Reconstructing Minoan Spirituality

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I often find myself telling people that Modern Minoan Paganism isn’t a reconstructionist tradition, but if I’m really honest, that isn’t strictly true. We do use a great many bits of reconstructionist technique. We examine the art and artifacts the Minoans have left us and we do our best to piece together the few garbled remnants of Minoan mythology that made it through to the classical writers.

But we don’t have any Minoan texts we can rely on (Linear A is sadly still untranslated and the Linear B tablets are mostly just inventory lists that can only tell us just so much). So instead, we place a great deal of emphasis on personal and ecstatic experience, perhaps more than on the archaeological stuff. The bits-and-pieces left in the ruins of ancient Crete are our starting point, but they can only get us so far. The rest of the journey is something we have to undertake ourselves. So how are we making that journey?

By doing it. I know that sounds kind of Zen, or Taoist, or something, but the only way to figure out how to practice Modern Minoan Paganism is to try things out and see how they work. That’s what I did with the rituals in both of my books, Ariadne’s Thread and Labrys and Horns, before I published them – I wrote the rituals and then I enacted them, often with the help of friends and members of my various Pagan groups.

I listened/felt/paid attention during those rituals. Sometimes the gods didn’t like what we were doing. I’ve had a ritual blade knocked out of my hand by invisible forces, been tripped by “nothing at all” while walking around a circle, had whole tables full of ritual tools tipped over when no one was standing near them. When that happens, I pay attention and ask what I should change, how I could do it better.

Quite a few of us also use mystical and ecstatic techniques, from simple meditation to ecstatic body postures to trance dancing. Once again, we try things out and see what happens, then we share our results with each other to build up a set of practices that work for us. I’ve written about my experiences with Minoan ecstatic body postures here, here, here, and here (yep, I’ve done this a lot!).

Ecstatic (a.k.a. shamanic) techniques appear to have been a major component of ancient Minoan religion. Though I certainly don’t condone the use of illegal substances (the Minoans, like other ancient people, used a lot of hallucinogens), I do think our modern spirituality can be enhanced by deep meditation, journeying, and trancework. In fact, I think our modern world is ecstasy deprived. Adding a bit of that back into our lives is probably a good thing, and it fits well with Modern Minoan Paganism.

A lot of what we’re doing falls under the category that Steven Posch calls Younger Lore. It’s the part of the spirituality that’s living, breathing, evolving. There was Younger Lore in ancient Crete just as there is now. This is nothing new, and I think it’s important that we keep pushing these boundaries, finding out more about this spirituality we practice.

There is one issue we need to keep in mind when we’re rebuilding ancient religions for the modern world: We have to be careful not to idealize the ancient culture. Crete was no utopia. But the Minoans did have a lot of positive things going for them. Their religion reflected the equality of the sexes, the reverence for nature, and the communion with the divine that permeated their society. Those are things that are definitely worth bringing forward into our lives.

So we’re forging this path one step at a time. We’re bridging a gap of thousands of years during which the Minoan gods and goddesses were lost, ignored, forgotten. I’m pretty sure they’re glad we’ve found them again.

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays : December 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th

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December 10th

Roman Festival Lux Mundi

Roman Ides of December

French Goddess named Liberty

Think statue of Liberty — when you think of the French Goddess named Liberty.

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December 11th

Welsh Festival for Arianrhod

The daughter of Don, Arianrhod was said to have been present during the Count of King Math ao Mathonwy. The King was steeped in his traditions. One of them being his need of having a Virgin. The Virgin’s job was simple. Hold his feet in her lap when he was lucky enough to not be away at War.  Unfortunately, in this story, his regular foot-holding Virgin, Goewin, was raped by Gilfaethwy. To cover up her brother’s crime, Arianrhod agreed to take Goewin’s place. The problem was, she wasn’t a Virgin and the moment she stepped over the King’s magic wand to prove an non-existance state of virginity, she went right into labor giving birth to two sons.

The story leads to more sadness. She curses one of her sons who was then raised by another brother, named Gwydion.  The tale is thick with interest if you are ever looking to read a soap opera deep in Welsh lore.

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December 12th

Welsh Day of Bellisama Dydd—for the Goddess Bellisama, who is Goddess of the forge. This should begin at sundown.

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December 13th

Informal Roman Observance Bruma Day—Winter Solstice

Welsh festival of Lights called Gwyl o Golau

Egyptian God Thoth takes oath today

1/2 month of Jara Begins—means the union and completion between the spiritual and temporal elements

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Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: December 9: Tablets of Destiny

Something we don’t hear much about unless it’s a biblical, is the culture of Babylon. One very important Babylonian God was Zu, or, to the Persians, Anzu. In ancient Babylon, Zu, would have been honored today.

Born of the Goddess Siris, Zu was actually drawn to look like the mythological creature, the Griffin. He could breathe fire and water but was unfortunately destroyed by the hands of Lugalbanda,

Still, he would forever go down in history as being the one who stole The Tablets of Destiny from another god named Enlil. The Tablets of Destiny were believed to have been written by the Elder Gods.

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: December 8: Last Greek Goddess Standing, Egypt’s One Born of Light, one born of Darkness.

In Greek mythos, Zeus had a daughter with the Goddess Themis. Her name was Astraea. In the world of men (our world), Astraea, was the last to leave taking her place in the Heavens where all those who were like her, went.

While this reminds me of the Elves from Lord of the Rings, when they made their exit from, what was it? Middle Earth? Astraea wasn’t a work of fiction according the the Greeks. She was very real to them, the Goddess of Justice.  That’s why December 8th is an observance dedicated to her.

In Ancient Egypt, a religion time has somewhat forgot and buried beneath her golden sands, a festival for Neith would have been held today. Neith was one of the original Gods and Goddesses of this culture. She was said to have been the mother of Ra. She also gave birth or made his arch nemesis, Apep.

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: December 7: Haloia

Today is the Greek Observance for Haloia of Demeter. Now, if you remember, we already covered Persephone and I even threw down the 411 on her love drama from way back in the day. Well Demeter, if you recall, is her momma, and also the one that turned the seasons upside down mourning for her baby when she was abducted by Hades.

Demeter is the Greek’s Goddess Mother of all things.

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: December 6 : Santa, An Aspect of Odin & Guardian of the Two Lands of Egypt

 

Today is the Festival of Nicholas—an aspect of the Norse God Odin.

A die-cut ephemera scrap from circa 1880s. --- Image by © Blue Lantern Studio/Corbis

Now listen close, because Nicholas heads up the Hunt, rides across the heavens in a flying chariot pulled by Reindeer.

If you haven’t guessed it yet, the Ancient version of the Norse Nicholas became our Santa.

Nicholas comes to us from the Norse culture. He is an aspect of the God Odin.

*sighs* It might be a Pagan Christmas after all.

Today is also an observance for Bastet, Egyptian Goddess who guards over the ‘two’ lands—upper and lower Egypt. Remember, Egypt was once a whole land until the throne was ripped out from under Set and given to Osiris. A huge argument took place which ended in the decision to divide Egypt into the ‘two’ lands—one for Set and one for Osiris. Whichever one brought their land to prosperity, inherited all of Egypt.

Of course, I always thought that the ‘two’ lands could have also represented the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead, since Osiris did gain leadership of the Underworld—that world being just as important to Egyptians as the living one.

But we all have our theories.

 

 

New Pagan Books for December 2016

These are not book reviews, information on titles comes from author and publisher pages. We like to feature books written for and by Pagans, and books of likely interest, do get in touch if there’s something you’d like shared here.

Growing with Gratitude: a poetic journey of healing, by Janey Colbourne.

Gratitude is a most powerful force for healing. Whether it brings physical healing or not, it can be truly transformative in our lives. This book is the story of a healing journey told in poetic form. Janey shows us how her cultivation of gratitude transforms her experience of disability. Gratitude for the simple things in life carries her through the challenges of chronic illness and helps her to find the courage to face surgery. It is possible to find the source of inner healing, irrespective of the state of our physical health, and we can begin with the daily practice of gratitude. This book is intended to inspire you on your own path. Look around and see the gifts you have. The more you look the more you see, and the more you will create.

Buy from Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Growing-Gratitude-Poetic-Journey-Healing/dp/1539833100/

 

Pagan Portals – The Urban Ovate. The Handbook of Psychological Druidry by Brendan Howlin.

Presenting Druidry in an easy-to-understand way, making the concepts open to everyone. Pagan Portals – The Urban Ovate, continues the process started by Brendan Howlin in The Handbook of Urban Druidy by moving deeper into the life of an urban ovate.

Buy online – Amazon US Amazon UK Hive Indiebound

 

Hopeless Maine – a graphic novel by Tom and Nimue Brown

(yes, this is one of mine!) A young experimental occultist, a witch, strange magic, uncanny creatures, crows, and a haunted island. It’s the perfect book for the goth in your life, for the young Wiccanette, and anyone who still has a lingering desire to be Wednesday Adams (guys included).

More here – http://www.slothcomics.co.uk/hopelessmaine.html

 

Pagan Portals – Pan, by Melusine Draco.
Dark Lord of the Forest and Horned God of the Witches. Historical, mythological and magical insight into the god Pan.

Buy online – Amazon US Amazon UK Indiebound

 

 

 

 

 

Gods & Goddesses Colouring Book

Take a journey across the pantheons of the world and allow your creative energy to flow, colouring in images and mandalas for some of the most interesting and inspiring deities.

Buy online – Amazon US Amazon UK Indiebound