Monday, March 6, 2023
Athena, Athens, and Women's History
Tuesday, February 21, 2023
Artemis Still Sends Bears To Protect Children (True Stories)
Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Does Medusa Shed A Tear Above My Temple Doors?
Tuesday, December 20, 2022
How I Know The Gods Love Humanity
Thursday, December 8, 2022
Secrets Of The Ancient Greek Treasury
Monday, August 22, 2022
Becoming An Ancient Greek Priest In The 21st Century
Saturday, August 20, 2022
In Hellas, Disabled Could Still Be Devotee
Sunday, August 14, 2022
The Pythia Was An Oracle, Not A Psychic
Sunday, August 7, 2022
Why Don't The Gods Talk To Us Like People Do?
Saturday, July 23, 2022
Hellenism Lost Is Honor Lost
Saturday, June 4, 2022
Greek Balance Will Make The Best Society
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
The Cave From The Common
To look at some of the gorgeous and breathtaking caves of the world, it's not hard to see why they were sometimes used as sanctuaries of Gods. We can find ourselves feeling as though we are entering another world, leaving our own realm for an entirely new one, that even separates us from our past. In ancient Greece, I don't think this revelation changed much in the minds of worshipers, for they used these beautiful caverns to connect with the Divine world. Of course, they also built amazing temples and outdoor sanctuaries, but it appears that the Hellenic mind believed there were many ways to find the Gods. I also share that worldview. In fact, when I built my Elizabethan Sanctuary of Artemis back in 2016 when I lived in Elizabeth, Illinois, I chose to construct it within a solid, enclosed area on all sides except the entrance. It was the closest I could come to a cave-like structure on my property. It also seemed to give the precinct great protection from the elements.
On the Akropolis in Athens where Athena's grand Parthenon stood, simple cave sanctuaries could also be found on the cliffs. Zeus, Apollon and Pan all have such precincts there. But when we look deeper into the structures of caves, whether simple or elaborate, their many functions for religious purposes are revealed. You don't really have to build anything because the structure is already there by nature, the inside provides a cooling from the summer heat that would have especially been sought in a Mediterranean summer, some caves have their own water sources that might be used for purification or even drinking, and it's easy to store offerings, gifts and religious objects in safe and hidden places. There's simply just an otherworldly feeling about these majestic parts of the Earth, that by going into Gaia, we can find ourselves and our links with the universe.
I myself personally prefer a temple or built sanctuary, but all my life, I have found so much peace and wonder in the natural world. As a child and teenager, the forests of North Carolina were my running grounds. My late grandfather would even take me to the next City and its nature preserve to see Boone's Cave. I found it as mysterious, intriguing and even scary as the myths he would tell me about it. The inner workings of the Earth have become part of the human experience, religious or not. They remain as some inherent presence of our being.
In the Goodness of the Gods,
Friday, March 18, 2022
The Sacred War To End All Sacred Wars
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
Is Giant DNA Still With Us Today?
As far back as ancient Greece herself, there have been stories of giants who walked the Earth, made trouble for smaller people, and even unsuccessfully warred against the Gods. While people today scoff at the idea as a mere fairytale or a story invented to make kids go to bed, I've taken time to do my own brainstorming as a mythologist on the topic, and I have developed a theory to present. Generally put, the stories of giants are not false, incorrect or misinterpreted.
Let's begin by examining the average height of an ancient Greek male, which was 5'7". Even today in America, that has only increased by 2 inches. Six footers and above like myself, are not the norm. However, we also know that there have been extremely rare cases of people who have grown to extraordinary size and height, such as Andre the Giant and Robert Wadlow, Andre being 7'4" and Wadlow 8'11", and from my own state of Illinois.
These incredibly large people achieve their status not through a fairytale, but hard genetics. Both men had what is called gigantism, which is the result of abnormal or very overactive hormones and glands. And here's the kicker about Wadlow; at the time of his death, they could not conclude that he had reached his maximum growth. That's right, it is possible that he could have gotten even bigger. He also possessed amazing strength, perhaps the kind that would have been used to help build what we know as the Cyclopean Walls.
An average person looking up at these colossal people would certainly think of them as what they literally are, giants. Because these conditions of great size are science, what if it is, in fact, the rare DNA of ancient giants, that continues to sometimes be handed down through the human line? People today think of giants as those who reach to the clouds, and are even monsters, but that doesn't have to be the case. To me, there is no question as to whether giants existed. We have seen them with our very eyes.
Our ancient past isn't as distant as we have been led to believe, nor are the old stores as far fetched as we have been taught by the modern education system.
In the Goodness of the Gods,
Monday, March 7, 2022
The Shotgun Wedding That Started A Holy War
In the name of liberty, to Apollon's temple once again!
The bones of the first two sacred wars were now lying still in the soil, but as has been said, only the dead have seen the end of war.
Historians would more than likely conclude that the conflict had been brewing for a while, but this part of the story starts on the day of a wedding at the sanctuary. A father by the name of Crates became outraged, to say the least, perhaps even insane when his soon-to-be son in law Orsilaus got cold feet and cancelled the marriage. Not only did the father have the groom executed, he also murdered the groom's family members right in the sacred areas of Delphi itself, which was the worst religious offense. The fact that the father supported Theban domination at Delphi and Orsilaus supported Phocis, probably did not aid in resolving tension between the families either. Some say the execution and murders likely had political ends as well as revenge. We will remember that in the last Sacred War, Phocis remained in control of Delphi, and the power struggles between the Cities were far from over.
As punishment for the pollution of murder in a sacred area, Crates and his family were faced with heavy fines, and the feud between Thebes and Phocis over Delphi would only intensify from this point. It all came to a head when the League of Delphi, who has been victorious in the past wars, came to support Theban power, and Phocis, unlike in the last Sacred War, was losing strength and support fast.
At a meeting between the League and Phocis, which no doubt included talks about the actions of Crates against Osrilaus, the Phocians found themselves to be charged with basically the same thing Crates had been convicted of, impiety, blasphemy, sacrilege, etc. Phocis faced heavy fines as a result. Phocis, however, refused to bow to the League or the emerging Theban power, but at the same time, knew that defiance would inevitably lead to physical confrontation. Therefore, they attempted to end another war before it began. In 356 BCE they conquered Delphi. However, they surely knew that this was not the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning. If they had expected Greece to remain passive, they were wishful thinkers.
That summer, the League forces reunified, retook Delphi, and dethroned Phocis from its position of supremacy. Because of their eventual defeat, and probably their desire to remain important at Delphi, they began to comply with the original demands of the League. But the Third Sacred War was far from even a remote close.
In 355 BCE, the League decided to punish Phocis even more for their actions one year prior and attacked them with military force. The conflict was apparently too much for some of the Phocian leaders to handle, as their General committed suicide and even his replacement was killed in action. Nevertheless, Phocis was determined to take the war to whatever ends necessary to win. They robbed the temple's treasury and broke down valuable metal objects they could find in the sanctuary. This resulted in the immense loss of much of Delphi's history, story and economic stability. The theft was, in large part, to fund their army, but it probably also struck a blow to the spirit of the City, or so they might have thought. Religious work and consultations of the Oracle went on uninhibited.
As the fourth year of the war came in, it was clear that it was only a matter of time before Phocis collapsed, both from bankruptcy and military setbacks. However, a friend of Delphi to the far north would be the one to put the final nail in the coffin: Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. He had received word from the League and was asked to intervene on their behalf, which he did because of his dealings with and great respect for Delphi. By 346, Phocis was not only thrown completely out of the temple and sanctuary, but banned from having anymore influence over it. Even what remained of the Phocian City State was divided up into small neighborhoods, probably an effort by the League and Philip to ensure they could never again unify in power. Finally, Phocis was forced to pay monetary compensation for all they had destroyed and defiled.
Delphi emerged the victor once again, although they could never get back the originality of their geographical glory. What had been destroyed, was destroyed. But if there's one thing to always remember about ancient Greeks, it is that they will press on despite any obstacles.
In the Goodness of the Gods,
Source: Scott, Michael, Delphi: A History of the Center of the Ancient World, Princeton Publishing, 2014.
Tuesday, March 1, 2022
Fire Didn't Raise No Fool
Prometheus gave humans fire in order to advance our minds, that is what the ancient Greeks believed. Humans were made last, and there was nothing left to give us in the way of natural weapons or abilities, and so the Gods gave us an amazing mind, that we could be superior to all the animals around us. The beginning of that development was the gift of fire that the Titan blessed us with. While most people of our modern Age may think nothing of the story outside of a cultural worldview long passed, science proves that it's actually true. As with mostly all the Myths, our educational system of today leads us to discount rather than examine them.
Prehistoric man did indeed have fire, and we now know that because they had fire and were able to cook with it, the human brain grew. Because of the fact that food became more digestible, far more nutrients went into the body as opposed to earlier primates who couldn't use the tool. In short, it is a literal fact that the gift of fire advanced the human mind. In the broader view of humanity, it literally gave a rocket boost to human evolution itself. Fire later became used in sacrifices and was considered a sign of the presence of a God. Fire, when big enough, would also keep nightly predators away, and so it became known as that which drives away evil.
Of course, the ancient Greeks had no knowledge of this prehistoric and modern science, so how did they know? Who told them? The Higher Powers and Intelligences of the universe, whom all humans have an inherent connection and quest for because of schema, created that realization. Simply put, the Gods told them. Today we are often raised and trained to be afraid of fire. I remember when I was growing up, just lighting a stove scared or made me very nervous. We should most certainly be careful with it, because after all, it did come from Powers beyond our control, but I think that the more we grow accustomed to the natural world and our natural selves, we understand the Divinity and wonderfulness of it all.
In the Goodness of the Gods,
Thursday, February 24, 2022
Holy War That Shook Ancient Greece To The Core
As we saw in the First Sacred War, the victory of the League of Delphi resulted in the destruction of the town occupying its harbor and the restoration of Apollon's Temple. Delphi had won her first holy conflict, but it would be only the beginning of religious and economic fights over the center of the Greek world.
Athens has always taken powerful and pivotal roles in ancient Greek history, and even today they hold tremendous influence as the capital of modern Greece and the most populated City of the nation. Although, we must remember that in ancient times, Greece or Hellas was not a unified land. Each City State had its own government, laws and religious observances. In the decade of the 440s BCE, the imperial power of the City of Athens began to flex its muscle into central Greece, and the fact that Delphi was there did not go unnoticed, neither by Athens or its biggest rival City, Sparta.
Not only had Athens spent a lot of time, money and effort dominating the Delphic sanctuary with their own dedications and even a treasury whose ruins still stand today, but Athens also started to control and influence all the areas around or within proximity of Delphi, and the people who would strike this match were the Phocians. Phocis was a central region of Greece in which Delphi resided, and the people wanted to incorporate it into their jurisdiction, probably not only because of the influence it held over the Greek world, but the immense amount of wealth that was accumulating there. But it appeared as though the Phocians were not strong enough to do it on their own. They managed to enlist the powerful aid of Athens in removing the independence of Delphi.
Sparta had frequently consulted the Oracle of Delphi and had begun establishing their presence in the sanctuary. They did not like the fact that Athens was literally the master of the Temple and the City, so they decided to send troops to overthrow the Phocian control and return Delphi to its full independent state in 449 BCE. Sparta succeeded and Delphi was again ruled by Delphi alone, which the people of the City and Temple were extremely grateful for. They even erected dedications to the Spartans for their liberty.
However, the victory was brief. Two years after the Spartans left, Athens sent its troops under the command of Perikles and restored Phocian rule, establishing a tug of war in central Greece. But by 445 BCE, independence was again won by Delphi, noting the fact that Athens had to eventually turn its attention fully to Sparta in the Peloponnesian War by 431. Athens, at that point, simply did not have the time or power to keep Delphi locked, and would end up losing the war to Sparta after nearly 30 years of brutal fighting. Further conflict would not return to the City of Delphi for around 100 years later, what would come to be known as the Third Sacred War. For the time being, Delphi would once again remain a free State.
Read my post on the First Sacred War here.
In the Goodness of the Gods,
Scott, Michael, Delphi, A History of the Center of the Ancient World, Princeton Publishing, 2014.
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