Omaphalos - Finding the Centre

An ancient tradition told how Zeus dispatched two swift eagles, one from the furthermost West and the other from the furthermost East, and they flew back towards each other. The birds met at Delphi and there a stone was set. The stone was henceforth known as omphalos, or navel of the world, the exact spot that was the centre of the earth. The omphalos, a sacred stone of a vaguely conical shape was believed to be a dwelling place of the god. The tradition was reinforced by votive gifts, in navel-form, which were sent to the Delphic oracle for many centuries: one of these was an impressive eagle-adorned omphalos of the fifth century B.C. A later omphalos can be seen in the museum at Delphi.

As a pilgrim climbs the steep Sacred Way, which winds upwards from terrace to terrace through the temple precinct, they may see descendants of the 'birds of Zeus', proud eagles which nest in the Phaedriades soaring in wide arcs above the ruins.

Delphi's oldest relic lies close to the Athenian Treasury. It is said that here on a crude block of stone the priestess of the earth mother - Gaea, the first Sibyl uttered her prophesies. The Apollonian Hymns, carved in the square stones of the Athenian Treasure House are just some of the stone inscriptions found in Delphi. These Hymns to Apollo were sung at the commencement of the Pythian Games to commemorate Apollo's victory over the Python, and in the springtime to celebrate Apollo's return to his Delphic sanctuary in a car drawn by swans. In winter, while Apollo was away, the Pythia's oracular voice fell silent and there were no ceremonial hymns to him.

When we make a daily commitment to writing and write one thousand words a day we come to know ourselves. If we read our work aloud, or permit someone to read it aloud to us, we can 'hear' the authentic ring of our voice. Once this happens we can utilize and fully exploit our capabilities. We can sing a hymn to ourselves. It is at this moment that we are able to find our omphalos, or centre. When we write from our centre our voice is honest and truthful.

There are some simple ways to assist this process. Try finding a special stone that symbolically marks your centre, which you can use to mentally set at the centre of the labyrinth of your mind. In your visual journal write your signature very prominently, time and again and look at the unique style you have created. Stop and assess the features of your signature. No one, not even the finest forgery experts in the world can create it exactly the way you do. Your signature tells a story, by the way you express it. It has a size of its own, a slant that is unique. Try signing in your non dominant hand. Note the difference. When you have finished take a good hard look at it.

Now take an anthology of poetry. Select a Shakespearean sonnet and compare Shakespeare's style with that of Milton or Blake. Look in the library and choose books that are unique to their authors. No one other than Graeme Base, for example, could have produced 'Animalia' any more than any one could replicate Lewis Carol's 'Alice in Wonderland' without it being an obvious forgery. These books are like signature songs.

Relax! Put on some of your favourite music - the kind that calms or stirs you. Hold your stone. Let your creative energy flow. Write for thirty minutes without thinking.

Here is a piece of writing that has an authentic ring about it. It was written after the author had gone through the process described above. "Sprinkles of lambent light cover a charcoal sky, And twinkle lazily forever, Beautifully coloured jewels hang randomly from nothing Stuck suspended on the vast sphere above. Everyone seems different, but all are precious, Igniting with their burning gas Romance, passion and inspiration Gazing up the heavens draw nearer; If I had some tweezers, I could reach up before my eyes And pluck individual stars from the sky to store in a secret treasure box" Jonathan Mynard. Year 11 LaTrobe Secondary College.

Food for the Muse

Take a tour to Delphi by clicking the icon to the right '. Meditate upon the sacred way, leading to the Athenian Treasury House. Contemplate, as you walk in the door, what your special treasure is. What can you take from the treasury to assist your writing?

Read as much as you can about the omphalos and the Athenian Treasury. The following inscription appears on this building. "The Athenians give to Apollo the firstling of the booty taken from the Medes in the Battle of Marathon." According to this, the treasure house was built from the proceeds of war and filled with the most valuable pieces. What booty do you have to offer after the battle of a writing marathon.

Look up Hesiod's Hymn to Demeter and consider how you could write a hymn to celebrate your life.


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Heather Blakey asserts the right to be identified as the author of this work