Monday, 16 May 2022

May Full Moon Altar: Ancient Crete


This month's full moon altar honours the Minoan civilization which flourished about 4,000 years ago in Ancient Crete. It appears to have been a peaceful and prosperous Goddess-centred culture. Unfortunately, it was ultimately conquered and destroyed by its more warlike patriarchal neighbours.

The Minoan Snake Goddess is at the top of the altar, holding her snakes symbolizing wisdom, power and healing. A larger snake wriggles in front of the Minoan Labyrinth, another powerful spiritual symbol originating in Ancient Crete. An accompanying goddess (or perhaps a priestess) holds a Labrys in each hand, the double-headed axe which also honours the Divine Feminine.

I bought my Minoan Snake Goddess statue in Toronto many years ago. It is modelled on the statues excavated at the beginning of the 20th century from the ruins of the Palace of Knossos in Crete. Her dress emphasizes the sacred vulva which creates all life and her breasts are exposed, not to be sexually enticing to men which would be our culture's interpretation, but to attest that the Goddess sustains and nourishes all life as a mother does with her breastmilk.


The accompanying Labrys-wielding figurine is a modern statue obtained many years ago from Sacred Source. The Labrys is an immensely old fertility symbol designed to represent the vulva's butterfly-like double labia. It occupied a prominent place in Minoan religious rituals. Today the Labrys remains a powerful symbol of the Divine Feminine, as well as being a modern feminist and lesbian symbol.


I bought the Labyrinth art in Winnipeg about 30 years ago. A local artisan had laser-carved it onto a scrap piece of polished granite. This style of labyrinth which developed in Ancient Crete was (and remains) sacred to the Great Goddess, as evidenced by its circular shape (a central symbol of the Divine Feminine). The four rounded turns within the labyrinth are still known as "the breasts of the Goddess." May 1st is World Labyrinth Day so that's why I chose the Minoan/Cretan theme for this month's full moon altar.


An Edmonton friend who was a gifted painter, poet and writer devoted to the Divine Feminine gave me the stone snake about 20 years ago. Pagans considered snakes to be magical creatures evoking positive creative life-force energy, very similar to Asian characterization of dragons. It was Judeo-Christianity which demonized snakes as deceitful forces of evil in order to counter and denigrate pagan devotion to them.

This month's altar cloth is a hand towel which I cross-stitched in a floral motif about 30 years ago.

[Photos © Debra She Who Seeks, May 2022]

36 comments:

Moving with Mitchell said...

Each piece is on its own a treasure.

Marie Smith said...

Love this altar, Debra! It is great to see the snake for something other than the tempter of women.

baili said...

i like learning your moon alter posting dear Debra !
this reveals something intriguing and unfamiliar to me always .
how amazing you preserved both goddesses for so long and as nicely i am impressed :)

yes have realized how snake has high value in Hindu society ,they not just worship snakes but do not kill them but pick up and leave in woods safely.

their some movies show how snakes were used for evil purposes by bad peoples .Hindu believe that after completing a Hundred year a snake turns into a creature of wish and can take any form of his likening ,they show this in movies too .
hugs and blessings!

Boud said...

This is great. I've wondered why snakes are demonized in scripture. I find them so beautiful.

Busy Bee Suz said...

These are so beautiful, and I always learn something new and interesting from your Altars.
I noticed the lovely cross-stitch right away as well; bravo.

Rosemary said...

I recall that you had intended to visit Crete before lockdown but then had to cancel. I will never forget my visit to the Palace of Knossos, the last overseas visit we made before the Pandemic. I do hope that, one day, you too may still have an opportunity to make a visit.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Rosemary -- You have a good memory! Yes, we were booked for a tour of Crete but had to cancel it. Thanks, Pandemic! Perhaps I'll get there someday?

DVArtist said...

Ohhh this is so beautiful I love the snake goddess. Have a lovely day.

Martha said...

Oh my gosh, I love this! I especially LOVE the stone snake. How gorgeous. I do hope you get to Crete one day. It's supposed to be really gorgeous. I know friends and family who have gone there and they had an amazing time. My husband's (paternal) side of the family stems from Crete. I would love for us to visit one day but I'm not sure if that will happen; at least not any time soon. On the top of our list right now is a trip to Italy. Hopefully - goddess willing - next year!

Hena Tayeb said...

So interesting.

bobbie said...

Love the explanation! Well done ~

Leanna said...

I love your alters. They are simple and beautiful.

pam nash said...

You always have the most beautiful alters. I am so jealous!

Mike said...

I followed the path through the head and wound up stuck in the middle. Just like real life. No way out.

Mistress Maddie said...

Such cool figurines. Each changes fascinates that you do.

Sixpence Notthewiser said...

Love the figurines. The Labrys is a MOOD!
And did you see the moon on Saturday? It was BEAUTIFUL. We stayed up just so we could see it. It was past my bedtime but it was totally worth it!

XOXO

Marcia LaRue said...

I find your altars and decor, as well as your explanation of everything, extremely interesting!

Joanne Noragon said...

This is a beautiful alter, and the hand towel not the least. The stitching is clean and beautiful and the knitted lace also.

Tundra Bunny said...

Very interesting altar -- love the stone snake! The labyrinth looks more like a uterus to me, but what do I know? LOL!

Adam said...

My wife isn't a big fan of snakes at all. I'm not super afraid of them but I keep caution with unknown snakes.

yellowdoggranny said...

I love these sooooooo much.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Wow. It's all so impressive and very much glorifies femininity. I love your stitched cloth - you've kept it pristine for decades.
Having visited Crete, this post brings back wonderful images and feelings. Oh where is my boyfriend when I most need him?
Smiles.

JM said...

Very interesting! And beautiful art pieces!!

Anonymous said...

A beautiful altar for May. Love the Goddess figures, the labyrinth and the snake. I have a snake on my altar as well. And I'm impressed by the needlepoint!
What is the animal on the top of the Goddess's headdress? Surely not a mongoose?
(e, commenting from my phone)

Linda said...

Beautiful and interesting, I enjoyed your info very much! The towel is lovely.

Lady M said...

I like snakes - always have. I don't like Christians though.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Anonymous (e) -- I was wondering when someone was going to inquire about the little animal on top of the Goddess's headdress! No, it's not a mongoose (what a fiasco THAT would be, lol!) It is thought to be a small cat or kitten. When archeologists first found the Snake Goddess statue in the ruins of the Palace of Knossos, it was broken into pieces and had to be reassembled. Near the broken pieces they found this little animal and assumed it must be part of the statue. It didn't seem to fit anywhere except on top of the headdress. Some historians question whether it is really a legitimate part of the statue or just some random surviving bauble which happened to be nearby. I guess we'll never know for sure!

Richard said...

That is a beautiful altar. There is a book- Zakros- the discovery of a Lost Palace of ancient Crete, by Nicholas Platon. Evidently, the palace was destroyed by the eruption of Thera volcano. It was excavated in the 1960s and was kind of a Minoan Pompei. The book is out of print, but used copies are still available. I found it in a thrift store and it blew my little 20 year old mind. 40 years later i still have that book because the Minoans were/are so cool. We actually are still carrying some of their ideas.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hi Debra! Some beautiful art there. As you are interested in this period, I recommend Wendy Orr’s trilogy(check out the interviews/ reviews on my blog). There is a lot of stuff about the goddess and her representatives.

Laura Morrigan said...

I enjoyed reading this and learning a bit about Minoan culture! I know I did something on Ancient Greek culture in school but it was very long ago!

Kirk said...

In Bill Moyers interview with Joseph Campbell, I remember the latter saying something about the snake shedding its skin being one reason for its centrality in so many creation myths, and not just the one in Genesis.

Miss Val's Creations said...

Beautiful details on this altar. You cross stitch too? Very impressive! I would love to try this craft someday when time permits.

Quinley said...

Your altar looks beautiful. :)
-Quinley

Rommy said...

I'm cool with snakes. My hubby not so much.

The Blog Fodder said...

Learned something new. Thanks. What ever happened to all those glorious fertility rites?

Fundy Blue said...

So interesting, Debra! Things are going downhill for women in this world. At least that's how I feel, from Afghanistan to the USA. We need more of the Divine Feminine!

I'm sorry, but snakes creep me out. I don't associate them with evil, but they do scare me if I accidentally almost step on them. The first time I heard a live, coiled rattlesnake, I was surprised at how musical its rattles sounded. Fortunately I was well outside its striking reach.

Your labyrinth on the stone made me realized that the sign-in button for the Tembe Elephant Park camera website is the same symbol. Now I know what it stands for. I usually stop by there once a day.

Hugs to you, my friend!