The Mysterious Oracle of Delphi

When Apollo returns on his birthday, my job begins. For nine warmest months of the year, on the seventh day after the full moon, I am a celebrity. People come from far and wide to ask me the most life changing questions. I am the Oracle of Delphi. 

I am an older more mature and sophisticated Oracle, chosen from amongst the common women of Delphi. I was chosen because my younger counterparts were too pretty and desirable to the old male priests. Therefore, a new era of mature Oracles has begun. I am a grandmother, mother, sister, daughter. With this duty, I have chosen to be chaste and have given up my family and husband for the rest of my life. I give myself to Apollo. I am his voice piece. He speaks through me. 

Because of my status in Delphi, I live in my home alone. I am provided for, for life. I am one of the only women who may speak in political meetings. I will remain the Oracle until my death, when a new Oracle will be chosen. One secret that many people don’t know about me, is that I am Epileptic. It is believed that because I have seizures, I am a person more in touch with the Gods.

In preparation for communicating with the Devine Apollo, I fast for several days. Then, I cleanse myself in the Castilian Spring. I drink from the Kasstosis Stream where a mystical Niad resides. I enter the chamber and sit on my tripod made of bronze. This is situated above a crack in the floor where gases from the Apollo’s slain Python seep out. (In modern days it was discovered that I was inhaling Ethane fumes) The room is filled with a a sweet smell, like breathing in flowers. I hold my Laurel branch. My head spins. I feel dizzy. I stare into a bowl of water. The priest asks me a question and I answer him with no knowledge of what I am saying. The words just come out and the priest records them. 
  
One time, Alexander the Great being so bold, entered my chambers and demanded an answer to his question, “Will I defeat the ENTIRE Ancient World?!” I told him to come back later when he could present his question to me in a more gentle format. He denied me, grabbed me by my hair and began dragging me across the floor and out of the chamber. I started to scream, “Let go of me; you’re unbeatable!”  He let go of my hair without facing me. “Now, I have my answer.” He then left without another word. How disrespectful and disgraceful!  I wanted to scream “You should never treat a lady like this!” Here is a Great King who is seated at the front of the line, only because he is a King and has offered us great treasures. Many common people come and ask me important life changing questions, like “Shall I marry the one I love?” or “which crops will be most successful this year?” Why does he think his question is more important than anyone else’s? Yes, he was undefeated by men. But in the end, we all die, as did Alexander when he  succumbed to Malaria. And with his death, his kingdom fell.
*This story is a collaborative narrative written by Charlotte, Finn, Piper and Angie, inspired by our visit to Delphi.

Pressing Olive Oil The Old Fashioned Way at Zafiro Experience

So here we are, a sweet reunion with all the TGS students once again. Two weeks ago, we started off our Greece trimester in Athens at a really cool place called “The Zafiro Experience.” We werehigh atop a hill where we could see about 75% of Athens. The view was spectacular. The sun rays peeked through the clouds, shining down on the rooftops of the city. Is this heaven? I don’t know, but it was just beautiful. 

 

  
We were there for a traditional Greek meal. You know, it lasts for hours, there is music and dancing in between courses, lots of “Opa!” and dish breaking, thus the name Zafiro Experience. This place is a restaurant, but it is also a venue where they educate their patrons about Greek life, old style. On this night, we were introduced to how olive oil is made the old fashioned way.

 First, 300-500 pounds of fresh olives were put into the bottom of a stone mill.  Once the olives are in the stone container, two long wooden levers are attached to a grinding stone that is powered by humans. Around and around we took turns grinding the olives until we had a nice brown olive paste.  

  

  

Next, the olive paste was transferred to a wooden tray. With a scoop, the olive paste was loaded into some burlap sacks and then stacked on each other under the press.

       
A lever was turned forcing a large iron press to smash the stack of  olive-paste-filled-sacks, squeezing out the olive oil. This is the part that surprised me. I thought the olive oil that came out of the press would be greenish in color, but it was actually brown. (In “The Odyssey TV Mini Series” we saw Queen Penelope pressing her own olive oil which was coming out green – false!)

     

The olive oil settled for a while in the collection pail. The oil floated to the top while the rest of the sediment sunk to the bottom. The oil was skimmed off the top and poured into glass jars where it would settle some more. After being filtered out, the greenish olive oil color appears, but it takes hours for this to happen. 

This is a process that takes a long time and it’s quite messy. Most Greek families own their own olive orchards and process and make olive oil for their entire family, since olive oil is an essential ingredient in Greek recipes. It takes about 100 trees to produce olive oil for a Greek family.

What a terrific night we had. After this, we headed inside for a traditional Greek meal. Unfortunately, my iPhone lost power. BUT, here is a really cool video created by Lindsay Clark, the photographer for Think Global School. She captured the night perfectly! You’ll see sneak peeks of us in there:)

Taste of Athens

In Greece, it’s not unusual…

It’s not unusual to go to the grocery store every single day because it’s right around the corner.

It’s not unusual to purchase a folding table or ironing board and walk all the way home with it.

It’s not unusual that every store owner takes your 8 year old child’s head in both hands and kiss, kiss, kisses the top of her head.

It’s not unusual to ride the subway in the wrong direction. You have to do this at least once to figure it out.

It’s not unusual to wait days for a shower with hot water.

It’s not unusual to see live Squid and Octopus squirming in the seafood section of the local grocery store.

It’s not unusual to see your meat butchered on the counter while the carcass’s eyes stare back at you.

It’s not unusual for this blonde-haired blue-eyed family to be solicited by wandering Accordian players on every sub ride. “Hey, I gave you money yesterday.”

I’m sure we’ll add on to this list as the weeks go by.