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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Themistoclea of Delphi

Alice C. Linsley

Themistoclea was a 6th century seer or Pythia of Apollo at the temple at Delphi. In Greek, themis refers to divine order or natural law. She is reputed to have been the teacher of Pythagoras, the great mathematician of Samos who believed that the workings of the material world could be expressed in terms of numbers.

In Diogenes Laeterius’ work, The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, in the section concerning the "Life Of Pythagoras," Diogenes states that "Aristoxenus asserts that Pythagoras derived the greater part of his ethical doctrines from Themistoclea, the priestess at Delphi."

Temple at Delphi

Themistoclea represents an ancient epistemological approach which wedded experience, reason and the supernatural. As the Prophetess of Apollo at Delphi she would have been a source of much ancient wisdom, including knowledge of the natural world, astronomy, medicine, music, mathematics, animal husbandry and philosophy. She would have offered advice pertaining to sowing and harvests, whether to go to war, and who and when to marry.

Women such as Themistoclea were often deified, either posthumously or during their lifetimes. She is called "Pythia" and the python is an ancient symbol for immortality. Even today python fat is used in Africa in healing rituals. It is believed to have restorative properties. The Mofu holy man of Cameroon mixes python fat with the blood of a sacrificed animal and uses the mixture with stones in a ritual to restore rain to the earth.

The Hebrew (habiru) holy ones were likewise regarded as deities (elohiym). The plural form for God in Arabic and Hausa is Allohi, the equivalent of the Hebrew Elohiym. El and Al are very ancient names for God. The plural form appears in Genesis 1: In the beginning elohiym created the heavens and the earth. The word also appears in Genesis 6:2, which speaks of the "sons of the elohiym" who took wives from the daughters of men. The plural form relates to the ancient Horites from whom we receive this material. They are the origin of Israel's priesthood and why Jews call their ancestors "horim."

The Horite ruler-priests were regarded as deified "sons" of God. They served as the wise ones or the ruler's holy counselors. As such, they are called gods, as in Exodus 22:28: "Thou shalt not revile the gods (elohiym), nor curse the ruler of thy people."

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