Delphi: The Navel of the World
About 8 or 9 years ago, when I was about a foot shorter and had various coloring books lying about my room, I discovered the world of Greek mythology. I don’t exactly remember how or where I first heard of the idea of these Gods, but I clearly remember taking an old notebook, sitting down at our living room coffee table, and writing down various facts about the Gods from their respective Wikipedia pages. I couldn’t help but think of this somewhat insignificant part of my childhood as I wondered through the ruins of Delphi with a guide who somehow had us reading Greek by the end of her 1.5 hour tour.
This city, Delphi, was once the “navel” of the world. A metropolis where people from all corners of Greece would come and perhaps seek their fate from the Oracle of Delphi. People chose to settle in this particular spot because it brought them closer to the Gods, as though this was a meeting place between the Earth and the Heavens; on the other hand, it might have something to do with the hallucinogenic vapors leaking out of fractures of the Earth’s surface… Yet the extraordinary view, temples, and treasuries may just, as Madeline so perfectly said, make you believe in something greater.
It is legend that Zeus released two eagles from opposite ends of the globe, and it was over Delphi that they met; hence, the navel, or center, or the world. Here the eagles fell and the navel stone was left in their place. There are many prototypes of this stone throughout the ruins of Delphi, and it turned into a symbolic marking of this event. Yet, what makes Delphi important to this time period is the Oracle’s mysterious ability to speak on behalf the God Apollo. Greeks and travelers came to this location for advice regarding the questions of mankind that often have no clear answers, like those questions of religion, future, and power. Unlike the other great cities of Ancient Greece, Delphi existed as a primarily religious and political site.
One interesting aspect that our incredible guide pointed out to us was some of the world’s “first” political agendas in the form of support for religion. These took form in the place of treasuries (not as in banks, but as in places where goods for the Gods would be held.) On some of these treasury buildings, and specifically the Treasury of Athena, has carvings on the front that equate to today’s version of “sponsored by…”
Meteora: Studying Orthodox Christianity
Our stay in Meteora was a bit more nature-focused than our visit to Delphi. In our first evening we took a sunset “hike,” which was actually more of a sunset bus ride with wonderful photo opportunities. We did visit a few Orthodox churches with incredible art though, and I must say that the view of the sunset from the mountain top was pretty amazing. The next morning we actually hiked and go to do a bit of climbing as well.