Pilgrimage to the Oracles of Greece – Part 1 – Dodona

Dodona Tree 2

In preparing for our journey to Greece, I spent many hours with Dr. Raymond Moody who is an expert in Ancient Greek philosophy and the oracles. Up until the time of Aristotle, the Greeks did not believe in the gods or in speaking with the dead, they knew how to speak with the dead and had direct contact with the Gods. This coincides with Rudolf Steiner’s theory of the development of consciousness. He posited that up until the time of what he refers to as the Greco-Roman period, man had the ability to relate directly to the gods and the so-called dead via the subconscious mind, which was predominant. It is sometimes referred to as “Aristotle’s fault” and the development of logic, that we slowly lost that ability; something Steiner insists was a necessary part of our evolving as a species. It was my intention to visit as many of these oracles as possible during our visit and soak up as much energy and inspiration as possible for our work together.

I’ll start with the tree oracle of Dodona. Please visit the link provided to get the history of this hauntingly beautiful place. First, Dr. Moody told me that it would be impossible to visit that spot as it is so far northeast, almost to Albania, that most tours never went that far. It certainly wasn’t a destination on this tour. But as I discovered over and over during our journey, we were guided and aided in doing some rather impossible things. However, as in ancient times, it seemed that a sacrifice must be made. For us to make the pilgrimage to Dodona, we had to sacrifice our time on Corfu.

It took us twelve hours on a bus and two hours on a ferry to make the leg from Olympia to Corfu in one day. I had reservations about touring in the first place, not sure that my nervous system or physical body could handle the rigors and the intensity of pace touring requires. Well…I was right. While in a paradise of beautiful landscapes, magnificent food, and mesmerizing stories of Greek mythology and history, I was in physical agony the entire time. Once we reached Corfu, I had to drop off the tour and just walk gently around Corfu City to try and heal my body and nerves. The morning started off unseasonably cool with light rain. As the day went on, it got colder and began pouring. By early afternoon, the weather was so untenable; we headed back to our hotel to dry out. Before doing that, my husband bought a complete map of Greece.

While I was using a blow dryer to dry out our sodden clothes, he studied the map. “Joellyn,” he said, “our next stop is Ioannina. That is about 14 miles from Dodona.” What? Are you kidding me? There is no way, no way, I can be this close to one of the most important ancient oracles and not get there. I’ll never be here again. I cannot miss it no matter what.

On the ferry back to the mainland the next day, still in a torrential downpour, I speak with our guide Efi about how to make a trip to Dodona happen for Richard and me. She was very moved that this meant so much to me as even the Greeks have begun to forget about the oracles. She was a genius guide and sure enough, the turnoff to Dodona is only one mile out of their way. They will drop us off at the sacred site with an hour to visit before a taxi will come to bring us back to where our group would be having lunch.

“Are you sure, “Efi asked, “you want to do this? It is pouring down rain.” “Yes,” I answered,” I don’t care what the weather is, I have to be here.” “Okay,” she replied, “The taxi will arrive in one hour.” We paid our entrance fee and stepped upon this hallowed ground. And…

…the rain…stopped. It stopped for the entire hour we were there. Unlike the more popular tourist sites, we had Dodona all to ourselves. Like the petitioners of old, I made my way to the sacred Oak in my bare feet. The earth icy cold and soaked, clouds blanketing the mountains, kissing the earth.

The ancients would inscribe their question to the oracle, a sacred Oak tree (first the mother Goddess Gaia, later to be taken over by Zeus), on a lead tablet. The priestesses (later priests) would take the tablets to the tree. The answers would come from the song of the tree, the sound of the birds, the flowing music of the waters. Nature…everything was nature and that is what I felt there, the power and the vibrancy of Nature herself. I stood as close to the sacred oak (a newer one as the Romans destroyed with original) as possible, closed my eyes and sunk deeply into the energy of this mystical place. The energy behind my eyes was intense; very fast back and forth movement. I heard the call of birds, the sound of the wind. I’m not even sure I posed a question and if I did what the answer was…at least not until much later.

We reverently made our way past the theatre and back to the entrance, our hour over, to wait for the taxi. A stray female dog appeared out of nowhere. Greece has many, many stray dogs and cats, since the “crisis.” Though the people there are much kinder to their strays, banding together to vaccinate them, spay and neuter them, feed them. They are very friendly and this one came right up to me, thin though not starving, shivering from the cold and wanting to be petted which I was more than happy to oblige. I felt this dog, this beautiful creature of nature, was part of my “answer.” But again, what did she mean? I found out later.

The taxi arrived, the dog vanished, and we headed back to rejoin our group. As soon as the taxi pulled away, it began to pour once more, raining without stop for the rest of the day.

As I said, we were guided and aided in making this impossible visit happen. I am still processing what I brought with me from Dodona, but I can say it feels foundational to all the other oracles…so ancient, so pulsing with Life. And…as much as I would have loved to truly see the beautiful island of Corfu, it was a worthy sacrifice.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Pilgrimage to the Oracles of Greece – Part 1 – Dodona

  1. Thank you, Joellyn, for this post. I will never get to these ancient sites myself. By you sharing your experience and story, I feel like I was taken along on the journey with you. So, now, in a way, I have come to know it. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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