Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Oracular priestesses and goddesses of ancient Krete, Delphi, and Dodona
by Dedes, Eleni, Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2015, 272; 3712244
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation discusses the roles of oracular priestesses and Goddesses in Krete and Greece. The appointment of oracular priestesses to the service of a particular Goddess such as Gaia or Athena is reviewed. In addition, this study demonstrates the extent to which the worship of Goddesses, led by oracular priestesses, was a pre-eminent aspect of religion in ancient Krete and Greece. Various types of conduits and methods used to receive oracular messages are also considered, including trees, baetyls, the inhalation of gaseous vapors, the chewing of laurel leaves, and the possible use of bees and snakes.

This dissertation also considers the implications that feminist archaeology brings to the interpretation of evidence regarding oracular priestess and Goddess traditions in Krete at the Temple-Palace of Knossos, and in mainland Greece at the oracular sites of Delphi and Dodona. An interdisciplinary methodology is employed, drawing on archaeology, mythology, archaeomythology, and feminist spiritual hermeneutics in the academic field of women’s spirituality.

To facilitate this study, a set of characteristics is specified for determining which figurines can plausibly be considered oracular priestesses and/or Goddesses. The set of characteristics which distinguish a Goddess from an ordinary woman or girl include (1) ritual or sacred “find contexts”; (2) the presence of worshippers or adorants; (3) symbolic attributes of divinity, especially those which are representative of the female in local cultural context and perhaps also in cross-cultural contexts; (4) gestures of divinity, in local and/or cross-cultural contexts; and (5) larger relative size. Priestesses are distinguished by (1) typical gestures of adoration or offering of votives; (2) typical attributes in cultural context and/or cross-cultural contexts; (3) the study of epigraphy (where possible); and/or (4) prosopography. The characteristics which distinguish oracular priestesses from other kinds of priestesses include the priestess’ interactions with trees, baetyls, bees, birds, and snakes, or inhaling gaseous vapors.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Conner, Randy P.
Commitee: Biaggi, Cristina, Razak, Arisika
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Philosophy and Religion with a concentration on Womens Spirituality
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 76/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Religion, Philosophy, Womens studies
Keywords: Archaeology, Goddess, Greece, Mythology, Oracle, Oracular priestess
Publication Number: 3712244
ISBN: 9781321889376
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