Famous Oracles That Influenced History

Oracles served as pivotal spiritual figures in ancient societies, providing divine guidance that influenced decisions ranging from politics to warfare.

They had a connection with divine and daemonic spirits, which allowed them to foresee the future. While the public activity of oracles ceased due to religious prohibitions, it significantly influenced the development of underground, occult divinatory methods.

The following eight oracles produced prophesies which had a significant impact on great men, and as such impacted the trajectory of world history:

1. Oracle of Delphi (Pythia)

Location: Delphi, Greece
Deity: Apollo

The Oracle of Delphi was the most prestigious oracle in the ancient Greek world. The Pythia, as the priestess was called, would deliver prophecies while in a trance induced by vapors from a chasm in the earth.

One of the most famous consultations was by King Croesus of Lydia. Before attacking Persia, Croesus sent envoys to Delphi to ask whether he should go to war. The Pythia’s response was, “If you cross the river, a great empire will be destroyed.”

Interpreting this as a favorable sign, Croesus proceeded, only to find that the great empire destroyed was his own. This story underscores the ambiguous and often cryptic nature of the Delphic prophecies, which required careful interpretation.

2. Oracle of Dodona

Location: Epirus, Greece
Deity: Zeus

The Oracle of Dodona was one of the oldest oracles in Greece, dating back to at least the second millennium BCE. Priests and priestesses, known as Selloi, interpreted the rustling of the leaves and the cooing of doves from the sacred oak tree to deliver their prophecies.

King Pyrrhus of Epirus consulted the oracle before his campaign in Italy against Rome. The oracle’s advice was that he would achieve “a great victory.”

While Pyrrhus won several battles, his losses were so heavy that they led to the term “Pyrrhic victory,” indicating a win with devastating cost.

3. Oracle of Siwa (Amun)

Location: Siwa Oasis, Egypt
Deity: Amun

In 331 BCE, Alexander the Great made a perilous journey through the Libyan Desert to consult the Oracle of Siwa. This oracle was known for its pronouncements from the god Amun.

Upon his arrival, the oracle declared him the son of Zeus-Ammon. This proclamation not only reinforced Alexander’s divine status but also legitimized his rule over Egypt and bolstered his authority across his vast empire.

According to legend, the oracle’s priest greeted Alexander as “son of Zeus,” which Alexander took as a sign of his divine favor and destiny.

4. Oracle of the Sibyl (Cumaean Sibyl)

Location: Cumae, Italy
Deity: Apollo

The Cumaean Sibyl was a prophetess whose influence extended to the highest levels of Roman society. The Sibylline Books, which contained her prophecies, were stored in the temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill and consulted in times of crisis.

During the Second Punic War, when Hannibal was threatening Rome, the Senate turned to the Sibylline Books for guidance.

The books advised certain religious rites and the introduction of new gods to the Roman pantheon to secure divine favor. These actions were credited with turning the tide in Rome’s favor.

5. Oracle of Claros

Location: Ionia, Turkey
Deity: Apollo

The Oracle of Claros was known for its dream interpretations, which were believed to be direct messages from Apollo.

Emperor Hadrian, known for his extensive travels and interest in various religions, consulted the oracle regarding his succession.

The oracle delivered a cryptic message through a dream, suggesting that Hadrian should choose a successor who would secure the future of the Roman Empire.

Influenced by this prophecy, Hadrian adopted Antoninus Pius, whose stable and effective rule marked a prosperous period for Rome, known as the Pax Romana.

6. Oracle of Zeus at Olympia

Location: Olympia, Greece
Deity: Zeus

The Oracle of Zeus at Olympia was closely associated with the Olympic Games and played a role in both religious and political spheres.

Before the Persian Wars, the Spartans consulted this oracle. The priests delivered a prophecy that emboldened the Spartans to take a stand against the Persians.

The oracle’s guidance was seen as divine encouragement, contributing to the Greek victory at the Battle of Plataea in 479 BCE. This victory was pivotal in securing Greek independence and preserving their culture from Persian domination.

7. Oracle of Didyma

Location: Miletus, Turkey
Deity: Apollo

The Oracle of Didyma was renowned for the clarity and accuracy of its prophecies. Roman Emperor Diocletian, facing internal revolts and external threats, sought the oracle’s counsel. The prophecy he received urged him to consolidate power and strengthen the empire’s defenses.

Following this advice, Diocletian initiated a series of reforms that stabilized the empire and laid the groundwork for the Tetrarchy, a system of government with four rulers that prolonged the empire’s survival.

8. Oracle of Aesculapius

Location: Epidaurus, Greece
Deity: Asclepius

The Oracle of Aesculapius was associated with healing, and the temple at Epidaurus became a major medical center. Patients would sleep in the temple, hoping to receive a healing dream from Asclepius.

One notable patient was the Roman general Sulla, who suffered from a chronic illness. Desperate for a cure, Sulla visited the oracle, followed the prescribed rituals, and claimed to have been healed after receiving a divine dream.

His recovery was widely publicized, enhancing the oracle’s reputation for miraculous cures and establishing the temple as a premier destination for those seeking medical treatment.

Final Thoughts

From these eight examples we see that oracles were of great use to pagan societies, even if their revelations were sometimes cryptic and misunderstood by the recipients.

In modern occultism, divinatory insights obtained in trance states are often supported by supplementary methods of tarot reading, scrying, rune casting etc. I also perform rituals with divinatory spirits such as Astaroth and Orobas to gain further insight.

So if you’re interested in gaining insight about your own destiny, require advice or have specific questions that mere humans are unfit to answer, consider hiring me to perform a divinatory ritual for higher spiritual guidance.

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