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Know Thyself

Part II: When The Oracle of Delphi Spoke

When The Oracle Spoke
For most ancient pilgrims, an encounter with the Greek Delphi Oracle of Apollo was likely going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And, according to Jungian author Dianne Skafte, Ph.D. in "Listening To The Oracle," it was normally considered impious (i.e. a bad idea) for a pilgrim to ask the Oracle for specific predictions of the future.

It was, however, considered proper (i.e. a smart decision) to ask Apollo's Oracle how one could become aligned with their destiny. Thus... the questions asked of the Oracle were, more often than not, normally concerned with instructions on how to give proper tribute to one of the Greek gods.

As such, Shafte feels that most of the ancient pilgrims journeying to the Oracle did so, not so much for the advice given, as for the sheer life-changing, transformative, and numinous experience of encountering the Oracle and its extraordinary powers of transfiguration.

At the same time, it might be to your benefit to know that kings and conquerors seldom shied away from visiting the Oracle and asking for specific predictions of the future.

When questions calling for prediction were asked, the Oracle of Delphi was then known for giving truthful, but ambiguous and hidden answers.

For example, the Lydian King Croesus asked the Oracle whether he should fight King Cyrus of Persia or negotiate with Cyrus for terms of peace. The historian Herodotus reports that for some reason the gods were angry with Croesus, and that they therefore decided to punish him. The Oracle's answer was that who ever crosses the river Halys will become the ruler of a great empire.

King Croesus mistakenly assumes he will be the one to cross. (There are different versions as to exactly what the Oracle said.) Based on the Oracle - along with the fact that his army greatly outnumbered that of Cyrus - Croesus went to war with Cyrus. However, it was King Cyrus who crossed the river. The kingdom of Croesus fell in 547 BC.

So what's your plan of action? Are you a pompous ego-centric king expecting a specific prediction or a pious pilgrim hoping to stay aligned with your destiny? Hmmm...

Being Who You Are and Horoscopic Astrology
By the time the maxim "Know Thyself" made its way to the likes of Socrates and Plato, it [in a nutshell] meant "learning how to be who you are." The Delphi task involved in "Knowing Thyself," being "complete," or "wholeness" is that of more consciously (and fully) understanding and living out all the potentials - the good, the bad, and the ugly - contained in who you are as an individual.

The ancient Delphi Oracle life task of "Knowing Thyself" never has lent itself out to easy "one size fits all" answers and/or solutions to life.

In Jungian psychological terms, the natural internal movement of the psyche toward "wholeness" or "completion" is called the process of "individuation." The ancient Christian philosopher Irenaeus wrote that "the glory of God is a life fully lived."

In his statement, Irenaeus was very likely inspired by the familiar passage from the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus of Nazareth said: "You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly father is perfect." Unfortunately, modern translations of this passage - making use of the word "perfect" - are more than a wee bit misleading.

The original Greek word used was teleios, meaning "brought to completion." Therefore, a better translation might be: "You must therefore be complete just as your heavenly father is complete." You must learn to be who you are. Thus, "the glory of God is a life fully lived." In fact, what I call the "living out" of one's birth chart - and aligning oneself with one's personal destiny - is the psychological goal and/or task of this lifetime...

"If thou knowest thyself well, thou art better and more praiseworthy before God, than if thou didst not know thyself, but didst understand the course of the heavens and of all the planets and stars, also the dispositions of all mankind, also the nature of all beasts, and, in such matters, hadst all the skill of all who are in heaven and on earth. For it is said, there came a voice from heaven, saying, 'Man, know thyself.' Thus that proverb is still true, 'Going out were never so good, but staying at home were much better.'" (short excerpt from the "Theologia Germanica," Chapter 9, Author Unknown, 1516. The "Theologia Germanica," discovered and published by Martin Luther, was extolled by Luther as being one of the important books ever written.)

"Knowing Thyself" and "learning how to be who you are" sounds deceptively simple doesn't it? So how are you doing so far? Unfortunately, life doesn't come with an owner's manual included in the box. Heck... tell the truth... even if life did come with a manual in the box, we probably wouldn't read it. We'd all be waiting for it to come out on video. Having its birth in ancient Greece, horoscopic astrology is an ancient oracular tool that can in modern times support each one of us in the ancient task of "Knowing Thyself."

At it's best, astrology (like the Oracle of Delphi) is one of many tools that can augmentatively assist us in the task of becoming more closely aligned with our destiny. Astrology's "map of the soul" (owner's manual) provides each one of us with a map of our inborn potentials and then shows how these inborn potentials will (sooner or later) seek to systemically unfold over the course of our lifetime. As such, in our modern world - too often devoid of meaning - astrology can support us in purposes of meaning, purpose, self-discovery, soul growth, and being "brought to completion."

The Second Inscription
What most folks don't know is that along with the maxim "Know Thyself," there was - according to the historian Plutarch - yet another inscription on Apollo's Oracle of Delphi temple.

Part III> Yet Another Inscription on Apollo's Oracle of Delphi > Page 1, 2, 3

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