While planning a European tour, I set the intention to receive a sign from the famous Oracle at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Greece. Apollo, the god of revelation and inspiration, not only sent me a good omen, he also made sure the moment was captured on video...without me being aware of it at the time.
In this altered state of consciousness, possibly induced by the hallucinogenic 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.
Maybe the Christians, who later turned a part of the site into a church, were successful in driving out the last remnants of the old religion with their Grecian crosses? They posted these crucifixes at the entrance to the sanctuary, possibly to dispel the evil and heresy of the site’s pagan past. They no longer had any need for the protection of the colossal Naxian sphinx, which used to guard this place from up high, on top of a marble column.
Eventually, I was going further up the slopes of Mount Parnassus, when I had a sudden intuitive urge to pause. Not to take a picture, as I normally might, but record a short video of myself with the temple behind me. This was unusual at the time. I am not at all fond of posing for photos, much less appearing on video or television. But Apollo insisted, so I obliged, and paused my trek up the incline.
I had never before used the video capture facility on my new 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 myself, 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.
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 my shoulder, a man walks into view in the background… and proceeds to embrace a tree growing near the temple. This held a special, personal symbolism for me.
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 a spiritual sign in this synchronistic occurrence. Greece was my first stop in Europe. Butterflies came to me in every country and at every sacred site I subsequently visited.
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.
What was the significance to me? 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 my life in recent months. He reminded me that I had all the spiritual support I needed to continue breaking out of the cocoon of the past with courage. 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 human journey, while wrapping my arms around the ever-expanding tree of life.
© 2013 Anthon St Maarten