I just returned from a two-week trip to Greece. I have been fascinated by Greece my entire life – in college I read a book called The Sibyl about the Oracle at Delphi. I had an idea even then that I had had a life as a Sibyl, telling the fortunes of passersby in the service of the Mother Goddess. I never learned much about the history of Delphi, and didn’t know that in Greek times the role of the oracle at Delphi changed. And here is where I’d like to begin this story.
All of the ancient sites that we visited had at one time been temples to Gaia or some Mother Goddess before being rebuilt as the magnificent temples that we think of as representing the ancient Greece of democracy and the flowering of civilization. In Delphi in particular, the building which later became the Temple of Apollo was originally a temple dedicated to Gaia, or at least the Goddess who was later called Gaia. A creature called Python Delpyne, the Python of Delphi, protected the sacred site. In those days, we learned, the Sibyl spoke with her own voice – she transmitted message directly from the Divine to those who sought her counsel.
In the legends that have come down to us, the god Apollo slew the dragon Python at Delphi and took over the sacred site. After the site was rebuilt in honor of Apollo (with a temple to Athena to placate the goddess worshippers), the Sibyl was no more. Instead she was replaced by an oracle called Pythia, who lost her own voice – she is said to have spoken gibberish which was translated by a male priest to the seekers who visited. I can’t think of a clearer representation of the cultural transition from feminine wisdom to male domination. This is not a value judgment, but there is a clear line between the death of goddess cultures and the emergence of patriarchal divinities, and I believe that this transition is represented by the passage from the Age of Taurus (the Bull) to the Age of Aries (the Warrior).
Snakes and serpents play a major role in the transition from early goddess culture to a more patriarchal society: in the Bible Eve is famously tempted by a snake. St. Patrick is said to have driven the snakes out of Ireland, even though in reality there were no snakes in Ireland. Greek goddesses are depicted holding snakes, and one famous figure in Greek mythology (Medusa) wore them on her head to horrify all who saw her.
We also visited the Palace of Knossos, the home of the famous King Minos whose Minotaur was locked in a labyrinth beneath the Palace until being slain by Theseus, the cultural representative of modern Greece. The Minotaur was half bull and half man, and you can read elsewhere the fascinating tale of how he came to exist. Symbolically, though, the Minotaur represented the transition from the Age of Taurus (bull) to the Age of Aries (Man) and the weakening of the feminine divinity. Like all of the other sites sacred to Classic Greek culture, Knossos was a site which exhibits evidence of goddess worship in prehistory. The Snake Goddesses in Crete have been traced back to 1700-1400 BCE which is likely when the goddess cultures were in their prime and beginning to wane.
Each Great Age (represented by the precession of the equinoxes through the zodiacal signs) lasts for approximately 2150 years, but no one has successfully dated them astronomically. I believe that there is plenty of evidence to suggest that we are in the beginnings of the transition to the Aquarian Age. If true, then the Age of Pisces, the age where knowledge and wisdom was forgotten and Christ the fisher of men ascended to supremacy, likely began in the 300-500 year BCE era which coincides with the flowering of the Classical period in Greece and the peak of the Age of Aries with the spread of the Byzantine empire under Alexander the Great, followed by the Hellenistic period which is so important to astrologers.
Our personal lives are the microcosm of a great system of time under which the history of the world is the macrocosm. There is a rhythm to the way Spring follows Winter, and Summer leads to Fall. As individuals we have transits of planets which affect our inner and outer worlds, but there are also major cycles which propel humanity in constant movement towards integration (ideally!). The age of female divinity and fertility under the Age of Taurus gave way to the divinity of great warriors under the Age of Aries. The celebration of individual warriors under the Age of Aries gave way to the worship of one Church and the erasing of personal liberty under the Age of Pisces. The worship of an ideal which requires the loss of the Self under the Age of Pisces will give way to a new structure under the Age of Aquarius in we hope that peace and justice will rule the land, but in which technology and innovation will likely eclipse personal hopes and dreams. Each Age has its own beauty, and its own horrors.
It is said that history is written by the winners. It was a real gift to see past the history of Classic Greece back into the earlier times of the Great Feminine.