The Minoan Epiphany - A Bronze Age Visionary Culture

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Xibalba Books, Jan 2, 2021 - Social Science - 296 pages

The art and iconography of the Minoan civilisation of Bronze Age Crete is rightly described as having a refreshing vitality with a fortunate combination of stylisation and spontaneity in which the artist is able to transform conventional imagery into a personal expression.

The dynamism, torsion and naturalism evident in Minoan art stands in stark contrast to the hieratic rigidity of other ancient civilisations, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the iconography of the Minoan Epiphany, a set of mainly glyptic (rings, seals, and seal impression) images which appear to depict religious celebrants experiencing direct and seemingly ecstatic encounters with deities.

This collection of essays explores this central aspect of Minoan religion, taking a strongly archaeological focus to allow the artefacts to speak for themselves, and moving from traditional ‘representational’ interpretations into ‘embodied’ perspectives in which the ecstatic capabilities of the human body throw new light on Aegean Bronze Age ritual practices. Such ideas challenge rather passive assumptions modern Western observers hold about the nature of religious feelings and experiences, in particular the depictions of altered states of consciousness in ancient art, and the visionary potential of dance gestures.

Speculative asides on the potential for a Minoan origin for Classical Greek humanism, and hints in the imagery on ancient Cretan conceptions of the cosmos, are set against sound archaeological theories to explain this lively and dynamic corpus of images.

Beautifully illustrated with images and sketches of the relevant artefacts, this wide-ranging volume will stimulate audiences with archaeological, prehistorical and spiritual interests, as well as historians of religion and art. ‘The Minoan Epiphany’ also represents an influential antecendent to the Visionary Humanist philosophy which forms the majority of Bruce’s current independent research interests.


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About the author (2021)

Bruce Rimell is a visual artist, poet and independent researcher, whose work explores the visionary, the archaeological, and the interactions of the cognitive and the ethnographic. His original academic background was astrophysics, but his love of ‘origins’ and regular interventions of migraine experiences since childhood led him upon a humanist quest towards prehistory, archaeology, the ethnography of myth and the evolutionary anthropology of human origins. The fusion of these elements led to a creative and synthetic approach to thinking about ourselves which forms the bedrock of his research, and indeed his perceptual world.

At length, he became an artist upon seeing that the painted image could act as an important vehicle for that approach, which seeks ultimately to bring the most ancient and primordial human archetypes into the modern field of experience. His art is now regularly exhibited internationally, and he is a member of several artist groups dedicated to widening awareness of visionary artforms, human rights and social issues.

His diverse research interests as an independent researcher include: the religious and ritual practices of the Minoan civilisation of Bronze Age Crete; the evolutionary origins of human symbolic cognition and its implications for twenty-first century epistemology; visionary and religious experiences in light of the cognitive science of religion and evolutionary psychology; the Palaeolithic art of Europe; the rock art of Southern Africa; the emergence of cognitively modern human behaviour and ritual culture in the African Middle Stone Age; queer-themed creative mythologies; ‘spiritual’ and creative practices as Beyond-The-Self Exploration; and the many-faceted symbolic meanings behind the world’s myth systems.

He lives delightfully in love with his husband Chris just outside the twin cities of Leeds-Bradford in the U.K. where the urban sprawl meets the wild moorland.

The work in this electronic publication represents a forerunner to his ongoing series of explorations towards a more holistic philosophy of human thought, perception, creativity and experience, entitled Visionary Humanism, and which occupies the principal directions of his independent research at the present time.

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