Delphi is best known as the home of the Delphic Oracle or the Pythia, a priestess of Apollo. The traditional picture is of the Delphic oracle, in an altered state, muttering words inspired by the god, which male priests transcribed. The Delphic oracle sat on a great bronze tripod in a spot above a crevice in rocks from which vapors rose. Before sitting, she burned laurel leaves and barley meal on the altar. She also wore a laurel wreath and carried a sprig.
The oracle closed down for 3 months a year at which time Apollo wintered in the land of the Hyperboreans. The Delphic Oracle was not in constant communion with the god, but produced prophecies only on the 7th day after the new moon, for 9 months of the year.
Sources on the Delphic Oracle:
- Portrait of a Priestess
- Neil Asher Silberman, John K. Papadopoulos, Ian Morris, H. A. Shapiro, Mark D. Stansbury-O'Donnell, Frank Holt, Timothy E. Gregory "Greece" The Oxford Companion to Archaeology. Brian M. Fagan, ed., Oxford University Press 1996.