Tag Archives: History

The Minoan Controversy: Military or not?

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We know a lot about the ancient Minoans: their religion, their daily lives, their trades, even their cooking. But one subject remains a source of controversy in spite of it all: whether or not the Minoans were a militarized culture.

My purpose today is not to argue one way or another (though I do have an opinion). My purpose is to examine why so many people feel compelled to try to prove that the Minoans were a militaristic society. I think this issue says at least as much about us as it does about the people of ancient Crete.

This issue is related to the need many people have to prove that the Minoans had a monarchy instead of being ruled by councils or collectives of leaders. Sir Arthur Evans, the Victorian-era archaeologist who first unearthed the Minoan city of Knossos and revealed it to the modern world, was just sure that the Minoans had a king who ruled over them, just as his beloved British Empire had a monarch. Otherwise, he reasoned, how could they possibly have become such an advanced civilization? So he named the parts of the Knossos temple complex with terms like Throne Room and Queen’s Megaron. Those names have stuck even though we’ve figured out since Evans’ time that the huge building was an administrative and religious temple complex and not some monarch’s palace. But Evans couldn’t envision a world in which successful cultures arose with cooperative or  oligarchic structures instead of monarchies. And many modern people can’t envision a thriving civilization that doesn’t have a military and a desire for conquest.

When modern people look at ancient Crete, they see a successful society: wealthy, vibrant, worldly. And it makes many people profoundly uncomfortable to think that a culture like that could flourish without a military, without the thirst for blood and conquest. After all, in the millennia since the Minoan cities fell, human culture has been all about armies and conquest, generals and battles and taking what you want. Why should the Minoans be any different?

The thing is, if ancient Crete was different, if the Minoans managed to create their incredible civilization without a military, or with nothing more than a simple merchant marine to protect their trading ships, that means it’s possible to be successful without being a militarized dominator society. That means that militarization, institutionalized violence, and domination are choices, not inevitabilities. And that makes us accountable for the misery, hardship, and atrocities we’ve perpetrated in our own militarized societies.

This is why, every few years, someone comes out with a paper purporting to show that the Minoans had a military and were a warrior culture: We need to justify our own horrors. We need to show that we can’t help it, that wanting to dominate and take and kill is an ingrained part of the human condition and not a choice. We’re mirroring our own shadows in the history we’re trying to write.

Ancient Crete was no utopia, but it was an egalitarian society with a deep sense of the sacred. Instead of trying to make excuses for our own horrible behavior, how about we look to ancient Crete for ways we can do better instead?

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

Bread

In my part of the world, corn is ripening and it’s very much the time of grain harvest – a big part of rural life, pre-industrialisation. We’ve just passed Lammas (loaf Mass) the festival marking the start of the harvest. So, time to think about bread.

The theory goes that the first people were hunter gatherers, and that following the herds evolved into herding, after which came agriculture. Settling to grow grains led to both bread and beer – the two mainstays of culture and civilisation. It’s worth noting that ‘culture’ and ‘cultivate’ are words that belong to both agriculture, and society, and this is probably not a coincidence. ‘Companions’ comes from French, meaning ‘people who share bread’. The way of life we have, and the social structures those bring are very much about bread, and beer. Owning land, and storing grain creates power structures, the need for warriors, in a way that wandering about as nomads doesn’t. If the Gimbutas theory of a peaceful, goddess worshipping matriarchal society, replaced by a patriarchal, aggressive society has any truth in it, the transition from nomadic to agricultural would seem a logical occasion for this. (Academically unfounded as a theory, this, but very popular with feminist goddess worshipers and a powerful myth. I have mixed feelings about it.)

Once bread became established, it became the single most essential foodstuff and the core of most people’s diets. From all those Biblical bread references ‘man cannot live by bread alone’ etc through to the ‘let them eat cake’ response to a bread crisis… bread, and the availability of it, has been a key requirement for social stability and human comfort. The Romans kept their poor quiet with bread and circuses, and even now when there are so many food choices available, a threat of shortages will send people scrambling to buy loaves.

I wonder sometimes, how different the history of humanity would have been had we not embraced bread and beer as staples. Much of the countryside has been shaped by agriculture, and so much of our culture is informed by cultivation. Grain meant settled life, which in turn enabled ownership and a greater interest in dwellings. If you have to carry everything with you, then you can’t own much. I suspect that our whole idea that individual people can own segments of land has everything to do with agriculture. What kind of creatures would we have been had we not gone down this settled route of ownership and cultivation? What kind of societies would we have built? How much of our culture, the good and the bad, derives from this specific historical choice to settle.

Whatever choices we make into the future, we cannot undo the past and a long history that has shaped landscapes, communities, creatures and people to a remarkable degree. We can’t go back and choose differently. But it is important to remember that the way we do things now was not inevitable. There were other choices, and there still are other choices. With growing populations and wildly increasing demands, we are going to have to rethink ‘culture’ in every sense.

Next time you grab a loaf off the supermarket shelf, spare a moment to think about the weight of history in your hand. Bread has shaped the world as we know it. The choice of what to have for breakfast was always a momentous one, full of ethical implications. What does your slice of toast mean for the future of humanity? The most ordinary seeming things can be the most important and essential, and should never be taken for granted.

Ancient Calendar: The Norse give us Sunday, The Celtics give us Tinne: July 8, 2010

 

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The Norse step in today with an observance for Sunna, who happens to be their Goddess of the Sun. In many Germanic Traditions, she was called Frau Sonne and the day Sunday in their calendar, is actually named after her.

The Celtic Tree month of Tinne begins today, since Duir ended yesterday. Now I won’t bore you with my gibberish concerning Tinne because I actually found a very nice, neat, and well informative website on the matter. Whoever created this place, did more work than I could type up. Check It Out!

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Thursday belongs to the deity Thunor, also known as Thor, who is the God of Agriculture and Thunder.

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Thursday are Great for Dealing with Matters or Magical Spells & Rituals Concerning:

Passions & Desires—what do you want in your life?

Political Power—you can influence this for yourself or for what you desire on this day.

Speculating & Gambling—someone have a problem? Do you need help or luck?

Legal Matters, Treaties, Oaths—today is a great day to deal with these.

Harvests—perhaps you buy your food and this doesn’t;t matter to you but today you could make sure someone else has a good harvest. Maybe you could see to it that they have a meal for Thanksgiving?

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Thursday represents The Planet Jupiter and The Element of Fire

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C.H. SCARLETT
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www.chscarlett.net

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Book Review: Calen—My Soul To Keep by Rie McGaha

Title: Calen–My Soul to Keep Trilogy

ISBN 978-1-60592-038-2

Author: Rie McGaha

Author Site: http://www.riemcgaha.com

Buy Link: http://www.nobleromance.com/BrowseListing.aspx?author=8

Publisher: Noble Romance Publishing

Genre: paranormal, time travel, historical, contemporary,adventure

Length – # OF PAGES: 173

Other: graphic sex scenes

Card Rating: 4 Tarots

Reviewed by: Brew-Hilda

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About The Book:

When Calen MacLeod begins having dreams of an ethereal beauty who beckons to him, he passes it off as just having an itch he hasn’t scratched in a long time. But when he leaves on a journey to find her, following the directions she’s given him in his dreams, he begins to doubt his sanity. And when he finds himself high in the Mackinaw Mountains in a secret fortress with unicorns and a pink and white castle, surrounded by women, each one more beautiful than the next, it’s a fantasy no man would want to wake up from. Calen’s life would be perfect, but there’s just one thing standing in his way: a 500 year old demon intent upon destroying Arianna, Calen’s new-found love, and her entire world…

The Review:

When I saw the title to this book, I was slightly interested. It made me think of Queensryche’s song, Silent Lucidity. So with fingers crossed, hoping it would be as haunting, I then braved the blurb.
So the first line had me at hello. Anytime an author mixes ethereal-dream-fantasies, they have hooked me right away. I mean, who doesn’t want to leave stressful realities and take a gander at surreal ones? Dang, if your dream fantasy world is anything like mine then it’s a wonder we are not forcing coma by now. *winks*
So with deep interest, I started reading and I have to say it was very refreshing. Rie McGaha has something that seems lost in many books these days—actual fantasy that we can all relate to and the décor of words to prove it. I can’t see anyone not relating to this story or being able to put themselves in the character’s shoes.
Think about it…if you kept having dreams of someone who acted out some very intense fantasies, and then suddenly you had the chance to have them not just in dream but also for real…well who wouldn’t walk the path of Calen? Here’s to Rie McGaha who gives us fantasy and fairytale elements that adults can chew on!

Continue reading Book Review: Calen—My Soul To Keep by Rie McGaha