In his mini-commentary today, Tom McMahon remains in Ancient Greece, today at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi pondering what contributions the Greeks made to our pictures and ideas about divinity and the roles of the gods in human affairs. We see where symbols and ideas from this ancient time are embedded in modern life and thought today.
In search of many gods our magic carpet stealthfully glides into Delphi ...
Please turn off all cell phones as we are approaching the outskirts of Delphi. They are paranoid about any interference with their spiritual apparati that protectively shields the information-revealing spirits. This sacred place reminds me of a Star Wars Retreat Center. Yes, remove your shoes as we humans humbly approach for this is where the god Apollo slew the earth champion Python. Starting in 776 b.c.e. athletes and musicians from all over the Greek world gathered in the Pythian games, ancient forerunners of modern day Olympics. The place was considered the "omphalos" or navel of the earth at which ancient grandmother Gaia/earth was worshiped.
Legend has it that Apollo first came to Delphi disguised as a dolphin, this god stopping on the way to pick laurel from bay trees; winners, athletic semi gods, at the games were crowned with a wreath of laurel.
(Paul the Apostle mentions this) On the temple wall "KNOW THYSELF" was inscribed. Look! There is a caduceus. Hey that looks like that snake thing doctors use. Let's read what the bronze plaque has to tell us.
The caduceus (from Greek κηρύκειον kērukeion "herald's staff") is the staff carried by Hermes in Greek mythology. The same staff was also borne by heralds in general, for example by Iris, the messenger of Hera. It is a short staff entwined by two serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings. In Roman iconography it was often depicted being carried in the left hand of Mercury, the messenger of the gods, guide of the dead and protector of merchants, shepherds, gamblers, liars, and thieves.
In later Antiquity the caduceus provided the basis for the astrological symbol representing the planet Mercury. Thus, through its use in astrology and alchemy, it has come to denote the elemental metal of the same name. [TMcM:Watch for alchemy when we magic carpet through the gods of the Middle Ages.] By extension of its association with Mercury/Hermes, the caduceus is also a recognized symbol of commerce and negotiation, two realms in which balanced exchange and reciprocity are recognized as ideals. This association is ancient, and consistent from the Classical period to modern times. The caduceus is also used as a symbol representing printing, again by extension of the attributes of Mercury (in this case associated with writing and eloquence).
The caduceus is sometimes mistakenly used as a symbol of medicine and/or medical practice, especially in North America, because of widespread confusion with the traditional medical symbol, the rod of Asclepius, which has only a single snake and no wings. [TMcM: Today's doctors are often seen by people as god-like and some think they can keep us alive forever.]
In silence we follow our guide, a nameless virgin-priestess into the inner sanctum. Since we are only observers we need drop in only a drachma or two instead of a king's ransom paid by a seance participant. Big business tycoons and mighty emperors came to Delphi to get the low down on their lives via these mysterious females. Interesting how these powerhouse boys secretly trusted in women for news from the gods. Shakespeare gave us the Three Witches of Endor.
The Three Witches or Weird Sisters are characters in William Shakespeare's play Macbeth [c. 1603–1607]. Shakespeare's witches are prophets who hail the general Macbeth early in the play with predictions of his rise as king. Upon committing regicide and taking the throne of Scotland, Macbeth hears the trio deliver ambiguous prophecies threatening his downfall. The witches' dark and contradictory natures, their "filthy" trappings and activities, as well as their intercourse with the supernatural all set an ominous tone for the play. Since then, their role has proven somewhat difficult for many directors to portray, due to the tendency to make their parts exaggerated or overly sensational. Some have adapted the original Macbeth into different cultures, as in Orson Welles' performance making the witches voodoo priestesses. Film adaptations have seen the witches transformed into characters familiar to the modern world, such as hippies on drugs or goth schoolgirls. Their influence reaches the literary realm as well in such works as The Third Witch and the Harry Potter series. [TMcM: No wonder Benedict the 16th condemned Harry Potter.]
Step carefully as the foggy mist shrouds clear vision. There are some empty seats behind that huge boulder that impairs a clear view of the oracle. No one wears an id in this spooky place. The silence reminds me of active parish days when one dare not speak in church as we awaited the arrival of the mass celebrant through whom god would arrive shortly on scene. I remember back in 1966 the old pastor, who had been an army chaplain on General Douglas MacArthur's staff in Japan, tapping a mother with new born on the shoulder and saying to both husband and wife: "keep that thing quiet in the house of God or get out". I followed them out of church to reassure them the man was crazy. The RCC has had plenty of nutty people.
I am having a hard time in Delphi. I may stay the night and take in a Greek play, maybe a comedy (of Delphi errors) or a tragedy (of people getting hoodwinked). Remember away back when I wrote about persons and the masks (personalities) that we wear? Seems that on Holy Thursday the Pope put on his snarly mask to go after the priests who seek reform.
I sense that we would best be on our way before Poseidon gets wind of us and sets up a violent storm like this god did to Ulysses as he headed home to reunite with his wife Penelope who was still working on her rug. I surely will not seek counsel from the oracles at Delphi.
Next stop ... along the Tiber ... on the Isle of Capri I met her neath the shade of an old walnut tree (?) ... look forward to some hot loving gods.
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Tom in San Jose, who enjoyed greatly the Beatles when they sang their "magical mystery tour" 07Apr2012
What are your thoughts on this commentary?