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Ancient Mediterranean Cultures => Minoan Crete => Topic started by: Gwen Parker on July 06, 2007, 06:23:21 am



Title: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on July 06, 2007, 06:23:21 am
"The Mistress"
PO-TI-NI-JA


The most apparent characteristic of Minoan religion was that it was polytheistic and matriarchal, that is, a goddess religion; the gods were all female, not a single male god has been identified until later periods.
 It is not easy to describe the nature of the mother-goddess of Crete.
There are numerous representations of goddesses, which leads to the conclusion that the Cretans were polytheistic, while others argue that these represent manifestations of the one goddess.

 (http://inanna.virtualave.net/snakegoddess1.jpg)


Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on July 06, 2007, 06:24:24 am
(http://ccwf.cc.utexas.edu/~perlman/myth/images/snakeg.JPG) (http://ccwf.cc.utexas.edu/~perlman/myth/images/snakg2.jpg)


Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on July 06, 2007, 06:26:15 am
Women in Minoan Culture

In Crete women played an important if not dominant role: They served as priestesses, as functionaries and administrators.

They also participated in all the sports that Cretan males participated in. The most popular sports in Crete were incredibly violent and dangerous: boxing and bull-jumping. In bull-jumping, as near as we can tell from the representations of it, a bull would charge headlong into a line of jumpers. Each jumper, when the bull was right on top of them, would grab the horns of the bull and vault over the bull in a somersault to land feet first behind the bull. All the representations of this sport show young women participating as well as men.
Women also seem to have participated in every occupation and trade available to men. The rapid growth of industry on Crete included skilled craftswomen and entrepreneurs, and the large, top-heavy bureaucracy and priesthood seems to have been equally staffed with women. In fact, the priesthood was dominated by women. Although the palace kings were male, the society itself does not seem to have been patriarchal.

Evidence from Cretan-derived settlements on Asia Minor suggest that Cretan society was matrilineal, that is, kinship descent was reckoned through the mother.



Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on July 06, 2007, 06:27:09 am
(http://inanna.virtualave.net/b30.jpg)


Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on July 06, 2007, 06:28:20 am
(http://inanna.virtualave.net/knossos010.jpg)


Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on July 06, 2007, 06:29:34 am
(http://inanna.virtualave.net/innercircle.jpg)


Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on July 06, 2007, 06:30:46 am
Religion in Minoan Crete

 Since their are only ruins and other remains from Minoan culture, we can only guess at their religious practices.
There are no scriptures, no prayers, no books of ritual; all we have are objects and fragments all of which only hint at a rich and complex religious life and symbolic system behind their broken exteriors.

The most apparent characteristic of Minoan religion was that it was polytheistic and matriarchal, that is, a goddess religion; the gods were all female, not a single male god has been identified until later periods.

The Cretans do not seem to have evolved either gender inequality nor adapted their religion to a male-centered universe. The legacy of the goddess religion seems to still be alive today. Both Greece and Crete are Greek Orthodox Christian. In Greece, however, only women regularly swear by the name of the Virgin Mary, while in Crete both men and women swear by her name, particularly the epithet, "Panagia," or "All-Holy."

It is somewhat surprising that none of the goddesses which are generally considered to be "old Aegean powers" as various forms of Mother Goddess (e.g. Demeter, Aphrodite, Artemis, Hekate, Britomartis) are found mentioned in later Mycenaean texts.

There is no figure which can be convincingly connected with the dove or snake goddesses familiar to us from Minoan art, nor is there any mention on the religious tablets of bulls, horns of consecration, double axes, or other common objects of Minoan cult apparatus. Part of the reason for this must be that the remaining texts are products of Mycenaean rule at Knossos, and Minoan cult may have been partially suppressed by the official religion of the invading Greek rulers.

http://inanna.virtualave.net/snakegoddess.html


Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on July 06, 2007, 06:32:17 am
(http://inanna.virtualave.net/ritualdance2.jpg)

Ritual dance


Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on July 06, 2007, 06:33:03 am
Mycenaean Names:

Atana Potiniya: the Idaean Mother of Crete

PO-TI-NI-JA Potnia (= "mistress")

A-TA-NA PO-TI-NI-JA Potnia Atana

DA-PU-RI-TO-JO PO-TI-NI-JA Potnia of the Labyrinth

E-RE-U-TI-JA Eleuthia (= Eileithyia, Classical goddess of childbirth)

MA-TE-RE TE-I-JA Mater theia ("Mother Goddess")  


Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on July 06, 2007, 06:35:08 am
(http://inanna.virtualave.net/minoan6.jpg) (http://inanna.virtualave.net/mionan5.jpg)

There are several goddesses which can be distinguish, though.
The first one we call "The Lady of the Beasts," or the "Huntress"; this goddess is represented as mastering or overcoming animals.

In a later incarnation, she becomes "The Mountain Mother," who is standing on a mountain and apparently protects the animals and the natural world.

The most popular goddess seems to be the "Snake Goddess," who has snakes entwined on her body or in her hands. Since the figurine is only found in houses and in small shrines in the palaces, we believe that she is some sort of domestic goddess or goddess of the house (a kind of guardian angel–in many regions of the world, including Greece, the household snake is worshipped and fed as a domestic guardian angel).

But the household goddess also seems to have taken the form of a small bird, for numerous shrines are oriented around a dove-like figure. Most scholars believe that the principle female goddesses of Greek religions, such as Hera, Artemis, and so on, ultimately derive from the Minoan goddesses.

(http://inanna.virtualave.net/minoan.jpg)


Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on July 06, 2007, 06:36:26 am
Her Role


 The head of the Minoan pantheon seems to have been an all-powerful goddess which ruled everything in the universe. This deity was a mother deity, that is, her relationship to the world was as mother to offspring.
 
The Snake Goddess


Represented by the MM III "Snake Goddesses" of the Temple Repositories at Knossos as well as by some of the later bell-shaped terracotta figurines of the LM III period, this particular goddess is usually considered to be a household divinity and interestingly does not appear on seals.
Mistress of Animals (or of the Mountain)
A famous seal impression from Knossos shows a female figure holding a staff and standing on top of a cairn or rocky hill. She is flanked by antithetic lions, beyond which are a shrine on one side and a saluting male on the other. A second seal from Knossos shows a capped female with a staff walking next to a lion, another pose of the same Mistress of Animals figure.

Goddess of Vegetation
Dominating female figures on a number of seals are often identified as deities.

 
(http://inanna.virtualave.net/minoan9.jpg)



Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: rockessence on July 06, 2007, 10:10:22 am
Boreas has suggested that the two snakes indicate two male lines, possibly East and West; Zeus and Jupiter.....as the Minoan period may pre-date both.


Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on January 03, 2008, 07:29:17 pm
Hi Rockessence, that would be my theory - that the Minoan Snake Goddess predates the entire symbolism of the snake!  The snake took on more nefarious connotatioms after the patriarchal religions came into being.



Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on January 03, 2008, 07:30:40 pm
(http://inanna.virtualave.net/c025.jpg)

Her Signs and Symbols

(http://inanna.virtualave.net/labrys1.gif)

 Double Axe:

Some large bronze examples of this, the most common of all Minoan religious symbols, were clearly used as tools, but miniature specimens in unsuitable and sometimes precious materials (e.g. gold, silver, lead, steatite, terracotta), as well as very fragile bronze examples (e.g. the gigantic specimens from Nirou Khani), must have had a purely symbolic function. 


Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on January 03, 2008, 07:31:32 pm
(http://inanna.virtualave.net/moontrans.gif)

Beeing a symbol of the moonphases.


Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on January 03, 2008, 07:33:20 pm
(http://inanna.virtualave.net/minoan7.jpg)

"Horns of Consecration":


These occur both as three-dimensional objects of stone or terracotta, often stuccoed, and as painted or sculpted representations on murals, altars, vases, seals, and larnakes. Typically they serve either as stands for a narrow range of other cult implements or as architectural crowning members on both altars and roofs. The original significance of the "horns" is uncertain. It has been suggested that they are stylized bulls' horns, a symbol of the moon's crescent.

(http://inanna.virtualave.net/b32.gif)


Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on January 03, 2008, 07:34:18 pm
(http://inanna.virtualave.net/cyboy0601.jpg)

Birds, Bulls, Agrimia, and Snakes:


Birds appear frequently in religious scenes and are usually identified as "divine epiphanies", that is, as manifestations of divine beings , although in some cases they appear to be an identifying attribute of a divinity rather than an alternative form of one. Other frequently occurring animals are bulls, agrimia (Cretan ibexes), and snakes. The first two often occur in the form of votive figurines and probably figured importantly as sacrificial animals.
The Snake may have been a prominent symbol in earth (or chthonic) cults, just as birds may have been in sky (or atmospheric) cults.


Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on January 03, 2008, 07:34:58 pm
Offerings



  Mentioned are a pot of honey, spices such as fennel and coriander, and jugs of oil. Wool, cheese, barley, and wine are possible offerings. Sheep are connected with the figure of Potnia, but not as offerings.

Human Sacrifice


 This type of offering is unique and has led to much speculation. It is known that there were such things as "slaves of the god". Consequently, most authorities have seen here the consecration of certain men and women to the service of a deity. However, other specialists argue that the offerings made are extraordinary because they were made for the specific purpose of saving the palace just before it was actually destroyed. The suggestion has therefore been made that the human beings mentioned as offerings were in fact human sacrifices.


Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on January 03, 2008, 07:35:44 pm
(http://inanna.virtualave.net/kernos.jpg)

Kernoi: These are simply ceramic vessels with multiple receptacles of the same shape, where such offerings as wine, oil, graine etc. could be laid.


Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on January 03, 2008, 07:37:38 pm
Cult Centers
   
The Minoans particularly worshipped trees, pillars (sacred stones), and springs. The priesthood seems to have been almost entirely if not totally female, although there's evidence (precious little evidence) that the palace kings had some religious functions as well.


 


Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on January 03, 2008, 07:38:55 pm
Caves



Caves were first used in Crete as dwellings or at least as habitation sites in the Neolithic period. Toward the end of the Neolithic, they also began to be used extensively as cemeteries, and such usage continued throughout the Early Minoan period and in some areas even longer.

(http://inanna.virtualave.net/caveofpsycho.jpg)

Cave of Psycho


Caves appear to have first been used as cult places early in the Middle Minoan (Protopalatial) period, at more or less the same time when the first Cretan palaces were being constructed. There may very well be some connection between the establishment of powerful central authorities in the palaces and the institution of worship in caves. The evidence for the use of caves as cult places consists of pottery, animal figurines, and occasionally bronze objects. Such objects are found not only in caves which had previously served habitation or funerary purposes but also in caves which had as their earliest known function the housing of some religious activity. In addition to artifacts, some cult caves contain large quantities of animal bones, mostly from deer, oxen, and goats and no doubt derived from some form of animal sacrifice.



Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on January 03, 2008, 07:40:11 pm
(http://inanna.virtualave.net/minoantemple121.jpg)

Women in Temple


One of the better known cult caves is the "Cave Of Eileithyia" near Amnisos, associated with the divinity Eileithyia on the basis of a reference in Homer's Odyssey. This cave is some 60 m. long, between 9 and 12 m. wide, and 2 to 3 m. high. Near the middle of the cave is a cylindrical stalagmite ca. 1.40 m. high which is enclosed by a roughly built wall 0.45 m. high. Within the enclosure and in front of the stalagmite is a roughly square stone, perhaps some form of altar.



Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on January 03, 2008, 07:40:43 pm
Peak Sanctuaries



These are cult centers located at, or just below, the tops of prominent local hills, not necessarily "peaks" on true "mountains". Such sites are characterized by deep layers of ash (without animal bones, hence interpreted as the remains of bonfires and not of blood sacrifices of some kind) and by large quantities of clay human and animal figurines.

Like the cult caves discussed above, the earliest peak sanctuaries date from the MM I period and most of the two dozen or more confirmed examples of such cult locales have produced material of this date. Moreover, the cult caves and peak sanctuaries are virtually the only sites other than the palaces themselves to have produced certain artifactual types.

Moreover, the large numbers of animal figurines found at the peak sanctuaries obviously cannot be explained in the same way, although these may have served as substitutes for genuine sacrificial animals or as votive pledges that such animals would be sacrificed elsewhere at some other time, since blood sacrifice does not seem to have been an acceptable practice at peak sanctuaries.

The two major peak sanctuaries so far excavated and published are Petsofa in eastern Crete (elevation 215 m.; serving the town of Palaikastro) and Iuktas (elevation 811 m.; just south of and hence presumably serving Knossos).

In MM III, an imposing building was constructed on Mt. Iuktas consisting of three parallel terraces, oriented north-south, of which the upper two at the west were approached by an east-west ramp at the south.

At Petsofa, a three-room building was first erected in MM III, again a long time after the sanctuary was first used. It is quite possible that these peak sanctuaries were visited only on special religious holidays, much as similar mountaintop chapels are today in Greece, since in many cases the sanctuaries are too remotely located to have served daily religious purposes.



Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on January 03, 2008, 07:41:35 pm
Shrine of the Double Axes at Knossos


Bench sanctuary located in the southeast quarter of the palace at Knossos. This tiny (1.5 m. x 1.5 m.) shrine was abandoned with its religious furniture in situ and is thus extremely valuable as a source for our understanding of Minoan religion at least toward the end of the Bronze Age. The room's floor area is divided into three sections at different levels. In the front (lowest) part lie several large vases. In the middle area, a tripod "table of offerings" is embedded in the floor, and to either side of it are groups of small jugs and cups. At the back of the room is a raised bench ca. 0.60 m. high on which are fixed two stuccoed clay "horns of consecration". In each case, between the "horns" is a round socket, presumably to hold a double axe such as the small one of steatite found resting against the left-hand pair of "horns".

Between the two pairs of "horns" were found a bell-shaped female figurine and a smaller female statuette of Neolithic type, perhaps a treasured heirloom. To the left of the left-hand pair of "horns" was a male figurine holding out a dove, while to the right of the right-hand pair were two more bell-shaped female figurines, one with a bird perched on her head. The last is often considered to be a goddess while the remaining figures are identified as votaries.



Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on January 03, 2008, 07:42:26 pm
(http://inanna.virtualave.net/b09.jpg)

Sanctuary Complex to West of Central Court at Knossos



Two pillar crypts of similar size (3.5 m. x 5.3 m.), both with a central pillar liberally incised with double axes on all exposed faces of each block.



Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on January 03, 2008, 07:43:48 pm
(http://inanna.virtualave.net/b11.jpg)


Throne Room Complex to West of Central Court at Knossos


Located near the northeast corner of the west wing of the Knossian palace, the "Throne Room" proper is part of a larger four- or five-room block which was apparently devoted first and foremost to cult rather than to the display or exercising of political authority.

Sources: Richard ****: Minoan Religion and Women in Minoan Culture
Lesson 26: Mycenaean and Late Cycladic Religion and Religious Architecture, Trustees of Dartmouth College 

http://inanna.virtualave.net/snakegoddess.html


Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: Gwen Parker on January 03, 2008, 07:47:22 pm
(http://inanna.virtualave.net/minoansnakegoddess.JPG)

(http://inanna.virtualave.net/demtorch.gif) (http://inanna.virtualave.net/mionan5.jpg) (http://inanna.virtualave.net/demtorch.gif)

Oh Atana Potnia
Mother of Old;
Holy Idaean Goddess of Crete,
Thou are the MA-TE-RE TE-I-JA.

To remember thee is
to remember the mother of all.

Thou are the mother and we are thy childs.
Thou hast created the universe after thy will,
The elements serve thy command,
Thou are the Mistress of the animals,

at hilltops we worship thee;
at springs we worship thee;
at caves we worship thee;

Oh Atana Potnia
Mother of Old;
Sacred Idaean Goddess of Crete,
Thou are the MA-TE-RE TE-I-JA.

Thy sacred essence shall never be forgotten.

Text: Roibin 99


Title: Re: the Minoan Snake Goddess
Post by: rockessence on January 03, 2008, 08:59:47 pm
Hi Rockessence, that would be my theory - that the Minoan Snake Goddess predates the entire symbolism of the snake!  The snake took on more nefarious connotatioms after the patriarchal religions came into being.



Hey there Gwen, long time...etc.

I believe the Bock saga info would indicate that the symbol was around long long before the arrival to Crete of those who produced the so-called "goddess" statuary.   Also, they would not have used the concept of god/goddess, but lived according to the "Eight Powers"