Thursday, May 7, 2015
Last quarter I took a class in which I learned about many ancient eastern civilizations around Europe and Asia. One particular civilization I was drawn to throughout the course was the Minoan civilization. The Minoan people lived on the island of Crete in around 3700 BCE. They were a very peaceful people with a culture rooted in ritual and worship. However they did not worship mythological entities, rather they had a sort of religious relationship with the earth and nature: trees, boulders, animals, grains. Something I found particularly interesting is that while their rituals often revolved around plants and animals, their most important and prominent ritual did not involve animal sacrifice, as has been historically customary in many ancient cultures; instead, it involved animal praise through a mutual human-animal interaction. The Minoans has a very special relationship with bulls. They revered them and respected their power and strength. They never killed or hunted them for food, as they were sacred to the culture. They constructed a palace centered around a large plaza solely for the bull ritual, adorned with paintings of bulls. During the ritual, many would gather to watch a performer dance with a bull. In this act of worship, the partaker would perform acrobatic moves, balancing on the bull's horns and leaping over under and around it. This Minoans praised the bulls because they respected their power courage and valiance and strove to emulate these qualities as a society. I think this is a very special relationship in that these people sought harmony with the rest of nature rather than creating distance from it, and they praised it for all it provided them with. To my knowledge (correct me if I'm wrong) western culture, today and historically, does not seem to have any human-animal relationships/ traditions of this nature. It may be interesting to ponder why that is, and why western societies seem to have created a distance between themselves and the rest of nature.