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MYTHS OF CRETE & PRE-HELLENIC EUROPE

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Author Topic: MYTHS OF CRETE & PRE-HELLENIC EUROPE  (Read 5688 times)
Skinwalker
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« Reply #675 on: February 27, 2010, 11:57:54 am »

This Zeus cave on Mount Ida can be approached from the romantic plane of Nida or Nitha, which lies about 5 miles east of the central peak of Ida at an elevation of

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« Reply #676 on: February 27, 2010, 11:58:10 am »

over 3000 feet. It is about 2 miles long and ½ mile broad. The snow vanishes in the month of May. The secluded upland is then covered with fresh green pasture, to which shepherds drive their flocks, as did their ancestors in ancient days, when the grass in the lower valleys withers in the great summer heat. Yellow wild flowers of the buttercup variety are as thick in the grass as are poppies in some fields of corn. This fact may have given rise to the classic legend that the sheep which graze on Nida plain acquire golden teeth. Modern shepherds say that the pollen of the wild flowers does leave on the teeth
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« Reply #677 on: February 27, 2010, 11:58:23 am »

of their sheep a perceptible yellow stain. Travellers who have climbed up to the plain speak with enthusiasm of its cool, bracing atmosphere, and the clear starry nights of wonderful listening silence amidst the serenity and grandeur of the mountains. Ancient Cretans who worshipped their deities in such places must have experienced the feelings of awe and devotion that so profoundly impress the mind in lofty solitudes "far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife".
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« Reply #678 on: February 27, 2010, 11:58:33 am »

The practice of performing religious and magical ceremonies in caves goes back, as we have seen (Chapters I and II), to remote Palæolithic times, when the huntsmen dwelt in them, buried their dead in them, and in some drew figures of animals and demons or gods on roofs and walls. In Crete, caves were sanctuaries in the Neolithic Age. The cave of Skalais at Præsos, for instance, has yielded Neolithic as well as Kamares pottery. No votive offerings earlier than Middle Minoan have been found in the Dictæan cave. The lowest stratum begins with that period. Outside in the terrace deposit the Neolithic fragments were apparently deposited by water. What seems probable is that the Lasithi plain was a mountain lake in Neolithic times, and that it gradually subsided as its river found a
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« Reply #679 on: February 27, 2010, 11:58:54 am »



BRONZE IMPLEMENTS FROM GOURNIA

The group shown above was taken from a carpenter's kit which had been concealed in a house in Gournia. The implements include axes, chisels, adzes, nails, &c.
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« Reply #680 on: February 27, 2010, 11:59:08 am »

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subterranean outlet. For a considerable interval afterwards the cave may have been completely filled with water. If so, it was probably regarded as sacred on that account. Elsewhere sacred caves have invariably wells, and some of these are supposed to be possessed of curative properties. Drops of water falling from roofs are said to cure deafness, restore fading eyesight, and heal wounds. In these islands "wishing wells" receive offerings of pins and other objects, especially on May Day. Rags of clothing are
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« Reply #681 on: February 27, 2010, 11:59:19 am »

attached also to trees or bushes overhanging wells anciently sacred. This practice obtains in Crete as well as in the British Isles and throughout Western Europe. Writing at Aghia Triadha, Angelo Mosso has recorded: "Every day . . . I passed a curious tree covered with fetishes. . . . Near a ruined church stands an olive-tree hung with bits of rag which the peasants tie on the branches, hundreds of shreds of every colour, worn by rain and wind. . . . I asked what the curious decoration of the tree was, and was told that anyone who suffered from malarial fever binds it to the tree with a shred of his clothing, a
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« Reply #682 on: February 27, 2010, 11:59:35 am »

handkerchief, or a ribbon, and says a prayer, hoping to be cured thereby. . . . Witchcraft is common in Crete. Rags and dirty bits of stuff, into which the witches profess to have banished diseases, are constantly found in the walls of churches." 1 Here we have one reason why offerings were deposited in caves and thrown into the fire at Petsofa, near Palaikastro. The "wishers" affected a ceremonial connection with a sacred place to "switch on" the good influence and "switch off" the evil influence, which was negatived by being bound.
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« Reply #683 on: February 27, 2010, 11:59:50 am »

The "seven sleepers" of various countries lie in sacred caves. They appear to be identical with the spirits of vegetation, which slumber during the winter and return

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in spring. At the beginning of each year the Greeks held a festival which was called "the awakening of Hercules". The god returned, like Tammuz, from the underworld to bring fertility to the earth. Deities of this class were supposed to be born anew every spring. Mr. Bosanquet found at Palaikastro, in the Hellenic temple of Jupiter Dicteon, a grey marble tablet with the following inscription:--
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« Reply #684 on: February 27, 2010, 11:59:58 am »

"Hail, O great child, son of Kronos, omnipotent, who cometh yearly to Dicta seated on the hyena, escorted by demons. Accept the song which we raise to thee accompanied by the lyre and flute, standing round thy altar, O benefactor.

In this place the Cured received thee, O immortal child, from the hands of thy mother Rhea." 1
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« Reply #685 on: February 27, 2010, 12:00:10 pm »

Evidently the cave-god of Crete, whom the Hellenes identified with their Zeus, was supposed to awake from his underworld sleep each year. In other words, the Earth Mother gave birth to him in the mountain sanctuary. This young god is found associated with the goddess on Cretan seals. It has been shown in a previous chapter that there also existed a variant myth about a young goddess which survived in the Demeter-Persephone legend. At what period the myth of Rhea and her son was introduced we have no knowledge. It was possibly of Anatolian origin. The Phrygian Kybele-Attis myth is of similar character.
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« Reply #686 on: February 27, 2010, 12:00:21 pm »

It would appear that we have traces in Crete of more than one religious cult. But behind all the developed conceptions and imported beliefs lay, apparently, the background of primitive religion which the earliest settlers had brought with them and adapted to local needs. The oldest religious practices survived, no doubt, among the

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« Reply #687 on: February 27, 2010, 12:00:32 pm »

masses of the people, just as the practice of tying rags on the olive-tree at some spot anciently sacred survives at the present day.

The comparative study of Cretan religious symbols tends to show that, like the Pelasgians, the Minoans worshipped deities of the underworld-the "hidden deities" of Egyptian religion--who were "Fates" or "Disposers", and were originally nameless. That is, they worshipped the spirits of nature and the spirits of ancestors. These symbols include pillars, the "horns of consecration", and the double axe. Withal there were sacred wells and mountains and sacred animals associated with the "Great Mother" which were represented in symbols, as is shown by the evidence of the seal impressions.
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« Reply #688 on: February 27, 2010, 12:00:41 pm »

The worship of pillars seems to have been connected with the worship of trees and mountains. In Egypt it was believed by certain cults that the iron vault of heaven. was supported by two mountains. "Out of one mountain. came the sun every morning, and into the other he entered. every evening. The mountain of sunrise was called Bakhau, and the mountain of sunset Manu." 1 Another theory was that the sky rested on two pillars, and a later one, which obtained, however, before the pyramid texts; were inscribed, set forth that there were four pillars"--the pillars of Shu"--one at each cardinal point. The pillars in time were regarded as the sceptres of the gods of the four quarters. According to the teachings of the Ra sun cult, the cave-like openings which the sun entered. at evening and emerged from at morning were guarded. by lions, or the deities with lions' bodies and human heads which the Greeks called "sphinxes". The northern Egyptian lion-god was Aker.
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« Reply #689 on: February 27, 2010, 12:00:54 pm »

In Babylonia it was believed that the sky was supported

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by the world-surrounding chain of hills. Reference is made in the Gilgamesh epic to the mountain of Mashu or Mashi; that is, "the mountain of the Sunset". Its cave-like entrance is guarded by scorpion-men, or a scorpion-man and a scorpion-woman.
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