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.