Offerings to the Minoan Deities

One pagan spiritual activity that has remained a constant from ancient times to the present is the making of offerings. I’m not talking about sacrifice (animal, human, or otherwise) but about the giving of gifts to the gods as a way to represent your devotion to them. In the same way that someone who honors you might give you a special present, you can also honor the deities by offering them a little something special.

Shrine of the Double Axes East Wing Knossos
Shrine of the Double Axes from the Minoan temple complex at Knossos, Crete

We can tell what the Minoans gave as offerings from  Minoan art and from residues that archaeologists have studied in containers from ancient Crete. And it all looks surprisingly familiar: incense, fruit, flowers, bread, and libations of wine and milk.

These offerings were typically set out in special dishes on altars and in shrines in people’s homes and at other sacred sites: the temple complexes, peak sanctuaries, and cave shrines of Crete. Indoors, libations were poured into bowls or into special recesses in the floor. Outdoors, they were simply poured out onto the ground.

Making an offering is a simple way of paying attention to the gods and goddesses. This isn’t “vending machine spirituality” where you give something to a deity and expect a favor in return. This is a way to develop a relationship, to show that you’re paying attention to them. Whether you think of it as putting energy toward an archetype that you want to strengthen in your life or giving a gift to a being whom you revere and would like to grow closer to, making regular offerings is a good way to develop a simple spiritual practice.

I’ll admit that one of the most common offerings I make isn’t something the Minoans did, because they didn’t have candles (like all people of their time period, they used oil lamps). I like to light a candle as an offering, usually a tea light that I let burn down completely. Sometimes I add a pinch or two of herbs or powdered resin or a drop or two of essential oil to flesh out the “vibe” of my offering. And sometimes I just light a candle and quietly say, “Thank you for being there.” Because that’s something we all like to hear, isn’t it?

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: August 26th: Finnish Creator of the Universe, Burner of Years, Day of Jubilation

In Ancient Egypt, today is a “Day of Jubilation in the Heart of Ra. “ Ra was a very important part of Egyptian Culture. He battled the unknown during the hours of darkness protecting the world of light. He symbolized the Sun.

The Finnish is a culture we hear very little about. They would have had a Festival in honor of their Goddess IImatar today. She was the one who created the universe. 

Now, over in Yorkshire of West Witton, Pagans were known to do a ritual either on this day or somewhere about that involved making a straw figure. They called the effigy Owd Bartle and proudly showed it off throughout town in a sort of celebration. After stopping at all the Pubs, they would take the straw figure to a place called Grassgill Lane. In a ritual, they would stabbed and then set Owd Bartle aflame on a huge bonfire.

What did this symbolize? Something beautiful, actually. A fresh start. Renewal. When they burned the deity, it represented the burning of the years, wiping the slate completely clean. Putting the past in the past or putting to bed the previous seasons. It’s something we could all use a little or a lot of….yes?