A good tarot deck companion is a title that gets shared fast and easily. Simply because there are too many decks devoid of a (good) one. Most tarot readers have one: a deck so chockfull of symbolism linked to a specific theme or tradition, that we need more than that LWB. And even the better (kit) companions sometimes still sorely miss information to understand certain depictions. We miss the creator’s research. The Minoan Tarot is ‘one of those’ and despite its quite decent companion, Laura Perry’s deck needs extra. I might have found you that title: Ariadne’s Thread.
While Ariadne’s Thread was originally written for Pagans who want to explore the rituals of ancient times and learn more about the Minoan gods and goddesses, Laura Perry’s book could definitely offer tarot readers and culture lovers something interesting for their money. She’s written other titles on Ancient times, as I disclosed in the review of the Minoan Tarot, but in this case about half of Ariadne’s Thread – the first half – shows you part of her research for that Minoan Tarot and therefore it could be very interesting as a second companion. Especially because every (suit) symbol used is written about.
Worshipping & (s)word
I personally love Crete (have lived there) and have always felt the veil between our world and the next/possible others is thinner there. So for me, reading a book on the rituals and spirituality of my friend’s ancestors was something special. If you’ve ended up on The Queen’s Sword because you were looking for a book on the Minoan Society, the way they dressed, lived and believed and now think “Shit, where the hell did I end up??” please keep reading. This book could easily have ended up in a more culturally inclined reviewer’s site than on a tarot reading one ;-).
Like I said, Ariadne’s Thread was written for modern pagans because the second half of the book, a little more than half the book (so yes…you do need to have some extra cash lying around if you’re just into the first half), is purely about Minoan spirituality. The blurb even mentions the fact Ariadne’s Thread could influence our modern way of worshipping. Perry herself is a Wiccan Priestess and longtime pagan, which is probably why her interests became intertwined.
Script & season rituals
I am not saying this could not be of interest to a tarot reader or someone who is just here for the cultural anthropology, but basically after page 87 it becomes a script. A script for all the rituals that could have possibly been done during Minoan times. Two sections, full of them, including Rites of passage, Moon, Birth and Death Rites, as well as rituals for season festivals.
Fair warning: I obviously said: could have. Since the Minoans definitely didn’t leave a record of their rituals and certainly not a script (with incantations and movements etc) you know they are made up by Perry based on her research and role as priestess. She says so as much. She uses the modern neo-pagan framework loosely. So you’ll be working – or simply reading if this is purely of academic interest – with Minoan-styled rituals, not the the actual ones.
Companion & guesswork
If you have hastily read the previous paragraphs and think “Yeah, yeah, where’s my companion bit?” Here it comes. The part of the book the book that could help you out with The Minoan Tarot are the first 87 pages. Those are really all about the civilization. You could see it as an easily accessibly written ‘history book’. No academic, scholastic language or theoretical cadres, but a couple of chapters that all have their own focus. It is very easy to grape for a laymen, because despite all her studying that is still what Perry is. And that is what makes this book even a nice enough read for a day at the beach…you know, in case you are thinking Crete…I know I am 😉
When we speak about so many years BC most information comes from pottery, tablets, utensils, weaponry and other depictions and tools that were used during those times. Pieced together they form a story. If you think about the fact that Linear A, the official language of the Minoans, has never been translated, you understand that some parts fall in the realm of ‘argument based guesswork’.
Landlords & laymen
That is the same for Ariadne’s Thread, but in this case that is quite lucky. It is exactly that art and those utensils we see in the pictures of the Minoan Tarot and what we want to know about. From depictions on fresco’s, known (written) mythology & legends a story is woven about this decentralized culture that had some exceptionally wealthy people, but still no landlords, and gender-equality. Society, clothing, art…basically everything that will come back in the tarot deck.
By reading the kit companion and seeing the cards I could already see Perry really incorporated the Minoan civilization to a T, but both of them will start living a bit more when you pick up Ariadne’s Thread. As an extra companion it definitely won’t disappoint, despite the fact it’ll only give you 87 pages. And (and I would know as a historian myself) unlike many books written by historians or archeologists, hers is easy to grasp for the layman. Chapters are small, to the point and explain in quite simple ways what it must have been like to be a Minoan.
Labyrinth & Labrys
If you’ve ever been to Crete and more specifically: Knossos, you already got an inkling what you’re going to read about. The labyrinth, the temples, the mosaic on walls and floors. They all belong to Minoan society. In Ariadne’s Thread Laura Perry shows us snippets of all the symbolism, describes all the important gods and goddesses worshipped during these times, the dress and the rituals.
After reading it you’ll know why fresco’s depict the Labrys, the axe that never cut. You will know why this is now one of the minor arcana symbols, understand the importance of their female goddesses and the result on their society…and so many thousands of years later the effect on a tarot deck.
Conclusion: limited but library-worthy
The book is a combination of a cultural reference book and one ritual-script for Pagans. If you’re a Pagan, a tarot reader and have the Minoan deck this is an easy choice for you. For the rest of us Ariadne’s Thread serves as a guide to most of the suit symbols, and as a window into the spiritual world of the Minoans. There were many times where I wished that a themed deck came with more than a LWB that just named the f.e. mythological creature on the card and left the rest up to me. Perry answered that prayer, because rummaging through libraries or Wikipedia to look up figures and mosaics is something that isn’t immediately necessary anymore.
Ariadne’s Thread is an easy to read book and while it was never written as a companion and I need to be honest about the limited amount of ‘companion-suitable’ pages (87 pages on culture and symbols, the other 100+ are the rituals), it *will* make the Minoan Tarot easier to ‘digest’. The deck is, as said in my review, beautiful and consistent. But not the easiest either. For those of you who are eager to truly study and dive into it, I recommend Ariadne’s Thread as a starter on your journey.
|Author or artist||Publisher||Publication|
|Laura Perry||Moon Books||August 2013|
NB. In all fairness: there might be other books equally good or maybe even better suitable as a companion for the Minoan Tarot, if you truly want to understand everything on the cards. And if you want to fall down that rabbit hole…be my guest ;-). However, this one is a good start. Besides, when I spoke to my contact at Moon Books/JPH Publishing on reviewing the Minoan Tarot, they recognized it as ‘its companion’. Which was the reason for me to read the book. And what does Ariadne’s Thread have that no other ‘Minoan civilization’ book will have? Simple: this one was written by the same author who wrote the kit companion and who created the Minoan Tarot. That, in my eyes, makes it worth this review.
NB2. Just like all other companions that I review separate there will be no wrap up with grades and pro/con list, since they’re rarely read apart from the decks.