The Ancient Ones… Oracles

Why were the Oracles so important in Ancient Greece? Why were the Priest so important in Ancient Egypt? Why were the Priest so important in the Mayan culture? In a simple word … the Gods.

In each of the cultures and even the modern religions of today, that is the way things are. If you look at the Oracles of Ancient Greece, they supported an entire community. The way that it worked was that you had to pay to see the Oracles, often having to bring gifts of devotion, pay the person who would lead you to the Oracle as well as tell them what the question was. By the time that you had gotten to see her, several people had gotten paid and she knew why you were there. Often when the Oracles went into trances and the Gods spoke through them, a priest would have to write down what was said and then the person would get it and have to make a choice on what it said.

Perhaps one of the most famous prophecies uttered by the Oracle of Delphi is that of Croesus’ defeat by the Persian Empire. According to Herodotus, Croesus, the king of the Lydians wanted to know if he should wage war on the fledgling Persian Empire. The reply he got was that he would destroy a great empire if he attacked Persia. Satisfied with this answer, Croesus prepared to invade Persia. Little did Croesus know that the ‘great empire’ referred to by the Oracle was not that of Persia, but his own. ( http://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/pythia-oracle-delphi-001641 ) As you can see the wrong choice was made.

In Ancient Egypt, the Priest were the ones that took the offerings that people gave to the Gods. Sometimes it was in foods, other times it was other things. They thought that the Pharaoh was the living embodiment of Horus, one of the Gods. The Gods represented everything in Ancient Egypt. The sun, the moon, the family, the Nile River, all were associated with Gods. The Pharaoh was a direct connection to the Gods. If the Nile flooded worse than expected the Ancient Egyptians thought that the Gods had been offended somehow. The best example of this in the scroll known as ‘The Book of the Dead’.

The Egyptian Book of the Dead is a collection of spells which enable the soul of the deceased to navigate the afterlife. The famous title was given the work by western scholars; the actual title would translate as The Book of Coming Forth by Day or Spells for Going Forth by Day.  http://www.ancient.eu/Egyptian_Book_of_the_Dead/ ) They were each indiviually created for the person if they could afford it. ‘The afterlife was considered to be a continuation of life on earth and, after one had passed through various difficulties and judgment in the Hall of Truth, a paradise which was a perfect reflection of one’s life on earth. After the soul had been justified in the Hall of Truth it passed on to cross over Lily Lake to rest in the Field of Reeds where one would find all that one had lost in life and could enjoy it eternally. In order to reach that paradise, however, one needed to know where to go, how to address certain gods, what to say at certain times, and how to comport one’s self in the land of the dead; which is why one would find an afterlife manual extremely useful.’ ( http://www.ancient.eu/Egyptian_Book_of_the_Dead/ )tut-cartouche

The Mayan beliefs were that the Gods needed blood to live. The ball courts that are found in each of the Mayan cities is a game that was to represent the movement of the sun. It was also deadly. In most cases it was just the losing team that was sacrificed but on some occasions both teams were sacrificed to the gods. The King was also one that would do sacrifices to the Gods in times of special needs.

MAYA RITUALS
The Maya participated in various religious rituals. Not all of these were related to human sacrifice, although sacrifice was a common practice in religious ceremonies. Contrary to popular belief, ritual sacrifice was not restricted to the gruesome death of a poor captive. While this did happen in the Maya world on a few occasions, it was a relatively rare occurrence. By far the most common sacrifice ritual was bloodletting.

BY FAR THE MOST COMMON MAYA SACRIFICE RITUAL WAS BLOODLETTING.
Bloodletting

Bloodletting is precisely as it sounds, the spilling of blood as a practice of sacrifice. In the case of the Maya, bloodletting was constrained to the royal line. The gods demanded blood because of the initial creation where the gods spilled their blood in order to give life to humanity. Also, but not as often, bloodletting was performed in order to communicate with ancestors.

The practice of bloodletting marked significant dates in the Maya world. Royals participating in the practice would spend, sometimes, days performing purification rituals in order to prepare for bloodletting. Both men and women of royal lineages were expected to perform these rituals. Maya kings and queens would participate in varying forms of bloodletting, even making sacred tools to perform the ritual. Blood was usually taken from different parts of the body with specialized tools designed to produce more blood and perhaps more pain as well. The tools were typically made of stingray spines and adorned with different glyphs to show their religious significance. One frightful instance of sacrifice noted by Rubalcaba described how women, typically royal women, would use a thorned rope to pierce their tongue and draw blood to scatter over Maya icons. Men, on the other hand, would do the same, except on the penis rather than the tongue.’  ( http://www.ancient.eu/Maya_Religion/ )

With the monotheositic religion of today, we have lost something and in my opinion what we have lost is a connection to the planet. We live here and need to show the respect that she deserves.

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