Category Archives: The Goddess/Goddesses

The Minoan Pantheon: Deities A-Plenty

La Pariesienne Evans

Most people have heard of Ariadne, Dionysus, and maybe the Minotaur, but there’s more to the Minoan pantheon than just those three. Here’s a quick rundown of the gods and goddesses we relate to in Modern Minoan Paganism.

Please note that, although Theseus is well known from the Greek version of the story of Ariadne, the Minotaur and the Labyrinth, he’s not a part of the Minoan pantheon. He’s a Greek culture hero (the Minoans weren’t Greek) whose purpose was to show the Minoans in a negative light. Many cultures have created this kind of propaganda via mythology. The Greeks aren’t alone by any means, and for all we know, the Minoans might have done it, too, though we can’t yet read their writings to be sure. Find out more about the origin and nature of the Theseus myth here.

Here’s the Minoan pantheon as we currently experience it within Modern Minoan Paganism. Some people focus on just one or two deities and some like a big party. 🙂 Whatever works for you is just fine.

Posidaeja – Grandmother Ocean who surrounds the beautiful island of Crete, one part of the Land/Sea/Sky goddess triplicity

Rhea – Mother Earth; her body is the island of Crete itself; her womb is the cave on Mt. Dikte (or maybe it’s the one on Mt. Ida – in fact, Ida may have been one of Rhea’s names). She’s the Land portion of the Land/Sea/Sky triplicity.

Ourania – Great Cosmic Mother-of-All, embodied in the starry night sky. She’s the third member of the Land/Sea/Sky triplicity.

Ariadne – Rhea’s daughter, Queen Bee, Lady of the Labyrinth. She figures prominently in the story behind the Minoan precursor to the Eleusinian Mysteries. You can find a lovely version of that tale in Charlene Spretnak’s book Lost Goddesses of Early Greece.

Dionysus – shamanic god of wine and other intoxicants that allow communication with the Underworld. All types of fermentation and hallucinogens are sacred to him, as are ecstatic states.

Zagreus – “The Dismembered One.” Shamanic bull-god who may be an aspect of Dionysus.

Ananke/Arachne – goddess of fate and destiny; possibly an aspect or “job title” of Ariadne.

The Melissae – ancestral bee spirits; Ariadne is their Queen

The Horned Ones – three pairs of animal deities that may go back as far as Neolithic Crete.

Britomartis/Diktynna – deer goddess, connected with Mt. Dikte, later also associated with the sea thanks to some linguistic confusion

Minelathos – the sacred stag, consort to Britomartis

Amalthea – goat-goddess associated with Dionysus and the Minocapros; sometimes described as Rhea’s sister or twin

Minocapros – the sacred goat, associated with Dionysus, consort to Amalthea

Europa – the great Moon-Cow whose milk spurted to create the Milky Way; generally considered to be a doublet (pair or twin) of Pasiphae

Minotauros – the sacred moon-bull, consort to Europa; also associated with the Labyrinth (but I promise, he’s not a monster)

Aega – goddess of the Aegean Sea

Helice – willow goddess; sister or twin of Rhea

Eileithyia – divine midwife; you can still visit her sacred cave near the north coast of Crete

Minos – triple Moon god, judge and protector of souls in the afterlife, healer

Daedalus – smith god; the Minoans were a Bronze Age culture so he would have overseen the smithing of bronze, silver, and gold, but not iron.

Asterion – name meaning ‘starry one’ and applied to several related figures in Minoan mythology: Minos’ father or foster-father (if he’s the father – and the Hellenic Zeus isn’t – then Asterion may be another name for Dionysus); the Minotaur (Karl Kerenyi supported this view); Europa’s consort (but apparently not the same as the Minotaur). It’s not clear whether any or all of these were originally the same figure in the Minoan pantheon.

So there you have it: plenty of choices. Obviously, there’s way more to these deities than just the few sentences I’ve offered here. So if any of these gods and goddesses call to you, it’s worth your time to answer that call. Sure, you can do some research, but what’s equally important is connecting with them directly yourself. Invite them into your sacred space, your rituals, your life. You’ll be the richer for it.

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

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.

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 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.




 

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 2: Feast of Expectant Mothers

 

 

In ancient Roman calendar, today would have been the Feast of Expectant Mothers . Pregnant women of Rome would go to their favorite temples on this day to pay homage to their favorite Goddess of fertility.