Ariadne, Dionysus, The Minotaur, and The Labyrinth are some of the names you may have heard of, and these are important aspects of Modern Minoan Paganism, a growing practice that connects ancient Crete with the modern world.

If you haven’t heard of Modern Minoan Paganism (MMP), you’re not alone. MMP is not an organization that promotes itself, and has no secret initiatory rites for people to talk about on Pagan chat rooms. In fact, it’s not even a tradition in the usual sense as you would expect.  MMP is an individualized Pagan path that focuses on the ancient Minoan pantheon, with each person practicing and worshiping in the way that works best for them.  

Who were the Minoans? They lived on the island of Crete, just south of Greece in the Mediterranean Sea, about 3,500 years ago. Their religious traditions started in Caves and mountain tops across the Island. The story of Theseus and the Minotaur, who braved the confusing Labyrinth to slay the monster then found his way out again by following the thread Ariadne gave him, was invented by the Greeks centuries after Minoan civilization had ceased to exist.

The Minoans weren’t even Greek, even though Crete is a part of the modern day nation of Greece. The Minoans were a pre-Indo-European culture that was part of Old Europe, the original inhabitants of the continent who came from Anatolia, now called Turkey.  The Minoans would not have even heard of Theseus, who borrowed the names from what they knew about Minoan mythology, and used it to explain how Greece was emerging from a Greek Dark age.

At the head of their pantheon was the great mother goddess Rhea, who gives birth to her son Dionysus every year at Winter Solstice in her sacred cave. In addition to being a solar year-king, Dionysus is the ecstatic god of the vine.

The Labyrinth wasn’t a confusing maze but a spiraling design with one sure path to the centre and back out again. As a Meditation, it is regarded as a spiritual tool for self-discovery.  The Minotaur does stands at the centre of the Labyrinth, but he’s not a fearsome monster, he’s a loving god, and believed to help each of us face our own darkness.

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There are many Minoan Gods to learn from, the Horned Ones in bovine, goat, and deer form (the Minotaur and Europa, the Minocapros and Amalthea, the Minelathos and Britomartis); the Melissae, ancestral bee-goddesses who help us connect with those who have gone before; Eileithyia, the divine midwife. Over the centuries, the Minoans added layer upon layer to their religion, very much like the Egyptians did. MMP isn’t a Reconstructionist tradition. We have no texts to work with that recorded the mythology and religion of the culture, and as we even can’t read Linear A, the writing system used by the Minoans to record their language, and contains mostly lists of inventory in there palaces. The early language of the (Mycenaean) Greeks modified Linear A to create Linear B which they used to write down their own language, so we know a little bit about the very end of Minoan civilization.

Much of what we know about the Minoans comes from archaeology. The rest is filled in by individuals, and we find a lot of commonality in places, where personal gnosis matches other people. Where our impressions reinforce what the archaeological record tells us.

We share and we discuss and MMP grows, slowly and steadily, one person at a time.

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