Monday, September 16, 2013

Goddesses in the Dust: Ley Lines, Trance-Inducing Gas and The Oracle of Delphi

An archaeologist unearths the divine feminine, one archetype at a time...
John Collier, Priestess of Delphi, 1891
Ever since my first visit to Greece with my family, at age 11, I've been fascinated by the oracle of Delphi. When we traveled to this village in the mountainous region north of Athens, I remember our rented car, clawing its way up the steep roads between the vertical rock, my father pointing out sheep perched on cliffs, looking down on us.



History tells us that the oracle was always a woman, known as the Pythia, who was chosen as a mouthpiece for the god Apollo. Legend says that Apollo killed the giant Python snake who fell into the abyss at Delphi, and its decomposing body is the source of gasses that emanate from fissures around the site. The temple site of Delphi was erected on top of a geological fault in the earth and the tripod on which the Pythia sat was positioned directly over a crack emitting vapors. 
Aegeus consults the Pythia, Kylix by the Kodros Painter, ca. 440 − 430 B.C.E.
Scientists who have studied the site of Delphi have determined that the the gasses emanating from the earth beneath the temple complex are ethylene related, which ingested in certain amounts, cause a powerful trance state. So were these hand picked Pythia really seers who could predict the future, or women exposed to an hallucinogenic chemical which caused them to behave in strange ways?

People from all over the ancient world flocked to ask the oracle questions and seek guidance about issues ranging from when to attack an enemy, where to erect a town and whom to choose for a leader. The Pythia was thought to be possessed by the god Apollo and her utterances were translated by the temple's priests. Sometimes her words were misunderstood, with grave consequences, such as in the case of the Lydian king, Croesus. After offering the oracle a sacrifice of multiple cattle and gold bricks, Croesus asked if he should attack the Persian army. The oracle's response was: if he were to cross a river, "Croesus will destroy a great empire." Croesus did attack, and suffered a brutal defeat, never realizing that the empire that would be destroyed was his own. The most notable utterances of the Delphic oracle are engraved at the site: Know Thyself, and Nothing in Excess.

Personally, I believe this is a sacred site. I have traveled to Delphi on more than one occasion - and on the last trip, with my daughter, 

and sister 

I experienced a powerful connection with this place and the small round building, the Temple of Athena Pronaos, in particular.

Ley lines are supposedly invisible energy pathways in the earth's crust that pass underneath certain places thought of as power points, such as Stonehenge on the Wiltshire Plain in England, and Sedona, Arizona, among others. Ley lines also exist in Greece and one passes directly underneath Delphi. Coincidence and pure speculation, or something more to it? You decide.

For now, I am dreaming of my next trip to Delphi, and I am hoping the prediction is that it is soon.

19 comments:

  1. I don't think it's coincidence. I can't say that I've studied any of these phenomena to remark intelligently about them (ley lines or the hallucinogenic gases) but I do tend to place tremendous faith in order. I was kind of hoping for you to write just a little more about the powerful connection you experienced. Gorgeous pictures, sis.

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    1. Suze, It's too long to put on the blog, but I have written a story about that experience. It's a tale that involves some pretty mystical stuff, including a vision my sister had about our past lives. I've had had a powerful connection with Greece ever since my first visit, so this was yet one more example of that strange bond.

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  2. oh chills. that's my reaction to reading this.

    the photos of you and your daughter and your sisters and with your parents are the same thread in time--very wonderful.

    love love
    kj

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  3. ooo....I'm with KJ - I love the ideas, and the gas...and the omens.
    and yes, of course, love the photos

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  4. Ley lines - Yep, I think I do believe in ley lines. Where they come from or what causes them, I have no clue. But I do feel them. Unless it's my over-active imagination that causes me to feel them :)

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  5. Do you know where the ley line goes that you talk about?

    Thanks.

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    1. Kevin, I've read it referred to as the Athena-Apollo line, as well as part of a longer ley line that connects Ireland with Cairo, Egypt.

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  6. I loved seeing your old family picture. I assumed you picked up your passion for antiquity at college but clearly your parents planted the seed earlier. Those must have been wonderful trips! We still don't understand our world. It's interesting how humans tell stories in myth and in science to search of the truth.

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    1. Sarah, I did 'officially' become interested in archaeology as a college student living in Greece, but you're right - the seeds were planted during that initial trip with my parents at age 11. As an archaeologist, I find myself on that dividing line quite a bit, hovering between the scientific and mythological explanations for the artifacts - and phenomena - we encounter.

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  7. I wondered about you connecting with archeology on that first trip too. That's wonderful.

    I believe in these energy lines. Why not? Just because we can't prove them, or measure them, what we experience means something. Your experience and your sister's mean something. As for hallucinogenic drugs, some believe that they open the doorways to those deeper energies. I am very curious about that and don't discount it.

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    1. Ruth, there is something mysterious about this place's energy, and I don't believe the hallucinogens - no matter how effective they may have been - are necessary to access the sacred nature of this site.

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  8. My parents are headed there now! I have to forward this to them!!!

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    1. Lucinda, Be sure to tell them to explore the Castalian spring which is nearby the site, if it is accessible, as well as the museum, which holds important artifacts.

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  9. '. . . women exposed to an hallucinogenic chemical which caused them to behave in strange ways.' Hey, that brings back a few memories :-)

    What a wonderful site! You can feel the emanations from the photos alone.

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  10. the science mixed up with history makes for some powerful archeology. Love the connections - cheers!

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  11. Your posts are always the best, so much more than "just" travel.... and I think I was also 11 when I first went to Greece :-)

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