This movie presents scenes of worship at Knossos and other sacred sites of the Minoan Bronze Age with the following themes: 1. Shrines, 2. Priestesses wielding the power of the Goddess, 3. Men worshipping the Goddess, 3. Ceremonial processions, 4. Invoking the Goddess and private prayers, 5. Ritual dances, 6. Rites of Initiation, 7. The Holy Chalice drinking ritual.
The Minoan culture was a Bronze Age civilization in the Aegean ocean that emerged on Crete during the 27th century B.C. and came to dominate surrounding islands such as Thera (Santorini), Mycenea and numerous others. Their religion originated in Southeastern Europe and Anatolia, and religious symbolism show a strong connection to Stone Age civilizations in Greece and Anatolia (present day Turkey), such as Catal Höyuk and Hacilar. Their religion was centered around the worship of a Great Goddess and women were as powerful as men (if not more). Their civilization was peaceful and highly prosperous and wielded great political, spiritual and economic power in the Eastern Mediterranean, as the Minoans dominated the oceans. They maintained a strong exchange of trade and ideas with Egypt and the Middle East (Sumer, Assyria etc), yet were different from these cultures insofar as they kept internal peace and somehow also managed to keep the peace with their surrounding cultures that had become more warlike and hierarchic.
The myth of King Minos is just that, a myth, as recent research has shown that there was no king at all in the Minoan world. Class hierarchy is only shown through the central position of a group of priestesses that seem to have been the political and spiritual leaders of the Minoan civilization. Even so, there is no evidence whatsoever of individual power the Minoans were a collective people ruled by a collective priestesshood.
Knossos was an important harbor town even since the Stone Age and became THE maritime center of trade during the Bronze Age. Ever since the Stone Age, Cretans worshipped their Goddess at mountain tops, in sacred groves and in labyrinthine caves called Labyrinthos, The Home of the Double Axe, in which thousands double-axes, symbols of the Goddess, have been found. The double-axe was useless as a weapon and had only symbolic significance, showing some relation to the butterfly and the Goddess as butterfly, possibly a symbol of her transformative spiritual powers. During the 16th century B.C, Cretans started building great labyrinthine temples, echoing their cave origins and also called Labyrinthos. These were designed for administrational and ceremonial use and were particularly suitable for rituals of initiation into the Mysteries of the Goddess. The greatest and most important Temple was built at Knossos, from which the priestesses ruled their maritime empire. Certain priestesses seemed to have a particular position, such as The Priestess of the Winds, who would receive libation sacrifice, and the Lady of the Labyrinth, who might refer to the Goddess herself. The priestesses seem to have been highly knowledgeable and were able to predict the volcanic destruction of Thera during the 15th century B.C and were thus able to save thousands of people who escaped to Crete in good time before the catastrophe.
The Minoan civilization had a tremendous influence on the symbolical and spiritual world of the Bronze Age. This was an era of travelling and trade across vast areas, and symbols of the serpent and the labyrinth has been found as far away as Northern Norway. It is highly possible that Knossos was not only a center of trade, but also a spiritual center receiving pilgrims from all over the ancient world. When the Minoan culture collapsed as a long-term result of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and later Mycenean invasions, emigrants from Crete built the great Temple of Demeter in Eleusis, close to Athens. This temple and its initiation rituals (called the Mysteries) became the new center of spiritual pilgrimage, receiving thousands of pilgrims every year until its destruction by Christian Goths in 392 A.D. The Mysteries were concerned with the elevation of the individual soul to its divine origin and were open for everybody regardless of gender or social status. Philosophers like Socrates, Plato and Plutarch considered the Mysteries as the basis of civilization.
The Minoan civilization, with its art, religion, architecture, trading, seafaring, city-planning and almost modern plumbing system was certainly the forerunner of the later Iron Age Greek civilization, although this in many ways more barbaric culture had been usurped by hierarchic warlords, their armies and a curiously obsessive misogynist agenda.
Thanks to Liv Nome and Varde band for offering music to this video. Album: Folk, song: Fusion
The illustrations are mostly taken from Sir Arthur Evans six volume Palace of Minos of 1921. Recommended reading: Rodney Castleden: Knossos Temple of the Goddess.