbled, fragmentary bits that made it down through the centuries to Hellenic Greece and its writers.

So no, MMP isn’t a reconstructionist tradition like Irish or Norse Paganism. But we do use the archaeology and the classical writings as a starting point. The rest we fill in, either individually or collectively, as we need it.

Each of us experiences the Minoan deities a little differently. But we also find a lot of commonality, places where our personal gnosis matches other people’s, where our impressions reinforce what the archaeological record tells us. We share and we discuss and MMP grows, slowly and steadily, one person at a time.

If you’d like to join the discussion about modern Minoan Paganism, please head on over to Ariadne’s Tribe on Facebook. Of course, stay tuned to this space for more posts about MMP. And if there’s something in particular you’d like to know about, please leave a comment and I’ll get right on it.

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

[NOTE: I end my Minoan-themed blog posts with Emily Dickinson’s little nature benediction that she wrote as a counterpart to the Christian “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, amen.” The bee and the butterfly were sacred creatures in ancient Crete and they still hold a special place in modern Minoan Paganism. I think they’re a fitting way to offer a blessing.]

Women, Healing & Lore: Raspberries & It’s Leaves

 


image_thumb.pngThe raspberry doesn’t get very creative where Folk Names are concerned. It’s either called, European Raspberry, or , Red Raspberry.  And as far as Mountain Lore goes, it wasn’t nothing to bat an eye at if you happened to see a Granny Woman hang a few of the branches along the doorways or windows. This meant a death had come. With all that sittin’ up with the Dead stuff, and the coverin’ of mirrors, no one wanted to see a “Spirit” re-enter a home. That’s where the branches came into play.

Hanging the branches meant Protection.

It came as no surprise when I read that Raspberry leaves were carried by women to relieve them of some of the pain and discomfort during pregnancy. From a medicine standpoint, Raspberries and the Leaves have quite a bit of an affect on women. But before we get to that, let’s throw one more fact out there.


Most people don’t know it but the raspberry is actually part of the “Rose” Family. The leaves from this shrub can help with a good many things—intestinal problems such as diarrhea, sore throats, menstrual cramps and problems…even bronchitis. The tea can also ease flu symptoms, tonsillitis, strengthen gums, stomach upset and nausea.

The best way to preserve the leaves is by drying. Once dried, for use in a tea, simply crush and soak them in cold water. (1 tsp. per cup). Let it soak for a few hours and then boil for ten minutes. Strain and drink.


Never drink the tea while pregnant.


 

This is one of the reasons the ol’ wives tale of carrying the leaves while pregnant to relieve some of the pain during pregnancy was interesting to me. Seems the more and more I dig into Mountain Lore, the more linked it is to actual medicine—in some way or another.

Could it be, women carried the leaves in case contractions began?

The leaves are said to stimulate the uterus and bring about labor. One may use the tea once contractions begin but only under a Doctor’s supervision.

1 cup.


That being said, was that the real reason women carried the leaves and not because of some superstition? Or did the medical aspect become hidden within’ silly, superstitious lore?


I often wonder about that. History cries endless and unknowable numbers of the horrific murders of women, who were punished for things like witchcraft. When in truth, they simply had a knowledge to use the things in Nature many overlooked in order to heal. In certain communities, like those of the Appalachian Mountains, how many would have died if it were not for these Mountain Crones or Granny Women and their knowledge of plants? Doctors were not falling from the sky in abundant buckets. They were few and far between. And with so many women burned, drowned or tortured for their “knowin’ of things” did they protect that knowledge by camouflaging it with silly, little, absurd things like carrying a leaf in one’s pocket? Just a thought.


So let’s get down to some Facts, shall we?


Raspberry leaves have been used in medicine as far back as 37 A.D. Written documents date all the way back to Rome.

file000396551993Raspberry leaves have something in them called Tannins. Tannins are pretty cool things and can be found in most vegetables and fruit. The leaves, when dried, are when Tannins pack a punch. By definition, Tannins are various complex phenolic substances of plant origin; used both in tanning and in medicine. The Tannin in Raspberry leaves have astringent effects – as do most tanins elsewhere. It’s the astringent that aids in the antidiarrheal and anti-inflammatory super-powers of the leaves. Did you know it can also help stop bleeding? Who knew all that existed beyond what we normally focus on—the sweet, delicious berry?

Raspberry Leaves contain Potassium, Vitamins A & C, Phosphorus and Calcium.


Now, let’s get down to the healing.


By drinking the tea, in cases of Diarrhea, it’s the astringents which aid the most. They relieve the irritation on the intestinal walls, which means they help with the irritation brought on by the diarrhea. You must make sure the tea is super-packed with tannins, though, for this to work, which means, soak the leaves in water for at least 10 minutes. For cramps that sometimes come with diarrhea, use 2 oz. of the Leaves and 1 1/2 oz. of Peppermint.


Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

  • 2/3 oz. Raspberry Leaves
  • 2/3 oz. Oak Bark
  • 1/3 oz. Yarrow
  • 2/3 oz. Wild Strawberry Leaves

Use 1 tsp. of this mixture per cup of hot water or hip bath. It is supposed to normalize bleeding and the leaves may also help with cramps.


Inflamed Skin

Wash face with 3 tbsp. of leaves that has been added to 1 quart of water and boiled for 10 minutes. (Allow to cool of course) and then wash area several times a day. The tannins are said to shrink blood vessels and prevent bacterial infections. Can also stimulate skin regeneration.


Sore Throat

1 tsp. of raspberry leaves to 1 cup of water. Let steep ten minutes. Gargle several times a day. Add calendula flowers and sage leaves to pack an extra punch.


Eliminate Toxins from the body

Equal mixture of Dandelion Root, Raspberry Leaves and Fumitory green parts. Add one tsp. to 1 cup of boiling water – steep 10 minutes. Drink 3 times a day.


Lore

Raspberries are feminine in nature and represent the Planet, Venus. Their element is water and their powers are said to be love and protection.


We have a new Facebook Page, GIVE US A LIKE HERE, please, and we have a NEW TWITTER ACCOUNT. We also have a Forum in the works, which will be coming later, but soon.

 

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays : June 3 : The Goddess Pax

autRome is kicking off their second Festival this week, all in the name of their Goddess Pax, and the Greek Goddess, Eirene.

There isn’t a lot to be said about Pax. Credited with being of Peace, she was also the patron of wealth. Other sources say Pax has another festival come January 3.

With the world spiraling into chaos as it is, it would be nice if Pax or Eirene would cast her glow upon us today.

Without sounding too sappy or fluffy, I’d like to add a personal note….

It seems like in every corner of the world, there is something bad happening. Riots, Protests, Terrorist Attacks, Violence, Hate…

If we could take a moment to pause from the negative web that has us entangled and imagine the world as we’d like it to be…

In a way that gives everyone a chance to spread their wings and fly and live in their own way…

Whether that way is ours or not….

And then if we could each take one small step in making that happen…..


Here’s hoping you all have a bright and wonderful day! From all of us here at The Pagan and the Pen.


We have a new Facebook Page, GIVE US A LIKE HERE, please, and we have a NEW TWITTER ACCOUNT.