Much about the Minoan belief system is still unknown to us to this day. Their mythology and theology cannot be reconstructed due to the fact that their written language is only partially understood and the language itself is unknown.
From what we are able to understand the Minoans were polytheistic, worshiping many goddesses and few gods. They were a matriarchal society having their main god be a mother goddess, unlike the Greeks who had Zeus as their head god. It is believed that their goddess is a snake goddess as depicted in many in many statues and paintings.
Arthur Evans describes the worship of the snake goddess as a cult practice. There are also suggestions of human sacrifice in Knossos in the north building. The bones of four seemingly healthy children bore the signs of being butchered, much like the Minoans butchered their sheep and goats, suggesting that they had been sacrificed and eaten. If this was for their mother goddess is unknown to us.
Many of the symbols used around Knossos have meanings behind them.
The symbol of the snake has many possibilities. It was most likely to be from the symbolism that snakes are able to shed their skin. Many in other regions of the world saw this ability as the snake’s immortality, able to stay young forever. Snakes also resembles the umbilical cord, leaving some to believe it is life-giving. In Greek mythology snakes were associated with oracles. In Egyptian mythology the goddess Renenutet would reveal the name of one’s soul. But the similarity is that in almost every culture the snake is associated with women.
- The Labyris is an extremely common image seen in Knossos, carved into stone, painted on ceramics and frescoes, and cast in bronze, silver, and gold. The name Labryis comes from Lydian labrys meaning double axe. It gave name to the word labyrinthos, which is minoan for home of the double axe. The double axe is mostly depicted as being held by women. Some believe the labyris is a symbol of the goddess as a butterfly, who represents all stages in the cycle of life. The shape of cattle horns and the cresent moon are also seen with the labyris linking the labyris with the “Horns of Consecration”.