Pythia, Delphi & my muse
In Delphi, Greece sits the ruins of an ancient shrine. An oracular shrine, to be specific.
Dedicated to Apollo, this shrine is said to be where Pythia, the oracle herself, foretold the future for the Greeks.
It’s location is important. It’s believed to be at the naval of the Earth. The center of our world.
Before Apollo is thought to have slain the serpent there, it was a shrine to Gaia.
It’s believed that below the shrine sat a crevice where gasses escaped that caused the hallucinations and behavior of the women who were Pythia.
On the outside of the shrine were words of wisdom from the Seven Sages of Greece.
One of these is “Gnothi Seauton” or “Know Thyself.”
When I first visited Delphi I fell in love. With the place. With the lore. With an idea.
And, as young twenty-somethings of my generation were wont to do, I decided to honor this love with a permanent declaration: a tattoo.
Gnothi Seauton … in gothic font … forever on my body.
It seemed fitting for the journey of self-discovery I was on.
Years later, enough to be counted in decades, I think of this place and I wonder about these women.
The women who became Pythia.
What were they like? Did they find themselves in a place of freedom and honor or a place of servitude?
And, if it’s the latter, what would’ve happened if they got off their stool above that crevice and thought:
Know thyself? Deal.
Forget these gasses. Forget Apollo. I’m out.
And then left to do their own thing.
A woman who has the audacity and clarity of self to do this - that’s a heroine in a story I want to hear.
Who is she? How does she live? What does she aspire to?
She’s my muse for this work.