The labrys, or butterfly-shaped double axe, has come to be associated with Minoan Crete, but was actually used in bull worship throughout the Near East. In Minoan artwork, the labrys is painted or engraved as a sacred symbol, perhaps of fertility or protection, and more often than not, it is the priestesses who are depicted wielding the labrys during sacrifices. It appears those elegant painted women shown on fresco walls did engage in bloodletting rituals.
The Mycenaeans, who adopted Minoan fashions and iconography, also employed the labrys symbol in their artwork. Notice the labrys in the middle of this seal stone. What does it mean? Among the iconography are also a figure-of-eight shield, a sun, and a moon.
Nowadays, the labrys is a symbol of female empowerment, perhaps harkening back to those ancient days when goddesses were more prominent, and priestesses exercised great spiritual and, possibly, political power.