Types of Workship
The faithful honoured and venerated the deity in characteristic types of worship and postures: standing erect with their fists on their forehead or on their breast, and with arms held high, extended, or folded. These positions indicated prayer or supplication and surrender to the deity, though they may at the same time also depict actions made during worship.
Liquid and solid foods were dedicated to the deity on altars and offering-tables, and are known as bloodless offerings. They include fruit, seeds, wine, honey, and milk.
Another category of offerings involved blood sacrifices of large or small animals, including bulls and goats. It has been suggested that the worshippers may have drunk the blood of the sacrificial animals, which was collected in buckets.
In open-air sanctuaries, models were offered to the deity instead of real victims: the offerings found include figurines of animals, as well as models of items such as clothing, thrones, small temples, altars, offering-tables and human limbs. Figurines of adorants placed in sanctuaries represent the continuous presence in them of the worshipper. Dance was also a form of religious expression, known from many representations on seals, signet-rings, and wall-paintings, and also from models (from Kamilari and Palaikastro).
The members of the priesthood were marked out by their dress. They normally wore animal skins (a conservative or traditional sign) or dressed as daemons attending the young god. Male priests wore long women’s garments. The duties of the priest included carrying out sacrifices and libations, reciting hymns and prayers to the deity, and exorcising evil spirits. The kings themselves and the members of the royal family were high priests and priestesses. In addition to the above, there seem to have been other forms of religious worship: swinging, bull-leaping, boxing, hunting, and processions of priests, musicians and rhyton-bearers offering various items to the deity; there is also a depiction of the sacred ship.
he dead also seem to have been recipients of cults, as is clear from a variety of artistic representations (mainly sarcophagi like the famous Ayia Triada sarcophagus), and also from other objects discovered during the excavation of tombs. The respect accorded the deceased was associated with a belief in life after death. Offerings to the dead included not only objects of everyday use and a large number of cult vessels, but also other items such as kernoi, rhyta, and figurines. One capacity of the deity was as goddess of the dead and the underworld, that is, as chthonic goddess.
Dr Andonis Vasilakis