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Sun and Moon in Ancient Crete

November 27, 2016

This is a warm article. A better sourced, better written and better everything is on the way.

From what we can figure, the sun was a female entity in Minoan religion (Nanno et al 2013), possibly related to the “snake goddess”, perhaps via a “pan-goddess” caveat. Many greek goddesses (Rhea, Demeter, Artemis, Cybele, et cetera) are associated with lions; the lioness as a sun symbol is well attested in Hittite and Egyptian religion, and was probably a common Middle Eastern motif wherever solar goddesses were relevant.

The bull was relevant in minoan religion to the point that it is one of the most well known aspects of this culture. The “Moon Bull”, as it is, has been connected to the sun by classical authors, exposing the typical “every god is a sun god, every goddess is a lunar goddess” nonsense. However, the bull is a generally lunar symbol in the Near East (semetic, where it is connected to the many moon gods, anatolian, where it is similarly connected to the moon gods, even greek and egyptian, where it is associated with Selene and Dionysus and Osiris respectively), and a masculine moon god role can comfortably be implied.

So, basically:

Lion Sun Goddess

Bull Moon God

However, this leaves us with two hiccups:

– Talos, the “greek Helios”, which is the de facto word for “sun” in Crete and whose use may extend further back in time. Zeus as Tallaios is a solar god. That said, since Zeus Tallaios is more of a “death and rebirth” deity (mind you, almost no solar deity is one), it may call into question the status of Talos as originally a sun god.

– The Minotaur’s true name is Asterion. This has been interpreted as a vestige of solar symbols, since the “labyrinth” would instantly become the zodiac. That said, “Aster” and it’s derivatives are rarely applied to the sun outright, and could suggest a more esoteric stellar meaning.

It’s possible that, like ancient egypt, russia and india, the Minoan Civilisation perceived the sun as both male and female depending on the context. I’m leaning with a generally “Sun Lioness” for a solar figure and Talos as specifically the body of the sun.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 10, 2016 4:09 am

    Mediterranean sovinists promoted the idea that the sun must be always male and the moon female. Germanic peoples always regarded the sun as female and the moon as male. Women also enjoyed more freedoms in germanic culture before christianization. Is it a coincidence?

    • December 10, 2016 1:16 pm

      Perhaps. The romans did notice that cultures with female lunar deities had more “submissive” women than cultures with male lunar gods, so it could be a symptom of a larger set of power dynamics

  2. December 10, 2016 3:36 pm

    Where did the Romans say that, exactly? Didn’t they just accept the women’s position bak then as it was and never question it?

    • December 11, 2016 3:14 am

      Was in a Late Antiquity source. I might have to find it again.

      Keep in mind that the ancient romans were surrounded by cultures with more empowered views on women, like the ancient egyptians

  3. December 11, 2016 8:06 pm

    And still Romans had more empowered women in comparison to Ancient Greece, and Ancient Athense in particular, and or Palestine.

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