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About the Labrys

The Double Axe: Ancient Symbol of the Minoan culture
              of The Great Mother of Crete

Because I chose the Double Axe for my professional identity as Labrys, I have had some explaining to do. The Labrys or Double Axe, is an over-determined, many layered symbol that Carl Jung believed was an archetype, an indelible marker of the Great Mother myth, in the Psyche of every human being, male and female. There are many interesting symbols and artifacts of this culture that are of great psychological significance to me, but I will explain here only about the Labrys.

When I first visited the palace at Knossos on the island of Crete, I was captivated by the double-axe and its related symbol of the Labyrinth, before I had any idea of the meanings. But it is best to visit the site itself; no written explanation can convey its archetypal significance, without seeing it within the place of its concrete history (or prehistory), art, drama, myth, and poetics.

Labrys or Double-Axe
by Donald Chase Boyer

This art that my husband created out of our experience of Knossos depicts the labrys or double-axe. I cherish it. I have jewelry of the double axe, which I wear from time to time, as I also wear a cross, to remind myself that the Double Axe was to Minoans what the Cross is to Christians. Some of the artifacts that I chose to bring home with me are so different from those found on mainland Greece. This sea-going, agricultural people, who glorified their beautiful natural setting from 7000 to 1350 BCE, remained shrouded in mystery; and since 1980, I've never tired of trying to give my experiences there a deserving voice.

So, the Labrys, sometimes used among Feminists (occasionally viewed as old battle-axes) and Lesbians, has been appropriated by some as a “weapon” of female empowerment. I am very uncomfortable with talk about the Double-Axe as a weapon, especially when used in a power context, privileging one gender or one group over another. Such a concept totally misrepresents the Double Axe as a symbol. There is no evidence of war-fare and no weapons found at Knossos.The Labrys is not a weapon, and it is of equal psychological importance to men and women.

At Labrys Counseling and Therapy, the double-axe is a symbol of equality among people, and it means that therapy at Labrys is designed to honor the differences and similarities of both men and women, and is not confined by sex or gender roles, race, class, or other artifices designed to privilege one group over another. Therapy at Labrys does recognize the nurturing, empowering attributes of The Great Mother, and brings them to bear equally for both men and women, according to their needs. This symbol existed thousands of years before it was selected out to represent any single aspect such as sex or gender – it’s therapeutic for all.

Let me summarize what is known about that nurturing, empowering culture that I believe is valuable for therapy. For example, the Minoan civilization is called one of "high culture." It appears to have been a "happy" culture. The murals, friezes, walls and pottery are decorated with colorful flower and seed motifs and other vegetation, as well as dolphins, squid, mythological and other beautiful forms of sea treasures. There are scenes of sports in which both male and female athletes participated. There are dancers, beautifully dressed, elaborately coiffed, smiling women and men, and religious scenes of worship with female and male representatives presiding. These artifacts indicate a culture where equality between the sexes was celebrated.

I chose the Labrys name/symbol because it represents The Great Mother Goddess archetype found in many civilizations. Very simply, the art and artifacts of Knossos, “home of the Labrys,” reflect a culture of happy, healthy, artistic, creative, cooperative, egalitarian, nurturing people, who lived in wealth and harmony without warfare or domination systems, or gender inequality, who engaged peacefully in trade with neighbors far and wide, who were pro-life in every sense of the word, all the while worshiping the wonders of high sea trade, seafood, wine, olives, grain, meat, fruits and vegetables from the fertile plains, flowers, egalitarian love, good sex, good art, music and sculpture, and peaceful coexistence-- all things dear to the Great Mother-- every evidence of abundant life . It is my kind of vision for the once and future humanity!

- toward our shared journeys,
   Marlene Talbott-Green, Ph.D.

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Marlene Talbott-Green, Ph.D
36 W Short Street, Worthington, OH 43085
(614) 846-8880, MTGPHD@aol.com
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