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.
Me at the Temple of Delphi
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 […]