The cyclical nature of things: Ancient Greek Oracle
The Ancient Greek Oracle is based on these Pythagorean teachings. The twenty-four letters of the alphabet, each representing a significant step in the journey of the soul, should be thought of as being arranged not in a straight line from beginning to end but as being placed in a circle beginning and recommencing with the alpha, the first step of the journey. Seen in this manner, the letters tell the story of the cycles we experience through life and the processes within cycles.
Ancient Greek Oracle: Cycle of Life
Life is cyclical. There is a natural order to the cycles; there are many cycles within cycles. If we think of the natural world around us, we can see these repeating cycles – each day, we wake to see the sunrise pass overhead and set in the evening. Each month we see the moon wax until it is a big bloated ball in the sky and then wane until it is a fingernail clipping.
Every three months, we see the transition of the seasons, from spring to summer, then autumn and winter, and every several years we see other patterns in the natural environment, such as the El Nino effect. Even these several-yearly cycles roll into different, more considerable processes: once every forty-nine years on a full moon, a rare tropical bromeliad opens its flowers; approximately once every fifty years, the town where I live is lashed by a significant tropical cyclone.
Ancient Greek Oracle: New Year’s Day sequence
For instance, these longer cycles can be seen if we observe the New Year’s Day sequence over successive years. We will see a natural [base 7] chronological process that occurs as a consequence of seven days elapsed within an annual solar cycle. This cycle appears to commence on a Wednesday and concludes on a Saturday 56 years later.
Human Beings and Cycle of life
Human beings are not immune from the cyclical nature of life. We are another living species on this planet and subject to the same laws of periodicity that all other species are subject to. Pythagoras taught that not only do these laws apply to people but also to people’s souls. He preached a doctrine of the transmigration of the soul – that is, the continual death and rebirth of the soul into another form, either human or animal, depending on the lessons learned in the past life and the classes that needed to be learned in this next life.
Ancient Greek Oracle: Pythagorean philosophy
According to Pythagorean philosophy, the soul is a fragment of the divine and immortal, universal soul and has been imprisoned in a mortal body. When all life’s lessons have been learned, the soul ultimately becomes free of the bonds of physical form and rejoins the divine one, the essence of life more generally called “God,” from which it first came. This doctrine is very similar to the concept of reincarnation preached in eastern religions.
In his biographical account of Pythagoras’s life, the ancient author Porphyry writes that:
“He declares that the soul is immortal; then that it changes into other kinds of animals; in addition that things that happen recur at certain intervals, and nothing is new; and that all things that come to be alive must be thought akin.”
Ancient Greek Oracle: Plato and Aristotle
Plato and later Aristotle, followers of Pythagoras, taught that the universe’s natural order was a cosmos. This is a macrocosm whose parts correspond to the microcosms within the greater whole. Each of these cosmos existed as a sphere. The planet earth, being spherical, had at its centerfire; around this was a sphere of “earth.” Around this were a shell of water (the oceans) and a shell of air (the atmosphere). All these spheres move in cycles. The universe’s spheres resonate together to sound the celestial harmonies, the “harmonies of the spheres.”
Ancient Greek Oracle: Life and Death
Within all this was life and death, the coming to be and passing away. There is no hard evidence that Pythagoras taught that coming to being and passing away was also a sphere. But there are the fragments and writings of other authors that have survived. The quote from Porphyry can lead us to conclude that this is what he would have believed reasonably.
Indeed he thought that the earth and sun were spheres and stated that the soul was like the sun. He also preached that life and events around us occur in cycles and that the soul’s migration is also a cycle, so it is reasonable to assume that he would also have perceived the soul’s journey as spherical.
See Also: Journey of the Soul