Beginning (Day 1), where? Karfi: a colossal gray crag-faced spike of granite rising straight up from the shoulders of a mountain, hammered like a nail in the heart of our island Mother Kriti. Whoever sailed the sea miles below, or stole up into this country, Karfi saw them first. Old times of our mothers and fathers, Karfi was a high place of dance, of feast and healing, between the stars and the horned mountain caves of our families’ sleep. Now in a world torn off its wheel, a refuge only self-exiles would choose. A hostile crag, as far as possible from homes we could not let go…Every wall a common wall in this honeycomb of lanes and shelters, huddled down out of wind and sight behind The Nail’s northern cliffs…

3 Karphi from the northeast

Deucalion and the families huddled up here know now it’s not enough: their “free” life of high mountain cold, isolation and poverty has amounted after all to powerlessness, in the face of the rapacious Mycenaean occupation of Minoan Crete below. If it is time to go (somewhere!), they cannot leave the once-sacred center of their lives, Knossos Labyrinth (Day 2), in such hands. In burning the place and stealing their enemies’ ships, will they lose their own souls? And into these quandaries (Day 3 here) comes Pyrrha of Alashiya (Cyprus), a Cretan-born woman with a call to the new life everybody wants…


…I took her to a bench-stone near our spring. She filled her jar, then sat with legs tucked under her, hands in her lap. Her slender back and bosom reared up from folds of her cushion, the green cloak: she’d dropped the under-veil from her white headdress too, a different flower now, the wind rippling a full-length cotton robe of lightest lavender. Canaan-colors: one ounce of that dye cost her weight in bronze. I yearned for the world in her….Glorious, and something was coming. She straightened up, waist, spine and shoulders, raised one palm and lifted her chin to speak as embassy. Achaians said a woman made good hostage in affairs, but from Labyrinth days, such daughters had borne things of moment. Trained and seasoned queens of their kind, they understood each other, and midwived standards for a fractious Great Green….

sunset view of Dia from Karfi

The view northeast from Karfi’s cliffs, including Dia Isle where, with the death of Ariadne, the breath went out of the Minoan soul—only to be reborn (of course) as a fiercer-than-ever Cretan spirit. So, the men of Karfi gather their weapons: their families face choices of who will sail for Cyprus. The eye of Karfi draws down on their target, Knossos Labyrinth.  

13 Knossos valley

When you’re going to rip your life up by the roots for the sake of another one, you’d better first go to the deepest place there is, where the guides’ voices speak. So here on the edge of attack and emigration, Karfi’s Mother Zoe (their eldest woman—“the voice of the cave, and its silence walked with her”) gives her all to the tribe encircling her, in their last night together in a field at the feet of Mount Dikte:

22 Lasithi paparouna

–Finish, and begin! Mother Zoe cried, with her torch high at the center of us, her free hand beckoning closer. –Yonder our mother, sisters and brothers. Take her with you, kourai and kouri. Want to tell you something, though. Do you see this garden, in our midst? Always, you are in it. Act like it. Now I’m going to give you, plain, the way we did old times, your mothers’ secrets to help find a way. Sisters and brothers, whatever becomes of you, remember this place where our one soul was born. Come times you want to die: All-Giver is a monster, too. But Dikte is touchstone. The core of our ways to the light

–One way is, to love someone, Zoe said. –To love until your dead skin drops like Snake’s. You can be grateful, over all you lose. And, you can consent: consent to know this dream your own. To love, be grateful, consent: remember! Alright, that’s all I have to say, goodbye, Zoe finished with a flippant cast of one hand, turning her back. –Farewell

She broke the circle and disappeared away through the combing grass, going up to the cave. Never her old shoulders back so far and straight, as if she had resolved on and arranged her own abandonment, to scatter living seed abroad. Nobody moved, at first. I saw not even Ninna quite in tears, for the plateau’s air ran upon our skin, every stone and star and peep of creature perfect and in place, like jewels in the veil of things…

 [237] Cnossos Today

These are the ruins of Knossos Labyrinth. At right-center of the central courtyard above, you see the four reconstructed doorways to the throne room. And so amid the blood and flames, Deucalion “Sweet Wine,” Otus Who Pushes Back, goes through them once more and becomes the monster never known to Minoans, but ascribed to them by ignorant invaders who despised them: Minotavros, Minotaur Man-Eater, the worst of the human being, for ages kept in check by a web of cosmic time and ceremony…

This red-walled chamber, the core of Minoan memory, is almost too much to bear. Stony before Deucalion sits Koreter, “the man,” a mainland-born “governor” of many crimes waiting their consequence. There’s only one question’s answer that can save his life:

–Just tell us about one good thing you have done, for Crete, in coming here. There must be one good thing. Tell us about it…

He can’t…


The throne of Knossos as found in 1900 AD

26---Crete winter rains begin

Amnisos Valley composite

Sunrise silhouette of Kaka Oros or “Bad Mountain,” the blunt headland just east of Amnisos, the ancient harbor of Knossos. Here too is my crude composite of the valley where you still find traces of the old Minoan road inland. Deucalion’s fighters would have swept down valley to the ship-shed ruins still on the beach today.

People back cover ships

For the ways this night of murder hurt Deucalion and his families, he longs to lie down in the soil. “The road to Knossos no longer led home.”

And here was the sea.

1 eastern Med map





About Dr Jack Dempsey

Always good to hear from you! A life-long freelance writer/editor, Brown University Ph.D. (in Native & Early American Studies)---novelist ("Ariadne's Brother," "People of the Sea"), historian and biographer ("New English Canaan," "Thomas Morton," "Mystic Fiasco" and more), producer ("Nani: A Native New England Story"), Book Editor/Public Speaking Coach: Bentley University Adjunct Assistant Professor of English, Media Studies & Communications (Best Part Time Prof 2010). Latest works? Scientific nonfiction on the lunar/solar calendar of ancient Minoan Crete---"The Knossos Calendar: Minoan Cycles of the Sun, the Moon, the Soul & Political Power" (Iraklion, Mystis 2016), based on lectures drawn from "Calendar House: Clues to Minoan Time from Knossos Labyrinth" (2011). Come and enjoy multimedia resources including filmed Native American interviews at ANCIENTLIGHTS.ORG
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