By Julia Pitsouli
«Come with us on a journey of initiation to self knowledge and mystery. Visit Delphi, one of the greatest, places of power in the world». With advertisements similar to this one, along with the proper, intriguing photos, big travel agencies, specializing in New Age tourism, try to attract the people. Their advertisements in relevant magazines and web sites on the Internet are very common. Every spiritual seeker dreams of traveling to one of these «mythical» destinations. While in the past the pilgrims were visiting the Holly places and the glorious monasteries around the world, the «new» pilgrims are visiting the «places of power»: Egypt, Tibet, Peru and Greece. These four places are considered a must to the committed seekers of ancient knowledge, especially to those who want to find themselves in a place where the special «vibrations» open up the consciousness and allow the mind to transcend. What better proof than the remains of the temple and the great Oracle of Apollo, which flourished for a thousand years, serving as a transformer of consciousness! What makes this place so glorious, that even in present times thousands of people fly over from all over the world to meditate at the ancient Oracle? Something is happening in Delphi. The uniqueness of the area was obviously appreciated by the ancient civilization and they decided to built an Oracle there, dedicated to goddess Gaia (Earth) and her son Python. Gaia was succeeded by Thetis, and Python was killed by Apollo, who built his own Oracle above it. Behind this fictional narration, one can see the evolution of the religious consciousness which moved from the worship of the earth and snakes, to the worshiping of nature’s laws and order (Thetis) and later on to the worshiping of the sky and light, symbolized by Apollo. Man turned from worshiping the chthonic to worshiping the heavenly. What is worth noticing in this case however, is that although the god worshiped changes and religion evolves, the function of the place as an Oracle remains and establishes. As if there is something magical about this place, something that makes this function easier.
The secret of the Omphalos stone
Plutarch, who served as a priest of the Delphic temple, points out that in several, selected places in the world, unique phenomena develop and one should not wonder how there can be a kind of energy emanating from the earth- like the one in Delphi- that can effect the soul and arouse inspiration and second sight of the future. Many, contemporary researchers confirm Plutarch’s belief about the energies emanating from the earth. Most of these energies are considered to be pathogenic and cause diseases. That is exactly why a whole new branch has emerged, Geopathy, which maps and studies these energy channels (In many European countries the outcome of such studies is taken into serious account, in order to avoid constructing new buildings, especially hospitals and schools, in areas where great, geopathic energies are detected). Plutarch is also right when he points out that Earth emanates various sorts of energies because apart from those which are geopathic, there appear to be more energies, which can be beneficial or have strange attributes. The ancient temples were built on these sorts of areas.If we leave out the recent attempts of some people to take into consideration the geopathic energies, modern man builds randomly, taking into consideration only the cost of the construction. In ancient Greece of course, it was quite the opposite, since art, mathematics and sacred geometry were vital factors and were always taken into account when a great monument- like the Parthenon- was to be built. We built our constructions «in P & Phi» (Greek idiom, meaning very fast), having lost touch with the importance of these words that consisted the sacred symmetry. P(π) and Phi(φ) are the mathematical, golden numbers according to which all the great ancient monuments were built or the distance among them was calculated. Many contemporary researchers were astounded to discover that indeed all ancient cities and temples were not built randomly, but instead, they were build in very specific spots, thus when seen together on a map they are forming triangles, circles and other geometrical shapes. Theophanes Manias’s research has proved that the distance between Apollo’s temple in Delphi and the Parthenon in Athens, is equal to the distance between the Apollo’s temple and the temple of Zeus in Olympia. Also, the distance between Delphi and Athens, and Delphi and Olympia, are the radius of a regular heptagon whose other radius pass through Nemea, Argos, Smyrna, Ilion (Troy) and Macedonian Pella. This geometrical web apparently conceals a deeper secret that is related directly to the Omphalos stone in Delphi and to the powerful nodal points of the planet. According to researchers Tompkins and Stecchini, the Omphalus stone displayed in the museum of Delphi is a «map». On its cover- which to the eye of the uninitiated merely looks like decorative tape- a geodetic web of a colossal system of annotation for each geographical longitude is depicted. On this web certain nodal points stand out, coinciding with specific areas of the planet – one of which is Delphi; the Omphalos of the earth. Similar Omphalos stones have been found in other places which are also regarded as Omphali or nodal points of approximation of energies. According to this theory the earth is a living organism, similar to the human body. From end to end, energy channels run through, similar to the meridian system of the human body as perceived by Acupuncture. The areas where some of the greatest monuments of ancient time have been built upon, and are regarded as powerful places, are points of approximation of the earth’s meridians of energy. Of course not geopathic energies, but energies which according to Plutarch are «affecting the soul and inspire» saying that «the power existing in this area was noticed for the first time by the people when a shepherd who was looking for his lost goat, accidentally fell in a gorge and afterwards got inspired and started forecasting». The word Omphalos embays the sacred syllable OM, which is usually related to the voice of god. The ancient Greek word Ομφή (pronounced Omphe) means God’s voice; therefore, Delphi was the Omphalos (=naval), the place where «the voice of God was heard» through Pythia.
An unexpected scientific explanation
Is it possible that certain places emanate the gift of prophesy to man? This thought would make a scientific mind burst with laughter. However, there is a global tradition around the powerful spots, where strange events take place and some people mention the appearance of elves, of beings with no substance, while others- who are more sensitive and receptive- have visions or experience altered states of consciousness. These special places are destined to become temples, where pilgrims crowd in through out the centuries. The mythological frenzy of the shepherd, who by falling into the gorge, got inspired and started delivering oracles, brings to mind the typical Pythian oracle delivery, who also fell in trance- by inhaling vapors rising from a chasm in the rock. Maybe the gorge is actually, the same chasm of the earth. Everything that until recently sounded like something in between myth and archaic, religious folklore is objected by a scientific confirmation. The research of American, professor of geology Jell de Boer proved that the temple of Apollo has been built exactly upon the junction of geological breach were ethane, methane and ethylene were evaporating. The exact vapors were used for anesthesia up until the beginning of the 20th century. In small dosage they cause a kind of drunkenness and ecstasy. That is what justifies the altered states of consciousness and the transcendental experience. Apparently Pythia’s tripod seat was close to the opening of the earth where the sweet, intoxicating gases were coming out of. This is how the ancient mystery is explained. In addition, Pythia’s ambiguous oracles are also justified, since by being in trance, her words were bound not to make sense and be incoherent. The priests were those responsible for interpreting the oracles and add meaning to it- who were also taking into account the political situations or the current social situations, as well as the background of the person seeking guidance. That is why all oracles had double meaning, like the famous «ήξεις αφήξεις ουκ εν τω πολέμω θνίξεις» («you will go you will return not in the war shall you die»); The meaning of the oracle changed completely depending on where the comma was put- before or after not. On the one hand, it meant that you will go, you will return, you will not die at war and on the other hand, you will go, you will not return, you will die at war.However, oracles were not delivered on a daily bases; they delivered oracles only once a year. As soon as more people started asking for oracles, the priests compromised by allowing the reading of oracles every 7th day of each month, except in winter time, when Apollo had to move to the land of the Hyperborean’s. As for Pythia, in the early years she was selected among the young, virgins but later on – after one Pythia was molested by a pilgrim who fell in love with her- Pythia was selected amongst married, local women under the age of 50.A lot of strange events took place in Delphi; and still do. The Delphic phrases: «gnothi seauton» (=Know thyself), «meden agan» (=nothing in excess), and the mysterious letter «EI», all three are constant, points of reference, to every spiritual wanderer. Those who seek mysteries can also get inspiration there. Among those who had transcendental experiences were Angelos Sikelianos and Eva Sikelianou, who went on a actual quest trying to relive the Delphic spirit back in 1927- a time were all this had no effect on the masses or the state. One of the most mysterious events related to Delphi, is that of Aristeas, who was one of Apollo’s prophets. Herodotus reports that Aristeas appeared to drop down dead in a fuller’s shop. Before his relatives could collect his body, it disappeared. Someone who happened to be passing by at that time, told them that he had talked to Aristeas a few minutes ago. Apollo’s priest is said to appear again 7 years after this incident, and wrote a poem- Arimaspea; in this poem Aristeas was saying that during the 7 years that had passed, he was traveling in the land of the Hyperborean’s, as a Phoebian (Phoebus was a byname used for Apollo). After that, Aristeas disappeared again, only to come back again after… 240 years, in Metapontum, in Southern Italy. According to other sources, Aristeas, as well as Avaris, another priest of Apollo, had the ability to leave their bodies while in trance and travel with their soul. The body was left behind, in a state of hypnosis, but the soul was traveling far away, seeing and hearing a lot, which later were told by the two priests to the world. Modern parapsychology recognizes this phenomenon, and calls it «astral projection» or «outer-body experience».
The Temple and the Human Brain
The temple was actually a «hint» for all of the above; along with Apollo another god was also worshiped at Delphi, Dionysus- whose grave was said to be at the center of the temple. In the 4th century b.C, Dionysus was depicted on the eastern pediment, along with Apollo who was depicted on the eastern pediment. Nietzsche was claiming that these two gods were complimentary to one another, symbolizing sobriety and tempest, rational and irrational. Pythia, falling in a state of frenzy and ecstasy at the same time, could be bakcheia maenad, without the intense expressions of the Dionysian element; ergo, she was affected by the spirits of both gods.According to another approach, the Delphic temple with the two pensive gods, Apollo and Dionysus, symbolizes the two lobes of the human brain; when the lobes function in modulation they make it easier for the mind to reach a higher state of consciousness. The mythical story of the temple’s establishment is revealing: according to it, two golden eagles flew, one from the east- symbolizing Apollo-, and one from the west- symbolizing Dionysus. The golden eagles met above Delphi, thus determined the area where the temple should be built. In semiology, the Delphic temple, symbolizes the frontal lobe of the brain, where all the information from the left, «logical», hemisphere which is a reference to Apollo’s eastern pediment, and the «intuitive», right hemisphere, which is a reference to Dionysus’s western pediment, are processed. The truth is that many great thinkers believe, that in the early religious era, the coalescence of the Apollonian and Dionysian element is required. Therefore, those who believe that the Delphic temple is a gate leading to other dimensions and go there seeking for internal inspiration, an «oracle», an answer to their deepest existential queries, might not be entirely wrong
Famous oracular statements from Delphi
Classic example of the dual meaning of an oracle, was the one read to Croesus:
«If Croesus was to cross the river Halys he would destroy a great empire». Croesus crossed the river and indeed destroyed a great empire; his own. He was defeated by the Persian king, Cyrus.
Another oracle, whose meaning was well hidden, was the one given to the Lacedaemon’s (Spartans) who thought they were powerful enough to conquer the whole of Arcadia, but asked for an oracle from Delphi before doing so: «Are you asking me for Arcadia? You are asking for too much, I will not give it to you. If you want it that much, I will give you Tegea where you will be able to dance and you will be able to measure its beautiful low land with the gorse». The Lacedaemon’s left alone the rest of Arcadia and attacked only Tegea. They were so sure of their victory that they had brought chains with them to tie up their prisoners. But they lost to the Tegeans, who eventually tied the Lacedaemon’s up with the chains they had brought with them. That way the Lacedaemon’s were able to walk through the low land of Tegea working on the land and measuring the land with the gorse, the length of the chains that each one had around his legs.
Themistocles on the other hand, managed to interpret correctly the oracle about Athens, which said that «it will be saved from the Persian attack due to the wooden walls». He convinced the Athenians to build their fleet and thus won in the Battle of Salamis
Philip of Macedon was also able to interpret correctly the oracle «with silver spears you may conquer the world». It was a clear insinuation of the power of bribery. This oracle also reminds us of what was greatly believed during the area of the English Empire: that the English would win all wars due the «cavalry of Saint George», meaning the golden pound which depicted Saint George on the one side.
The last oracle given by Delphi, was to Julian «Tell the king; the fair wrought house has fallen. No shelter has Apollo, nor sacred laurel leaves; The fountains are now silent; the voice is stilled. It is finished». Agelos Vlahos, in his book «Pythia’s frenzy» (Estia publications), notes that «there are very few literary texts in the world that sound so sad and mournful and are a prologue to the end of a world».