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The Delphic Oracle:
Job Title in Ancient Greece

DelphiPerhaps the most famous of all psychics was the Delphic Oracle. Located in Delphi, Greece in ancient times, the oracle of Delphi was not a single person. It was a position held by many women over hundreds of years.

To me, the long history of this place and its reputation are amazing. It is believed by archaeologists that the oracle had its origin in prehistoric times, during the Neolithic, about 8500 B.C.

The Greeks, Romans and people of many cultures visited the oracle and temple to Apollo the sun god until the emperor Theodosius shut it down in 395 A.D. Even if you only count the historical facts about the oracle starting in the 8th century B.C., that still means at least 1200 continuous years of psychic predictions.

To put that in perspective, think about the age of the U.S. being just over 200 years. What was so special about the Delphic Oracle that it lasted through so many cultures and years virtually unchanged?

There must have been some truth to it, and it must have provided useful and accurate help to those who visited. Otherwise, it would have faded away much more quickly.

A Brief History of the Delphic Oracle

In ancient times, places of worship were often built on top of older temples. Many of the cathedrals in France and England are known to have been built on top of pagan sites of worship. The cathedral at Chartres is an excellent example of this practice.

DelphiArchaeological evidence from Delphi indicates that the temple at Delphi is located where neolithic Earth goddess worship took place as far back as 8000 B.C..

Around the 8th century B.C. the location was dedicated to Apollo, Greek god of the sun. Stories of how Apollo came to be associated with this site vary. Older ones apparently have Apollo coming to Delphi from the south as a dolphin swimming the sea, or walking in from the north. Another version has him killing Python, child of Gaia. Then the location is dedicated to him.

It is interesting that Apollo the sun god is associated with masculine energy and thus the beginning of 'modern' civilization, while dragons like Python are often associated with older goddess energy. So Apollo vanquished the old ways and took over the sacred space at Delphi.

Interestingly, in spite of the masculine energy taking over, the function of augury continued to be performed by a woman. While the information I have read mentions that character, purity and often family background were important in becoming the oracle, I haven't seen that psychic powers were mandatory. Instead, a woman of virtue was chosen to be the priestess known as the Pythia, or Delphic Oracle.

"All agree, however, that young girls were selected and carefully trained so that they could transmit the high inspiration of the god without in any way marring its purity and meaning. Later it was found prudent to use married women -- who were required to live apart from their husbands before and during their oracular duties. In fact, even those who consulted the Pythia were expected to practice chastity, and also to undergo purification, offer sacrifice, approach the holy precincts with reverence and trust and, when waiting in the vestibule, to remain silent, thinking pure thoughts." (from "The Delphic Oracle" by Eloise Hart, in Sunrise magazine, October/November 1985; copyright � 1985 Theosophical University Press)

What interests me about these details is that the intention and mindset of the oracle and petitioner were vital to getting accurate answers. This practice that spanned hundreds of years and involved countless women as oracles seems to agree with my belief that anyone potentially can be psychic, but that it does take some practice and preparation.

The way the augury was performed apparently involved the Oracle sitting on a high stool called a tripod which sat over a vent in the earth. Through this opening, gases came up that put the oracle into a trance. This state was believed to allow her to connect with Apollo and get accurate answers to questions.

In recent times, geologists have shown that ethylene gas probably was what came up through the opening in the earth, and its properties match the description given in the accounts we have of a sweet smelling gas that caused an altered state. Click here for the full story.

The 'magic' of Delphi was lost due to earth changes over time the reduced and then ended the production of gas.

The Delphic Oracle was probably the longest-running job that involved augury. Kings, generals, historians and philosophers came from far away to petition the oracle about public policy or personal issues over many hundreds of years.

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