Showing posts with label Oracle of Delphi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oracle of Delphi. Show all posts

Sunday, August 14, 2022

The Pythia Was An Oracle, Not A Psychic


In Delphi I shall build my rich temple to be an oracle for man, and her words shall never fail. 
- Apollon.

Her words were just that, amazingly accurate and wise, and she made Delphi the religious and cultural center of the ancient world. Even today, people still come from all over the globe to see the ruins of the sanctuary, where they continue to discuss ideas, beliefs, history and current affairs from their homelands. Delphi always serves its general purpose no matter how long the site has remained abandoned. It's no wonder that it's considered a world heritage location. But I also think the role of the Pythia, and indeed that of the Greek oracle in general, has been misunderstood by modern man, and sometimes even by ancient man.

Ancient Greek religious historians know well the story of King Croesus of Lydia in Asia Minor and his consultation with the Pythia. Planning an invasion in the East, he asked if he would defeat the Persian Empire. The Pythia responded by saying that if he invaded, he would destroy a great empire. He didn't realize, however, that it would be his own. But the bigger picture is that ancient Greek historians and probably the priests of Delphi thought his question to be very odd, in that Croesus clearly did not understand the purpose of a Greek oracle. She was not there to predict the future.

She was a counselor to mankind, blessed by Apollon to give the best advice possible. She was suited to tell people the best courses of action, or which God to appease, in a given cirumstance. For example, one of my favorite oracular responses in Delphic history has to do with the Persian Wars in 480 BCE. When the Persians began the invasion of northern Greece, the Pythia told the Delphians to pray to the Winds, because they would be Greece's strongest allies. Soon after, a very violent storm gathered in the north and sunk or beached atleast 20% of the Persian fleet, while the Greek ships remained untouched. This is factually recorded. The Pythia did not predict the future here, she told the Greeks where their greatest allies were.

As the oracle of my temple, my wife is pretty much the same way. Even when I myself have asked her questions, she has always responded with advice, not predictions, and yet that advice can still secure a great outcome because it comes from a God. Apollon does not attempt to dictate or live our lives for us. He wants us to think, grow and become the best we can be.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Sources
Scott, Michael, Delphi A History of the Center of the Ancient World, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 2014.

Stagman, Myron, 100 Prophecies of the Delphic Oracle, Prophetic Advice from the God Apollo, City-State Press, 1999.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Christianity Trembles Before The Pythia


For over a thousand years, the Oracle of Delphi gave the counsel of Apollon to the ancient Hellenic world. She was not, by any means, the only Oracle around. But she was, without a doubt, the most loved and revered. Fortunately today, centuries after she vanished, we still have records of the amazingly accurate words and sound advice she gave to mortals.

When her time came to an end during the rising Christian era takeover, allegations and legends came to surround the event. Some claim she was murdered by the Christian invasion. This could be a likely case, as we know that the Christian Emperor Theodosius the First ordered the temples closed, Games stopped, and the old religions outlawed. Considering that we know for a fact that the early Christians spilled seas of Pagan blood, it's not a farfetched idea that the Pythia (Oracle of Delphi) defended her temple and was killed. We know the murders happened and that Christian leaders and emperors ordered the attacks. Specifically considering people like the Pythia and Hypatia of Alexandria, we as well know the early Christians hated nothing more than a powerful woman. What remained of Delphi's wealth and treasures then faced certain destruction and looting. Another mystery is where her body, and those of the past Oracles, were buried. But if the last Oracle faced a mob of zealots, they destroyed her body, and if they knew the location of the graves or tombs of the women who preceded her, they destroyed and looted them.

If this account of the final Pythia is true, so could be her alleged final prophecy that she gave to her killers before they took her life, saying that the Christians would lose in the end. Specifically, "One day Apollon will return and He will stay." More broadly, we might interpret this to mean that the old religion cannot be kept oppressed for long, nor can the Gods be defeated, and that it's only a matter of time before they regain their rightful places. If she did make such a prediction, it needs to be added to her list of accuracies.

In our time, Christianity continues to significantly decline, both in America and around the world. In fact, it's always had trouble keeping power, largely relying on the force of government for most of its existence. But the more freedom of religion has spread, the greater their loss in numbers. In the United States, Christians make up 65% of the population, which is a 13% drop from just ten years ago. In truth, this is nothing new, as Christian numbers in America have been continuously falling for the last three decades. Catholicism, the largest Christian religion, has suffered a worldwide drop of two million in just the last three years. If the trend continues, American Christians will be a minority by the year 2042 at the latest, with Christianity itself becoming one of the fastest declining religions on the planet. In short, Christianity is losing power amazingly fast.

Meanwhile, non-Christians religions continue to grow. The old religions, Hellenism among them, even gaining enough foot in Greece again that the Christian government recognized them as an official religion once more. Polytheism and Paganism are among the fastest growing, or more accurately, fastest returning religions in the world. The last prophecy of the Pythia has come true.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Poor Man's Offering

Even as far back as ancient times, people have thought the Gods to be impressed, perhaps even to require, extravagant offerings and gifts for their favor. But one of my favorite stories of ancient Greece comes from the Oracle of Delphi herself. It is unknown when this occurred, as in an exact date or century, at least according to my own records. Nevertheless, the moral of the event teaches us a very strong lesson, especially if we are followers of ancient Greek religion.

The story has no title I have seen, so I shall name it The Poor Man's Offering. While we may not have a lot of official information, we do have the name of the man in question, Hermioneus. Surely by now, even the fragments of his bones have withered away as his soul rests hopefully in Elysium, but his story remains with us for all time.

A very rich man of Thessaly once went to offer to Apollon at the Delphic temple. Hermioneus was there as well. The rich man showered the God with splendid gifts that only the fullest of pockets and bank accounts could accrue, thinking that surely he now possessed the favor of the God. When Hermioneus came forth to present his gifts, he merely took from his pouch a small portion of barely and placed it upon the altar.  No doubt, the rich man nearly died laughing, at least in his own mind. But through the Delphic Oracle, Apollon spoke, and said that He liked the offering of Hermioneus more.

You see, the rich man was concerned with vanity, whereas Hermioneus was concerned with sincere devotion. It was nothing for the rich man to give Apollon the best money could buy, because he had all the money. However, it was a very telling act of character for the poor man to give what he could, to do his best, in the face of the Gods. The fact of the matter is that the Gods do not need anything we can give them. Apollon could have gotten all of the gifts the rich man gave him entirely on his own. What the Gods enjoy seeing is devotion and supplication, that we humble ourselves and realize who the Gods are. It doesn't matter if you offer one slice of bread from the Dollar Store, or the finest gold in all of America. The gift itself means nothing to the God or Goddess because they already own it. All of the universe is theirs. What they don't own is your devotion, your worship, and your love. For you to give that freely, means the most of all. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

Source - Stagman, Myron, 100 Prophecies of the Delphic Oracle, City-State Press, 1999.

Most Read Posts