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Encyclopedia > Oracle
"Consulting the Oracle" by John William Waterhouse, showing eight priestesses in a temple of prophecy
"Consulting the Oracle" by John William Waterhouse, showing eight priestesses in a temple of prophecy

An oracle is a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic opinion; an infallible authority, usually spiritual in nature. It may also be a revealed prediction or precognition of the future, from deities, that is spoken through another object (e.g.: runemal) or life-form (e.g.: augury and auspice). In the ancient world many sites gained a reputation for the dispensing of oracular wisdom: they too became known as "oracles", and the oracular utterances, called khrēsmoi in Greek, were often referred to under the same name — a name derived from the Latin verb ōrāre, to speak. For other uses, see Pythia (disambiguation). ... The term Oracle database may refer either to the database management system (DBMS) software released by Oracle Corporation as Oracle RDBMS, or to any of the individual databases managed by such software. ... Oracle could refer to: Oracle - a person who makes predictions based on a claimed connection to the Gods John Kendrick (1573-1624) - known as The Oracle Oracle Corporation - a business software company. ... Image File history File links John_William_Waterhouse_oracle_1884. ... Image File history File links John_William_Waterhouse_oracle_1884. ... John William Waterhouse. ... For other uses, see Prophecy (disambiguation). ... Infallibility is the ability to be free from error (obtain certainty). ... Spirituality, in a narrow sense, concerns itself with matters of the spirit. ... A prediction is a statement or claim that a particular event will occur in the future in more certain terms than a forecast. ... Precognition (from the Latin præ-, “prior to,” + cognitio, “a getting to know”) denotes a form of extra-sensory perception wherein a person is able to perceive information about places or events before they happen through paranormal means. ... E.G. is an Australian only release EP from New Zealand four piece Goodshirt. ... Omens or portents are signs encountered fortuitously that are believed to foretell the future. ... An auspice (Latin: auspicium[1]) is a type of omen. ... The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000-5,500 years, with cuneiform possibly being the oldest form of writing. ... For other uses, see Latin (disambiguation). ...


Ancient civilizations


Oracles were common in many civilizations of antiquity. In China, the use of oracle bones dates as far back as the Shang Dynasty, (1600 BC - 1046 BC). The I Ching, or "Book of Changes", is a collection of linear signs used as oracles that dates from that period. Although divination with the I Ching is thought to have originated prior to the Shang Dynasty, it was not until King Wu of Zhou (1046 BC-1043 BC) that it took its present form. In addition to its oracular power, the I Ching has had a major influence on the philosophy, literature and statecraft of China from the time of the Zhou Dynasty (1122 BC - 256 BC). Categories: Stub ... Remnants of advanced, stratified societies dating back to the Shang period have been found in the Yellow River Valley. ... (Redirected from 1600 BC) Centuries: 18th century BC - 17th century BC - 16th century BC Decades: 1650s BC 1640s BC 1630s BC 1620s BC 1610s BC - 1600s BC - 1590s BC 1580s BC 1570s BC 1560s BC 1550s BC Events and trends Egypt: End of Fourteenth Dynasty The creation of one of... (Redirected from 1046 BC) Centuries: 12th century BC - 11th century BC - 10th century BC Decades: 1090s BC 1080s BC 1070s BC 1060s BC 1050s BC - 1040s BC - 1030s BC 1020s BC 1010s BC 1000s BC 990s BC Events and Trends 1048 BC - Medon, King of Athens, dies after a reign... Alternative meaning: I Ching (monk) The I Ching (Traditional Chinese: 易經, pinyin y jīng; Cantonese IPA: jɪk6gɪŋ1; Cantonese Jyutping: jik6ging1; alternative romanizations include I Jing, Yi Ching, Yi King) is the oldest of the Chinese classic texts. ... Among the many forms of divination is a method using the I Ching (易經) or Book of Changes. ... This article is about the ancient Chinese dynasty. ... (Redirected from 1122 BC) Centuries: 13th century BC - 12th century BC - 11th century BC Decades: 1170s BC 1160s BC 1150s BC 1140s BC 1130s BC - 1120s BC - 1110s BC 1100s BC 1090s BC 1080s BC 1070s BC Events and Trends 1126 BC - Thymoetes, legendary King of Athens dies childless after... Centuries: 4th century BC - 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC Decades: 300s BC 290s BC 280s BC 270s BC 260s BC - 250s BC - 240s BC 230s BC 220s BC 210s BC 200s BC Years: 261 BC 260 BC 259 BC 258 BC 257 BC - 256 BC - 255 BC 254 BC...


The earliest known oracle was in the renowned temple at Per-Wadjet. This was an important site in the Predynastic era of Ancient Egypt, which includes the cultural developments of ten thousand years from the Paleolithic to 3100 BC The temple was dedicated to the worship of Wadjet and may have been the source for the oracular tradition that spread to Ancient Greece from Egypt. [1] The Per-Wadjet tradition continued through the entire history of the Ancient Egyptian culture. The later Greeks called both the goddess and the city Buto. Buto This article is about the Egyptian city Buto. ... The Predynastic Period of Egypt (prior to 3100 BC) is traditionally the period between the Early Neolithic and the beginning of the Pharaonic monarchy beginning with King Narmer. ... Khafres Pyramid and the Great Sphinx of Giza, built about 2550 BC during the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom,[1] are enduring symbols of the civilization of ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization in Northeastern Africa concentrated along the middle to lower reaches of the Nile River... // The Paleolithic is a prehistoric era distinguished by the development of stone tools. ... (32nd century BC – 31st century BC – 30th century BC – other centuries) (5th millennium BC – 4th millennium BC – 3rd millennium BC) Events 3000 BC – Menes unifies Upper and Lower Egypt, and a new capital is erected at Memphis. ... In Egyptian mythology, Buto (papyrus colored--referring to the color of the cobra) was a snake (especially cobra) goddess and patron of the oracle in the city of the same name. ... Buto This article is about the Egyptian city Buto. ...

Another oracle of note lay in Egypt during the of the Eighteenth dynasty (1550-1292 BC), in a temple dedicated to Amun, a god who rose to importance during that time. The Greeks associated him with Zeus. Alexander the Great once visited it, and although no record of his query remains, the oracle is thought to have hailed him as Ammon's son, influencing his conceptions of his own divinity. The Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twentieth Dynasties of ancient Egypt are often combined under the group title, New Kingdom. ... Amun (also spelled Amon, Amoun, Amen, and rarely Imen, Greek Ἄμμων Ammon, and Ἅμμων Hammon, Egyptian Yamanu) was the name of a deity, in Egyptian mythology, who gradually rose to become one of the most important deities in Ancient Egypt, before fading into obscurity. ... For other uses, see Zeus (disambiguation). ... For the film of the same name, see Alexander the Great (1956 film). ...


Aegeus, a mythical king of Athens, a supplicant to the Pythia, the Delphic Oracle, who sits on a tripod. An inscription on the cup identifies the Pythia as the goddess, Themis. Tondo of an Attic red-figure kylix, by the Kodros painter, ca. 440-430 BCE, now in the Berlin Museum (Berlin Mus. 2538), This is the only contemporary image of the Pythia

Earliest tradition of oracular practice in Hellenic culture is from the Archaic period shortly after arrival of the Hellenes in their current place of settlement c.1300 BCE. The oracle was associated with the cults of deities derived from the great goddess of nature and fertility, the pre-eminent ancient oracle—the Delphic Oracle—operated at the temple of Delphi. Image File history File links Pythia1. ... Image File history File links Pythia1. ... In Greek mythology, Aegeus, also Aigeus, Aegeas or Aigeas, was the father of Theseus and an Athenian King. ... This article is about the capital of Greece. ... For other uses, see Pythia (disambiguation). ... The word Sibyl comes (via Latin) from the ancient Greek word sibylla, meaning prophetess. ... In Greek mythology, Hesiod mentions Themis among the six sons and six daughters—of whom Cronos was one—of Gaia and Ouranos, that is, of Earth with Sky. ... A tondo is also a circular painting or relief carving. ... Red-figure pottery is a style of Greek pottery in which the figure outlines, details and the background are painted black, while the figure itself is not painted. ... Kylix may mean: Kylix (drinking cup), a type of drinking cup used in ancient Greece Kylix programming tool This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... For other uses, see Delphi (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Delphi (disambiguation). ...

The temple was changed to a center for the worship of Apollo during the classical period of Greece and priests were added to the temple organization—although the tradition regarding prophecy remained unchanged—and the apparently always-female priest continued to provide the services of the oracle exclusively. It is from this institution that the English word, oracle, is derived. For other uses, see Apollo (disambiguation). ...

The Delphic Oracle exerted considerable influence throughout Hellenic culture. The Greeks consulted her prior to all major undertakings, wars, the founding of colonies, and so forth.

The semi-Hellenic countries around the Greek world, such as Lydia, Caria, and even Egypt also respected her and came to Delphi as supplicants. Croesus of Lydia consulted Delphi before attacking Persia, and according to Herodotus was told, "If you cross the river, you will destroy a great empire." Believing the response favorable, Croesus attacked, but it was his own empire that ultimately was destroyed by the Persians. Lydia (Greek ) is a historic region of western Anatolia, congruent with Turkeys modern provinces of İzmir and Manisa. ... Location of Caria Photo of a 15th century map showing Caria. ... Croesus Croesus (IPA pronunciation: , CREE-sus) was the king of Lydia from 560/561 BC until his defeat by the Persians in about 547 BC. The English name Croesus come from the Latin transliteration of the Greek , in Arabic and Persian قارون, Qârun. ... Persia redirects here. ... Herodotus of Halicarnassus (Greek: Hērodotos Halikarnāsseus) was a Greek historian from Ionia who lived in the 5th century BC (ca. ...

She allegedly also proclaimed Socrates to be the wisest man in Greece, to which Socrates said that, if so, this was because he alone was aware of his own ignorance. After this confrontation, he believed it his duty to share his knowledge by teaching Greece's youth. [citation needed] This Oracle's last recorded response was given in 393 AD, when the emperor Theodosius I ordered pagan temples to cease operation.[citation needed] This page is about the Classical Greek philosopher. ... An engraving depicting what Theodosius may have looked like, ca. ...

Dodona another oracle devoted to the Mother Goddess identified at other sites with Rhea or Gaia, but here called Dione. The shrine of Dodona was the oldest Hellenic oracle, according to the fifth-century historian Herodotus and, in fact, dates to pre-Hellenic times, perhaps as early as the second millennium BC when the tradition spread from Egypt. It became the second most important oracle in ancient Greece, which later was dedicated to Zeus and to Heracles during the classical period of Greece. For other uses, see Dodona (disambiguation). ... A Cucuteni culture statuette, 4th millennium BC. A mother goddess is a goddess, often portrayed as the Earth Mother, who serves as a general fertility deity, the bountiful embodiment of the earth. ... Rhea (or Ria meaning she who flows) was the Titaness daughter of Uranus and of Gaia. ... For other uses, see Gaia. ... Dione in Greek mythology is a vague goddess presence who has her most concrete form in Book V of Homers Iliad as the mother of Aphrodite: Aphrodite journeys to Diones side after she has been wounded in battle while protecting her favorite son Aeneas. ... For other uses, see Zeus (disambiguation). ... Alcides redirects here. ...

During the period, on Crete lay another important oracle, sacred to Apollo. It ranked as one of the most accurate oracles in Greece.[citation needed] For other uses, see Crete (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Apollo (disambiguation). ...


In ancient India, the oracle was known as Akashwani(आकाशवाणी), literally meaning "voice from the sky" and was related to the message of God. Oracles played key roles in many of the major incidents of the epics Mahabharat and Ramayana. An example is that Kansa, the evil uncle of lord Krishna, was informed by an oracle that the eighth son of his sister Devaki would kill him. In South Indian language Kannada, "Oracle" is mentioned as "Asareeravani". There is a famous temple in Gurpur near Mangalore that brings people from far. In Tamil it is mentioned as "Asareeree". In Telugu, it is called "Deva Vaakku". It literally means 'Words of GOD'. The Mahabharata (Devanagari: महाभारत, phonetically Mahābhārata - see note), sometimes just called Bharata, is the great religious, philosophical and mythological epic of India. ... For the television series by Ramanand Sagar, see Ramayan (TV series). ... The Official Seal of The Kaw Nation of Oklahoma The Kaw are an American Indian people of the central Midwest. ... This article is about the Hindu deity. ... In Hinduism, Devaki is the wife of Vasudeva and mother of Krishna and Balarama. ...


In the migration myth of the Mexitin, i.e., the early Aztecs, a mummy-bundle (perhaps an effigy) carried by four priests directed the trek away from the cave of origins by giving oracles. One an oracle led to the foundation of Mexico-Tenochtitlan. The Yucatec Mayas knew oracle priests or chilanes, litterally 'mouthpieces' of the deity. Their written repositories of traditional knowledge, the Books of Chilam Balam, were all ascribed to one famous oracle priest who correctly had predicted the coming of the Spaniards and its associated disasters. Aztec is a term used to refer to certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who achieved political and military dominance over large parts of Mesoamerica in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, a period referred to as the Late post-Classic... This article is about the corpse preparation method, for other uses of Mummy see Mummy (disambiguation) An Egyptian mummy kept in the Vatican Museums. ... The effigy of John Gower in Southwark Cathedral, London. ... For the modern municipality in Mexico, see Tenochtitlán, Veracruz. ... Yucatec Maya is a Maya language spoken in the Yucatan Peninsula, northern Belize and parts of Guatemala. ... The Chilam Balam (literally Balam [Jaguar] oracle priest) manuscripts stem from Yucatec towns such as Chumayel, Kaua, Mani and Tizimin, and date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. ...


The Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria in Africa have a long tradition of using oracles. In Igbo villages, oracles were usually female priestesses to a particular deity, usually dwelling in a cave or other secluded location away from urban areas, and, much as the oracles of ancient Greece, would deliver prophecies in an ecstatic state to visitors seeking advice. Though the vast majority of Igbos today are Christian, many in Nigeria today still use oracles. The Ibo are a group of people living in what is now Nigeria. ... A world map showing the continent of Africa Africa is the worlds second-largest and second most-populous continent, after Asia. ... Roman Catholic priest A priest or priestess is a holy man or woman who takes an officiating role in worship of any religion, with the distinguishing characteristic of offering sacrifices. ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations · Other religions Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Archbishop of Canterbury · Catholic Pope Coptic Pope · Ecumenical Patriarch Christianity Portal This box:      Christianity is...

In Igboland of present-day Nigeria many different oracles were regularly consulted. Two of these became especially famous: the Agbala oracle at Awka and the Chukwu oracle at Arochukwu.[2] Location of Awka in Nigeria // Awka (Oka) in pre-colonial times was famous for metal working and its black smiths were prized throughout the region. ... Arochukwu (formerly and sometimes still Arochuku) is the third largest town in Abia state in southeastern Nigeria. ...


In Norse mythology, Odin took the severed head of the mythical god Mimir to Asgard for consultation as an oracle. The Havamal and other sources relate the sacrifice of Odin for the oracular Runes whereby he lost an eye and won wisdom. Norse, Viking or Scandinavian mythology comprises the indigenous pre-Christian religion, beliefs and legends of the Scandinavian peoples, including those who settled on Iceland, where most of the written sources for Norse mythology were assembled. ... For other meanings of Odin,Woden or Wotan see Odin (disambiguation), Woden (disambiguation), Wotan (disambiguation). ... Mimir was a primal god of Norse mythology whose head was severed and sent to Odin during the war between the Aesir and the Vanir deities. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... Hávamál (The Words of the High One), (known also as The Sayings of Har, or the High Song of Odin), a work of Old Norse poetry, is a source document for the study of Norse mythology, being a set of rules for wise living (and survival) purportedly written... Technical note: Due to technical limitations, some web browsers may not display some special characters in this article. ...


In Tibet, oracles have played, and continue to play, an important part in religion and government. The word "oracle" is used by Tibetans to refer to the spirit that enters those men and women who act as media between the natural and the spiritual realms. The media are, therefore, known as kuten, which literally means, "the physical basis". This article is about historical/cultural Tibet. ...

The Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in northern India, still consults an oracle known as the Nechung Oracle, which is considered the official state oracle of the government of Tibet. Another oracle he consults is the Tenma oracle, for which a young Tibetan woman is the medium for the goddess. The Dalai Lama gives a complete description of the process of trance and possession in his book Freedom in Exile. [1]. This article is about the Dalai Lama lineage. ... The Nechung Oracle is the state oracle of Tibet. ... The Tenma goddesses are twelve guardian deities in the Gelug order of Tibetan Buddhism. ...

Popular Culture

  • In the movie 300, Leonidas indirectly consults the Ephors' oracle before assembling the 300 Spartans to face the Persians.

300 is a 2007 film adaptation of the graphic novel 300 by Frank Miller, and is a fictionalized retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae. ... For other uses, see Leonidas (disambiguation). ... An ephor (Classical Greek ) (from the Greek , epi, on or over, and , horaō, to see, i. ...


  1. ^ Herodotus ii. 55 and vii. 134
  2. ^ Webster J.B. and Boahen A.A., The Revolutionary Years, West Africa since 1800, Longman, London, p.107-108.

Further reading

  • Broad, William J. 2006. The Oracle: The Lost Secrets and Hidden Message of Ancient Delphi. New York: Penguin Press.
  • Curnow, T. 1995. The Oracles of the Ancient World: A Comprehensive Guide. London: Duckworth — ISBN 0-7156-3194-2
  • Evans-Pritchard, E. 1976. Witchcraft, oracle, and magic among the Azande. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Fontenrose, J. 1981. The Delphic Oracle. Its responses and operations with a catalogue of responses. Berkeley: University of California Press (main page)
  • Temple, Robert 2002. Netherworld. London: Century.
  • Oracle Insights [2] - A collaborative website about oracles.
  • The Copper Oracle of Shri Achyuta- one of the existing and open to all Oracles. More info available at: http://www.garoiashram.org/english/oracle.html
  • Oracle Query Formats. More info availabe at http://aztecsarun.brinkster.net

William J. Broad is a U.S. journalist and author. ... Sir Edward Evan (E. E.) Evans-Pritchard (September 21, 1902 – September 11, 1973) was a British anthropologist instrumental in the development of social anthropology in that country. ... Joseph Edward Fontenrose (1903-1986) was an American classical scholar. ...

External links

  • Documentary about Tibetan oracles by David Cherniack
  • Documentary WIKI - Oracle DOC Recourses whith Wiki vocation in SP

See also

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