While planning a European tour, I set the intention to receive a sign from the famous Oracle at Delphi. Apollo, the god of revelation and inspiration, not only sent me a good omen, he also made sure the moment was captured on video.
Would you not do the same if you were going to visit the remains of the legendary sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi, Greece? Well, I did! I humbly requested a simple sign or personal omen from the god of light, truth and prophecy, while I was planning my recent European tour*. I knew for several months before I undertook this odyssey that Apollo would not disappoint, but ultimately I received much more than I had anticipated.
The renowned oracle who communicated Apollo’s messages to the people, and the priests who interpreted them, no longer ply their trade at this once glorious place, but Apollo has certainly not abandoned his remarkable temple. He still answers the call of mortals here, despite the fact that most of us now live in a world devoid of the mystical and the miraculous. Yes, he certainly does. I have proof.
At first I was somewhat disenchanted with this sacred site, but I nevertheless paid my respects to Apollo at the foot of his altar. I also paused for a while at the remains of the grand entrance to the temple, reminding him that the two of us had a date here with destiny. But nothing came to me.
I even snooped around the entrance to Pythia’s chamber, in the hope that this famous oracle woman would appear from the depths below to step out onto the Rock of Sybil in an altered state of consciousness. In that trance state, induced by the hallucigenic gasses from below the temple foundation, she would utter mysterious, prophetic messages from Apollo himself. It is rumored that she predicted the fall of Troy, surely she could manage a simple little sign from Apollo for me? Yet, the temple ruins remained as silent as the grave.
Unlike the clear call of Athena that I heard on the Acropolis in Athens, just a few days earlier, the sacred site of Apollo at Delphi remained shrouded in a mysterious, yet reassuring silence. But then Apollo surprised me with proof that the sacred force of Delphi remains. His presence here reaches as far back as many centuries BC; as far back as the time when he is believed to have dug the foundations of the first temple at Delphi himself.
Delphi did not shape the fate and direct the destiny of so many nations, kings and warriors by accident. This place is after all where Zeus, with the assistance of his two eagles, determined where the center of the world must be. The energy here has gathered over millennia. This is after all where the ancient Greek aphorism "Know Thyself" was inscribed in the forecourt of the temple, along with the other 147 Delphic maxims. There is much magical power in these ruins, despite me being so slow on the uptake. The distractions caused by the unusual European summer heat, jet lag, and the chatter of babbling tour guides were all interfering with the radar of my sixth sense.
Eventually, I was going further up the slopes of Mount Parnassus, when I had a sudden intuitive urge to pause, and not take a picture as I normally might, but record a short video of myself with the temple behind me. This is unusual, since it is common knowledge that I am not at all fond of posing for photos, much less appearing on video or television. But Apollo insisted, so I obliged and stopped by trek up the incline.
I had never before used the video capture facility on my smart phone, so it took me a while to figure it out. The heat was becoming unbearable. At last I managed to record a brief video of me just saying a few words about the temple at Delphi behind me. Then I walked on. I still did not realize what had actually occurred, or what the significance was of this seemingly mundane incident.
A few seconds into the video my jaw dropped. I was amazed and quite surprised. There I was, mumbling a brief introduction about the temple and the oracle, while from nowhere a large black and white butterfly descended from above and came to rest on my shoulder! It remained there until the end of my short, unplanned monologue. Long after the video ended I remained staring at the screen in bewilderment.
After I posted the video on Facebook, a friend pointed out to me that apart from the butterfly a second amazing thing happened at the end of the video. I never noticed it the first time around! The moment the butterfly leaves a man walks into view in the background… and proceeds to embrace a tree growing near the temple.
Not only did Apollo answer my prayer for a sign, but he also made sure the moment would be captured for posterity. He made sure nobody would doubt the story of my encounter with him up on that mountain. Some may see it merely as a lucky accident or coincidence, but I see only the blessing of Apollo in this magical, synchronistic occurrence.
In Celtic folklore the butterfly represents growth, personal expansion, transformation and rebirth. In Native American mysticism the butterfly was believed to be a messenger that would carry secret prayers and wishes to the Great Spirit. In ancient Rome, butterflies were found on coins, next to Juno, the goddess of weddings and marriage. And in Greek mythology Psyche, the Greek goddess of the soul, is represented by a butterfly. Apollo knew that I was not only embarking on a physical journey, but that I had also entered a period of significant personal change in recent months. He reminded me that I had all the support and courage to continue breaking out of the cocoon of the past. I was on the cusp of a new way of life, and under the watchful eyes of the gods I was preparing to embrace a new chapter in my exhilarating human journey, wrapping my arms around the ever-expanding tree of life.
© 2013 Anthon St Maarten