In the early hours of Saturday January 14, 2017, my friend and fellow-scholar Dr. Charles F. “Chuck” Herberger, Jr., passed away after long illness, very close to the age of 100 years (although, born on Leap Day February 29th, he was technically only about 25). Chuck’s mind, heart and spirit were young to his last day, and here I hope to show something of the man and his priceless, fundamental contribution to the recovery of our real (and positive) human heritage.

        After 25 years of study and travel to understand the foundations of our world in Minoan Crete, I learned in the early 2000s that Chuck—living in my own Boston-area backyard in Centerville on Cape Cod, Massachusetts—had already changed those foundations. In 1972, Herberger published The Thread of Ariadne: The Labyrinth of the Calendar of Minos (New York: Philosophical Library), and the book went straight into the Minoans’ two central mysteries: their unknown systems for reckoning time and—since no archaeology could show us a familiar kind of Minoan “king”—how their society coped so well with the crucial challenge still with us, of organizing and controlling political power to the benefit of the general population.


        Minoan Crete, after all, created the still-longest and most successful continuous period of Western history (c. 3600-1400 BCE), based in love and respect for nature, egalitarian class and gender relations, and in their world’s highest average living standards. The genius of Herberger’s Thread was in showing that both central mysteries had closely related answers: a calendric system based in lunar/solar cycles that epitomized Minoan religion, governed their ceremonial and festival life and, on those bases, worked to impose unique and remarkably successful limitations on individual executive power. Thanks to Herberger, we began to recover the core of a real heritage—life-embracing, non-imperialist, techno-savvy and spiritually exuberant—whose deliberate burial has cost us dearly, each step of the “bloody progress” way to these days of yet more selfish, “charismatic” and recklessly destructive pseudo-leadership.

        100 years of study had suggested only that Minoan leaders—unlike Egypt’s elite, hereditary, life-long and omnipotent Pharaohs—ruled for a uniquely-limited span of time (“8 or 9 years”), and faced either regular (cyclic) confirmation, or replacement. Herberger was among the first to look at nature and, then, at central Minoan images and icons—and their correlations made him the first to find Minoan nature and their symbols in a precisely-observed, elegant, sacred conversation that made their society work.


        Herberger’s Thread of Ariadne, then, presented and built on his central perception that the famous Toreador or Bull-Leap Fresco, from the central complex of Minoan culture called Knossos Labyrinth, displayed a uniquely-complicated but consistent pattern in its border “decoration”: a pattern that precisely tracked an 8½-year cycle of the sun and moon (which explained the “8 or 9 years” legends), and whose features and phases also correlated with other once-mysterious Minoan artifacts, from the throne of Knossos (with its lunar/solar symbols and alignment with Winter Solstice sunlight) to Labrys the double (and sometimes oddly re-doubled) axe.

        Predictably, because Chuck was not a down-in-the-digs archaeologist, his Thread was neither published nor reviewed by their industries’ elites—except by one world-class open-minded professional, Dr. Alexander Marshack, who had first dug the very ancient Anatolian town of Catal Huyuk and was then a professor at Harvard University. Marshack judged Herberger’s Thread to be “valid and valuable,” quite worthy of more investigation. But even as Chuck soldiered on, publishing numerous related small-journal articles and, in 1979, his further evidences in The Riddle of the Sphinx: The Calendric Symbolism in Myth and Icon, nobody took up the challenge.

         Meanwhile, all through publishing Ariadne’s Brother: A Novel on the Fall of Bronze Age Crete (Athens: Kalendis 1996), I failed to discover Chuck’s work until a Cape Cod friend of my father’s told me about it in 2002, and put us in contact. Knowing how much the kinds of evidence and argument in Minoan studies had changed since the 1970s, I began to meet many times with Chuck as a deeply-intrigued critic: he met me always as a welcome friend. Like all the best scholars with whom I’ve been blessed to work, Chuck was interested not in ego or status, but in the best-possible answers to his fields’ important questions. So, with his learning, rare grace, warmth, humility and philosophical humor, Chuck aided and encouraged every kind of challenge and scrutiny I could bring to the core Minoan evidences in his Thread of Ariadne.

          Over the next 10 years, as Chuck lived bravely in the face of increasing health-limitations (and kept publishing new articles, essays and books of poetry), we pressed together as hard as we could into the further investigations that became Calendar House: Clues to Minoan Time from Knossos Labyrinth (free online at And while some of Chuck’s evidences (linguistics, mythology) could no longer serve, we continued to find that, from long-term computer-simulation astronomy to the latest findings in others’ Minoan archaeology and scholarship, Chuck’s discoveries both stood up to challenge, and are still gaining crucial correlations in the world-class new works of independent others, from studies of Knossos to Homer’s epics, the Olympics and the “first computer” the Antikythera Mechanism. If it’s true that the overwhelming critical mass of physical evidence is on his side (and it is), then time will inevitably bring his greater recognition.

          I don’t know how many hours Chuck Herberger and I spent together in this work and friendship, but I am grateful for each one. While he knew that outsiders who contribute to most professions find no hearing or place until time proves them stunningly right, Chuck gave me a full measure of his doggedness and ultimate optimism. For both of us, this was not without great disappointment and some dread over the current course of our society. But we did agree that, in doing the work of substantiating such a solid and positive-spirited civilization like the Minoans’, we were adding to the chance and hope that what was changed for the worse long ago can again be changed for the better.

        Chuck Herberger crackled with life, engagement and spunk, solidly centered and easygoing—as peaceful and dynamic, as learned and always-learning as the Minoans themselves. That is a friend and colleague to never let go or to stop learning from, and in the face of our sadness and loss this day, I feel only deeper gratitude, respect for his achievements, and the surety that such friendships never end.




The Thread of Ariadne at Amazon:

A 2015 Interview with C.F. Herberger:

Calendar House: Clues to Minoan Time from Knossos Labyrinth 

The Knossos Calendar: Minoan Cycles of the Sun, the Moon,

The Soul & Political Power (Mystis Publishers 2016):

A short (incomplete) bibliography of Herberger works:

—, 1972. The Thread of Ariadne: The Labyrinth of the Calendar of Minos. New York: Philosophical Library

—, 1979. The Riddle of the Sphinx: Calendric Symbolism in Myth and Icon. New York: Vantage Press

—, 1983. “The Mallia Table: Kernos or Clock?” Archaeoastronomy 6 (1-4), 114-117

—, 1985 (Oct.). “The Odyssey as a Journey Through Time.” Los Angeles: Griffith Observer, Griffith Observatory, 2-10

—, 1991. “The Labyrinth as an Emblem of The Womb, the Tomb, and Lunisolar Cycle.” Los Angeles: Griffith Observer, Griffith Observatory, 55 (3), 2-19

—, 2000. “Theran Ritual.” NEARA (Journal of the Northeast Antiquities Research Association), 34 (2), 79-88

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Why was the first and longest period of early Western civilization so successful?

How did Minoans of ancient Crete organize their advanced life-loving culture?

How can their wisdom help us to create a more desirable future?

Find out on host Karen Tate’s distinguished program


with Dr. Jack Dempsey

Author of the 1996 novel Ariadne’s Brother and of Calendar House: Clues to Minoan Time from Knossos Labyrinth (2011), Jack shares inspiring new discoveries about Minoans, and shows why they belong on Page One of our historical awareness.



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for a rich radio forum about the late great BARBARA MOR—ground-breaking poet, historian, and radical agent of Earth’s and human healing—with Dr. Jack Dempsey, on host Karen Tate’s distinguished program


We’ll explore the facts of Barbara Mor’s life, her co-creation of the feminist landmark The Great Cosmic Mother, the astounding breadth, depth and relevance of Mor’s poetry and writings—and, her visions and hopes for today’s wide-awake individuals, artists and activists.

FOLLOW THIS LINK:–barbara-morwith-jack-dempsey




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MINOAN TIME: New Theories, New Assets



With not a few global friends, I share the aim of bringing Minoan ways and values into our living. With a 2000-year record of successful civilization (not to mention their longer positive influences), Minoans should be the starting-point among the ancestral teachers we choose for building the future.

I’d like to suggest how central the Minoans’ sense of time was to their success. So, for thinking forward, here is a survey of recent evidences for the workings of time in Minoan culture, some ideas on what they can do for us, and a short list of sources from the experts.

A Few Basics

The calendar that we build from cycles of the seasons, sun, moon and stars structures and organizes what we do with each day and year. From farming to finance, calendrics is such a powerfully useful tool toward accomplishment that it’s no wonder every ancient society created these systems. Working with time can empower us as well.

The bad news is that cycles of the sun and moon don’t match in simple numbers. Without a calendar that harmonizes both, nature’s cycles and human life-activities fall out of step. The good news is that whatever we conclude from evidence of Minoan time, a regular and enthusiastic share of Festival was essential to tracking it, and served as the oil that made almost everything work—from their lives in farming, fishing and gathering to their social, cultural, religious and political ways.

The biggest finds in Minoan archaeology are cupboards filled with little drinking cups. You might say that between booze and schmooze, Minoan festivals—rhythmic intervals of special days set aside from the usual labors of production—smoothed over the rough mathematical edges between the cycles of sun and moon. (The big word here is intercalation.)

Further, because the sun and moon were supreme powers of nature affecting all life, leaders had everything to gain by incorporating their phases and cycles into social events, spiritual rites and festivals—thus seeming to “deploy” them and nature as proofs of their understandings, like cosmic sanctions on what they wished to communicate. New decades of research from Nanno Marinatos, Emilia Banou, Alexander Macgillivray and others seem agreed that central Minoan symbols (the Labrys or double-axe, the horned mountain) relate in multiple sophisticated ways to the sun, moon and stars.

Equally crucial to Minoan long-term success, festivals also smoothed relations among Crete’s fiercely-independent regions, channeling rivalry into social gatherings and competitions from sports to dances, feasts and ceremonies (grandmother of The Olympic Games): something like what we see today in traditional Bali.

In sum, Minoan calendar-based festivals were/are practical and symbolic steps out of ordinary time in which they observed, fostered and celebrated harmonies between nature and their ways of life.

Multiple Clues to Minoan Time


In 2009, Finland’s Marianna Ridderstad published a 42-page survey on every known clue to Minoan astronomy. It cites a dissertation on 167 objects whose features and patterns appear to describe different aspects of heavenly bodies’ real cycles.

Clearly, this shows that from flat and standing stones incised with “cups” to tiny seals, plaques, pottery, jewelry, painting, and the alignments of buildings themselves, Minoan Crete’s independent regions had multiple lunar/solar calendars serving local life. Some appear to track the planet Venus, others “The Hunter” constellation Orion—which, observed with Minoan eyes, forms a glorious double-axe.

We also know that Knossos and The Labyrinth (or House of the Double-Axe)—raised and rebuilt not by kings, but by the bonds and shared ceremonies of multiple Minoan clans—was in many ways the center of Crete’s “sacred economy” and symbolic life for twenty centuries.

So, it makes sense to explore Knossos for clues to a possibly-central Minoan calendar: not one that dominated the rest of Crete’s heterarchy or web of equals, but rather, synchronized them in crucial ways described above. In later Classical days of very fractious Greek communities, that was still the practical and political function of official Olympic Games and “the world’s first computer,” the remarkable Antikythera Mechanism: harmony with nature and ways that worked proactively against conflict.

“The” Knossos Calendar: The Findings

Every calendar declares a New Year Day as the anchoring-point of its count through cycles of seasons, moons and suns. In the case of Knossos, two thoroughgoing works of research each declare a different Minoan New Year, and hence two different central calendric systems. Let’s begin with the view that Autumn Equinox was the anchoring-and-renewal point of a central Minoan calendar.

Since the 1990s, Swedish astronomer Dr. Goran Henriksson of Uppsala University, Dr. Mary Blomberg and their colleagues have produced rich groundbreaking research into the calendric alignments of Minoan buildings. At Knossos, they worked in the reconstructed west wing of the site’s labyrinth of halls, corridors and stairs surrounding the open central court. Their sightings proved that a person looking out (eastward, and up a rising hill toward sunrise) from the inner end of the west wing’s “Corridor of the House Tablets” saw the sun rise on both Spring and Autumn Equinox aligned along the northern (left) edge of the doorway.

Then, 11 days after Autumn Equinox, they saw the sun rise along its southern (right) edge—with the light striking an up-curved “bowl-like stone” laid into the corridor’s inmost flooring-stones. Fill its curvature with a little water, and reflected sunlight touched one point of a small double-axe sign cut into the lower wall, some inches away.

Sighting a New Crescent Moon on that 11th day offered “the special value of predicting the [same] phase of the moon at the following Autumn Equinox” (2000: 83)—and hence, an anchoring-point for the counting of one “official” or central Minoan year.

Dr. Henriksson’s teams have documented matching alignments in calendric astronomy at the ritual site on Mount Juktas overlooking Knossos. On their website’s “Drawings” page, you can see their chart showing simultaneous tracking of the Orion/Double-Axe constellation as another marker of Autumn Equinox at Knossos. And, it’s well-established that the much-later historical Greek calendar also began at Autumn Equinox. Although the sun’s life-giving powers were by then in annual decline, the return of Crete’s seasonal rains were something for the summer-parched land to celebrate.

A few points to consider as you compare this with the second body of evidence and finding, just below:

The Knossos west wing’s “area of the well-known pillar crypts” is “the generally recognized center of cult” for the building, they write (2001: 614). While this can also be said of the wing’s Throne Room Complex just a few steps away, and of the Central Court itself, the corridor and doorway that host these calendric alignments existed since original “Old Palace” times (perhaps 2000 BCE).

But, in the view of renowned archaeologist Sinclair Hood, most of the west wing was “leveled and reconstituted” at some point between 1700 BCE and “New Palace” constructions 100 years later. Were these doorway-alignments built-in from the first, or noticed and put to use in a later period, when Knossos surely already had a central calendar?

Was the curved flooring-stone installed on that spot for the purpose of holding water, or was its water-reflective aspect discovered by accident, and marked with the double-axe in the nearby original wall? Nor, crucially, can we know the original height of the doorway allowing (or not) observation of these alignments: the vertical doorway measured by these studies is a 20th-century reconstruction supervised by Sir Arthur Evans.

The above “Corridor” alignments include an 11-day disjuncture between actual Autumn Equinox and the sighting of a New Moon that anchors and begins a new (year’s) counting-cycle. Notice also that, on this New Year Day, the sun is in Autumn decline but the moon is rising into a new cycle: not perhaps the best-possible harmonizing of lunar/solar time.


The Henriksson team’s Autumn Equinox New Year has an independent ally whose studies are based in Cretan ecology. Dr. Sabine Beckmann is one of the all-time sharpest natural observers, archaeologists and multi-dimensional creators in Minoan Studies, born in Germany and today the welcoming creator of Kroustas Forest Historical Landscape Park in southeastern Crete (where you can hike trails among “mountain Minoan” living-sites in the countryside). In 2006, Beckmann published “Conscious of Time: Minoan ‘Calendar’ Symbolism in the ‘Blue-Bird Fresco,’” which was found at Knossos outside “the Labyrinth” proper in the “House of the Frescoes.”

Beckmann with others considers this fresco “a religious landscape,” and if it is, it likely has calendric reference. She views plants and flowers as “an expression of the Minoan view of nature: a sacred whole, its cycles of life and death including plants and animals.” This agrees in turn with Sir Arthur Evans’ view that Minoans much-identified themselves with vegetal life. Here is Beckmann’s own summary, and you can see why in effect she agrees with Henriksson’s team. She is “reading” the fresco-wall left-to-right, as a “synopsis of a whole year cycle” of Cretan flowers:

…Crocus/saffron standing for the renewal of nature/life in Autumn (not Spring, as usually suggested!) after the first [return of the] rains; Iris unguicularis for the end of winter and sowing time; lilium candidum for a time of passage before harvest and the dry death of nature in summer; pomegranate for beginning and end of summer/autumn, surviving drought and death until the beginning of the next year cycle; mint for the height of summer and the importance of knowing humid places for agriculture in a country with months without rain….Some basically important calendrical moments for agriculture—as beginning and end of the time the soil is arable and humid enough for sowing, or harvest—could thus be integrated into a wider symbolism of life, together providing a mythical context for spiritual and practical living.” (from “Beyond the Moon: Minoan Calendric Plant-Symbolism, 2012)

image004    image003

Beckmann, meanwhile, has been typically open-minded toward other theories of Minoan New Year. Let’s move to explore one more research-finding—that Winter Solstice was New Year Day at Knossos—with an immediate contrast to both that is architectural.

In 2001, UK archaeologist Lucy Goodison demonstrated that in the west wing’s equally central Throne Room, the original alignment of its southern doorway brings direct sunlight in to touch the throne (the most magisterial sign of Minoan authority we have), precisely on Winter Solstice, “the sun’s birthday” because from that moment of maximum weakness, its powers wax toward their cyclic peak. (Goodison’s floor plan, throne in red.)


The throne of Knossos—by no evidence, ever moved from its original place—is positioned in space according to solar time. Its face presents what scholars agree are a lunar crescent and a solar (or, stellar) disk, time’s cosmic symbols. And, on the corresponding day of Summer Solstice, the light of the sun reaching and beginning to fall from its cyclic peak passes through the chamber’s northern door, to fall in the mysterious “lustral basin” or dark dry stone pit that lies opposite the throne. This complex embodies the real life-cycle of the sun.

Meanwhile, the throne’s crescent moon, paired with the sun-disc, makes us ask—If these appear together here, is there a real cyclic point in time that includes and harmonizes them? The answer is Yes, and in turn, that answer links the throne room’s calendric structure with many other central and common Minoan artifacts.

When do we see, with practical precision, a New Crescent Moon in the sky on Winter Solstice day? Our first clue is also built into the throne. The polished stone slab of its carefully-carved back-rest presents 4 curves or waves on each vertical side (8), and a 9th curved point at its peak. Do these features—like many identified in other objects by archaeo-astronomers—denote the number 8 or 9? And doesn’t later myth say that “King Minos” ruled here in unique cycles of “8 or 9” years?

What makes both numbers correct is an actual lunar/solar cycle of just this kind (still going on in our own skies), that ends and begins again every 8½ years, with a New Crescent Moon in the sky of Winter Solstice Day. On that day, the cycles of sun and moon match (harmonize), the pair of them just beginning a new journey from darkness to light and back again.

But don’t forget the throne room’s door for sunlight on Summer Solstice. What lunar phase, then, matches the sun at the peak of its power and beginning of its decline? The only answer can be Full Moon.

And so we have two pair—a doubled pair—of complementary moments in the cycles of the moon and sun: New Moon at Winter Solstice and, exactly 6 months later, Full Moon at Summer Solstice. When you see those paired events, their moments of harmony will repeat with sharp precision 8½ years later. Along the way—moon by solar year, along a series of 18 solstices—the moon’s particular phases are also extremely regular. So here we have a calendric astronomy both visible and useful in its daily, annual and long-term consistencies.

The Henriksson team first suggested that Minoans saw Labrys the Double-Axe in our constellation Orion, and they know the traditions of “Minos Enneoros” or “the 9-year king” (2000: 86). While Orion/Labrys doesn’t exclusively signify Autumn Equinox, they show (so far) no further indications of that system in Minoan artifacts, in the central throne or the omnipresent double-axe. In dialogue with Henriksson, he told me he was unaware of Goodison’s throne room discoveries.


But, grasping this real 8½-year cycle and its signs in the throne room’s architecture, look again at the double-axe. Most examples we have are practical chopping-tools, with the virtues of balance and a blade that turns around to double usefulness. And here is that increasingly-visible Minoan doubling pattern again. Its form produces the same “4 points to a side” we saw in the throne—for when we turn it around, we have 4 more (8), plus a 9th point in the center at the peak of the handle.

Hence the two most central and authoritative Minoan artifacts (the throne and double-axe) point alike to a real cycle of practical lunar/solar time: a system that likely structured Crete’s agricultural-festival life, and functioned to maintain the Minoans’ clear archaeological “lack” of identifiable, entrenched, hereditary, omnipotent male kings.

These numbers, patterns, signs and systems appear where they should (like a good mainstream calendar) across the spectrum of Minoan remains, which you can judge for yourself in the chapters of Calendar House: Clues to Minoan Time from Knossos Labyrinth. (Published at, and essentialized in The Knossos Calendar: Minoan Cycles of the Sun, the Moon, the Soul & Political Power, Iraklion: Mystis Editions 2016).

Notably, when we double the numbers again—like the doubled double-axes that otherwise lack explanation—those cycles of lights also reach out to comprehend cycles of shadows, or lunar/solar Saros eclipses that occur with clock-precision every 18 years. These shadows, in form and color, are part of the throne’s tableau, too. No leaders could claim the sanctions of heavenly lights without a knowledge of their shadows.

For the record, the much later Greek proof of Saros Cycles is called the beginning of science. These patterns of time appear also in others’ first-rate scholarship on Cretan and Greek civilizations: Malcolm Cross’ The Creativity of Crete, Florence and Kenneth Woods’ study of Homer’s astronomy in Homer’s Secret Odyssey, and new science on the Antikythera Mechanism published in Nature. When many independent studies begin to reveal the same patterns, there is usually something of substance in their midst.

What, then, do you think? Which of these bodies of evidence and findings suggest, to you, the Minoans’ most likely central calendar?

There is no inherent contradiction between a cycle anchored at Winter Solstice and another at Autumn Equinox. Given the vexing irregularities of all systems, Minoans probably used every body of observations they had, plus a raucously engaging festival life, to keep their society in harmony with nature and functioning smoothly.

Minoan Time as a Teacher and Instrument for Change


What is time? Does it even exist? Or is it an illusion in the present (the only here/now we always have) through which the seasons of nature and our souls cycle eternally? Minoans left us plenty of human progress, but no Mayan-like counting of years and ages—only ways to keep ourselves in harmony. How much destructiveness do we embrace in the present for a chimera of “eventual progress” (toward what, exactly)? “Minoan time” has a number of meanings and useful implications.

If we read the Knossos throne’s moon and sun as female/male (or both), they can have sanctioned both women and men on that seat of power. Alternation is another hallmark of Minoan sacred patterns, as gender-egalitarian as their self-images. Calendrically and otherwise, moon and sun have their own lives but inform each other’s, sign and countersign, dance, join and dance away from each other again–“lovingly compelled, yet free,” as Nietzsche put it in a poem in The Gay Science.

The Minoan centrality of cyclic time suggests that even supreme powers in nature have risings and fallings, or in a word, limitations. As above, perhaps so below. The Minoans’ “lack” of entrenched kings, and the constitutional time-limits on power that later historical Cretans wove also into their laws, might not surprise us as reasons for their success in keeping mostly-at-peace with each other. For years of study, a kind of Minoan Motto has come to me: People are good, unless they get too much power.

But we cannot imagine Minoan Crete (neither primitive nor utopian) as an accidental achievement. The Minoans’ cosmos, calendar, economy and spiritual life reflect choices for complementarity rather than conflict. Their power-sharing politics and festivals worked proactively to keep different communities closely connected, where heterarchal bonds of kinship, gifting, and diplomacy with known others could do the most against violence and war.

When kings and states wandered away from the contexts of nature’s cycles and into text-based ideology, we seemed to lose The Garden. What we need is a culture that helps us to remember and keep our dignity because we are in it. The Minoans’ arts put you there: they manifest moments of observative vision that lift us toward new conceptions of what we are and can be.

If Knossos astronomy served as the Minoans’ chronometer, guiding (like the Mechanism) when and which community would host the next festival, what about a modern global version of this? New studies of the early Olympics, rooted in Minoan time and customs, confirm that even the most antagonistic city-states took part because they gained more than olive-crowns for athletes. While today’s Games founder in the face of a global terror-machine, never has the planet so needed an aggressively positive international program, a “sacred secular space” to close the dangerous distances among us and foster crucial new cooperations.

Cancer is the only thing in nature that “grows forever.” If human being has a future, we need to stop “learning” from the idealized but all-devouring Catastrophe Cycle (History) bestowed on us by “charismatic” kingship—a mile of needless blood for every inch of progress.

Put the full-bloom Minoans where they belong (if we care about facts), on the front pages of education. Suddenly we seem to know what happened to us. Most “dangerously,” if the norms of true civilization were changed (by catastrophe, violence and luck), they can be changed again.

Minoan culture was a dynamically creative, world-exploring steady state, with their world’s best average living standards, fostered by an oikonomia (“household”) in which all members gained. Their 2000+ years failed to leave evidence of slavery, destructive exploitation, vicious in-fighting, or preying on their neighbors: their “successors” the patriarchal Mycenaeans devoured each other after a few hundred years, their kings and crimes propping up a system of profit and privilege with all those too-familiar fatal features.

Minoans can inspire and light this crucial turn in our path as the clearly-successful ancestral teachers we should study and imitate: Minoans, Canaanites and Philistines, Celts, Etruscans, Native Americans and more, who by no coincidence honored powerfully learned women.

A small gentle stream, working with time along the lines of least resistance, moves mountains.

Related Resources

Banou, E., 2008 (June). “Minoan ‘Horns of Consecration’ Revisited: A Symbol of Sun Worship in Palatial and Post-Palatial Crete?” In Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry, Vol. 8, Issue 1: pp. 27-47

Beckmann, S., 2006. “Conscious of Time: Minoan ‘Calendar Symbolism in the ‘Blue Bird Fresco.’” In Tampakaki, E. and A. Kaloutsakis, eds., Pepragmena Th’ Diethnous Kritologikou Synedriou, Elounta, 1-6 Oktovriou 2001. A3: Proistoriki Periodos, Techni kai Latreia. Irakleio, Etairia Kritikon Istorikon Meleton, pp. 65-82. This and her 2012 “Beyond the Moon” are also available online at

Blomberg, M. and G. Henriksson, 1996. “’Minos Enneoros’: Archaeoastronomical Light on the Priestly Role of the King in Crete.” In Alroth, B. and Hellstrom, P., eds., Religion and Power in the Ancient Greek World: Proceedings of the Uppsala Symposium 1993. Uppsala University, pp. 27-39

–, G. Henriksson and M. Papathanassiou, 2000. “The Calendric Relationship Between the Minoan Peak Sanctuary on Juktas and the Palace at Knossos.” In Obridko, V.N. and T.M. Potyomkina, eds., Proceedings of the Conference “Astronomy of Ancient Civilizations” of the European Society for Astronomy in Culture (SEAC) and National Astronomy Meeting (JENAM). SEAC: Moscow, pp. 81-92

Blomberg, M. and G. Henriksson, 2001. “Archaeoastronomy: New Trends in the Field, with Methods and Results from Studies in Minoan Crete.” In Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, Vol. 247, pp. 609-616

–, 2011. “The Evidence from Knossos on the Minoan Calendar.” In Mediterranean Archaeology & Archaeometry, Vol. 11, Issue 1: pp. 59-68

Cross, M., 2011. The Creativity of Crete: City-States and the Foundation of the Modern World. Oxford: Signal Books

Goodison, L., 2001. “From Tholos Tomb to Throne Room: Perceptions of the Sun in Minoan Ritual.” In Hagg, R. and R. Laffineur, eds., Potnia: Deities and Religion in the Aegean Bronze Age. University of Goteberg, Aegaeum Vol. 22, pp.77-88

Macgillivray, A., 2007. “The Stone ‘Horns of Consecration,’ or ‘Twin Peaks.’ In Driessen, J.M. and L.H. Sackett, eds., Palaikastro: Two Bronze Age Wells. British School at Athens Supplement Vol. 43: London, pp. 177-180

–, 2008. “Making Time for Minos: Evidence of Time-Keeping in Minoan Crete.” Summary of Lecture Presentation via, The Danish Archaeological Institute at Athens

Marinatos, N., 1995. “Divine Kingship in Minoan Crete.” In Rehak, P., ed., The Role of the Ruler in the Prehistoric Aegean. Liege: Aegaeum Vol. 11,              pp. 37-48

–, 2010. Minoan Kingship and the Solar Goddess: A Near Eastern Koine. Urbana: University of Illinois Press

Ridderstad, M., 2009 (October). “Evidence of Minoan Astronomy and Calendrical Practices.” Published on the Internet via West Virginia University History of Astronomy Discussion Group, at . Author: c/o Helsinki University Observatory, P.O. Box 14, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland—and,

Wood, F. and K., 2011. Homer’s Secret Odyssey. Gloucester UK: The History Press


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PROFIT: 3 of 4 People Will Try Something Else

Female figurines with upraised arms, from pre-Dynastic Egypt c 3500 BCE

      Since August 2011 when I published WOOP: We the Workers of the World Walk Out On Profit, the people who do the world’s work every day (You) have continued to work harder, get poorer and become seemingly more powerless—because, of course, there is no bottom or limit to the subjection intended for us by the Profit System (https://jackdempsey

      This is also fundamentally because working people have continued to believe the lie coming at them 24/7 from Profit—that they have no real power to change course. This, even as Profit must have them working every day, like a powerful vampire who actually depends on willing victims.

If you believe that is your “fate,” you might want to know what other people think.

At the end of WOOP I asked a simple poll-question: “Is private Profit the best way to promote everybody’s progress?”

Here are the results (and I did not vote!):

      Total Responses/Votes: 36

      EMPHATIC NO: 22 votes (or 61.11%)—“because taking more than you give [Profit] does not add up.”

      MAYBE WE NEED A NEW SYSTEM: 6 votes (or 16.67%)

      Add those two figures (total 77.78%): THREE OUT OF FOUR people support active cooperative change or at least believe another way is possible. 

Not a single respondent expressed belief in the maxim of Profit that “selfishness drives me to meet other people’s needs.”

The remainder (6 votes or 16.66%) voted “Other” without any comment whatsoever.

So, What are we going to do about it? Do you understand yet that your daily relationship with Work is your greatest point of real power? Business knows it. 

As the Capitalist Profit System continues to lie, steal, conquer, kill and destroy the Earth to “prove” itself—as you look at your only “choices” in either Shillary, or Donald-Everybody-Duck—we might want to look again at what really is happening to us, and what we still really can do about it. May these words from Thucydides at the head of WOOP‘s original page challenge and inspire you to act, with all other human beings, on behalf of your own life and the life of the only planet we have.

The secret of happiness is freedom, and the secret of freedom, courage.

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Ancient Minoan Calendar and our Heritage of (yes, relative) Peace

Happy Summer Solstice!

Announcing publication of a small (50pp) color-illustrated booklet The Knossos Calendar: Minoan Cycles of the Sun, the Moon, the Soul and Political Power, published in English and Greek versions by Mystis Editions:

Description. Minoan Cycles of the Sun, the Moon, the Soul & Political Power. AUTHOR’S NOTE. Minoan civilization returned to the sun over 100 years ago.


In 2001, UK archaeologist Lucy Goodison demonstrated a core feature of Minoan astronomy in plain sight all along. The throne of Knossos—which stood for over 1500 years circa 2500-1400, inscribed with a solar disc and lunar crescent—is positioned to be touched by the light of Winter Solstice. With Summer Solstice sunlight also built into this chamber, this can hardly be other than the Minoans’ essential prime counting-anchor for the New Year Day of their central calendar.

A New Moon at Winter Solstice (as we saw last December 2015) pairs the sun’s and moon’s cycles at their newborn beginnings; and today in the sky is their paired complement of a Full Moon at Summer Solstice, with both bodies at their cycles’ peak. From here (hot as it is), the sun begins to fall again toward shadow, and so does the month’s moon. These doubled pairs of events repeat every 8 and 1/2 years, and a huge body of evidence suggests that this was the central Minoan reconciliation of solar and lunar time.

Along this cycle, the sun presents 18 solstices (9 Winter, 9 Summer)—and, month by year, the moon’s particular phases are highly regular along the way between them. Hence, as generations of observation and teaching went on, this was a very practical calendar, whose uses ranged from agriculture to the Minoans’ highest and deepest mysteries, woven in rhythms of light and shadow.

Why, after all, did “Minos” (or Minoan leaders) reign for a uniquely limited “8 or 9”-year term? In the sacred arts of Knossos, there was a predeliction for doubling significant features (even the blades of their central symbol, Labrys the double axe). And, this doubling had its match in their astronomy, as their cycles of solstice lights were matched by shadows of the greater 18/19-year Saros Eclipse Cycle. (The first written record of predicting an eclipse, circa 5th century BCE, is called the beginning of Western science.)

As many other scholars explore the bases for the timing of Olympic Games, for the cycle of time in Homer’s Iliad/Odyssey, and for the central functions of The Antikythera Mechanism, they independently detail the same calendric periods. There simply was no other possible place than Minoan Crete to have begun and bestowed so much understanding.

This little book includes all the central evidences, while Calendar House: Clues to Minoan Time from Knossos Labyrinth (free at presents the full range of studies demonstrating the patterns of Bronze Age Crete’s sacred astronomy.

Thanks, and a wonderful Summer to all—

Jack Dempsey

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(“I Knew Right Away He Was Not Ordinary”)

Chris Pfouts a

        These memories of Chris Pfouts—fiction-writer, editor of multiple magazines devoted to the arts of tattooing and motorcycle culture, multi-talented craftsman, life-adventurer, and generous friend of man and beasts of all kinds—come more than two years after his passing (June 2013). I only just learned about it, because while our friendship of several years was an intense one in the way of fellow writers—starting way back in New York City in 1986—we had gone our ways and lost touch by the mid-1990s. That was my fault, and Chris’ decision, which I’ll explain in due course. On my side, anyway, the best of the friendship went on through after-years, teaching and encouraging me to rise to my very best as a man and writer, and his passing away will make no difference in that relationship.

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        In 1986 a mutual freelance-writing friend had invited each of us with many others to his annual Easter gathering at his New York home, and that’s where I met Chris—a versatile, merrily opinionated fellow scribbler who was the picture of the biker gang-leader you’d never want to meet in a dark alley: he must have been 6-foot-five from the long thick hair down his shoulders to his motorcycle boots, with a broad lean build of California surfer steel, a quick bright smile and piercing stare, a goatee gracing his rough rocky features, and always a beer in his formidable mitt.

        Chris loved to laugh, especially right through anybody’s pompous pretensions. He loved rough ruthless honesty, and he knew how to listen before he drove his wit through your brain, gut, or both. While I was writing for educational textbook publishers, Chris wrote for and edited various motorbike and tattoo magazines: two of his primary passions, not to mention his love for hard-hitting literature, hand-crafting jewelry, and his ever-growing collection of vintage children’s toys, most lately including a “Mr. Machine” fresh out of the 1960s box, whose acquisition tickled him like a giant kid. Before the day was out, we each knew that the other was struggling to write our first serious books, and we made a pact to swap manuscripts and feedback. Having noticed that Chris came to this half-dressy holiday gathering in jeans and a T-shirt, it was too late to escape the pact when I saw at last the “Psychotic Reaction” tattoo on his bicep.

        Plowing my way through the ancient-world research for a literary historical novel, these first impressions made me dread Chris’ sometimes-brutal bluntness—and yet I wanted to know if the work could stand up to it, and if I could rise to his comments and his friendship. In fact, Chris went into thoughtful, open-minded detail far beyond anybody else’s reactions, he told me plainly what he thought I should hammer harder and what I should drop, and I daresay the work gained tremendously from his response.

        Meanwhile, Chris’ novel—called Music From A Cement Piano—knocked me over with its energy and eroticism, its sharp randy dialogue, its lovingly obsessive detail and humor, spare but rich style, and its trio of main characters who all seemed to have been carved out of sides of Chris himself. The narrator was indeed the image and voice of my new friend with his range of interests and talents, from breaking motorcycles down to the bone and rebuilding them to his gift for turning any bit of scrap-metal into novel jewelry, while he and his mate—a powerfully sexy and vibrantly outspoken half-black woman—shared the joys of house-sitting at the former California residence of actress Carole Lombard.

        The passion between them was no more or less than living life richly each day, exemplified by the first pages’ scene of their drinking and fucking in Lombard’s swimming pool. The central complication arose from the third character, whom I remember as Carl—a crude-brained local landscaper whose failing marriage to an overweight wife he called “Mushy Fuck” led him to start spying on the lovers through their Hollywood hedgerows. Chapter by punchy chapter alternated between the lovers’ steamy life-delighted joys, and Carl’s pathetic intensifying spiral of pornographic peeping and personal misery. Page by page, I knew that Carl wasn’t going to be satisfied till he somehow laid his grubby hands on her, and/or their luscious lives—and by the end, told with just as much gusto as the rest, Carl’s insane invasion of their world cost him his own. The words tour de force came to mind, and Chris was just as grateful as I was to have his work enjoyed and taken so seriously.

        I’m not sure how many times Chris tried to get Piano published—I greatly hope that this outstanding book eventually does see print—but I failed the same likely number of times with my own work, and we kept each other going as writers will. Chris’ various New York apartments were big quasi-industrial spaces where he could spread out his projects and passions: he loved all kinds of exotic mechanical junk, rare crazy records, and always there was a half-assembled motorcycle splayed out in his living-space, his dream to build/restore for himself the perfect vintage Indian Chief. Then, by the fall of 1987, I got the lifetime-opportunity to leave New York for the Greek island of Crete (about which I was writing), and Chris’ letters kept his usual sparks flying as he bounced from gig to gig, writing constantly in multiple modes and, like me, fighting for that break that could launch the life we really wanted—answerable to nothing except our skills and arts.

        When I came back from that dreamlike year of writing by the sea in Crete, I bounced next for a year to Portland, Oregon, where my engagement with a terrific woman broke up on the rocks of my virtual unemployment; and, not wanting to live in New York anymore, I next bounced back to my family home north of Boston, while Chris left the city for new freelance horizons in Pennsylvania. His letters said he found it as drab and dull there as a rusty muffler, and eventually he returned to New York City. Soon I’d bounced again, back to Crete on my own for another year of trying to finish that goddam novel and land a European publisher for it—and Chris, to my great surprise and pleasure, came over to see what this Greece thing was all about for two weeks in that May of 1991.

        He had meanwhile sent me the much-appreciated company of some of his favorite half-whacked tunes collected on cassette: it opened and ended with “Hot Rod Lincoln” versions by Johnny Bond and Commander Cody. The rest of the list was pure Chris-company that kept my isolated spirits up: “Out With The Girls” and “Fujiyama Mama” by Pearl Harbour, “Six Days On The Road” by Dave Dudley, “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” (by “Dylan Is God”), Captain Beefheart’s “Plastic Factory,” “Baby Please Don’t Go” by Them, “Big Balls” by AC/DC, three Black Sabbath tunes (“Ozzie Fuckin’ Rules!”), and the creepy-funny “Transfusion” by Nervous Norvus.

        None of those tourist-pussy Vespa’s for Chris: he was going to ride a decent bike or forget it, and I deferred to become his rider as we took to Crete’s seacoast and mountain roads, with him driving and me guiding the tour. Chris instantly loved the island’s semi-desert high country and bright blue sea, the fresh food and warm-hearted people, the blasé way in which everyone enjoyed the almost-naked beach customs and topless sunbathing European nymphs. Chris couldn’t stop often enough to photograph the new-to-him language of Greek highway signs: for example, a simple exclamation-mark before a hairy turn or hazard which he translated roughly, “Hey stupid, wake the fuck up!” He also loved the little roadside shrines that usually marked where somebody had been killed by careless driving: more than once it was nothing but Chris’ sharp eyes that saved us from plummeting down into some hairpin-turn’s ravine or into a road-collapsed pot-hole. “Oh, look!” he’d say pointing at one with his best Curly-voice from The Three Stooges. Chris was also rich with always-spot-on lines from books and songs for every occasion: talking about a certain slim romantic hope of the day, he laughed with Dylan, “I still can’t remember all the best things she said!”

        As we stopped someplace to swim and eat, I saw for the first time Chris with his shirt off, and almost fell over when I saw the ultimate writer’s tattoo across the huge expanse of his back: he’d never mentioned having it, but there was the biggest and most detailed image I’d ever seen on a human body, a shapely brunette in leopard-skin bra and tights leaning back on an old Remington typewriter whose rendering made you think you could tap the keys. And that, baby, was Chris’ muse: the woman who’d never get off his back.

Chris Pfouts c.jpg

        There was also a kind of new caution in Chris, who was now holding off from more than a couple of the Greek and German beers he liked so much, and the explanation for that also came from his flesh. Chris had been shot, in the leg, one night during his last year in New York, and the scars from the hell-hole hospital operations he’d endured to save it were horrifying. His manly reticence meant I’d never heard about it, and would get no real details until he published Lead Poisoning: 25 True Stories from the Wrong End of a Gun later that year. But I do know that he came through it not only thinner and more cautious, but more subdued, having looked—as he’d almost bled to death on that Brooklyn street, shot by a neighborhood crack-dealer—into the face of the real Reaper.

        The essential facts: one summer night, living in his usual big-and-cheap-rent kind of place in Brooklyn, Chris stepped out across the street to the local bodega for some beers. He’d casually dropped his latest bag of trash into a curbside can, and as he then stood waiting in line in front of the bodega’s bulletproof window, he watched a local young crack-dealer rip his trash-bag out of the can, come across the street with it, and pour its contents all over the street in front of him. “Yeah?” Chris shrugged to him. “What are you gonna do now?” The reply was, “I’m gonna do this, motherfucker,” and the shit-for-brains pulled a pistol and shot Chris in the leg. Chris, by chance having dropped his trash on top of the dealer’s street-side dope-stash, went down, then managed to crawl as he bled back up the stairs to his apartment, and had the terrified presence of mind to call a friend before he dialed 911—so that, in case he went into shock, he could be sure that his Emergency call wasn’t a delusion that left him to bleed to death. Chris only just barely survived at all, and several restorative surgeries put him through a god-awful gauntlet of the medical care that mostly-impecunious Americans typically receive.

        Before Chris went back home with his usual armload of projects, plans and career-hopes—about which he was willing to confess more discouragement than ever before—he told me, “You’ve really found a great place here, Jack: make the most of it, and do whatever you have to do to get that damn book out there.” One last night, we were roving around chasing semi-close encounters with stunning young Cretan women in the thick of the crazy streets of Heraklion. “That woman is five quarts of sex in a gallon jug,” he quipped; dismissing a try to talk with another because “I’d just be disappointed when I see the grass-stains on her knees.” At last, Chris came out of a music store with a Thanks-for-the-visit gift for me, a rare cassette of very early Dylan songs. Inside it, he wrote a line from Dylan’s “Isis”: “I knew right away he was not ordinary.”

        So, Chris and I kept on keeping in touch. He grew his working network of writing/editing jobs (he styled himself “Top Hat” as an editor), and managed some time in northern Europe in that connection, speaking out against racist remarks he once heard with a riposte something like: “Yeah, put black people down all you want, Fritz, and you can thank them later for all that jazz you love but never created, and all the other things you’ve ripped off from their souls and cultures.”

        But before much longer came our parting of the ways. How? Well, Chris had written another novel, called Birdsong Street—which for me was his half-despairing complete indulgence of his darker side, concerning an anonymous urban wreck of a landscape centered around a street laid out like a Schutzstaffel S, where every man and his guns were a law unto themselves and whose denouement was a full-blown Texas-style war between its gangs and the police. “I’ll kill anybody who tries to change this place,” said his blood-soaked lead character near the end. It was a far cry indeed from Cement Piano: I told Chris why it so dissatisfied me and why I felt it was less than I knew he possessed. That didn’t go over very well. He was increasingly fed up with trying to please anybody—even as the joy of his discovering that he had a full-grown daughter living in California lit up his life in deep and unexpected ways. Just as we began to drift apart I could hear, out of that and his trip to get to know her, a profound warmth and wonder in Chris that I’d never quite heard before. He was crazy about her, elated as ever I’d seen him that she dug him, too, for exactly who he was.

        Secondly, in my own career-despair, I’d applied and been accepted to Brown University Graduate School, thinking there might be a life in teaching (there isn’t, thanks to business, of course). To keep my blood wild in the stately soul-freezing halls of the Ivy League, Chris generously sent me Lester Bangs’ exuberant collection of rock’n’roll essays called Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, inscribing it thus:

Dirty Doctor Dempsey Drags Boffo Bangs to Brown: Result is Distaff Delirium & Femme Fatalities—Antics for the Annals of Academia. If History is Bunk, who gets the top and who gets the bottom? Doc, I don’t feel so good. Chris Pfouts, August 2 1992: the dirt on the edge of the book is a bonus.

        The next year, as early high hopes of a new life sank into the grad-school-grind’s realities, I wrote to Chris expressing my dour disappointments. His terse reply: “I get more cheerful letters from guys in prison.” And he was right, I knew it even then—but it took me years to bust through all that and get life going again. Meanwhile, we fell out of touch. And while I kept the best eye I could on Chris’ doings via the Internet, I could never coax him to reestablish our connections. I don’t blame him one bit for walking away from my privileged whining—not one bit. But I always will regret that I blew the friendship this way, that we had gone our ways after years that did so much to bring out my best as a man and writer.

        Chris, I will always miss you, always appreciate how much of yourself you shared. Stay with me, because I need your courage and guts, your refusal to bow before anything, your multi-sided creativity and joy in life to which anybody living should aspire. I’m only proud to be one of the many who knew, appreciated, and loved you like a brother.

        When I thrill to the wild Cretan thunderstorms over the mountains where I live today, I’ll know it’s you, roaring across the sky at last on that mighty Indian Chief you always dreamed.

Chris Pfouts d.jpg


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