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Observations placeholder

Crete – The Cave of Smnisos



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Alain Danielou – Gods of Love and Ecstasy: The traditions of Shiva and Dionysus

The caverns which allow us to penetrate into the womb of Mother Earth have been sacred places since the very beginning of mankind.

Caverns are never used as dwellings, although their winding passages may have served as temporary shelters or refuges. The cave-man is a fiction. There have never been cave-apes.

In Tantrism, caves are considered as a sort of vagina in the body of Mother Earth, and as such are worshipped as the female organ. They are the refuge through which we may return to our Mother's womb, and are propitious places for the most sacred rites.

The cave of Smnisos, in Crete, is a sacred cavern. There are phallic-shaped stalagmites, near which offerings were left. This was an extremely ancient holy place, the centre of a cult of Cretan Zeus, who was worshipped here up to the Roman era.

Caverns are the favourite abode of Shiva and the goddess. The cavern of Amarnatha in Kashmir, with its Linga of ice, is one of the principal sacred places of the god.

H. Jeanmaire - Dionysos, p. 180.

ln pre-Hellenic Greece, votive grottos, which were frequented, especially in Crete from the second or third millennium, are situated at a certain distance from built-up areas, in out-of-the-way places.

R.F. Willetts - Cretan Cults and Festivals, p, 141

Although the links between the traditions of the earliest inhabitants of Crete and those of the palaeolithic hunters, which are so intimately associated with cave-cults, must remain conjectural, the caves of Crete have yielded much evidence of their sacred character from neolithic times until the historical period. So much so that it has been inferred that the cave-cult of Minoan divinities was the chief characteristic of popular region. . . The Cretan archaeological record confirms the Greek tradition that caves were. .  the earliest shrines. . .


Alain Danielou – Gods of Love and Ecstasy: The traditions of Shiva and Dionysus

Initiation is the passing from one state of being to another. It is a sort of death, an "active death", from which a new person is born. Thus, a burial rite is always part of the rites of initiation, and has even survived in the ordination ceremonies of Catholic priests.

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items



Activities and commonsteps