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Old 13-04-2017, 07:43 PM   #27
the apprentice
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Studies on the Greek Oracle's found that the Magi or who were the priests of Apollo used ancient caves to perform their magical tricks.

In these caves at certain times was sulphurous gases which rose slightly above the floor, they would enter the between the worlds staying low in order to breath the air which sank to the cave floor and emerge untainted or slightly high as they say.

Here is a small abstract of what they used to create so called magic where the locals knew that animals that entered these cave never came back out afterwards and we're thought to have been snatched into the underworld.

Time and Mind
Volume 2—Issue 3—November 2009, pp. 265–286
Time?and?Mind:?The?Journal?of? Archaeology,?Consciousness??and?Culture
Reprints available directly from the publishersPhotocopying permitted by license only © Berg 2009
Cave?Experiences?and? Ancient?Greek?Oracles
Yulia Ustinova is an Associate Professor at the Department of General History, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.Her research focuses on ancient Greek religion and makesuse of a multidisciplinary approach based on the applicationof results of neuroscience, anthropology, and sociology to the interpretation of historical phenomena. Among her publications are articles on various aspects of religion andculture in the Mediterranean area, and two books:
TheSupreme Gods of the Bosporan Kingdom: Celestial Aphroditeand the Most High God
(Brill, 1999) and
Caves and the Ancient Greek Mind: Descending Underground in the Search for UltimateTruth
(Oxford University Press, 2009). [email protected]
A great number of Greek oracular cults focused on caves,notwithstanding the divergent nature of the divine patronsof these cults. The fundamental reason for locatingprophetic activities in caves was the need of the gods’mediums to attain divine inspiration, that is, to alter theirstate of consciousness. For the purposes of divinationthe Greeks used at least two methods. The easiest anduniversally practiced technique was sensory deprivation.Modern research demonstrates that reduction of externalstimuli leads to dream-like states, involving release of internal imagery. In the geographic setting of Greece,caverns and grottos provide an easy way to achievetotal or near-total isolation. The second technique wasbased on special geological conditions, namely, a sourceof poisonous gas having euphoriant or psychotropiceffect. The psychotropic or, in the opinion of the Greeks,numinous quality of the caves was common knowledge tosuch a degree that the association of seers and prophetswith caves became universal.
Key words
: caves, altered states of consciousness,sensory deprivation, ancient Greece, oracles

Cave Experiences and Ancient Greek Oracles Yulia Ustinova
Time and Mind
Volume 2—Issue 3—November 2009, pp. 265–286
In contrast to tradition in many other cultures, oracles, and especially oraclesdirectly inspired by the gods, played anextremely important role in ancientGreek religion and culture. The will of theimmortals was announced to the mortalseither in established sanctuaries, by membersof temple personnel, or simply by laymenwho believed they were in direct contactwith the gods (Vernant 1974; Rosenberger 2001; Burkert 2005).The sheer number of oracles known to be focused on caves is no less thanastonishing. Of the forty centers marked by V. Rosenberger on his map of the importantGreek oracles (Rosenberger 2001: 214–15),natural and arti?cial grottos played acrucial role in the vatic practices of eleven(those at Delphi, Lebadeia, Ptoion, Oropus,Aegira, Bura, Olympia, Lycosoura, Delos,Hierapolis, and Claros). With the additionof less famous oracular grottos, this number increases considerably. Entering cavesregularly occurs as a major requirement for a prophetic séance, both in established cultsand in the activities of individual seers.There must be an important reasonfor locating prophetic activities in caves. Isuggest that it was the need of the gods’mediums to attain divine inspiration, that is, to alter their state of consciousness. Thequest for the ultimate truth is the kernelof inspired prophecy. For the Greeks, itsknowledge belonged to the gods alone,and could not be perceived by the limitedhuman mind, held back by mundane thoughts(Plato,
66 DE; Snell 1960: 136; Starr 1968: 349, 351). To share in the immortals’knowledge, one had to liberate the soulfrom the burden of the mortal body by becoming
, “having the god insidehim- or herself”: the seer or prophetserved as mediums, conveying superhumanknowledge by means of their bodies. In thegrip of the god, the medium could display a wide range of abnormal behavior, frommere detachment and aloofness to violentparoxysms. These mental states, which today would be referred to as “alteredstates of consciousness” or “non-ordinary consciousness” were
(divinepossession) or
(madness, frenzy)for the Greeks (Plato
71 E–72 B;
244AB; Delatte 1934: 5; Motte2004: 247–52; Dodds 1973: 64–101). Whatever was perceived or uttered in these states, prophecy, poetry, or mysticalinsights, was considered to be inspiredby the gods and immeasurably superior to anything deliberated by the senses insobriety (Cornford 1952: 88–106; Chadwick 1942; Vernant 1974: 12–13; Murray 1981).In modern words, attaining altered statesof consciousness was a socially approvedand admired way of arriving at visions,which were very different from any thoughts produced by the normal wakingconsciousness and interpreted encounterswith ultimate divine reality.This article demonstrates that oneof the most common techniques of attaining prophetic revelations in Greecewas a sojourn in an isolated chamber or grotto. The fundamental reason for thepredilection for such places in the questof divine truth was that they provided anenvironment where consciousness could bemanipulated with least dif?culty. The easiestand universally practiced technique wassensory deprivation. The second techniquewas based on special geological conditions,

Yulia Ustinova Cave Experiences and Ancient Greek Oracles
Time and Mind
Volume 2—Issue 3—November 2009, pp. 265–286
namely, a source of poisonous gas havingeuphoriant or psychotropic effect.

Caves and Sensory Deprivation
Caves humble and overwhelm human beings(Devereux 2000: 87–96). His rationality notwithstanding, Seneca succumbed to thenuminosity of a huge cavern: “When a cavesupports a mountain on rocks deeply erodedfrom within, not made by human hand, butexcavated to such size by natural causes, your soul is seized by a religious apprehension”(
4.41.3).Cave experiences are many-sided.Caves are sometimes dif?cult to get to;entering a cave means crossing the border between the worlds of the familiar and theunknown, a very signi?cant action bringingabout discomfort, fear, and even trueclaustrophobia (Whitehouse 2001; Roux1999: 320–1). Disorientation and diminishedvision, as well as changes in olfactory andauditory perception, make even a shortstay in a deep cave very different from the routine experience of most people,notwithstanding their cultural and socialdiversity. Ridden by fear, people who enter caves even for a short time may losecontrol of their actions and feelings, justas it happened in the Marabar Caves to the characters of E.M. Foster’s
A Passage toIndia.
Deep caves are pitch black and almostentirely sound-proof. When modern guidesleading cave tours switch off electricity, and the visitors ?nd themselves in absolutedarkness, with only the gentle plop of distantdrops of water or ?utter of bat wingsbreaking the complete silence, even thosewith strong nerves grow tense. Now letus imagine a mystic, shaman, or visionary voluntarily entering a cave, perhaps after afast, and staying there alone for some time.In a deep cave, under conditions of almost total suppression of sensory input,our mind enters a state of severe “stimulushunger,” and the subjective self emergesforcefully (Solomon 1965; Zubek 1969;Austin 1998: 102–4; La Barre 1980: 39; Wulff 1997: 76; West 1975: 300; Martindale1981: 316; Geels 1982; 44; Siikala 1982:105; Merkur 1985: 172; Joseph 2003: 9).Cavers and geologists who specialize in thestudy of caves report visual and auditory hallucinations, especially after remainingunderground for long periods (Clottes 2004). When awake, the human mind needs to be occupied permanently. Eliminationof external stimuli forces the mind toconcentrate within itself, and brings aboutintensive discharge of inner imagery.

This condition is known as sensory deprivation.Normal people participating in laboratory tests, when placed in dark sound-proof spaces, start to hallucinate after a few hours,experience the sensation of ?oating, or press the “panic button” to be let out (Suedfeld1969; Kubie 1965; Vernon et al. 1965;Freedman et al. 1965; Martindale 1981: 99,255; Winkelman 2000: 149; Austin 1998: 102).In an autobiographic account of experimentswith solitude-isolation tanks, physician andpsychoanalyst J.C. Lilly describes his own“dreamlike states, trancelike states, mysticalstates,” which comprised encounters withcelestial teachers and divine guardians (Lilly 1972: 40, 42).Sensory deprivation is one of thecommon techniques of inducing alteredstates of consciousness. They can beattained by different methods, and involvedifferent experiences, but they share a

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