Labrys is a symmetric double-headed ritual axe that is one of the holiest Cretan religious
symbols. It is also known as Labyris, Sagarus and Halbryce. The term ‘Labrys’ traces its roots
to the Latin word ‘labus’, which means ‘lips’. So, the symbol is said to denote a part of the
female genitalia, labia that is the entrance of womb. Its symbolism is also linked directly with
the Labyrinth, which originally denotes the Palace of Knossos in the city of Crete. Alternately,
Labrys is believed to have been derived from the Lydian word for axe.
The closest association of the Labrys is with the ancient Minoan civilization where it was used
as a symbol of the Mother Goddess and was representative of authority. It was also seen as
symbolic of a butterfly, signifying transformation and rebirth. This double axe was depicted
mostly in the hands of women and came to be connected with the male gods long after the
decline of Minoan civilization. In Greek mythology, the Labrys (also called Pelekys) appears as
an ancient symbol linked with the Thunder God, Zeus who used the axe to invoke storms.
The Labrys is also associated with Amazons that was a legendary warrior society of women
that did not follow the patriarchal culture. The symbol has found usage in the modern times
too. During the later half of the 1930s, it was one of the chief symbols of Greek fascism, of the
Metaxas Regime (the 4th
preservations associations and societies. Since the 1970s, the Labrys has been used as a symbol
of independence and strength by feminists and lesbians. The double-headed axe is in use even
today as a forestry tool.
of August Regime). It is also being used by several Cretan folklore