Tag Archives: ritual

Minoan Leftovers: What should I do with those offerings?

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In Modern Minoan Paganism, as in many other modern Pagan traditions, we make offerings to the gods. This is a practice that connects us back through time with the Minoans and other ancient people. Offerings are a way to show our appreciation and thanks for the divine in our lives, a way to show our devotion. Most of the time, we make offerings to specific gods and goddesses, though it’s also possible to set out items on your altar to the divine in general, the entire Minoan Pantheon (perhaps as a thank-you for getting to “meet” them) or nature or Mother Earth.

Sometimes it’s as simple as a flower laid on the altar or a stick of incense lit with a silent “thank you.” Sometimes the offering is a ritual in itself, perhaps a libation of wine poured into a bowl or outdoors onto the ground. Often, offerings involve food or drink, just as they did in ancient times. But that leaves us with a question: What should we do with the leftovers when it’s time to clean off the altar?

Obviously, if you’ve poured some wine or milk onto the ground outside, there’s nothing left to clean up afterwards. That stick of incense? Just sweep up the ash and you’re done. Wilted flowers can go in the compost pile.

But what about leftover food? It seems a shame to waste food, especially in our bloated, “affluenza”-ridden modern world where we already waste so much of so many things.

Let me emphasize that we don’t honestly know what the Minoans did with the remains of offerings that had been set out in shrines and on altars, in other words, given to the gods. So we have to decide for ourselves what we’re comfortable doing in our own spiritual practice. There are a few options here.

One is simply to consider that the offering has been “served” to the god or goddess in much the same way you’d serve food to an honored guest who comes to your house for dinner. You wouldn’t take food off their plate and eat it yourself, would you?

In this case, you would leave the offering on the altar for however long feels right to you: overnight, a set number of days, until the next full moon, or some other span of time. Then you’d dispose of it in a respectful way, doing your best to honor the Earth and the resources that went into making that food. I garden so most of my food offerings end up in my compost pile: They go back to the Earth to make more food. I prefer not to set food outside for the wildlife to consume, simply because many human foods are harmful to wild animals. If I lived in the middle of a big city and didn’t have, say, a worm composter on my apartment balcony, I’d probably just put the remains in the trash.

But what if your offering is something much bigger? What if you’ve dedicated a whole meal to the Ancestors or Ariadne or Dionysus? To me, that’s kind of like having a dinner in honor of a special guest: You serve them their portion of the food and you (and everyone else who’s there) gets to eat the rest. In this case, I would dispose of the remains of their portion in one of the ways I listed above. This scenario is similar to the feasts in honor of the gods that many ancient cultures held. Often, the deity was assigned a specific portion of the main dish, which might have been an animal that was slaughtered in a sacred or ritual manner. The Minoans appear to have built special dining shrines just for this type of occasion.

There’s a third option for disposing of offerings, one that was common in ancient Egypt and that I’m sure the Minoans knew about: reversion of offerings. The process is simple: You set out the food and/or drink offering, give the gods some time to absorb the essence of it (they’re not physical beings so they’re not going to eat the physical food, right?). Then you remove the food from the altar and eat/drink it yourself so there’s no waste.

In ancient Egypt, there was a specific set of rituals for ensuring that the gods were satisfied before removing the offerings from the altar. It’s a good idea to do something like that, say a few words and really listen to make sure it’s OK to remove the offering before you do so.

There is, of course, a practical consideration for reversion of offerings as well. You don’t want to leave the food out long enough for it to spoil. Fresh fruit will last for days and still be safe to eat, and a loaf of bread might last a while as well, but you certainly don’t want to leave meat or most cooked foods out more than an hour or two, for safety.

I’ve only tried reversion of offerings a handful of times with the Minoan deities. In about half of the cases, I felt very strongly that I shouldn’t remove the offerings and eat the food myself, so I didn’t. To be honest, I’m not entirely comfortable with this practice, since it feels like taking back a gift, but that could simply be my modern mindset. If you’d like to give it a try, there is historical precedent. Do let me know how it goes if you head down this route.

 

Regardless of how you dispose of your offerings, I hope you make plenty of them. It’s frequent interaction that keeps our relationships with the gods alive. And that’s a good thing.

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

A picture is worth 1000 words, maybe more

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The ancient Minoans were a literate society but we can’t read what they wrote. Their script, Linear A, has yet to be deciphered. So how on earth can we tell how they practiced their religion? We may not have words, but we sure have a lot of pictures.

The Minoans were consummate artists. Their art style was more naturalistic and softer than the art of their contemporaries in Egypt and Mesopotamia. One of their favorite painting methods was the fresco: The artist paints the picture directly onto wet plaster on a wall or other surface, so when the plaster dries, the paint is locked into it. Frescoes are incredibly durable, which is a good thing, because most of the Minoan ones are nearly 4000 years old!

The image at the top of this post is the Sacred Grove fresco. It’s a small piece (usually labeled as a miniature) that was found in the temple complex at Knossos. And it depicts, of all things, a ritual being performed before a large audience on the west plaza at Knossos. Those stone sidewalks you can see angling behind the priestesses? They’re still there – you can walk on them today. It’s from artwork like this that we know the Minoans put on large public rituals, possibly mystery plays, for the public in addition to the private ceremonies they conducted within the walls of the temple complex. Unfortunately, we don’t know for certain what the ritual in the Sacred Grove fresco involved beyond what we can see in the picture. But we have other sources for even more detail, like this one:

This is the Hagia Triada sarcophagus, a rectangular box that was used for burial in late Minoan times. What’s so amazing about it is that Minoan funeral activities were painted on the sides. So we know all kinds of things about this aspect of Minoan spirituality: what kinds of offerings and sacrifices were made, what the priesthood wore, how the musicians accompanied the activities. That’s a lot of information from a painted box.

From Akrotiri, a Minoan city on the island of Thera (modern name = Santorini) we have a bunch of frescoes that show the puberty coming-of-age rites for both girls and boys. Here are some of the more famous ones:

We can see the kinds of symbols and objects that were important in these rites: saffron (picking it and offering it to the goddess), the goddess with her attendant monkey and griffin. Other frescoes from this same building show that blood was an important aspect of the girls’ rites (obviously) and some kind of ritual bathing was apparently important for the boys’ rites.

So even though we can’t read what the Minoans wrote (yet – I refuse to give up hope), we still know an awful lot about how they practiced their religion. When I look at these beautiful frescoes, I feel like I could reach through and touch the living, breathing people. Maybe that’s what the Minoan artists intended, to keep their culture alive forever.

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: January 7

Lots going on in Ancient Egypt today, which happens to be one of my favorite cultures. I also think its fitting because this month is Women’s Empowerment Month here at P&P.

One thing Egypt has is very strong and empowered women. In fact, one of the things that I admired most of this culture was the fact that their women didn’t cling to any Great Gods to save them but rather took matters into their own hands and saved themselves.

We have seen a lot of Sekhmet and today is no different. Once again, because she is most deserving, she’s honored in Egypt. Sekhmet was not only testament to all women–being a strong warrior and protector, but she also brought the Dead cake and wine in the Underworld daily.

Also today in Egypt, there will be a festival of Isis. Now Isis was the Goddess of many things (why she is called the Goddess of a Thousand Names) but today she is remembered for being the Patron of Women, Children, Magic, and Medicine.

So on this day, whether you are Pagan or not, perhaps you could take some time to yourself…let your mind heal, so to speak and get in touch with your inner Goddess—the real woman that lives inside of you. Maybe you can see your children with new eyes and you’re importance to them. Remember that you are their protector and Patron. Remember that your love has the power to change the world you live in….because when it comes down to it, it is your world. Remember that magic isn’t divining tools and cauldrons but something that lives inside of you—energy. And that you can make anything happen no matter what the odds.

 

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: November 28th: Egypt’s’ 3 Fold, A Goddess Month and Runic Month Begins

Well it seems the Egyptians have triple blessings to celebrate on this day in our Ancient Calendar. A feast for Hathor and Sekhmet will kick things off, but also, they honor Ma’at.

~

Now while the Egyptians are doing their thing, the Greeks will once again be doing theirs.

Today marks the beginning of their Goddess Astraea. Yep, this is her Goddess month and we think she deserves it because Astraea happens to be the Goddess of Justice. We all know we need a lot of that in this world.

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Now while her month begins, so does the Runic half month of Is.

Is- ‘I’-ice.

This is a time of forced rest.  No movement, no growth. Just rest.

If you draw this rune in a spread, it means…

Isa:  A vertical line.

Normal: Winter has come upon you.  You seem to be
frozen in ice and can not move.  Positive
accomplishment is unlikely now.  A cold wind is
reaching you over the ice flows of outmoded habits.
Try to discover what it is that you are holding onto
that prevents the spring from arriving.  Shed the
outdated, and the thaw will follow.  It may be that you
have no control over the conditions causing the winter.
In this case remember that this is the way of Heaven
and Earth; winter follows autumn, but spring will
always follow winter.  Watch for signs of spring.

 

Source

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Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays : November 27th : Sacred Fleece & a Farewell to Cailleach, for now…

In Ancient History….

Today, the Greeks are having a Pompaia of the Sacred Fleece!

In classical Greece, a Pompaia was a formal celebration of rituals that took place in many cities and towns by tons of people—people being the key. In this particular one, many  would carry the skin of a sheep that had been sacrificed in honor of Zeus. As they walked together holding the fleece, a priest of Zeus would hold up a Caduceus (a staff of Hermes intertwined with snakes) and lead them onward.

Zeus was said to protect all those participating in a Pompaia.  This particular one was meant to drive away storms so that the newly planted crops would not be harmed or destroyed. However, there are other purposes for this day as well. One of them being evil. If someone had been doing lots of evil deeds and wanted to be purged from the evil itself, they could place a left foot on the fleece, and the fleece’s power would drain all the evil out of them.

The Goddess Month of Cailleach Ends today.

 

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Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: November 20th: A Greek Initiation and An Egyptian Goddess Linked to New Age Vampires

 

Today, Greece is holding a festival for Praetextatus & Paulina.

Praetextatus & Paulina happen to be the keepers of the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Today an initiation ritual would have been preformed by the Greeks and their Priestesses. That’s what the Eleusinian Mysteries are, initiation of the initiate, along with whatever celebration and ceremony that moment called for.

These mysteries belonged to Demeter and her daughter Persephone. These mysteries, not to be confused with lesser ones, were the greatest and most sacred in all of Greece.

In Egypt, we have another feast going on. This one is for Sekhmet—a goddess you really don’t hear too  much anymore unless you frequent Vampire communities online or, maybe, in life.

Vampires or those who are into that lifestyle, having their own reasons, have adopted this Goddess into their own personal pantheon, but in Ancient Egypt, no such belief existed *winks*—least not on this day of course.

On this day, Egyptians would have held  a huge feast in Sekhmet’s honor and homage paid to her Purifying Flame.

Her name means power or might. She sustains the spirits of those who have died by bringing them food in the Underworld.  If you are living, she would be important to you to as well. For if you have need of conquest, vengeance, or punishment for wrong doers, then you would skirt off to a Temple of Sekhmet.

Beginning as a warrior, she was all about protection. The Pharaohs’ depended on Sekhmet greatly for protecting them. It is said that her breath created the deserts.

Sekhmet (Sakhmet) is one of the oldest known Egyptian deities. Her name is derived from the Egyptian word “Sekhem” (which means “power” or “might”) and is often translated as the “Powerful One”. She is depicted as a lion-headed woman, sometimes with the addition of a sun disc on her head. Her seated statues show her holding the ankh of life, but when she is shown striding or standing she usually holds a sceptre formed from papyrus (the symbol of northern or Lower Egypt) suggesting that she was associated primarily with the north. However, some scholars argue that the deity was introduced from Sudan (south of Egypt) where lions are more plentiful.

Sekhmet was represented by the searing heat of the mid-day sun (in this aspect she was sometimes called “Nesert”, the flame) and was a terrifying goddess. However, for her friends she could avert plague and cure disease. She was the patron of Physicians, and Healers and her priests became known as skilled doctors. As a result, the fearsome deity sometimes called the “lady of terror” was also known as “lady of life”. Sekhmet was mentioned a number of times in the spells of The Book of the Dead as both a creative and destructive force, but above all, she is the protector of Ma´at (balance or justice) named “The One Who Loves Ma´at and Who Detests Evil”. Source

Links for further reading:

The Ecole Initiative: The Eleusinian Mysteries

Eleusinian Mysteries - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sekhmet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ancient Egyptian Gods Online--Sekhmet

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Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: September 16th: HARVEST MOON & ECLISPE!!!!!

I am publishing this one a day early so everyone has time to prepare!

It is Harvest Moon day AND we will be having a Harvest Moon Eclipse, around 12:45 PM, I think Eastern? Here is the Old Farmer’s Almanac link and a TIME, WHERE and WHEN to help you figure out your area.

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For Witches or those of the Craft,  those who practice Divination or anyone needing a boost with their fertility magics, make sure to hold onto to your seats and get ready for a super-powered punch because not only is today the Harvest Moon, but it’s also packing the punch of an Eclipse!

The Harvest Moon is Ancient & Pagan Calendars generally fall on the first full moon on or after this date (15th). With it being on this day , the 16th) and an eclipse to boot, well I’d say we are all in for a special treat.

For those wanting to be pregnant or use a fertility rite in other areas of your life, this is or was said to be the day that such magics could happen. It is said that more women conceive under the Harvest Moon than any other.

This will also be the FINAL eclipse of the Moon for the remainder of the year.

Quoting: It will be visible across Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. Those across North America and South America will have to wait until 2017 to see another eclipse. Source  : End Quote

The Harvest Moon originated in Europe, but also, it came from the American Indians because the Moon itself told them when it was time to Harvest their Corn. The light given from this Moon allowed and allows Farmers to work longer hours in order to bring in their harvest.  The Harvest Moon stretches across the globe into many Cultures. Even China.

This is a penumbral eclipse. That’s when the Moon, itself, travels through the outer edges of the earth within’ the planet’s shadow.  The Moon or part of it will darkened but not completely disappear. Some say this is when the Moon has the power of ALL Moons.  This is when the energies of the Moon, the Earth and the Sun all combine.

This is a great time to Draw down the Power of the Moon, or give honor to Lunar Goddesses and Gods. It is a fabulous time for healing or well, any sort of productive ritual—even the final completion of one- a time to harvest the benefits of all your hard work.

If you wish to increase your physic powers or use divination or strengthen your intuition, well, jump on the moon wagon. Tonight if your night!

This is a time for Dark Magic (Not evil, but Dark, as in how all life began, in the womb.) It is a great time for Sidhe magic and even connecting with the Otherworlds.

This is a time of the Crone. Think Hecate, if you need a mental aspect of that or Sekhmet of Egypt.

Egyptian Priests believed the Moon was the Mother of the Universe. What I think is particularly interesting right now is, we have just had Lammas, a time when the God (Sun) enters the Earth (the Mother’s Womb) where he dies in order to bring life to the Grain—where in spring, he will be reborn like the Grain.

With this Eclipse, the Moon (the Mother) will become one with the Earth (her womb) and the Sun (the Father & Son).

Moonstruck or moon-touched was said to be the doings of the Great Mother, who was picking out her chosen ones. Those who were moonstruck were described as “Silly” which happened to be a word that originally meant, “Blessed.”

Regardless of your intentions or needs, prepare for a powerful burst of energy that will affect all.

Get Ready!