– Goddess of
Sacred Symbols – labrys, bull horns, snake, poppy,
breasts, caves, nature
Sacred Foods – opium, olive oil, wine, grain, honey
Colors – white, red, black
Seasons – all
Aspects of Life – birth, childbirth, death, love. She is also connected to ecstatic dancing and art, especially pottery, faience, weaving and painting. Favored patterns in Cretan art included spirals and life-like studies of plants, marine life and animals.
Animals – snake, dove, bull, dolphin, bee, octopus
Elements, Rocks, Metals – clay, shells, gypsum, gold, earth and water
Flower – poppy, trees
“Out of the dark blue
sea there lies a land
Map of the
Crete is a
Mediterranean island now part of
The island’s highlands
are excellent for
growing sheep and goats and the lowlands, including the massive plain,
grow cereals, beans, olives and grapes. The
island currently grows citrus fruits, but these would not have excited
"Artist's rendering of Knossos"
"Used with permission of Random House, copyright The Bodley Head."
"Artist's rendering of Knossos"
found evidence of
people settling on
The early people bred sheep and goats, cultivated crops and fished. They lived in mud brick houses. Gradually, they began to make pottery and spin and weave cloth. (1, p.13)
Ancient Cretan history
is divided into two
significant parts, Minoan and Mycenaean.
The term Minoan is a misnomer, getting its origin from King
about him later).
During the Pre-palatial
period (from 2600
to 2000 B.C.), the people did metalwork with copper, bronze, silver,
gold. The indigenous Cretans lived
the island flourishing in the arts and traveling the seas, trading with
Minoan women are depicted in art with white skin, the men with red. The women are bare breasted, as are statues of the Goddess. They wore flounced skirts, corsets and jewelry. Minoan men wore a kilt and high leather books. They did not wear jewelry except some had a signet ring. (1 p.21)
Minoans also practiced
physical game called ‘bull leaping’ where both men and women leapt over
backs of bulls. Given the importance of
bulls in Minoan art, it is probably safe to conclude that bull leaping
important part of ritual celebrating the cycle of life.
There is a surviving fresco depicting bull
leaping with a woman ready to leap. As
she stands in front of the massive animal, I can easily see where the
“grab the bull by the horns” originated.
And today, in
Up until 1600 B.C., the
their dead with some possessions, pottery and their seals.
A man would have his tools/weapons, a woman
her jewelry. The dead were trussed into
a fetal position and buried in round stone communal tombs.
They did not practice cremation. (1, p.23)
Experts think that at
some point near 1450
B.C. the Mycenaeans, from mainland
By the time Homer wrote the Odyssey, the Cretan civilization had been reduced to oral histories and ruins, the people living in poverty compared to their previous state. (1, p.17)
Classical Greek mythology is full of Cretan references. There are the several myths surrounding Minos, a possible King or title of several Kings, including his claim to rule
GODDESSES CONNECTED TO
Britomartis - the
goddess of mountains and
hunting, she is also known as Diktynna and Aphaea.
Myth tells us she was Zeus’ daughter. King
Minos relentlessly pursued her. Attempting
to escape Minos’ advances, she
ultimately threw herself off a cliff and was caught by the nets of
fisherman. Artemis made her the Goddess
Diktynna and she was the goddess of mountains, shores and ports. In another version Britomartis escaped to
The Goddess of the Sea
(Mistress of Fishes)
- appeared in Minoan art and had shrines along the Minoan shore line. She is sometimes depicted on seals and golden
rings traveling in a boat. (4) The importance of the sea is evident by a
huge fresco found at
Eileithyia – Goddess of
Childbirth. Eileithyia has a cave on
Ariadne – daughter of
Pasiphae. She fell in love with Theseus
and promised to help him escape the great maze if he would take her
him. Daedalus gave her a ball string so
that Theseus could find his way out of the labyrinth.
Ariadne gave him a sword so that he could
slay the Minotaur. Theseus either left
her on the
AND WHAT THEN OF THE ORIGINAL CRETAN GODDESS?
Very little is known
about her. She is closely associated with
goddess Cybele who was depicted with a panther, lion and dove. She is also closely related to Astarte in
that she is part of a regeneration cycle.
(3) Kalika’s consort, the bull,
is sacrificed and reborn each year.
|Cretan Goddess Names:
|The Mother of Mountains||Atemis
of the Sacred Tree or Pillar
Goddess – nursing an infant
Goddess – carrying weapons.
Unhappy with men’s random name choices which tended to describe the artifact they found rather than the Goddess, I felt she deserved a name and was led to choose Kalika. Kalika is a Greek word for the pod, bud or outer covering of a flower. The pod is both the final phase of the flower and yet it contains seeds, the promise of rebirth, thus it succinctly depicts the cycle of life. Kali also means beautiful or good and is used in contemporary Greek speech today in such phrases as:
Good morning – pronounced as - kaleemera
Good afternoon – pronounced as - kaleespera
Good night – pronounced as - kaleeneekhta (5)
Other Greek Women’s Names Include:
Kalidas – most beautiful
Kalligenia – most beautiful daughter
Kalliroe – beautiful stream (6)
Kalika was worshiped at the main ‘palace’ sites of Zakro, Phaistos, Mallia and Knossos. She was also worshipped in caves and at mountain peak shrines. Her worship included epiphany, the appearance of the Goddess to the people, ecstatic dance, blood offerings of small and large animals and agricultural offerings of grain, olive oil, honey and wine. Her worship probably included the ingestion of opium.
15 Minute Heart/Blood Ritual:
Clear your space and light your candles. Then put in your favorite dance music. Crank it up and dance your heart out for fifteen minutes.
Bless yourself by doing a little cardiovascular exercise today and everyday. Take joy in the way your body moves. Relish that you are alive.
When you are done, be sure to thank the Goddess for all that you have and hug someone you love to share your energy.
Mother to the Pantheon,
grant me appreciation
of the blessings
that encircle me.
Help me to protect
your sacred places
and be an advocate
for your animals.
Live within me
that I may face my fears
and fiercely love
the gifts you’ve sent -
my animal companions,
1 – “The Archaeology of
Minoan Crete” Reynold Higgins, Henry Z. Walck, Inc.,
5 – “Berlitz Greek
6 – “Baby Names From Around the World” Pocket Publishing, 1991
excellent site for photos of