A picture is worth 1000 words, maybe more

evans-sacred-grove-fresco-complete

The ancient Minoans were a literate society but we can’t read what they wrote. Their script, Linear A, has yet to be deciphered. So how on earth can we tell how they practiced their religion? We may not have words, but we sure have a lot of pictures.

The Minoans were consummate artists. Their art style was more naturalistic and softer than the art of their contemporaries in Egypt and Mesopotamia. One of their favorite painting methods was the fresco: The artist paints the picture directly onto wet plaster on a wall or other surface, so when the plaster dries, the paint is locked into it. Frescoes are incredibly durable, which is a good thing, because most of the Minoan ones are nearly 4000 years old!

The image at the top of this post is the Sacred Grove fresco. It’s a small piece (usually labeled as a miniature) that was found in the temple complex at Knossos. And it depicts, of all things, a ritual being performed before a large audience on the west plaza at Knossos. Those stone sidewalks you can see angling behind the priestesses? They’re still there – you can walk on them today. It’s from artwork like this that we know the Minoans put on large public rituals, possibly mystery plays, for the public in addition to the private ceremonies they conducted within the walls of the temple complex. Unfortunately, we don’t know for certain what the ritual in the Sacred Grove fresco involved beyond what we can see in the picture. But we have other sources for even more detail, like this one:

This is the Hagia Triada sarcophagus, a rectangular box that was used for burial in late Minoan times. What’s so amazing about it is that Minoan funeral activities were painted on the sides. So we know all kinds of things about this aspect of Minoan spirituality: what kinds of offerings and sacrifices were made, what the priesthood wore, how the musicians accompanied the activities. That’s a lot of information from a painted box.

From Akrotiri, a Minoan city on the island of Thera (modern name = Santorini) we have a bunch of frescoes that show the puberty coming-of-age rites for both girls and boys. Here are some of the more famous ones:

We can see the kinds of symbols and objects that were important in these rites: saffron (picking it and offering it to the goddess), the goddess with her attendant monkey and griffin. Other frescoes from this same building show that blood was an important aspect of the girls’ rites (obviously) and some kind of ritual bathing was apparently important for the boys’ rites.

So even though we can’t read what the Minoans wrote (yet – I refuse to give up hope), we still know an awful lot about how they practiced their religion. When I look at these beautiful frescoes, I feel like I could reach through and touch the living, breathing people. Maybe that’s what the Minoan artists intended, to keep their culture alive forever.

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: January 28, 29, 30, 31

 

 

January 28—Thursday:

I am gaining new respect from the Norse and today is only once more shining example as to why. They are celebrating something called Upelly-Ah.  Scottish folk adapted this from the Norse, which means it will be going on in both cultures.

So what is it? Well it marks the end of Yule and what better way to do that with a huge slam dunk of a celebration? But you must do it right! And in order to send Yule off good and proper, a rowdy march must be sported through the town while carrying torches and a Viking Longboat through it’s streets. Afterwards, we will thrust the boat into the sea and burn it. (We have all seen that one in movies one form or another). Now the huge fire from that represents the old, dead year which has come to pass.

Less not forget that today is also the Runic Half Month of Elhaz—or rather its beginning.

January 29—Friday:

*sighs* what the Romans are doing today maybe something we need in our own day and age. the 29th marks their grand Festival of Peace. Dedicated to the Goddess Pax AND the Greek Goddess Eirene—both being deities of the same desire—PEACE. Pagans, I say light your candles this day and pray to either of these lovely ladies if Peace is in deed your wish for our crumbling world. Stir up some energy and manipulate something.

January 30—Saturday:

Well, now that the ‘whole’ peace issue is dwelt with, how about some fresh partying? Today happens to be the Festival of Sementivae Feriae in ROME. The whole shebang is to honor Ceres, their goddess of agriculture. Also Demeter in Greek minds, having been adapted into Rome during 496 BCE after suffering a brutal stretch of famine there.  During that bought of starvation, the Sibylline Oracles prophesied to Rome that the Goddess was urgently needed. Listening, she was embraced by the Roman people, but particularly worshipped by women in the way most Goddesses are—her rituals and rites kept secret to women so that Historians were unable to record them.

While Rome is insuring bountiful harvest, Egypt is celebrating the Day of Opening the Doors at Karnak. Karnak being something like the suburbs of Thebes and capital of Egypt itself. Many, many Pharaohs added their own touch to the temple at Karnak.

January 31—Sunday

Wishing January goodbye on this day….universally and by path of ancient, while the Eve of February or Eve of Imbolc, is among us and so is the Imbolc Festivals (ancient and new). Imbolc also known as Brigantia, spawns from the Irish definition ‘in the belly’ pertaining to the pregnancy of ewes.

This celebration will take place tomorrow between the Observances of Yule and the blessed vernal equinox. Our focus, as our ancestors focus, will be on the COMING OF LIGHT and the longing of days which comes about during spring. I say bring it on, bring it on….I am so over Winter.

Now interestingly enough, the Norse is stirring things up again, making today sacred to the Valkyries and Urd, Verdandi, and Skuld, who are said to sit by Urd’s Well under a Yggdrasil tree while determining the fates of men and gods.

But in Greece, we have a feast for Hecate—the Goddess of Night, the underworld,  of love and passion.  I adore Hecate.

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Interested in the days of the week?

Thursday belongs to the deity Thunor, also known as Thor, who is the God of Agriculture and Thunder.

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Thursday are Great for Dealing with Matters or Magical Spells & Rituals Concerning:

Passions & Desires—what do you want in your life?

Political Power—you can influence this for yourself or for what you desire on this day.

Speculating & Gambling—someone have a problem? Do you need help or luck?

Legal Matters, Treaties, Oaths—today is a great day to deal with these.

Harvests—perhaps you buy your food and this doesn’t;t matter to you but today you could make sure someone else has a good harvest. Maybe you could see to it that they have a meal for Thanksgiving?

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Thursday represents The Planet Jupiter and The Element of Fire

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Friday belongs to Frigga or Venus—Goddess of Love and Transformation.

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Fridays are excellent days to deal with matters or magical spells & rituals concerning…

Family life, friendship, growth, harmony, love, romance, passion.

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Planets & Elements

Venus and the element of Earth

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Saturday is the day of Seatere, Seater, Saturn, and Loki—trickster of the Norse Culture.

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Saturday is a good day to deal with matters and or invoke magical spells concerning:

A Gift of some sort, and or maybe something to do with your property?

Are you moving your home? Is someone else moving their home? Do you have matters concerning the elderly and or maybe you need to work on self discipline?

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Remember that Saturday belongs to Saturn and the Element of Earth.

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Sunday is all about the Sun God Hellios, Apollo, Ogmios and, Mithras or Phoebe: The Sun Goddess

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Sunday is a good day to deal with matters or magic concerning:

Your creativity—or be creative. Maybe someone else? How about matters of hope or personal money issues? What of victory, anything agriculture, perhaps healing, or a career? Do you have or need ambition and or most importantly, self confidence?

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Sunday represents the Sun and the element Fire.

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Wishing everyone a GREAT WEEKEND!!!

C.H. Scarlett

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