priestess of Apollon

I think that there seems to be some general misunderstanding of what a priest or priestess of a god may be. When we think of priest generally we are thinking in terms of those who are serving a religious community. Thus we often think of a kind of guru or community leader. This appears, however, to be a mistaken representation of a priest or priestess of the gods that is a carryover into the thinking of many modern Hellenic worshippers, at least in this part of the world. Likely highly endorsed by the Roman hierarchal system that was adopted by Catholicism.

Though there is a nonmistaken presence of priests, we must consider what is a priest. Is it someone who serves the community, and therefore is reliant on the support of the community for his or her wellbeing. This seems to be less than accurate. We do see a kind of supportive system when we look at Delphi and the priests therein subsist off that which is offered to the god. This is particularly revealed in the Homeric Hymn to Apollon. However, this seems to be somewhat outside of the norm for when the Cretan sailors were advised that they would be tending to the house of Apollon at Delphi, they initially were looking at how they would sustain themselves in the foreign land. Therefore, it may be assumed that priests in general were not fed and clothed by the local populace, and quite likely had private means of support.  With this in mind we cannot say that the priests were expected to be serving the community.

A priest serves his or her god/goddess, and that principle of the domain of their deity. By serving the domain of the god it may then appear that the priest is serving the community. For example the oracular role of the Pythia should be considered next to what she did the other days of the month, for the oracle was not open every day. If she existed only to serve as a public oracle then it would be more logical that she would be shelved for the remainder of the month and not have such an important established position as she did. Instead she was chosen from among the priests to be the head of the temple so to speak, and for this she was the voice of Apollon on those few days that the temple was receiving requests. She served the temple, and that temple by design was open to aid those who desired to make their query. The Pythia was merely a vessel for the divine inspiration from Apollon, for the actual oracle was the god and inseperable from Delphi. So too then is the Pythia inseperable from Delphi, because this is merely the title for the priestess-oracle at that locality. In the same fashion there are those who may enjoy the music, poetics, divinations, and so on that materialize from those with a close relationship with the god. But these things are expressions of the contact between the soul and the deity, and are not created for the people, even if they may be utilized and enjoyed by the people.

Because the things that the people are receiving from the priests are born from the interaction between god and mortal, they may touch briefly some inspiration or some light through these mediums, but the priests themselves are not gurus, and should not be considered as such. We may glean a kind of understanding in our own relationship to the god but even this can only be offered as inspirational rather than fact. We are more like the flickering torches in the night to aid the independent vision, than a light beam that reveals all.

That anyone would seek to elevate an individual into a place of great spiritual leadership, or cult of personality as some have called it, is highly inappropriate. We must all seek to be humble. It is a Delphic Maxim from the wisest men. If we allow ourselves to be elevated to speak as an absolute authority then we are falling into the greatest hubris. We only serve the gods, but we are free to share the gifts born from our relationship with the gods with others if we so choose. Despite what others may believe, I am familiar with several forms of divination, and have used them personally. I have even done a few divinations for a very selected few for which I was greatly suprised on the positive feedback. However, this is not something I choose to share openly. It is merely an inspiration of the soul that allows me to focus (particularly with scrying). So while I do not share this, I do share other things that may bring inspiration and stimulate the thinking of others. I have no desire to be followed, for only the gods are worthy of being followed and placed within the limelight of devotion. Hellenismos most certainly does not need its equivalent of the catholic hierarchy!

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