Richard at Delphi 

Songs of the Oracle

Richard Catlett Wilkerson 



A year before we went to Greece I began dreaming about it. The themes were very similar. I would go with a group of mostly unknown people to an island. We would look for treasure, play games like children and then have to decide whether to catch the boat back or spend the night.


  I love the way the imagination connects the literal material world with the ideal, spiritual realms and mediates their relationship. Children have a natural, though undeveloped sense of this, I think, in their organically playing out of the paths of meaning and value. I especially like the way this imaginal connection is expressed in dreams and our relationship with them. Other modalities imaginative connectedness exist; psychotherapy, dancing, painting, socializing, reading, writing, or just plain thinking and reflecting. All tend to organically unfold the "What are we really doing and why are we doing it?". These questions were at one time asked of the oracles, and the most famous of all was the oracle at Delphi. To even get into the temple to ask a question required sleeping on the steps of the temple until one had a dream that indicated you would not be wasting the oracles time. The priestess, the pythia, would sit on her tripod seat in a trance and speak as the medium of the oracle. 

The Delphic oracle was known and used even before the Greeks arrived. After they came with their male god Apollo (who is said to have slain the Dragon/monster at Delphi and taken the oracle for his own use), a group of male priests surrounded the priestess and would "interpert" the things she said. By 700-500 BCE the interpretations were used to increase the political power of Delphi and by about 500 the oracle was falling into disrepute. The claim was that the oracle was ambiguous and not fitting with the rational spirit of Greece. There didn't seem to be any questioning of the patriarchal overseer's abuse and rational manipulation of the original pre-greek spirit of the oracle, but the concern at the time was how to beat the Persians, not how to live a meaningful life. We know what happened to Socarates, who stressed meaningful questioning at this same politically-oriented time. However, the oracle continued to have some influence for several hundred more years. Even some Roman emperors sent delegates to consult the oracle. 

Keep heading to the Oracle



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