Category Archives: History

Everything written on something Historical.

Women in Minoan Crete: Equals or more?

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Ladies in Blue, a reconstructed fresco from the Knossos temple complex

One of people’s most common impressions about Minoan Crete is that the women were in charge, perhaps in the same way that men came to be in charge of later patriarchal societies. After all, that’s what most of Minoan art shows, right, women and goddesses? Well, that’s not exactly the case.

Sure, the most well-known pieces of Minoan art art the Snake Goddess figurines, but did you know those are actually pretty rare? There are only two of them. Yep, two. But they’re probably the most common, well-known emblem of the Minoans, so it feels like they’re everywhere. It doesn’t help that the Victorian-era archaeologists like Sir Arthur Evans found the topless Minoan women titillating (ahem) and took every opportunity to publicize any image they found of bare-breasted women from ancient Crete. So there’s a bit of a bias in terms of what the public sees compared to what’s really there.

If you actually look at the Minoan art we’ve found over the years, it turns out that women and men are represented pretty equally. I counted them up and shared that information in a blog post a while ago. And unlike art from the same time period in places like Egypt and Mesopotamia, Minoan art doesn’t show any single person, male or female, significantly larger than the others around them. There’s a certain equality in the art, no one lording over their fellow human beings, just people finding reverence and sacredness and joy in life.

A while back, a friend introduced me to the Smurfette Principle: The idea that women are “correctly” represented when there is a single token female in a large group of men. This is so common that most people don’t even notice it and generally consider that if there’s a single woman in the group, women are appropriately represented.

It turns out that this kind of social conditioning has interesting, if somewhat unpleasant, effects. When people are shown groups that are made up of exactly 50% women and 50% men, they interpret the groups as being mostly women. This is a cultural bias that most people don’t realize they have. Try it sometime – have a look at a photo of a crowd, guess for yourself how the male/female split goes, then actually count heads. I suspect you’ll be surprised at your response. I know I was at my own.

What I’m suggesting here is that our own social and cultural conditioning makes it hard for us to see what’s really there with the Minoans. When I actually counted up the representations of men and women in Minoan art, they came up roughly equal. That famous building in Akrotiri that has all the images of young women undergoing a puberty rite? The same building also has images of young men undergoing their own puberty rite, but those aren’t nearly as well known.

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Boys participating in a puberty rite, from Xeste 3 in Akrotiri

I’ve long been a fan of Riane Eisler, especially her seminal work The Chalice and the Blade. I can’t say I support Marija Gimbutas’ ideas of a single Europe-wide goddess cult or the Kurgan invastion the way Dr. Eisler does, but I love her characterization of cultures as either dominator or egalitarian in nature (or somewhere along the spectrum between the two).

We live in a dominator society, with men above women (though that’s changing, thank the gods) and certain individuals (first kings, then other kinds of elected and non-elected rulers) above the rest of the population. This is the box we’re in, and it’s hard to wrap our minds around other kinds of paradigms.

Like Dr. Eisler, I believe the Minoans were a largely egalitarian culture, which is a totally different box altogether. They didn’t have Big Rulers (or if they did, they don’t show up in the art, which is quite odd). They didn’t have a centralized government – each of the Minoan cities ruled itself. And in both religion and daily life, women and men were equal. But to us modern folks who are used to a Smurfette Principle kind of lack-of-parity, equality looks like rulership because we’re not used to seeing a real balance of male and female.

It’s true, the Great Goddess Rhea was the head of the Minoan pantheon, but she wasn’t an iron-fisted ruler like the later Greek god Zeus. She was the mother of the Minoans – the people and the gods and goddesses of that island. I suspect the Minoans considered her to be their ultimate ancestor. That’s a far sight different from a thunderbolt-wielding god who rules with an iron fist.

So yes, the Goddess held a place of high regard in Minoan society, as did women. But that doesn’t mean they were the dominators in the same way that men came to dominate later societies. Consider the possibility of a different paradigm, one of peaceable egalitarianism: The Mother loves her children and lets them grow into their own power as soon as they’re ready.

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

August 1st Lammas, Lughnassadh Sabbath Info, Recipes & Ritual

Those of the Ancient World and Present Day Pagans share an event known as, Lammas, or, Lughnassadh. It is a Sabbath on August 1st, when God enters the Earth, sacrificing his body to become the Grain or Corn. Please note, while I may use “Grain” below, it may also be interpreted as “Corn” for both were very important – then and now.

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It is the first Harvest when the God of the Sun marries the Goddess of the Earth, relinquishing his former existence and essence so that he may rule the Underworld as Lord of Shadow.

Mabon, (Autumn Equinox) will be your second harvest and Samhain, the third. All good things come in threes.

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This belief has survived throughout the Ages from one Culture and Religion to the next. Some, who blend Christianity with Paganism or recognizes the link from one to the other, may think of Christ, when he died upon the cross, giving up his flesh to become something more spiritual, passing from one life to his next. Christ was said to give his blood to wash away sin while the Pagan God gave his to offer life after death and to the grain, blessing a life-giving Harvest.

The grain is represented by the God and vise versa.  It represents the cycle of life – a reflection of us all.

The season has begun it’s coming to an end, as life eventually comes to an end. But while the grain dies in the field, is it lost to us forever?

No. The grain relinquishes it’s seed and when joined with that of Earth, holds a promise of rebirth—renewed life.

As the God dies and joins with the earth, entering her for their sacred marriage, he will one day be reborn from Mother Earth, anew.

So is the same for us all.

Our Ancestors used bread to commemorate this holiday. Present day Pagans, whether they are Practitioners of Rituals or not, may also use bread.

If you are one to use Rituals, I have one listed below. If you are not one for Rituals but want to do something to mark the occasion, then my suggestions is to either make or buy a bread that is made up of grains, cracked wheat – the healthier stuff. You can also use corn, corn bread, etc.

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If white is all you have, I am sure your Deity will be forgiving, but if at all possible, a more natural food would be best.

Incorporate it in a family meal or a supper of one. Simply bow your head asking that the God, Goddess (insert your deity) bless the bread and grain.

This is a time to say thanks for all the blessings in your life and for all the blessings to come.

It is a time to enjoy the fruits of your labors or a time to see your efforts pay off and come to form.

Rituals & Recipes

Dancing is often seen and done in the old world and new. Twirling, spinning, dancing around a fire represents the sun (fire) and the constant orbit we make around it. The sun passing through seasons, moving and changing.

A song or chant to do, whether round a fire or candle flame can be found in a book called, Grimoire for the Green Witch, by Ann Moura. This is just a shortened version…

Clap or ring a bell three times:

I celebrate the Day of the First Harvest, the Festival of Bread and the Marriage of the Sun and the Earth.

Then Sing or Chant while dancing in circles:

Dance, dance, wherever you may be;

When you dance with the Lord, He will dance with thee.

Turn, turn, a Circle then you form;

And the Lord of the Dance is the Lord of the Corn!

Raise arms, sing and chant:

Down, down, into the Earth He’ll go;

Giving life to the grain that in Spring we sow.

He rules the Shadowland till Yule;

When His Sun is reborn and He joins us anew!

My Own Personal Molasses Bread Recipe

 

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Ingredients

1 & 1/2 cups of boiling water

1 cup of rolled oats (If you can’t find “rolled oats” go ahead and use steel cut or rough cut oats. I wouldn’t do instant, though. They won’t hold their texture. )

1/3 cup vegetable shortening (If you have lard that you made, go for it.)

2 packs of active dry yeast (I used a fast yeast and it worked great for me.)

1/2 cup of warm water

1/2 cup of Molasses (The first time I did this, I used homemade Molasses. Was great. Second time, I used store bought. I wasn’t wild about it. You can, however, replace this with Raw Honey if you want.)

2 eggs, beaten

2 teaspoons of salt

Butter (Enough to brush the tops and the inside of your bread pans.)

6 & 1/2 cups of unbleached flour (I used 3 & 1/2 cups of whole wheat/ whole grain flour.)

Directions

+ Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 8 & 1/2 inch loaf pans.

+ In a large bowl, mix the boiling water, oats and shortening. Set this to the side and allow the shortening to melt.

+ While that’s going on, in a small bowl, mix together your warn water and yeast.

+ Now, go back to the Shortening – Oats- Boiling Water mixture and add your Molasses or honey. Stir in the eggs and salt.

+ Add the yeast mixture and 3 cups of your flour. Beat the batter until its all well blended and smooth.

+ Start adding the rest of the flour, slowly. You may not need all of the left over flour.  So add it little by little. Once it pulls from the sides, throw it onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until the dough becomes elastic and springs back when you poke it. Knead for about 8 or so minutes.

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+ Form it into a ball and put it in a greased bowl. Place plastic wrap and a towel on top and let the dough rise for an hour.

+Once it has risen twice it’s size, throw it back onto a floured surface and punch it down. Divide it into three pieces. Lightly knead and shape each one and place it into the bread pans. Put a towel over them and let them rise again for 45 minutes. When they have risen to the tops of the pans, bake in the oven for about 40 minutes until golden brown. Slide from the pans, brush the tops with butter and then let cool.

Tips:

For easy slicing, wrap the cooled bread loaves with plastic wrap and toss into the fridge. Once the bread is chilled, you can easily slice with a jagged edged knife without the bread bending or squishing.

Golden Sweet Cornbread

Recipe By: bluegirl

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spray or lightly grease a 9 inch round cake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk and vegetable oil until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: July 15th: Norse Tree Goddess, Sowing Festival & Ides

Did you know the Norse had a Goddess of the trees named Rowana? Today is sacred to her or would have been in our Ancient Calendar. Rowana was also said to be the patron of the Runes and all their knowledge.

 


In Ancient Greece, today would have been called Scirophoria, which was a festival for the Goddess Athena. Known as a sowing festival, where the Priestesses of Athena would stroll along underneath a sciron—which was a large umbrella type parasol.

 


In Rome, they marked their calendars because today was the Ides of July.

 


 

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: July 11: A Vegetarian Goddess, Cronus Rises & Falls & a New Goddess Month Begins

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Here’s a bit of interesting history for everyone, that I, myself, had absolutely no clue about. Apparently, Vegetarianism is not a new deal and was alive and well in the Ancient World. In fact, Vegetarians had their own Goddess, or so saith the Greeks, who called her by the name of, Theano.

Theano was the wife of, Pythagoras. This Goddess added to the wonderful world of Mathematics. She is credited with having discovered the concepts of the Golden mean, ratio, and rectangle. And while the Greeks are honoring her on this day in Ancient History, they would have also had a festival for their God Cronus and the Goddess Rhea.


Cronus was a Titan. A Ruling Titan, that is, who took his throne by whacking off the unmentionable of his Father, Uranus. I’m sure castrating ones father had some sort of Greek symbolic meaning to it or perhaps the act alone was just blunt enough.

Rhea was the wife of Cronus and their children became the first Olympians. However, being a bit paranoid that his own flesh and blood may do unto him as he did unto his own father, Cronus began to devour each of his children the moment they were born. Having enough of that, Rhea acted like any Mother would and devised a plan to stop her husband’s cannibalism. The moment she gave birth to Zeus, she saved the child by tricking Cronus into eating a rock instead.

Thus comes the story of Zeus eventually defeating his Father Cronus and all of the other awful Titans. Showing Cronus a kinder fate than what he offered his offspring, Zeus banished them to the Underworld. That was not the end of Cronus, of course. No, like any great and powerful force, he learned how to skip town and change his name a few times….furthering his reign and legend.


AND THE GODDESS MONTH OF KEREA BEGINS.




 

Women, Healing & Lore: Holly

Holly

Since today’s Ancient Calendar marks the season of the Holly King, (Read Here), I thought, what could be a better opportunity than right here and now to delve deeper into the folk medicine and lore of something we are all somewhat familiar with.

Holly actually has quite a few nicknames. For the Celtic Tree Month, we know it by Tinne, but it is also called, Christ’s Thorn, Bat’s Wings, Holm Chaste, Hulver Bush, Aquifolius and Hulm. It’s proper name would be quite the tongue twister, Ilex aquifolium or I. Opaca.

Here in the mountains, we know it as Holly and it’s something that stretches as far as landscaping to the table and wreaths inside our homes. And while today, most of us are oblivious to it’s true history or purpose, not so long ago, those dead and gone from these mountains, knew it all quite well.

While present day Pagans might plant Holly by the front door for protection, it wasn’t much different in times of old. Not only did people believe that Holy warded off evil spirits but they also believed it kept them safe from lightning, dark sorcery and poison.

People used to make something called, Holly Water. Was this the origins of “Holy Water”? They would make Holly Water by infusing water with Holly. This was used to protect babies, especially when they were first born, by sprinkling a few drops of the water upon their heads, much like baptism.

Holly was deemed so powerful, when thrown at wild animals, people believed it made them lie down and grow silent.

It was carried by people for luck – especially by men– and hung around the home at Yule for an extra dose of something special.

According to, Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Herbs, there was even a special ritual surrounding Holly. It had to be done on a Friday after Midnight, but if someone gathered nine Holly Leaves (from a smooth plant) and wrapped them in a white cloth created nine knots, then they could sleep with it under their pillow– making their dreams come true.

Medically, the leaves, berries and bark is used. The berries are actually harmful to people. Animals, however, love the Holly Bush. Deer eat them during winter. Birds feast on the berries and for those who keep rabbits, a stick placed in a rabbit hut, will give them something to gnaw in order to restore their appetites. A tonic, if you will.

In olden times, Holly was used to treat smallpox, pleurisy, fevers, rheumatism, and catarrh. It’s leaves were used in tea and because of it’s tannins, it is known as a good blood purifier, diuretic and was also, highly revered as a diaphoetic (which made it good for fevers and such).

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Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: July 7: A Slave Saves Rome & a Farewell to Duir

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Once Upon a Time, very, very long ago, Rome was defeated by Gauls. Just like all wars coming to an end, those who win have demands. Gaul demanded that all the women of Rome be given over to them. All Noble Women, that is. You can just imagine what Gaul would have done with them.

Having no other choice, Rome was about to hand their women over, until a Roman slave named, Tutula, also known as, Philotis, offered a better and most clever solution. Instead of sending the noble ladies of Rome off into the mercy of Rome’s enemies, why not send slave girls? Tutula, with all her wisdom, suggested that Rome dress up the slave girls to look like Noble women. This would give Rome time to forge further plots and plans against Gaul….

Once inside the camp of Rome’s enemy, the slave women worked their charms by making the soldiers very happy and very, very drunk. The Gaul men passed out and as they did, Tutula gave the signal to the Roman soldiers hiding ever-so-patiently within the surrounding darkness.

Because of the wisdom and skills of a slave named, Tutula, Rome was able to flip the tables on a war thought to have been lost.

Because of that night and what Tutula did, today would have been known as Nonæ Caprotinæ–the second of two festivals. While Rome would celebrate the very event Tutula helped shape, Noble Women and Slaves were free to eat, make merry and celebrate together.

Tonight’s festival would also honor the Goddess Juno. Romans would also have another festival on this day that was also important to the Harvests, called Consulia, honoring the god of the earth, Consus.

Interestingly enough, Consus’s alter, which stood at the, Circus Maximus, was kept covered with earth all year long except for three days. After uncovering it today, they would have had chariot races, a Roman festival of Handmaids, or otherwise known as, the maid’s day out, and many other celebrations to make the people of Rome very happy and to honor a God, which Rome depended on for food, etc.

Also in Roman calendar, today would have been the Nones of July.

On another Ancient note, the Celtic tree month of Duir ends today. To read more about this month, check out: Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: June 14th: Physical & Symbolic Doors to New Things and Other Dimensions, New Runic Half-Month, A Son of Odin and an Epic Song of Muses

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: July 6th: A Tale of Two Religions

 

 

Rome offers up a very historical remembrance for the Emperor Flavius Claudius Julianus. He was born in the year of 331 and died in 363 BCE.

Now interesting thing about Flavius….

We all know how Constantine basically sold the soul of Rome when converting the empire over to Christianity, yes? Before then, Rome had a Freedom of Religion type deal. Their modo—everyone believe in their own Gods and Goddesses, and well, just get along. And we all know what Freedom of Religion is….we supposedly have it now. Only now a days, most people scream they want it, but are only tolerant if YOU freely believe in THEIR religion lol. Somewhere in history, I think we lost the point.

Anyway, before Constantine died,  Roman General Flavius raised his legions and refused to obey Constantine’s dictates, nor convert to anything that wasn’t Pagan. Flavius’ stand was so backed by the people, that he was made the new Emperor, and Rome would have been faced with an ugly Civil War IF Constantine had not died.

His rejection of Christianity in favour of Neoplatonic paganism caused him to be called Julian the Apostate–Source Wikipedia

Flavius’ rule may have been brief but it was certainly an interesting one. Although rumors could be just gossip, they filled his short reign with colorful tongues.

Some sources claim that he believed himself to be the reincarnation of Alexander the Great, while other sources claim that he sprinkled blood on all the food so that Christians would not eat it—hoping to starve them all to death.

One fact remains, though….and that’s proved by the way he died. He certainly had no fear. When he passed, it was during a battle with Persia, and history claims that the man was so confident and convinced of his own victory, that he refused to wear any armor.

SO on this day in Roman history, and now today thanks to the Ancient Calendar, we remember Flavius Claudius Julianus of Rome.  Thank you Flavius, for attempting to bring back what we lost…and are still struggling to hold onto.