Dodona, located in a lush and remote valley in western Greece, is the oldest oracle site in Greece dating back to the early Bronze Age. As with the other ancient oracle sites at Delos and Delphi, Dodona was dedicated to the earth mother Gaia long before it was eventually taken over by the cult of Zeus:
Ancient tradition held Dodona to be the oldest of the Greek oracles and unique in its time . . . When Herodotus visited Dodona himself, the priests recounted to him a local tradition, a variant of one he had already heard at Egyptian Thebes: Two black doves (Peleiades) flew from Thebes, and one of them founded the sanctuary of Zeus Ammon in Libya, while the other alighted in an Oak-tree at Dodona, and announced in human speech that the oracle of Zeus was to be built in that place . . However, another earlier stratum can be distinguished showing evidence of the existence of a chthonian cult connected to the Great Goddess, the deity of abundance and fertility whose worship was widespread throughout the eastern Mediterranean. The Great Goddess had her abode at Dodona in the roots of a great Oak-tree, whose roasted acorns served as food for people. (Sotirios Darakis, 2000, from Dodona, Official Publication of the Ministry of Culture Archaeological Receipts Fund)
We arrived at the site to find an active archaeological dig in progress. Later that day in the museum, we were able to view the lead oracle tablets found on the site that were used to communicate the questions to and answers from the oracle. Translation of the questions indicated that they ranged from the mundane and personal all the way to very serious questions dealing with matters of the state.
Wandering through the ruins of various stone buildings and temples, we eventually came to the ruins of the Temple of Zeus where the sacred oak tree once stood. A more recently planted oak tree now stands inside the low walls of the temple site and it was here that we held a lovely ritual in the same spot where the ancestor priestesses communicated with the oracle of Gaia so many thousands of years before.
I sat on a stone bench under a tree facing the Temple of Zeus. The heat was starting to build but a soft whiff of breeze came through the trees. Other than my traveling companion who was meditating under the oak in the temple space, the only other people around were the archaeologists off in the distance busy with their dig.
Peacefulness and timelessness is what I felt. In my invocation/prayer in the ritual, I prayed for healing of our connection with Gaia, for her healing and for our healing, that we may remember and return to our sacred relationship with her.
A well of love rose within me for this ancient holy place. After a while, a question rose within me: Do I really have to leave? I wanted to stay there . . . tears came at the thought that I would have to leave.
Spontaneously I felt a message within me that said “this place lives within you – you can access it anytime – return again and again inwardly – just as you have established relationship with other sacred sites such as Sedona, once you remember being here, re-connect with sacred intention, look at pictures, you can return and access the energy of the place.”
I then felt a strong impulse to circumnavigate the tree seven times. I did a slow walking meditation around the tree with love and gratitude in my heart for this ancient temple site set in a timeless beautiful valley. ~Kathy Stanley