Tag Archives: Dionysus

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.

Midwinter, Minoan Style

x-knossos-throne-room-3

Minoan civilization lasted for a solid thousand years. As you might expect, their religion changed over that long period. Like their trading partners the Egyptians, the Minoans added new layers over time, creating an extensive and complex religious system that spanned the agricultural cycle and the calendar year. One of the sacred festivals that came later in Minoan times is the Winter Solstice.

In the earliest times, the Minoans celebrated the New Year around the Autumn Equinox, the beginning of the agricultural cycle in the Mediterranean – the time of plowing the fields and planting the crops, which grow throughout the mild winters in that region and are harvested in the spring. But eventually the Winter Solstice became its own kind of secondary New Year celebration. Instead of celebrating the cycle of the green growing things, it celebrated the ending and beginning of the solar year, which was embodied by Dionysus as the solar year-king who was annually reborn at Midwinter.

Yes, I know, Dionysus was originally an ecstatic vine-god, the spirit of the grape and the wine as well as a psychopomp for his people. But as I mentioned, the Minoans added layer upon layer to their religious beliefs and practices over the centuries. So the vine-god who died each year at the grape harvest in the late summer wasn’t considered to conflict with his face as the solar year-king who was born each year at the Winter Solstice. These were just two different aspects of a complex god.

Let’s not forget the other half of the Midwinter story. For a baby to be born, there must be a mother. For the Minoans, this was their great mother goddess Rhea, who was the sacred spirit of the island of Crete itself – their Mother Earth who rose up out of Grandmother Ocean at the beginning of time. Rhea has both a sacred birthing tree (a fir or pine tree beneath which she gave birth, with a star appearing in the sky above it as the infant Dionysus entered the world – this is also Dionysus’ sacred tree) as well as a sacred cave where she gave birth and where she hid her infant to keep him safe. Her sister, the goat-goddess Amalthea, nursed him while the Kouretes (probably originally a Minoan priesthood of Dionysus) guarded the cave, danced for the baby, and drowned out the sound of his cries with the clashing of their spears on their shields.

The Minoans didn’t have TV or movies, and most people probably didn’t own any kind of reading material, so their experience of religion came from public rituals and Mystery plays at the big temple complexes as well as their own private devotions at their home shrines. A few lucky people would have been invited to the Knossos temple complex to witness the Winter Solstice ritual there each year. It turns out, that chair in the “Throne Room” isn’t a throne at all, but a sacred seat where a priestess sat, playing the part of the goddess in rituals at Midsummer and Midwinter. At Midwinter, that seat (which was originally painted red) became Rhea’s birthing chair. The Midwinter sunrise cast a natural, magical spotlight on it as the infant Dionysus was born. That must have been an amazing experience, to be allowed to witness that ritual.

So each year, when I celebrate the Winter Solstice, I view our family’s Christmas tree also as Rhea’s birthing tree. And I look forward to the rebirth of the year-king with the first glimmers of sunrise on Midwinter Morning.

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: June22 : Gwl o Bardd ends and a bit about Pan

The Welsh festival of the Bards, Gwyl o Bardd, ends at Sundown.


72a46b2da6bbf2c8dc34beee95ac682a

A Greek’s life was fairly simple or at least the things that made life worth living were. Good food, great company, conversations and, well, sex. Lots of it. They loved it so much, they revolved every God or Goddess that they could around it.

Pan might be one of the perfect examples of that. He was basically a Greek rockstar. All he did was party from meadow to forest and he defintly didn’t do it alone. Like any rockstar, Pan has his own legend of groupies, called the Nymphs. That meant, any party Pan was at, so were his sex-crazed Nymphs. And that meant a party with Pan was the best of all orgies.


Pan was half man and half goat completely driven by lust. In fact, his image aided the stereotypical image of the Devil etch it’s ways into the minds of many during the Dark Ages to come. And although Pan was beloved of all Greeks, there were a good many superstitions and safeguards surrounding him, which makes sense, since he was one of their oldest Gods.

The word “Panic” actually came from “Pan’s” name. It was a cry he made, creating “Panic” that his enemies felt, a spell, if you will, that drained them of all their power and strength. Some sources claim “Panic” was what women felt if they were walking in the woods alone being stalked by Pan.

8105219985_349da2547f_ojj.jpg

Also, even though Pan was a God of the Shepherds, they were weary too and made sure to respect him. Because Pan partied all night, that meant he slept all day. Every Greek Herdsman knew to be quiet when wandering about the woods during daylight. No one wanted to wake Pan before he was ready to wake on his own.

Sometimes Pan was compared to Dionysus, claiming they were one in the same. Their Legends were certainly simuliar and Pan did take credit to sleeping with every one of Dionysus’s Maenads.

And since today, the Greeks would have been honoring Pan, let me also point out that even the Ancient Egyptians showed favor in him having a place called, The City of Pan.

Spartacus: Blood and Sand Season 2

While the second season of Spartacus: Blood and Sand has been postponed:

LOS ANGELES, CA—Andy Whitfield, who plays the title role in Starz Original series "Spartacus: Blood and Sand," announced today he has been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and will begin treatment immediately in New Zealand. Source

 

I wondered, how many knew that Spartacus was an actual person, or so legend says. Said to be a Thracian slave, he led an uprising against the Roman Government back in 73 B.C.

His wife was a priestess of Orpheus–Dionysus, and just like in the series, she had visions. In a dream, she saw the Orphic serpent wrapped around Spartacus’ head. This meant he would do great deeds and would die a hero’s death. And, alas, her prophecy was brought about when Spartacus led a revolt against the Romans, and even though it was soon brought to an end, he was given a King’s sacred death.

Pretty interesting, hu?

Wishing Andy Whitfield lots of healing and prayers. Here’s hoping he makes a speedy recovery!

C.H. Scarlett

www.chscarlett.net

Pagan Holiday for November 14th, 2009

 

Quick note: Well folks…it seems like the Pagan Holiday thing is a hit judging by the Readers coming to the blog. However, if you would like to see something added or if you like them the way that they are, please drop a comment and let me know. We love to improve or just let sleeping dogs lie.

Also, if you are not hooked up to our Twitter account and would like to know first hand when we post something on the Holidays or concerning any of the other FABULOUS topics our authors create, feel free to scroll to the top of the page—underneath our banner and sign up for our Feeds:

Entries RSS | Comments RSS —> lets see if those work.  I have my feed come right to my email client which is Outlook.

Again, thank you for the people who come and read everything our Authors write. This helps them do what they love to do…entertain and inform you with their words! So thanks for supporting us and giving us that chance!

Moving on to what you came here for…the holidays!!!!

 

Today is Saturday, November 14th, 2009

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

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?

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

Today’s Moon Phase:  Waning Crescent

Lots of stuff happening on November 14th:

 

The Celtic Festival of Dubricius

The Celts also made this day sacred to the Goddess Moccas

~

Druids Traditional Feast of the Muscians

~

Greek Festival of Oschophoria

~

Egyptian 3rd day of Isis

~

 

If we could hop a time machine visiting each of these cultures, this would be what we’d find….

We could watch  in Celts during their history as they celebrated by having a Festival for Dubriciu– who was said to have crowed King Author in Colchester. They would also be honoring Moccas by making this day sacred to her–a Celtic pig Goddess.

 

~

While the Celtics were doing their thing, the Druids were doing their own. Today they would be having the Feast of the Musicians which was a huge celebration in honor of Musicians and Bards.

~

Hoping the time warped fence into Ancient Greece, we would find them having the Festival of Oschophoria.

This would be a grand celebration. Why? Because it was all about Dionysus, the Greek God of Wine and Fertility. Oh he was a much loved and highly favored God to. I mean who didn’t;t envy a God who was known to walk the face of the earth with his own entourage of Nymphs, Woodland Spirits and Satyrs. This God was clearly the rock star of his day—I mean why wouldn’t he be? Everywhere he went vines sprung forth from the earth and there was peace and absolute happiness.

~

Now let’s take a peek into Egypt where we find the 3rd day of Isis. If you remember– two days ago began the journey of Isis in search of her husband’s body. Yesterday, she mourned for him, and today…oh yes, today Isis finds the body of her beloved Osiris.

That’s it for today folks and I guess that’s a good thing since so much is going on. So who do I drop off where? Who will be staying in Greece and who will be skipping over the Egypt? or maybe we lost a few in Celt-land or did they sneak off to stay a spell with the Druids? Never the less, join us tomorrow for another fabulous Pagan Day in History!

 

 

Want something to read further? Here’s some links I scooped up for you…

Dionysus – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dubricius – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Isis – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia