266 As illustrated in Jacquetta Hawkes: “Dawn of the Gods: Minoan and Mycenaean Origins of Greece”, Random House, New York, 1968, pages 32 and 140 for doves on pillars and shrines, pages 50 and 274 for goddess statues with doves on her head, and page 228 for a golden naked lady from 16th century BCE Mycenae with one dove on her head and two in her hands.
267 Nanno Marinatos: “Minoan Religion: Ritual, Image, and Symbol”, University of South Carolina Press, 1993, page 156 top left.
268 Jan N. Bremmer: “Götter, Mythen, und Heiligtümer im antiken Griechenland”, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt, 1996, pages 16 and 17.
Solomon's Sky : The Religious Board Game on the Phaistos Disk
© 2012 Peter Aleff Scroll 38
6.6.3. Initiation with dove at 31
The next of the circle-and-sun-head pairs appears in the "initiation" field 31 at the new beginning of the path on the other side of the Disk.
This corresponds again to the story of Jesus because after that first public appearance in the Temple at age twelve, he disappeared from view until he began his ministry with his baptism by John the Baptist. This occurred when Jesus was "about thirty" (Luke 3:23). Luke probably meant that he had completed thirty years and was in his thirty-first, as on Disk field 31. This is not a coincidence because thirty completed the first half of the all-encompassing sixty which was the Mesopotamian "Great One" and so had a mythological value far greater than the merely chronological one. The rebirth or initiation into the higher part of life would logically belong after that first half of the life-path, into field 31, and so matches a tradition as old as the Sumerians' sexagesimal system of counting.
We saw earlier that baptism was a form of initiation, and the symbol that marks the baptism of Jesus is associated with this ritual already on the Disk. Luke 3:22 describes that baptism:
That dove appears also in the Phaistos “initiation” field 31. Initiation is the equivalent of baptism, and the dove in this context may have conveyed the same meaning of divine presence and acceptance into a higher realm.
18.104.22.168. Doves as symbol of the renewal goddess
Doves were in Crete the defining attribute of a major goddess.
They perched on the heads of several female ritual statuettes, from before the time of the Disk to many centuries later. As we saw above for the Egyptian gods, such characteristic head gear was used to identify their divine wearers and to express their nature.
Sometimes the doves were also substitutes for the goddess, as in a miniature shrine from the Old Palace of Knossos where three doves sit on three columns.
At other times, they seem to be her attendants, like the two doves in a gold ornament from the grave circle at Mycenae which flank a triple shrine with a horned altar266 and so confirm again the holy associations of that bird.
Nanno Marinatos, a noted scholar of religion on ancient Crete and Thera, says about those doves :
The details of this distinction may have been subject to variations in the judgment of individual worshipers, just as in the later theological disputes about whether the bread and wine in Christian ceremonies are the flesh and blood of Christ or only represent it.
In either case, the dove in Phaistos 31 was a symbol firmly linked with a Cretan goddess involved in renewal.
The Disk itself suggests this association in field 16 which groups the dove together with the “woman”, the bough of “Life”, plus the “ear of grain” and the “fish” which looks like a mackerel, a diet staple for fishing folks.
The two signs "grain" and "fish" can both be read as symbols of life-sustaining fertility and renewal of the principal food sources, comparable to Jesus' miracle of feeding a multitude with two fish and five loaves of bread made from grain.
The “dove-woman’s” association with those signs, including the "bough of life", identifies her clearly again as a “Lady of Life”.
The Disk also illustrates the conciliatory Cretan approach to what would only much later become said theological dispute. In field 16, the dove appears together with the woman and probable goddess, so it is here her companion and thus functions as her symbol or sacred animal.
In field 31, however, the stand-alone dove seems to embody her presence which was required for the initiation, just as in the Gospel verse which specifies that the Spirit descended “in bodily form like a dove”.
It seems that the ancient Cretans had wisely solved the dispute between “is” or “represents” by flexibly accepting both meanings.
(The third occurrence of that dove, in field 53, is also likely to stand for the goddess as a symbol for the moon, as I will argue in chapter 8.)
In any case, the presence of that life-renewing dove in the field 31 of the mid-life “birth, death, rebirth” rosette fits again the proposed “initiation” and “new beginning” at this beginning of the second track.
It also fits the later role of doves in Classical Greece where they were sacred to Aphrodite268, the powerful but often capricious goddess of love and new life who rode on the back of a goose and remained associated with gambling and games.
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