Tag Archives: Goddess

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.

Women in Minoan Crete: Equals or more?

knossos-ladies-in-blue
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.

boys-room-at-akrotiri
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.

Magical Moon: June 27th, 2016

78ec3f1d481ce3e75ae173aa9eb5686c

On June 27th, 2016, the night shall bring forth the Last Quarter Moon, otherwise known as the Waning Moon.

This, again, is another Crone Moon, which can be used for any magic of decrease.  (Remember, that the New or Waning Moon is used for magics of increase.)

While the New Moon moves from Dark to Full, the Last Quarter moves from Full to Dark.

This is a good time to banish things you no longer need or want in your life. This is also a great time to reverse anything you may need to rework or to end things that need put to an end, like friendships, projects, relationships with those who are toxic or for lovers that are no longer needed in one’s life.

This is a time of retribution and a time to thank the Mother for all that she has given us—gardens, blessings and gifts.

Magical Moon: June 12th, 2016

868a771cc1ec73cb1ff3eca651fcb9caOn June 12th, 2016, the night sky will gift us with a First Quarter Moon that is also known as the Waxing and Maiden Moon.

During this time, the Moon shall bloom from dark to full and it is a great time for magics of increase.

This means, this is a great time to invoke growth and new things.  Focus on bringing forth positive blessings into in your life, like luck and love.

Focus on the Maiden aspect of the Goddess. She is young, energetic, determined, fearless, renewed and full of life. She is just experiencing things for the first time, getting a sense of herself and of all things around her. She has a sense of unattached freedom and yet, she can feel her connection to nature as it flows vivaciously through her.

Pagan Book news for June

This is a spotlight on recent Pagan book releases. If you’ve got a Pagan title coming out and would like it mentioned in a future post, do please get in touch.

The Art of Ritual by Rachel Patterson

Hand fastings, baby namings, Goddess rites, Celtic tree celebrations, and other elemental rituals from a kitchen hedge witch.

http://www.moon-books.net/books/art-ritual

 

 

 

Pagan Consent Culture edited by  Christine Hoff Kraemer and Yvonne Aburrow

Druids, Wiccans, Heathens, Polytheists, and others show how to ground good consent practices in Pagan stories, liturgies, and values. Although many Pagans see the body and sexuality as sacred,

http://www.asphodelpress.com/book.html?title=pagan-consent-culture

 

 

Herbs of the Sun, Moon and Planets by Steve Andrews

Herbs of the Sun, Moon and Planets combines herbalism with astrology and explains how the ancient herbalists like Culpeper assigned specific herbs to planetary rulers. Various characteristics were used to decide what planet ruled particular herbs.

http://www.moon-books.net/books/pagan-portals-herbs-sun-moon-planets

 

Godless Paganism edited by John Halstead

Godless Paganism is the first ever anthology of writing by and about non-theistic Pagans.  The goal of the anthology is to educate others in the Pagan community about both the diversity and the depth of non-theistic Pagan practice.

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/johnhalstead

GWM – Fire

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We had fire today … I burned the huge heap. It was marvellous, took just a couple of hours and left me with excellent wood ash for the garden. And a fire for the Triple Goddess, Brighid at her season of Imbolc.

Elen Sentier

behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …

Wye’s Women Elen’s Books Rainbow Warriors

My profiles: FacebookWordPressYouTubeAmazonTwitter

Imbolc

Brighid's Flower

Imbolc is a time of new beginnings. For us Celts the new year begins at Samhain … and at Imbolc. Both. And/and not either/or. It rather like Schrödinger’s Cat, being alive and dead at the same time, or like light being both waves and particles.

The Celtic tradition can seem as confusing as the sound of one hand clapping … and for the same reasons. We work very happily in duality, as and/and.

The story-lore, the grammarye, tells us that at Samhain the crone, Ceridwen, opens her eyes and takes hold of her transmuting power. She becomes the guardian of the well of kenning, of nouse, and holds the cup for us to drink from over the season of Midwinter.

Then comes the snowdrops, the flowers of the spring, pushing their heads up through the frozen soil, holding the White Cup of Fostering upside-down so that all its goodness pours down onto, into, the soil, making it rich for the coming spring.

This is the way of it in the northlands, where the snowdrop flourishes along with the flourishing snow. This story is of the northlands. In the south, the Lady of Spring shows us things differently but always she comes forth with the life-energy of fostering at this time.

Imbolc fostering comes through the sheep’s’ milk for us here in the north. As the new lambs birth so the white milk comes, the new goodness.