“Minoan Labyris Goddess"

The Labyris was the Butterfly Goddess.  This symbol itself is very ancient.  Representations of Her date back to the Paleolithic period and was a characteristic symbol of Neolithic cultures.  The Labyris in “Masks of God … Minoan Labyris Goddess” represents a 5000 year old symbol. This symbol was found in every possible form during the Minoan period of Crete…carved in stone, painted on ceramics and frescoes, and many thousands cast in bronze, silver and gold. 

As a symbol She was as important to the Minoan religion as the cross is to Christianity, or the crescent to Islam. Priestesses carried the butterfly symbol held high on a staff during religious processions.  This Minoan culture left no weapons of war, no fortified palaces and no large statues of a Queen (or King), no images of battles.  What has been found & recreated where possible are the amazing palaces.  Within the Knossos hillside palace were the apartments for the Queen and her Throne Room with a ceremonial courtyard just outside.  Vistas of sacred mountain sites, altars & caves were included in the design of each architectural structure.

The Knossos Throne

Part of the Throne Room

I know this Minoan Knossos place on Crete.  I walked within its walls, sat on the Throne, and saw the carved marble bathtub in the Queen’s apartment that looked so much like my own tub at home.  I felt the cooling drafts that rose thru the clearstory shafts designed within the buildings (similar to modern air conditioning!). 

Within Knossos is a warehouse that stored processed fish sauces and other food staples.  These supplies were apparently shared throughout the community as well as being traded/sold through the Minoan fleet and maritime commerce with neighboring people.  There are two sets of written languages found within the archeological digs… Linear A & Linear B.  Linear A is dated from 1850 – 1400 BC & Linear B from 2000 – 1200 BC and is still un-deciphered.  Linear B has been translated as records and inventories pertaining to stored/shipped/counted goods.

The Director of Crete’s Museums gave me written permission to visit sites closed to the public.  A visit to the Sacred Spring (Caravanserai) with its continuous frieze on three walls of colorful detailed partridges.  At other sites I saw frescos of dolphins, young men boxing, youths vaulting large bulls, Priestesses holding snakes.  Portraits of smiling women proudly displayed their breasts.  Nowhere was there any evidence or depiction of violence, war or domination.

I strongly agree with those historians who believe that this Minoan Culture was a Matriarchal society.  Many Minoan artifacts were originally given male connotations by the first archeologist to begin digging, Arthur Evans.  Although Evans found frescos that depicted symbols that appeared to be a double headed axe, he did not find any evidence to verify that this was a “Kingdom”.  Palaces were not fortified and all were open to views that corresponded to sacred sites.  There were no statues, sculpture of Minoan rulers.  No names remained that proclaimed “Ethel or Samuel, etc” Queen/King.  Unlike the cultures who followed after the destruction of Minoan culture by the eruption of Thera on Santorini, these peaceful people lived with a respect for the powers around them in their natural Cretan island.

I will always wonder if this Minoan Labyris, a central spiritual force for these members, represents the last female civilization.

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“Minoan Labyris Goddess"

24" H x 20"W

Mixed Medium: acrylic paints, inks, gold leaf on Bristol Board

Photo by SkyLark Images

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