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the word etimon isn't in the OED, and google comes up with no english language hits. It doesn't seem to be an english word here. I therefore change it. Lethe 21:09, Jul 11, 2004 (UTC)

Ok, apparently the word is etymon, not etimon Lethe 21:11, Jul 11, 2004 (UTC)
the statement was wrong anyway. Neither is there a known 'minoan language', nor is it even remotely possible that the word has an etymological connection with "labia". dab 12:49, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)


this word only appeared on WP mirrors and on a few sites selling necklaces. do we have a source that says it means labrys, and where and when it was used? dab 13:06, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)

other dubitable statements[edit]

  • weapon of the Amazons in Greek mythology
  • used as a medieval charm to attract women
  • "The shrine to Mother Earth at Delphi"
there are chthonic elements in Delphi, but last time I checked the site was sacred to Apollo
  • Some Minoan labrys have been found which are taller than a man and which might have been used during sacrifices
the tall ones were of stone and certainly not used for sacrifice

the whole article looked like copied from feminist websites. I don't know enough to say these statements are false flat out, but they smell of internet myths. We need to give sources. For example, I was unable to find a reference to Amazons+Labrys on TLG (indeed the term only appears in Plutarch, qst century AD). dab 14:38, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Yeah man, go at it with a machete, i'm for it. -Lethe | Talk

--- I came to express some objections and see that Dbachmann has already voiced some of them. Let us dissociate the Minoan labrys from the modern symbolism being adopted by various groups: In symbology, it is associated with female and matristic power etc. Does the word really first appear only in "Plutarchus"? The connection with labyrinth is good-- a pre-Greek word, like other words with -nth- in them. Did Gimbutas really make a butterfly connection? --Wetman 10:12, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)

yeah, she did. It's one of the examples I pull out when I'm making fun of her (not here though, this is a serious reference :), together with her interpretation of a bull's head representing the goddess, because the shape of the horns allude to the shape of the ovaries (I'm not making this up!). I don't know how the word actually came into English. In Ancient Greek it is mentioned by Plutarchus only, as a Lydian word (not for double-axe, just for axe). There seems to be a missing link as to how the word ended up meaning what it means now. dab () 15:30, 23 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Gimbutas promoted an idea first suggested by artist Dorothy Cameron that the symbol of the bull bucranium which is common in neolithic art represented a womb and fallopian tubes. She also suggested that frog symbols represented foetuses. It's pretty hard to guess what was going on in the minds of artists 5000 years ago, but IMO this is a pretty good theory. I had a picture of an ancient Egyptian sistrum in the shape of the head of Hathor (cow goddess) somewhere (From an old copy of antiquity magazine I think) which looked a LOT like a womb and fallopian tubes, but I don't have a copy of it to hand. It looked a bit like this picture of the related goddess Bat: If you do a search for images of Hathor, you'll see a lot of peculiar triangular faces with horns or stylised twin curling locks of hair. The idea of a fertility goddess with a womb for a head may sound strange (or hysterical! :-)) but you would have a lot more difficulty trying to justify the common claim that bull heads symbolise the sun. Anyway, back to the labrys.Pignut (talk) 08:45, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

I just found that Hesychius has λαβρύσσει glossed as 'to brag' or 'to be a coward'. But this is connected to a word labros meaninf 'furious'. Probably no connection. Context:

<λαβράζει>· λάβρος γίνεται. ἀκολασταίνει. προπετεύεται
<λαβρεία>· ἡ τοῦ λόγου †ἔκληψις
<λαβρεύονται>· ῥέουσι μεγάλα βουλεύονται. θορυβοῦσι σφόδρα
<λαβρεῦσαι>· λάβρως καὶ ἀθρόως λαλεῖν (N)
<λαβρεύεαι>· μεγαληγορεῖς. προγλωσσεύῃ. ἀθρόως λέγεις, ἀμέ-
τρως (Ψ 478)  
<λάβρον>· ἅθρουν. προπετές, ταχύ (Ο 625). μαινόμενον. 
<λαβρώνιον>· εἶδος ποτηρίου πλατέος 
*<λάβρος>· πολύς Sb, [σφοδρός 
<λαβροσιάων>· χορτασμῶν ἀκόσμων
<λαβροστομία>· ἡ δύσχρηστος λαλιά
*<λαβρότατος>· σφοδρότατος 
[<λαβρόϊον>· εἶδος ποτηρίου]
<λαβρύσσει>· λαβρεύει
<λαβρύσσει>· δειλαίνει
*<λαβύρινθος>· κοχλιοειδὴς τόπος. λέγεται δὲ ἡ λέξις ἐπὶ τῶν
φλυάρων, παρὰ τὸ πολλοῖς κύκλοις λόγων κεχρῆσθαι
what, we don't have an article on Hesychius?? dab () 15:40, 23 Dec 2004 (UTC)

what about this:

<λαβρώνιον>· εἶδος ποτηρίου πλατέος 
<λαβρόϊον>· εἶδος ποτηρίου]

labroion/labronion: shape of a (broad) drinking-cup — maybe this is related to the shape of the labrys? rather obscure, I'll admit. dab () 16:04, 23 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Etymologies, whether used as a rhetorical device to pay a fulsome and elaborate compliment (Pindar and all the Alexandrians) or to further an agenda (Jerome, Isidore of Seville, Jacobus de Voragine) are best left to professionals. So many houses of cards have been built on etymologies. And the Ancients were not infallible: see Talk:Syncretism for a rash of simple-minded reliance on a zany off-day Plutarch had, owlishly repeated by Wikipedians. Labrys is apparently pre-Greek, like Thalassos or Corinth. That's worth noting. What it meant is dream-food for websites. A more important connection is that labyrinth is clearly "the place of the labrys": I think there's no contention about that connection. --Wetman 17:23, 23 Dec 2004 (UTC)
of course. My point is that labrys is not even attested in pre-Christian Greek. I suppose that you realized I have removed any number of dreamy statements from this article? What is missing from the etymology section is the earliest attested use of the word for a double axe (19th century? Arthur Ewans?) dab () 11:45, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I do realize that: indeed, your sensible and informed edits have attracted my attention. I was looking at the above discussion only. The following quote from an entry "labrys" is from the "Brief Lexicon of Greek Terms" prepared for students at Bucknell: "Labrys was also a non-Greek word. It has been suggested that it comes from Lydian (?) and is related to the weapon of Zeus Labraundeus worshipped at Labraundea in Caria (cf. Plutarch, Quaest. Graec. 45. and Hdt.1.171-173)." It's worth quoting Plutarch on labrys as "axe" in the entry, since it's such an outstanding usage. So the connection with the ritual double-axe of Crete might have been first made by Sir Arthur Evans then? I know nothing of Labraundea in Caria. I shall set to work Googling "Labraunda" right away to cobble together a stub. --Wetman 14:00, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC) (Corrected to Labraunda.)
When does this come into English? Well, the first occurence listed by the OED is this:
Journal of Hellenic Studies XXI. 108 (1901): "It seems natural to interpret names of Carian sanctuaries like Labranda in the most literal sense as the place of the sacred labrys, which was the Lydian (or Carian) name for the Greek πέλεκυς, or double-edged axe.";
Ibid. 109 "On Carian coins indeed of quite late date the labrys, set up on its long pillar-like handle, with two dependent fillets, has much the appearance of a cult image."
-- 23:12, 5 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Too good! I'm stealing our Anon. contributor's quote for Labraunda for a start! --Wetman 00:32, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC)

sigh, I realize that the Shiva, Ptah, Mayan, Scythian, Norse and African references are also dubitable. At least Shiva and Ptah are certainly not comonly represented with a double axe. How to verify this? It is true that towards the end of the Viking Age, double axes made a short appearance as actual weapons, but I think that was an technological innovation (unsuccessful at that) and not a tradition based in myth at all. dab () 22:37, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC) Maybe someone was muddling up shiva with Vishnu. Vishnu often wields an axePignut (talk) 08:52, 15 March 2015 (UTC).

I think we can scrap the 'Norse'. this site does its best to draw a connection, but does it cannot show any actual examples. dab () 22:48, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC)

here is an interesting reference, if somebody can access it> The mediaeval history of the double-axe motif / O'Conner, Robert B. - In: American journal of archaeology. The journal of the Archaeological Institute of America (1920) dab () 22:51, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC)


well, what shrine, and what goddess? Delphi says:

"The shrine dedicated to Apollo was probably originally dedicated to Gaia and then Poseidon."

so, it is the same shrine that was dedicated to Apollo. It's just "the shrine", we don't need to say whether it was dedicated to a goddess, or not, the statement simply says that a labrys is decorating the shrine, never mind the goddessess... dab () 15:26, 23 Dec 2004 (UTC)

It was a long continuously operating place, and the connotation of its details must have slowly shifted between ca. 1500 BCE and 493 CE. But does this assertion mean that a labrys or a carved representation of one on a frieze has been recovered by archaologists at the Delphi site, and published? --Wetman 17:23, 23 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I don't even know it the statement is true, either. I tried to find out on the web, but it's impossible. Some sites claim that the priests in Delphi were called Labrytes, a word entirely unattested in Greek literature. dab () 16:06, 23 Dec 2004 (UTC)

You know what, I have cut so many false statements from the page, it would not surprise me if the ones I am unable to verify are false too. Therefore, I cut the following from the article, to be re-inserted with references:

In Greek mythology, Demeter used a Labrys as a scepter. The shrine at Delphi displays the Labrys.

dab () 16:08, 23 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Absolutely right about Demeter's scepter. A labrys at Delphi, or among the treasuries at Olympia, is a possibility... The Minoan labrys in our illustration is probably at the museum at Iraklion, Crete. --Wetman 17:23, 23 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I'm not sure I get you here. You mean you can confirm the sceptre story? or you mean I was right in removing it? No scepter is mentioned in Demeter's article. I don't deny the possibility of representations of double axes in Delphi at all. I have seen them depicted on classical greek vases, connected with animal sacrifice. If we say it appears in Delphi, we should be more clear, from which century roughly is the image etc. Btw, synkretism really is from Crete. I know it sounds unbelievable at first, but it didn't mean 'mixture' either, at first. It meant 'pact of cretans', and the meaning shifted under the influence of popular connection with kerannumi. dab () 11:54, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC)
No. I meant that your statement was "absolutely right about Demeter." I think there's no double-axe represented as wielded by any post-Minoan Greek goddess. (Demeter wields poppies and grain.)

amazons, after all[edit]

I think I found the source of the connection of the labrys with the amazons: sagaris [1]

saga^ris , eôs Ion. ios, hê; pl. sagareis Ion. -i_s:--a weapon used by the Scythian tribes, Hdt.1.215, 4.5;

A. axinas sagaris eichon Id.7.64 ; by the Amazons, Aristarch. in PAmh.2.12 ii 10; by the Persians, Amazons, Mossynoeci, etc., X.An.4.4.16, 5.4.13:--acc. to Hsch. single-edged, and joined by X. with kopis and machaira, Cyr. 1.2.9, 2.1.9, 4.2.22; double-edged acc. to AP6.94 (Phil.).

i.e. an axe-like weapon, sometimes described as single-edged, and sometimes as double-edged. This shouild probably be put in a Sagaris article.

Well done! --Wetman 18:55, 1 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Homer's Hymn to Demeter clearly calls her "She of the golden double axe" -- i.e. a labrys. Based on that, I believe it is correct to associate the labrys with Demeter. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:02, 23 October 2011 (UTC)


I'm sorry, Wetman, but pelekus (not pelekos) was the term for any axe, not necessarily double-headed at all. dab () 10:09, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC)

All I know is what I read: OED quotes Journal of Hellenic Studies XXI. 108 (1901): "It seems natural to interpret names of Carian sanctuaries like Labranda in the most literal sense as the place of the sacred labrys, which was the Lydian (or Carian) name for the Greek πέλεκυς, or double-edged axe." (Is that Arthur Evans being quoted, btw?) And Plutarch: "And having set up a statue of Zeus, he put the axe in his hand and called the god, "Labrandeus," labrys being the Lydian word for 'axe'. (Λυδοὶ γάρ ‘λάβρυν’ τὸν πέλεκυν ὀνομάζουσι." My error about "pelekos"! If these sources are misinformed, the entry would be improved with some disambiguation of the two axe terms. --Wetman 11:01, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC)
You are right, it seems that the word indeed came to mean "double-axe" in particular. There was even a term hemipelekus for single-edged ones. It was however also used for "axe" in general. The word is cognate to Sanskrit parashu, which also seems to mean axe in general, but it is likely ultimately a loan from Sumerian balag (rather, who loaned whose word back in 4000 BC cannot now be established...) dab () 11:13, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC)
The word with the Sanskrit cognate. being therefore the IE word, replacing labrys. You're competent to add a note: I'm not. Go for it. --Wetman 12:28, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC)
it's slightly more complicated than that. pelek'u- may have been a loan into the Proto-Indo-European language, as it is not identifiable as containing any known PIE root. It may be a neolithic "Wanderwort", referring to stone axes, that is also reflected in Sumerian, and it may have originally been a term for any axe, and only later, as an archaic word with ritual/sacrificial overtones been associated with the double-axe, that had similar archaic connotations. All this would probably all belong on a more general axe article, or maybe on a special pelekus article, but I agree with your reference to the word now. dab () 13:14, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC)


I haven't been through all of the Mycenaean references yet, and I've slacked on a few Kadmos articles, but I haven't specifically run across daburintos as labrys/double axe in Ventris' or Chadwick's work... anyone have a reference handy? Thanks! - Damate thought out loud 19 Jan 2006 02:27 PST

the reference is da-pu2-ri-to-jo on KN Gg 702. dab () 15:51, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
that's not surmised to mean "double axe" of course, but the "daburinthoyo potnia" is, rather, the "Lady of the Labyrinth". dab () 15:53, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
And the next evening, I found it in Chadwick's The Mycenaean World - p. 92-93 for posterity Damate thought out loud 20 Jan 2006 21:39 (PST)
I put the tablet number in the article, and an asterisk to the reconstructed form; maybe this should be in a footnote. dab () 07:47, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

Datum for history of Amazon association[edit]

There's a ca. 1830's Currier print "Queen of the Amazons Attacked by a Lion" which clearly shows the Queen wielding a double-bladed axe... AnonMoos 07:52, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

1943 Vichy Franc coin

Also used as emblem in Vichy France?[edit]

See Image:Musee-de-lArmee-IMG 1014.jpg , Image:Flag of Vichy France.png , commons:Image:Brigade-speciale-IMG 0894.JPG , etc. AnonMoos 13:15, 14 July 2006 (UTC)

Fascism (Vichy)[edit]

Should mention Vichy France in the modern section, since it very prominently appeared on the Vichy 1-Franc coin (see File:FranzoesischerFranc.jpg etc.). AnonMoos (talk) 19:20, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

Charun carried a labrys?[edit]

I have found no less than eleven sources that state that Charun carried a hammer that he used to torture the dead. Glengordon01 claims that the following passage from Robert S. P. Beekes proves that Charun carried a labrys, though it says nothing of him:

When this bipennis [‘double axe’], property of ‘Zeus Bakchos’, carried as symbol of sacred power by Lydian kings, is encountered again as the symbol of the royal authority of the Etruscan kings, particularly of the supreme king of the federation of cities, this may be considered an important indication of the Asia Minor origin of the entire underlying ideology, and of the ceremony of investiture in which the bipennis played a part.’
These conclusions are of primary importance, as they concern a deeprooted complex of religious views that cannot have been taken over from elsewhere. (p.31-32)

I vote that his claim that Charun carried the labrys be removed on grounds of verifiability and original research. --Scottandrewhutchins 23:15, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

You vote like a one-man army. You're abusing Burden of proof (logical fallacy) by forcing others to prove that the subjective opinions of your shoddy references are false. It's as simple as that, as can be clearly seen at Charun. --Glengordon01 23:02, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

No, Glengordon, you are simply refusing to provide evidence of your claims, which up to this point show no signs of being anything other than subjective opinons themselves. You're the only one resorting to a logical fallacy, demanding we believe something when you have yet to cite a single authority that says anything about Charun. Please tell me exactly what you have done to prove your assertions are true. That's all I'm asking, not for you to prove mine false. I am using multiple sources, you are using none, and Ace of Sevens agress with me. I have posted to Wikipedia:WikiProject Mythology to see what they think. --Scottandrewhutchins 23:31, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

Glengordon01 self-incriminates his own violation of Wikipedia credos on his own talk page. --Scottandrewhutchins 18:43, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Commons category[edit]

There's a Wikimedia Commons category commons:Category:Labrys, if anybody cares... AnonMoos 11:11, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

Symbol for lesbianism?[edit]

Why is this used as a symbol? Could we have a little elaboration and history here? (talk) 03:52, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

It's somewhat obscure, but it's presumably at least partly due to the Minoan connection, and some people in the early 1900's positing that Minoan civilization was at least partly "matriarchal" (certainly by contrast with the culture of classical Greece); this was picked up on in the semi-classic quasi-matriarchal 1949 novel Seven Days in New Crete. Also, in the 19th century there was apparently some kind of association by artistic convention between double-headed axes and Amazons (see section #Datum for history of Amazon association directly above). In modern non-right-wing symbolic use, the labrys doesn't exclusively mean lesbianism -- it can mean lesbianism and/or matriarchy and/or neo-pagan goddess worship. Of course, for lesbian separatists with leanings towards feminist spirituality, these three things naturally group together... AnonMoos (talk) 22:39, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
P.S. There was apparently an image of a priestess/goddess figure holding a labrys in each hand found in or near Palaiokastro. I can only find a very lousy depiction of it on-line[2], and it's certainly not as well known as the Snake Goddess, but it might have had some influence... AnonMoos (talk) 22:12, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
By the way, to see a truly odd offshoot of Cretanism, go to and click on some of the image links in the body of the page! AnonMoos (talk) 22:53, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
o_O the goggles do nothing!! --dab (𒁳) 11:22, 22 February 2009 (UTC)

The notability of this lesbianism association is still open to duobt. Our only source being some random website, as likely as not itself copied off Wikipedia. --dab (𒁳) 11:17, 22 February 2009 (UTC)

Sorry, but the "random website" you mention has an HTTP "Last-modified:" header of "Fri, 14 Nov 2003 23:28:07 GMT", and also served as the original foundation of the Wikipedia LGBT symbols article, so if there was any copying, it was actually in the opposite direction. Anyway, there's not too much room for doubt -- see sites such as , -- or if you want an academic source, view and scroll down to pp. 163-164. AnonMoos (talk) 12:34, 22 February 2009 (UTC)
By the way, your edits to the article LGBT symbols were not very constructive, since you heavy-handedly marked up assertions which in fact are not particularly doubtful or controversial, while leaving far more questionable assertions untouched. AnonMoos (talk) 19:09, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

I am not convinced of notability. Sure, some people have used the labrys as a "symbol of lesbianism". See google. That's not an encyclopedic statement. If we are going to discuss this, we need to state who did this, when. I find the (riduculous) claim that The term "labrys" is connected to the word labia. That's because, hey, you can claim whatever you like, and then print it, and bingo, you are a "source". A 2004 "Encyclopedia of lesbian and gay histories and cultures‎" has A symbol with more resonance for lesbians is the labrys. Here is a 1982 source suggesting the significance. That's about the earliest I get. Although there is mention of the term in the 1979 Gyn/ecology, so that I surmise that this may be the origin. It would seem that the labrys came to be seen as a symbol of lesbianism, with limited impact even within the subculture, in 1980s to 1990s North America. That is rather more accurate, and rather less general than the sweeping claim that "the labrys is a symbol of lesbianism". --dab (𒁳) 20:28, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

Whatever -- you may hate these people because they're "fluffy" and have no knowledge of Classical languages, but if the Labrys symbol is consistently used as an expressive symbol by a reasonably significant number of Lesbians, then it really, really doesn't matter in the slightest how fluffy these symbol-users are. Sound classical scholarship is certainly absolutely crucial when examining claims for the ancient symbolic meaning of the Labrys -- however, the modern symbolic meaning of the Labrys is simply whatever modern users of the Labrys as a symbol say that it is, even if they couldn't tell their accusative case and aorist aspect from a hole in the ground. I really don't know when the explicitly Lesbian meaning came in (except that it almost certainly was not prominent until after 1970) -- but certain matriarchal overtones were already present in some modern interpretations of the Labrys going back at least to the publication of Seven Days in New Crete in 1949 (and probably even further). Furthermore, I really do not see what the alleged problem with the statement "the labrys is a symbol of lesbianism" is. This proposition does not assert that the labrys is the only symbol of lesbianism, nor that the labrys is a symbol used by all lesbians, nor that lesbianism is the only symbolic meaning of the labrys. Instead, it asserts that the labrys is one particular symbol which happens to be used by number of Lesbians (a sufficient number to be notable by Wikipedia standards) -- an assertion which is uncontroversial and factually verifiable, as far as I can see. AnonMoos (talk) 21:11, 1 March 2009 (UTC)
I do not "hate" anyone. I am trying to make a judgement on encyclopedicity. There's a difference. So, please, let's try to do this without emotion.
For one thing, looking over the article, I find that the "lesbianism" thing isn't overblown as the article currently stands, and I am not trying to remove all mention of it.
What I am trying to do is pinpointing when and where this association originated. The background to this is that I have talked to a number of lesbians in Switzerland, and they were unaware of the symbol. But I grant that they weren't ideologized - they were simply women who were also lesbian. From this, I form the hypothesis that the association originates, and remains largely restricted to, North American ideologized feminist lesbianism.
I am very much interested in these matriarchal overtones, because they are obviously at the origin here. But of course "matriarchy" doesn't equal "lesbianism". I imagine that the "Minoan matriarchy" theory originates in 19th century scholarship, and I would be most surprised to find any association with lesbianism there. As far as I understand it, the concept of "matriarchy" was obsolete by the 1960s, but taken up as an ideology by "deep feminist" lesbian ideologists around then. This is a conjecture, and I am trying to confirm or disconfirm it. --dab (𒁳) 06:07, 2 March 2009 (UTC)
Well, you don't bother to hide the fact that you clearly don't have any intellectual respect for them. The matriarchy associations are relevant to the lesbian meaning, because at the beginning of the 1970's a new phase of lesbianism came in which was middle-class, centered around college campuses, strongly connected with the radical portions of the newly-formed feminist movement, and often attracted to utopian speculations (about past or future) and connections with ancient symbolism. This was in opposition to the previous phase of lesbianism in the 1950's and early 1960's, which was working-class, centered around bars and the "butch"-"femme" distinction, not strongly connected with a feminist movement (of course, there was no major feminist movement in the 1950's and early 1960's), and typically not all that interested in speculative theories and ancient history. (Of course, this applies to the United States.)
For a significant number of these early 1970's lesbians, lesbianism was the same thing as "true" feminism, and matriarchy wasn't too much different from either one. You may not see any real connection between matriarchy and lesbianism, but some 1970's lesbians did, and it's probably quite relevant to how the labrys came to be used as a Lesbian symbol. AnonMoos (talk) 06:47, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

who is "they"? to say I have no "intellectual respect for lesbians" is about as pointless as saying I have no "sexual respect for physicists". If you mean to say I have no respect for lobbyism or ideology posing as scholarship, you are correct. In this respect, lesbian pseudohistory is just the same to me as Biblical literalist pseudohistory: both involve preconceived notions of how the past "should" have been, around which you then build a framework of "scholarship" with the intention of "proving" them. You are basically saying the same I just did, and we seem to agree on the general context in which this belongs, the only thing missing now are actual references. For example, I would be perfectly happy with a statement to the effect that For a significant number of early 1970s [American] lesbians, lesbianism was the same thing as "true" feminism, and matriarchy wasn't too much different from either one. and that this triggered the revival of the dusty notion of "Minoan matriarchy", and of the labrys as a symbol of Minoan Crete, hence of matriarchy, hence of lesbianism. We are in perfect agreement on the facts and their context, AnonMoos, so I don't quite see why you give this the appearance of a dispute. --dab (𒁳) 07:48, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

You were the one who went out of your way to disparage the people who connect "labrys" with "labia". I know the general historical context from which the association of the labrys symbol with lesbianism emerged, but I don't know the exact chronology of the adoption of the symbol -- it would fit in with the general patterns of thought associated with the early 70's "moment", but I don't know whether it actually occurred in the early 70's. But the symbolic use of the Labrys is not confined to North America -- Google the spelling "labrisz" to turn up plenty from Hungary, or on a Russian site, etc. AnonMoos (talk) 08:30, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

IMO it would be best to say that "The labrys is used as a symbol of lesbianism". Whether or not there is historical justifaction for this is irrelevant, although it would be worth giving some examples of this use of the labrys symbol with dates. Jesus probably died on a T shaped piece of wood, but this doesn't stop a wide variety of crosses being Christian symbols. In the mid 1990's I remember seeing a poster for a movie about lesbians. I can't remember the movie title but the movie prominently featured the labrys as a symbol. The tagline for the film was something about how love "cuts both ways" and the poster helpfully described the labrys as a symbol of matriarchal civilisation. I can't find the movie online, so it probably wasn't a blockbuster, but it may be relevant. Does anyone know the movie? "Labrys" also seems to be the name of a gay rights NGO in Kyrghizstan Pignut (talk) 06:40, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

Neopaganism and Black Metal[edit]

Is this symbol used outside of the Black Metal subculture in the local Greek Neopagan community and Hellenic Neopagan community in general? They're not one in the same. If so, I think it would warrant a change of wording as to not confuse the two for being soley tied to one another. (talk) 15:04, 23 June 2010 (UTC)

This article can use some cleaning up[edit]

Upon inspection of the article, I noticed some neutrality, OR, citation, and source reliability issues. Some of the glaring issues are:

  • The first paragraph in Etymology is almost entirely sourced and the only source provided contradicts most of its content (and much of the article for that matter).
  • The second paragraph consists mostly of quotations and I can't verify its final claims, 'Labryades' or 'Labrys' being listed in the OED (the text doesn't make clear which term).
  • The Minoan civilization is just full of issues
    • The statement "Some Minoan labrys have been found which are taller than a human and which might have been used during sacrifices" is misleading and wrong (given its current wording).
    • The ending of the same paragraph is entirely unsourced and difficult to defend with reliable sources as we still know nearly nothing about Minoan religion nor the holiness of the axe. (This is not likely to change until Linear A is finally deciphered.)
    • The whole third paragraph provides no citation and appears to be mostly plagiarized from The following paragraph, which includes a quotation from that same page, at least is good enough to provide the citation already included with its quote.
  • Mycenaean rendering of 'labyrinthos' is not rendered properly.
  • Of the issues with the sources number 10's linkrot (and it's whole paragraph is rather fringe).
  • Et etcetera..

I could go on, but I am trying not to be abusive to this article. I think this its topic is important and would like to see it covered well. To that end I've applied the relevant tags.
Sowlos (talk) 23:20, 19 November 2012 (UTC)


Labrys ~ Labarna (Hittite)??? Böri (talk) 09:53, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

Remove the modern use[edit]

Some use this symbol once for some reason somewhere, and you referred it on the encyclopedia?

You think this worth mentioning in an encyclopedia article? I know a guild of woodmen which use the same symbol... why you don't refer of them in this article? why weirdos have more rights than the woodmen?

I mean this things are not worth saying in an encyclopedia article, and with such extent, if you want to keep little seriousness.

In Crete this symbol is in use in many ways, The people who use it as historical symbol, HAVE THE RIGHT NOT TO BE COMFUSED AS SEXUALLY-MENTALLY DISTURBED

In the end this symbol historically has nothing to do with lesbian activities, the using of it to symbolise such behaviour, is historically wrong.

I suggest to refer the symbol of lesbian, metal music, etc, in an another article, with an other name, and not refer Crete in it. Marouloharakas (talk) 15:48, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

Lesbians have been using the labrys as a symbol for decades, and that fact is sourced in the article. Whether or not you personally feel it is an appropriate use of the symbol is completely irrelevant. If you have source for the guild of woodmen using it feel free to add it, but to demand that the sourced statement that is used as a lesbian symbol be removed is patently absurd. Asarelah (talk) 17:22, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
I've reverted your content removal. I agree with you that the section is incomplete, perhaps even giving undo weight to fringe groups. However, deleting a section because it's incomplete is like throwing out a baby with the bath water. The whole article is incomplete, should we delete the whole article?
Modern usage of labrys and related symbols is important to this topic. It's coverage should be expanded, not merely removed because you don't like what facts it (in its incomplete state) highlights.
Lastly, I would like to echo what Asarelah said. Certain lesbian groups have been using the symbol for some time (though waning these days). This is no secret. Please confine your editing to what is supported by RSs. —Sowlos  17:31, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

Marouloharakas -- The double-headed axe was already artistically associated with Amazons in the 19th century, and in the 20th century the Minoan palace discoveries greatly increased its international prominence as a symbol. I'm sorry if you aren't fond of some of the remoter associations, but they're still known under the name "labrys"... AnonMoos (talk) 00:26, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

You mentioning as an argument that this symbol is used by lesbians for decades since the 19th century... while this symbol is over 3000 thousands years old and never had any connection with lesbian behavior... this is your arguments.

after its rediscovery, been used by guilds, football teams, even proposed for flag of the Cretan state, there is many important things to refer in this article, then the lesbian movement and their rainbow colored flags all over, it's not posible to exist all the kinds of info in a sigle place, we set the standards of the article and of the wole wikibedia finaly...

If the lesbian part in the article stays as it is, i will refer a tavern in Heraclion city which have fantastic pork cooked in red wine, it has a labrys in the billboard... it's owned by a guy not a lesbia if that means anything Marouloharakas (talk) 15:40, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

No, that's absurd. One section stating that the symbol is also used by lesbians does not mean that the symbol automatically refers to lesbianism in every context, and you know it. It has been used by lesbians as a symbol since at least the 1970s, there are reliable sources saying so. Your personal homophobia is completely irrelevant to this article, because Wikipedia is not censored. Asarelah (talk) 17:06, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

Recent edits to "Modern use" section[edit]

Unfortunately, the recent edits to the section have tended to imply that the Labrys is a narrow LGBT-only symbol among feminists/lesbians/goddess-worshippers, which I really do not think is the case. Also, "raw" Google Books links, with no indication of author or title, are not generally acceptable as article references. AnonMoos (talk) 00:15, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

Why is this of interest to the LGBT Community?[edit]

Aside from some circular referenced websites all leading back to here, there are no sources describing the lgbt-labrys connection.

This is speculation on my part, but it looks like some of our editors are carrying a torch that was inadvertently lit by a college freshman touting her friends' garage band a long time ago.

Until she made her "self-promoting" post in here, there was *no* lgbt connection to the labrys except her friends' band. This Wikipedia article is what made the connection.

EDIT: I finally made it back to the first post - while I got the details wrong, it looks like the gist is true. One individual made a toss-off post, and against all logic and reason it has snowballed from there. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:27, 8 May 2014 (UTC)

So, now we have a philosophical question: If our wikipedia labrys article is the original source of the lgbt-labrys connection, and it was created injudiciously, should we continue to maintain it? If a large portion of the lgbt community has embraced the labrys as a result of the wikipedia article, do we have a duty to note we have created a self-fulfilled prophecy here?

If genuine sources can't be found to support the lgbt-labrys connection, I propose all of the lgbt material be removed from this page and more importantly, this page be removed from the lgbt interest group. All it takes is one individual "with an axe to grind", and scholarly integrity goes out the window. (And after years of persecution, some individuals have a lot of axes to grind.)

I spent some time digging through the history on this page. I find it disturbing that a lot of edits have been made in regards to the lgbt connection, but no one has yet made redirect pages for the Bipennis or Butterfly axe.

It makes me wonder if the people doing the edits are more interested in playing politics than maintaining a knowledge base. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:40, 8 May 2014 (UTC)

First off, I don't know that it is of interest to the "LGBT Community" in general, but rather mainly to Lesbians. As for why it was adopted as a Lesbian symbol, that's discussed in previous sections of this talk page above -- In the turn-of-the-century archaeological discoveries of Evans and others, the Labrys was found to be used very prominently as a ritual object in Minoan civilization, and women evidently had social roles in Minoan civilization which were very different from the social roles available to women in classical Athens. Some people started loosely talking of Minoan culture as supposedly being matriarchal, and a labrys-matriarchy connection was probably reinforced in certain circles by mentions in some of Robert Graves' books. In the 1970s, when goddess-worshippers and/or radical feminists and/or separatist lesbians started picking up on selective myths of matriarchy, they found the Labrys to be one convenient symbol with quasi-matriarchal associations.
Unfortunately, the rest of your claims are basically false -- the Labrys has been used as a symbol by lesbians for close to 40 years, and has been reasonably well-known and widespread in that use for quite some time now. It has nothing to do with a "garage band". Some of the sources in that section of the article were not so great (see the dissertation linked above for something possibly more academically respectable, etc.), but it's not really open to serious doubt that the Labrys is a well-established Lesbian symbol... AnonMoos (talk) 01:09, 9 May 2014 (UTC)
"has been reasonably well-known and widespread in that use for quite some time now." Then please, offer the article a reliable and objective citation with a neutral point of view for that claim. If, as you say, it is well-known and widespread, then wouldn't it stand to reason that there should be other, unrelated instances of that claim, other than one unsourced claim in a poetry book. The author, Susan Hawthorne, might well have a doctorate in Women’s Studies and Political Science, but that doesn't make it a reliable source. It might very well be true, but a claim doesn't become true by printing it in a book that doesn't go through a peer review, like academic publications do. Humans err, therefore a peer review and scientific methods are enforced to keep claims as verifiable facts. The second source is a personal homepage, which does not fall under "reliable" and "neutral POV". The third source appears to be a faulty link, and does not give a clue about its name, so I can't review that. ~ Nelg (talk) 01:46, 9 May 2014 (UTC)
That's nice -- has not personally encountered this usage in his personal circles, so that he thinks it doesn't exist, but unfortunately that's not a sound method of deduction, and in this case leads to false results. Some of the current sources are not the best, but radically deleting everything, or inserting claims that are not true (such as that usage of the symbol is confined to the U.S.) is not the way to improve anything. AnonMoos (talk) 02:33, 9 May 2014 (UTC)
Deleting unverified or unreliable claims are entirely entitled by WP:VERIFY. "Even if you're sure something is true, it must be verifiable before you can add it." ~ Nelg (talk) 09:44, 9 May 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────This is another case where instead of focusing on a couple of sources you need to break down and do actual research. In fact doing a GBook search produces several hundred hits, most of which are probably usable. Mangoe (talk) 11:01, 9 May 2014 (UTC)

Some possible misconceptions:
1) I am not the author of the text on the labrys as lesbian/goddess symbol in the article. I've touched it up from time to time in response to various concerns, but I didn't write it.
2) That material has not been recently added to the article. The words "lesbian" and "symbol" have been on the article in various forms since at least "03:37, 23 April 2004", or over ten years ago.
3) I do not regard the assertion that the labrys is used in modern times (since at least the 1970s) as a lesbian and/or goddess-worship symbol to be particularly controversial or legitimately disputed, and so critically in need of sourcing for that reason. Some Greeks appear to have a strong negative reaction when suddenly encountering such symbolism for the first time, but that does not mean there is a legitimate dispute.
4) I am not good at Google Books, and I don't particularly like Google Books (which sometimes crashes my browser, or comes close to crashing it), so if everything somehow supposedly depends on me finding sources in Google Books, then that may take quite a long time... AnonMoos (talk) 22:07, 9 May 2014 (UTC)
I would strongly concur with point 3, and I've done some improvements on the sources. They are more than sufficient. Out of concerns for due weight, but not lacking sources, I will add: there was also a lesbian feminist journal circa 1982 named Lavris and another lesbian magazine in the early 1990s named Labrys. Hothead Paisan from 1991 famously carries a labrys (ref: All of these predate Wikipedia. Let's put the crazy "Wikipedia started this" theories to bed now, they're done. --j⚛e deckertalk 04:56, 26 June 2014 (UTC)


in past as now, i have tried to bring thought to the hooey that is this article and speaking, from direct knowledge, the labrys represents several layerings, e.g. it does represent God himself, esp , as the Word / Word of creation - of creating all or a partricular thing ; but also it represents the 'engine' of also giving that divine power to e.g. even lazy lads as have written all this hooey but that ability is only upon approval of God to be able to so speak as him to create - anything , anything at all and so I speak here now to create some drivel of understanding in all of you hooey/ers NOW as I just did with the foregoing words ... (talk) 04:05, 16 August 2014 (UTC)lil labrys sr aka CMP...AO

I'm not sure what mixture of sincerity and satire is contained in your remarks, but either way I don't see how they point the way towards article improvement. And the fact that something is ridiculous does not disqualify it from being covered as part of a Wikipedia article, as long as it's "notable" and "reliable sources" are available on it (see Flying Spaghetti Monster)... AnonMoos (talk) 18:02, 16 August 2014 (UTC)

I'm glad to see the other comments on this[edit]

I've been studying Knosses et al for quite some time and was interested to see what this page had to offer. Wheweee. There are some problems. I was so frustrated that I joined wikipedia! That being said, I'm brand new and generally unfamiliar with how things work here, so please be kind.

Here are some of the issues I found:

1. "The symbol was commonly associated with female divinities" in the very first paragraph. No citations are given for this overly generalized statement. 2. "This double-axe was used specifically by Minoan priestesses for ceremonial uses and any woman seen with one was thought to have a high status in the society." - this item is cited but I find it very difficult to believe that we could possibly know this about a bronze age prehistoric culture. 3. "In Crete, the symbol of the double-axe always accompanies goddesses, and it seems that it was the symbol of the beginning (arche) of the creation." Not cited. 4. "However the designation "The house of the Double Axe" cannot be limited to the palace of Knossos, because the same symbols were discovered in other palaces of Crete." The source cited for this quote is an article written one year after Evans first began excavating Knossos, and I question the accuracy of saying "discovered in other palaces of Crete." While I didn't closely read the entire thing, I did read much of the article cited (on JStor) and it wasn't discovered in "other palaces." I think it would be more accurate to say that one possibility is that Knossos was the House of the Double-Axe, as discussed by Evans in The Palace of Minos at Knosses vol 1, preface, but that there are others who disagree with that. 5. "The Labrys is most closely associated in historical records with the Minoan civilisation which reached its peak in the 2nd millennium BC, and specifically with the worship of a goddess. In Crete the symbol always accompanies female divinities and it was probably the symbol of the arche of the creation (Mater-arche:matriarchy).[13]" The citation is there but in German and is difficult to authenticate. If this statement is true, it seems like it would be easy enough to find more reliable sources. Quanderous (talk) 00:40, 24 September 2016 (UTC)

Any extended discussion should presumably go on the Minoan civilization article. The one thing that's indisputably true is that Minoan women had more diverse and publicly-prominent roles than in 5th-century BC Athens. People have been speculating as to exactly what that meant in detail for a century; I'm not sure what can be said to be known with reasonable certainty according to the latest scholarship. What's not so certain should probably be trimmed or moved down to the modern meanings section... AnonMoos (talk) 09:38, 29 September 2016 (UTC)


The double axe accompanies the storm god "Zeus Labrandeus". The name of the place "Labranda" is derived from "labrys", and is Pre Greek. (Comp. Lerna, Eleutherna etc.).The word "labyrinthos" seems similar, according to many scholars. Beekes doubts most etymologies of the names of Greek gods etc.Jestmoon(talk) 20:12, 13 June 2017 (UTC)

That was discussed in the comment of "14:00, 24 Dec 2004" near the top of this page... AnonMoos (talk) 16:08, 16 June 2017 (UTC)