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The Oracle of Delphi

On this blog I propose that, regardless of the definition we may ascribe to it, the Oracle of Delphi is real.  I believe that my story, which is an exact description of what took place, with no embellishments, additions, or interpretations of any kind, is a valid proof of that.

I've looked for contemporary testimonies of the Oracle but found nothing. I'm sure there are journals, diaries, or memoirs out there, or unwritten or untold stories, which may corroborate a modern time Oracle, but I haven't found any.  So, I decided to share my oracle, to put it out there, because it is a fascinating testimony of what the Oracle of Delphi can actually be, and, mainly, because what took place there demonstrates how amazing Life truly is. 

This painting, done by Michelangelo on the Sistine Ceiling, depicts the Oracle of Delphi as the woman who speaks it.  But the Oracle, as it was known for over a thousand years, was neither the person nor the place, but the message, the riddle itself.  The riddle was a poetic response only understood by that who asked the question, and it has been mythicized as the whisper of Python in the ears of Pythia, the entranced message induced by tectonic fumes of the Delphian region, a divine gift for the savant gipsy, or merely a human invention. I think it is all of that, including invention.
When myths were invented in ancient Greece, it was always to explain something real, like water and fire, beauty and love, or life and death. Therefore, something must have happened in the Delphian region to provoke people to imagine explanations in response to it.
Metaphysical events take place in quantum space, so their manifestation cannot be grasped by linear thinking, which also means it cannot be put in words or measured by science.  This is why explaining the Oracle is like explaining music or true poetry, words alone cannot do it.  But like with music and poetry, the lack of explanation doesn't conflict with the understanding of them.  We do get the songs, a Bach suite or a lullaby, by just listening, and we get the poems, a Shakespeare's sonnet or a T. S. Elliot's love song, by just reading, even if we cannot explain them entirely. It is the same thing with the Oracle, we can hear or read its story, and comprehend what it implies, even if we cannot explain its occurrence.

The Sanctuary at Delphi.

When I visited Greece in 2008, the Oracle of Delphi was described to us by our guide as a political invention used to govern the vast Greek territory, which encompassed much more than present Greece back then.  The institution, the oracle system and its divinations, have been gone now for almost two thousand years.

The Oracle in Ancient Times decided the fate of Greece through its riddles, which were known for hundreds of years before Homer, a thousand years before Christ. But not all of those years the Oracle was the institution it came to be, which resembled an organized religion with its priests, its Pythonesses and its treasuries. Before all that, there was only direct contact with a mysterious presence that throughout centuries never stopped attracting people's imaginations.  As an institution, through hundreds of years, the oracle surely had its moments of political corruption, but I have to wonder what actually happened during the first six hundred years of its life, specially knowing that it was so early on in our human development, when the mind was young and simpler, but maybe closer to something else which we may have lost behind our intellect.  The sanctuary continued to be a powerful force in the region until Rome's invasion, that's why the Romans had to destroy it, to govern the land effectively.

I ask, why was it that the Oracle of Delphi had such a powerful influence over the intelligent Greeks, throughout their entire existence?  Socrates spoke of it logically but without questioning it, as if it were obvious.  The Oracle was consulted before matters of state were decided, or war and marriage.  Our modern minds look at it with modern thoughts, taking it for granted as we cannot understand it.  We are unable to recede back to our human experience three thousand years ago, to that time when our western intellect had just began to write and think dialectically.  The civilization that preceded the Greek's in that region was that of the Egyptian's, which lived in a mythical state of consciousness for its entire three thousand years of existence.  That fact informs our understanding of the two thousand years of human development prior to the birth of the Oracle.  The Egyptians thought the way they wrote, with images and symbols, just like their hieroglyphics; they might have developed a sophisticated grammar to facilitate the mental exchanges necessary for myth, but the young languages of so many tribes, coexisting with each other along the banks of the Nile river, most have been extremely simple and basic at that point. (Interestingly enough, when you spend some time on the Nile River, up and down that gorgeous region, simplicity is what the landscape asks for).  When the Egyptians mummified their bodies, they preserved all the organs, except the brain, which was disposed of.  We would never do that today, why would we want to spend eternity without a thought?  But then, why would they?  During those three thousand years they chose eternity without a brain for a reason.  

This is why I believe we have to pay close attention to what the Oracle was or is. It appeared very early on during the formation of our intellectual capacities, when reason starts to govern life for the very first time, and if it appeared, and if it lasted that long, there had to be a reason for it.  I used to think that humans needed a place to represent their abstract forms, like Delphi, churches, museums or mountains, and they added their own poetry to it to dream and fantasize in response to profound human needs.  But now I know it's the other way around.  Humans began to believe and fantasize because there was a poetry spoken in those mountains in the first place.  They witnessed it, and talked about it, and returned some years later, and in twenty more, and another thousand on, for more. 

The documented stories of the Oracle of Delphi, winning competitions amongst the others of its time, demonstrating a visual comprehension of the present and of the future in its riddles, should make us wonder if we should just dismiss it as a mere human invention.  Because, if the Oracle was indeed real, what could that possibly mean to us? What does that say about Life? 

My Oracle, as I later understood it, began in the evening of July 3rd, and ended in the early afternoon of July 4th, 2008.  It, truly, changed my life, and my understanding of it. I believe that whoever comprehends what the presence of the Oracle reveals will have a better life as well, and also a deeper understanding of it. 

My Question.

Ever since I read Socrates's account of the Oracle of Delphi I've wanted to go there, convinced the Oracle would speak to me as well. I was a young teenager then, so it was easy to dream, but it was at the age of forty when I was finally able to go.

I had envisioned myself entering a small open temple on top of a hill near the ocean, and imagined the answer to my question coming to me in the whisper of a soft breeze entering directly into my mind and heart.  I didn't know then about the institution in Delphi, its priests and Pythia, and its treasuries, which resembles more an organized religion than a powerful place in nature.

When I learned before arrival that the Oracle in the past was given inside the temple of Apollo, I imagined myself standing on its ruins facing the vast valley bellow. I envisioned the Oracle, the words, clear in my mind, the obvious answer in a riddle to the important question I'll ask.

In early July of 2008, I knew there was only one question I really needed to ask: "Should I quit my job or not?"
After teaching art for six happy years at a high school, I resigned to focus on my own art. The school administrators didn't accept my resignation and asked me to think about it further. I was leaving for Greece in a few weeks, so I told them that that will be the question I'll ask the oracle, and that I will know for sure what to do then. The way they looked at me after I said that is something I will never forget!  They looked as if they suddenly realized that I was crazy, and that they never noticed it before :-)

The Oracle began upon arrival.

I was traveling in a tour of twenty or so people with my friend Oscar.
Our bus arrived to the town of Delphi before six in the afternoon. It was July, so I knew we had at least three more hours of sunlight.
The hotel was located on the hills of mount Parnassus, which I admired all the way up from the road.
I told Oscar that I was climbing the mountain as soon as we got there, even if it meant losing my dinner. It was the only time I could do it; the next day we had the tour of the site of Delphi in the morning and after lunch we continued our trip through Greece.
One of the ladies in the bus, Susan (picture), overheard me and asked if she could come with me.  She's a lovely woman, athletic and easy to talk to, but I knew that if she came, we wouldn't make it to the top, which was my goal. But I could't say no.
We put our sneakers on and went up about half way to the top. The rocky and dry terrain was tiresome, and the sun was setting fast.
We stood there for a few minutes, in silence, admiring the beauty of that mountain chain and the valley bellow. A soft breeze made the brilliant light of the sun sail on the waving wheat, and a peaceful beauty overwhelmed us both.
"This is the best temple there is," I said. "No other could connect us more directly with the soul of life."
She agreed.
I looked at Parnassus and said quietly to it, "You are the temple."
Of course, I didn't know then how important that would be the next day.
We climbed down right before dark, and were still able to eat some dinner. 

Later on, a friend told me that when I didn't say no to Susan, I sacrificed my desire to make it to the top, and that that was my unconscious offering to the oracle, which may indeed be still a requirement.
And the sacrifice itself, as usual, turned out to be very rewarding. The act of helping Susan climb up and down, and of pacing slower to respect her pace, while keeping her company all along, took me out of myself, which is something that in those days I was not accustomed to. The meaning of the word ecstasy is "out of the self and into the world." That simple, so the act alone made me feel more human and more connected to my surroundings, and put me in a more receptive state.
What is most important, though, is that without Susan there, I probably wouldn't have verbalized that the mountain is the temple, which would be crucial on the next day.
In Delphi, in turns out, the spoken word is very special.

The evening of the Oracle.

 After dinner, people in the tour wanted to go out for drinks but I declined. I knew the next morning would be too important to mess up with it.
A Peruvian couple and their son didn't go out either, so we stayed at the hotel lounge conversing about religion and spirituality. They were Krishna, but lived a normal life without having to cut their hair or dress in orange clothes.

We talked long enough for the party people to meet us again after their night out. 
They sat with us for about ten minutes. One of the women, with whom I had not spoken yet, told me that her mother, who was in the tour as well, was Greek, and that she knew the language well.
"Do you want to know your name in Greek?" She asked.
"Sure," I said.
"It's Yorgo, which means 'Worker of the land'."
I thanked her for the information, and a short time after that we all retired to our rooms.
I thought it was interesting that my last name means "wheat field."
Together it would be "the worker of the wheat field."

The night of the Oracle.

I was in bed, falling asleep, at that moment when consciousness begins to give way to the subconscious. Suddenly, against the black of my inner mind, white lines formed the shapes of two tigers. One was larger than the other, and it had its pow raised. The small one seemed to kneel or sit in front of it. (This picture is a close replica of what I saw, even though I believe the tigers were more my own translation of those forms).
I sat up, impressed by the force with which the image came to mind and by its strangeness.
Knowing that I was half asleep, just shook my head and laid back down.

Probably five minutes later, another image assaulted me with unusual insistence. It was a red dot, as if made of dust, floating with an orange glow against the beige background of the mountain.
I got out of bed and stood in the dark room trying to figure out what was happening. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before. Not once in my life I had gotten out of bed to ponder something that entered my mind in a quasi subconscious state, commanding so much attention.
When I couldn't find any meaning in them, I understood that they were for the next day, when I visit the oracle's site. I thought I had to be attentive to those shapes and those colors appearing somewhere, on a rock, on some sign, on somebody's t-shirt?
I went to sleep very intrigued by the unusual quality of theses visuals, and with a great expectation in my heart.

The morning of the Oracle

After breakfast, the tour bus took us up to the Delphi archeological site.
The plan was to visit the museum before the ruins, but too many buses were parked already in front of the entrance, so we were taken to the temple of Athena, to kill some time.
Not many people came down, so when I took this picture (right), I was alone.
What happened next was something that, again, I've never experienced before.
As I was about to walk by the temple of Athena, towards the bus, the air stopped me, literally.That's the only way I can describe it. I was walking back and something in the air or the air itself "physically" stopped me. So I stopped, astonished.
The temple, to my right, felt extremely quiet and heavy. I looked at it respectfully, acknowledging its unique roundness, trying to understand why I couldn't walk by it, yet.
The camera in my hands started to feel intrusive, out of place. I put it away and heard my self say: "I've waited for this day all my life. I can't be a tourist today." Then I looked at the temple and said: "From now on it is a meditation."  I walked up in silence and spoke very little, and only with Oscar.

Later on I understood: I couldn't pass Athena's temple without asking for wisdom. She's, after all, Wisdom's goddess. I was rude and didn't ask, but she showed me.  Her temple is at the base of the sanctuary for a reason. The pilgrim will reach it before Apollo's temple, to acquire the necessary wisdom to ask the right question and to interpret correctly the answer. And, in my case, to be able to actually hear the answer.

The Charoteer, at the Delphi Archeological Museum.

This museum turned out to be much more impressive than I had imagined. It has extraordinary sculptures such as the best portrait of Antinous I've ever seen, and the must intelligent and lively Hagias.

The Omphalos is also there (not the original, but a very old copy), which marked the navel of the Earth, or the center of the world, which was believed to be in Delphi.

I walked through the museum in silence, taking it all in, knowing that Oscar had been in the gallery of the Charioteer all this time.
Oscar had told me that only once he had experienced something that could be considered a mystical experience, which was when he saw the Charioteer at Delphi a decade ago. He and his friend Ivonne had been so touched by it that returned the next day to sit in silence for hours in his presence again.

My friend Donna, who doesn't know Oscar and didn't know about my conversation with him, told me basically the same thing a few days before my trip to Greece. She said that the only time she experienced what could be called mystical was when she saw the Charioteer.

I was, of course, very impressed by this, and my desire to see it grew stronger.  Needless to say, I was in awe of it from the moment I was in its presence. I didn't even talk to Oscar, who was sitting near, until he stood up to leave.  His friend Ivonne had told him: "I don't love the sculpture, I love him!"

It's so true! He's indeed fully alive, and what he shows us is something hard not to admire and fall in love with. He was to me everything that I admire in a human being.  He's as humble as he's confident, disciplined as he's sensitive, athletic and fully present to the now, before the gods, before all.

What impressed me the most, though, were his eyes, so open, attentive and reverential, ready to act effectively if commanded, always looking straight ahead.  This bronze cast is of the highest quality of its time, a gift of a Sicilian city to the gods in Delphi to honor its triumph in the chariot race.  The actual young man may have influenced its creation, which could explain the interesting departure from the Archaic style of the time.

This sculpture is one of those rare examples of what art can do, that unexplainable mystery that elevates us and takes us beyond. The pictures won't show why, I had seen this image many times before, and never understood its importance.  It was only then, in its presence, as I walked around it with my heart in my throat, that I comprehended why anyone would be so completely mesmerized.

I've never seen a sculpture with such powerful and intriguing presence before, in its own way it's as hypnotizing as the Mona Lisa, and for the very same reasons.

My Oracle in Delphi

The tour guide gathered us at the entrance of the archeological site.  "We've lost some time," she said, "we only have thirty minutes here."
My heart dropped to the floor. How was I supposed to see the temple of Apollo, the theater of Dionysus, the race track, and receive the Oracle, in thirty minutes!
"We need at least an hour," I screamed.
"OK," she responded, "it's twelve fifteen. Everybody in the bus at one o'clock."
She looked at me and I consented.
I began to move up alone, without saying another word to anyone.
I passed the Athenian treasury, rushing a little, and began to panic, really afraid of not having enough time.
I had to calm my self down, and did it by accepting that, if something was going to happen there, it was not going to be of my own doing. I chose to trust the moment, to have faith.
I continued relaxed, in contemplation, always conscious of the ticking of time.
The temple of Apollo stood in ruins but still majestic on the edge of the impressive Parnassus, out of limits for visitors.  I understood then the importance of my verbalizing "the mountain is the temple" the prior evening. I would've been extremely disappointed if I had expected to receive my oracle in the temple itself, as it happened in ancient times.

When I approached the theatre of Dionysus, a young woman sang playfully to the amusement of some tourists seated on the stones, waiting to confirm the acoustics they've heard about.
When I stepped on the platform nobody waited for me to perform, but I felt the need to still say something, make a sound.
I stood at the center and opened my mouth to make a sound, to just hear it taken by the subtle air up the mountain, when an unexpected awareness of the impropriety of that act made me stop short. Somehow I knew I shouldn't do it.
I felt the soft breeze on the side of my face, making its way up all the way from down beyond the ocean, to impel sounds to the ears of those gathered, maybe aware of the ritual. The importance of what was said, and how, in such a special place became apparent then, so I couldn't make a sound.
"It's a divine act to speak here," I thought. "I can't do it."
It became evident that the spoken word in this place has mythical importance. Delphi was a sanctuary for over a thousand years.  There, if we respect the place, our movements and words are elicited by an impulse that comes from the earth.
I continued my walk, observant all the while, attentive to red and orange, and to the shapes of the tigers I saw the night before.
When I made it to the race track few people were in the area, and a welcomed silence reigned.
I had very little time, every move had to be right.
I saw the end of the track and there was no one there. I walked to it knowing that it was the farthest point from the entrance.
I paced around the stone marker with careful steps, aware of the air on my pores. I sat on it and looked at my watch. It was twelve fifty; I had less than ten minutes left, and I needed at least five to run down the site and make it back to the bus on time.
I closed my eyes and focused intensely, waiting for a whisper within my ears, or an image, a vision in my mind. Nothing happened for a short while.
Then, I saw a flash of the eyes of the Charioteer, wide open and alert.
"Open your eyes," I told myself.
I opened them, and saw a father and his son, of about five, walking towards me, conversing in Spanish, my native language.
"They're going to brake the silence, to be a distraction," I thought.
I focused my attention straight ahead, trying to ignore their presence, so afraid of their interference that I didn't notice the colors they were wearing. Both of them wore beige safari hats and shorts, and the father had a red polo shirt on, larger than the orange one the son had on. That fact hit me later.  (This image is a reconstruction so you may visualize it).
They stood at about ten feet to my right, quiet for a moment.
I most have had probably a minute left, when one of the most astonishing things occurred.
"Papa," said the boy, in such a way that the word itself, its sound, its vibration, held me, completely, and instantly. My body was literally held by his voice, so every molecule in my body responded to it, overwhelmed; remaining still.
"Este es un escorpion," ("This is a scorpion"), the boy continued.
"No es un escorpion" ("It's not a scorpion"), the father replied.
"Yo se que lo es" ("I know it is"), stated the boy, with absolute resolution.
"Entonces ten cuidado que no te pique" ("Then, be careful it doesn't bite you"), the father responded, without any concern at all.
"Ya me pico" ("it already did"), the boy replied.
In that instance I knew that that was my oracle.
I was born in November and have always been a very proud Scorpio. I've identified very much with its symbol and characteristics, since I am indeed the universal description of one.
The father knew there was no scorpion, otherwise he wouldn't have been so nonchalant.  The boy was fantasizing, playing a mind game, moved to say it out loud.
What he said was my riddle. I had already resigned to my job, I had already decided it was best to leave. The oracle was telling me: "Your soul, the scorpio, already bit you, and there's nothing you can do. It's done."

I turned to look at them, in awe of what I heard and how I heard it, and what I saw was simply mind blowing.

The father was squatting on the ground, very close to the boy, ready to take a picture. The boy was kneeling on the ground, facing right into the lens. The father tilted the head to have a vertical picture, and by doing that, covered the black of the camera and his hair with his safari hat . The boy's face was mostly covered by the hat from my angle. All I saw then was red and orange against the beige, and their bodies were doing just what the tigers in my vision were doing.
When I saw them I knew, immediately, that that was exactly what the white lines were doing, not the tigers.

I saw tigers because my mind needed to give an image to those lines.  It would have been really difficult to see the bodies of an older man an a boy squatting like that and make any sense out of them. I had to see the tigers, that's an oriental image my brain was accustomed to.

What is most amazing to me is that I would have known that was my oracle even if my vision on the night before had not matched with their body movement and color.  What was most extraordinary, and equally difficult to describe, was the power of the voice over my whole self, a voice that I was trying to ignore.  The two of them had been quiet from the moment they got close to me.  The voice of the boy sounded like in a vacuum, strong and all encompassing.  The instance he was done talking I knew with absolute certainty that that was my riddle, which was pure direct knowing.  The visual confirmation with the clues from the night before were just an astonishing icing on the cake.  I ran down and stepped on the bus at one o'clock, on the dot.  I thought that was amazing as well, the exactitude of the timing!

And it didn't end there.  Another astonishing confirmation was about to seal the deal, and the timing there was even more outstanding.
I didn't say much to Oscar during the five minute bus ride to the restaurant; I was still trying to catch my breath from the intense run down the site.
As we stepped off the bus and walked towards the restaurant for lunch, a woman in front of me conversed with the Greek mother of the lady at the hotel's lounge, who told me about my name. I had not spoken to her before and out of the blue she asked if I wanted to know my name in Greek.  I would have not known it otherwise.
I heard the woman in front of me ask her mother: "What's the name of the island of Onasis?"
'How trivial,' I thought, to ask about celebrities in a place like this.'
"Scorpion," the woman replied.
The word surprised me and my ears popped. 
"She said 'scorpion'" I said out loud to Oscar, to make it more real, to confirm it to myself.

And at that instant, right then when I said "scorpion," we were walking by the restaurant's host, who was standing by the entrance.  He called out "Yorgo," waving at a waiter who came out from inside.
The words "scorpion" and "Yorgo" were said almost exactly at the same time, no more than a second apart, only about ten minutes after the boy had said that the scorpion had already bitten him!
That, added to everything that happened, was a loud and clear confirmation of my riddle. What a reiteration it was!  The timing, everything that had to take place for that second to make sense, for the poem to be complete!
(This image on the left is a recreation, the one above shows the ladies in the story).

Yorgo is Jorge, my name in Greek, which I wouldn't have known unless in a random moment a random person told me. Yorgo is myself, and I am the scorpion, and the scorpion already bit me.  My own mind, my own soul, had made the decision already. That's what I understood when I heard it, but now it was official.  I remember at that moment I said back to... the mountain, "you didn't have to do that. I knew."  But now, years later, I'm so grateful it did.  The confirmation was really solidified at that instant.

At the lunch table I raised my wine glass and said:  "I'm living proof that the oracle is real."
Nobody asked me to elaborate; they just smiled and toasted.

In ancient times, the oracle was given only once a month, and only during the nine warmest months of the year. Pythia, the priestess who would answer the questions in a trance, was reported to look as if she had exerted herself, exhausted and drained afterwards, it was obviously something that couldn't be done often.

As part of her preparation, she bathed on the seventh day of each month in a ceremonial ritual of purification, which is a fact I learned after my trip.  I was in Greece for twelve days, and the only one day I bathed, though every hotel I stayed at had a pool, was on July 7th.  We visited the island of Hydra on that day.  Right after arrival, I walked away from the group to be alone.  I sat at a restaurant for a drink, and after looking at the blue water for a long while, almost hypnotized by the saturation of its hue, I walked towards it like an automat.  I left my shoes, camera and clothes on a rock and dove to the bottom of the sea.  It amazed me that I remained suspended there, maybe 15 feet deep, completely calm, for a longer time than I thought I could.

There was something very special about that act, though I couldn't think much about it then.  When I read the fact of the seventh day of the month bath, I looked my itinerary of the tour up and it was indeed July 7th when I dove in the sea.  I didn't swim, just floated, bathed, which is definitely not my style.

I know that this could simply be a coincidence, but, though I'm not a Pythia, it was me who received the oracle directly, and like her, I had to catch my breath right afterwards, even if it was because I had to run.  It's all symbols, nothing more, but the beauty is in them when they all add up like words in a poem.

The Temple of Apollo

The myths tell us that Apollo killed Python, the largest snake known to man, in Delphi, overthrowing the reign of Gaia for ever in the zone.  This myth, as all myths, represents humanity's state of development and being at the moment it was written, and for as long as it was told, which in this case is an entire millennium before our common era.  During most of that period Gaia was the most powerful figure in their local myths, which explains why Pythia, the priestess who received the oracle from the earth, was always female.  This was very unusual specially during the last centuries of ancient Greece, when women couldn't even attend the theater.

Gaia may be understood as Mother Earth, and as demonstrated by the 20,000 years of art production, the female in nature governed the world.  She was defeated by Apollo, the male god that represented the new intelligent warrior the Greeks saw themselves as. Gaia, the female earthy tendencies and nature had to be overpowered. this happened in Delphi, and Apollo became its god.  Delphi's great temple was dedicated to him. 

Apollo is the Greek, and Roman, god of music, healing, prophecy, and enlightenment.  All of it seems to have been embodied in Delphi.

On each wall of the temple a phrase was written:

"Know Thyself."

"Nothing in Excess."

"Make a Pledge and Mischief is Nigh."

Two of these phrases give advice, which, reduced to four words, was the most important the Oracle could give.

I love how succinct they are; two strong words each:

"Know Thyself."    "Nothing in Excess."

"Know thyself" was Socrates's favorite advice, whom undoubtedly learnt it from the Oracle's walls; and it has been a motto in our cultures ever since.
By now we all seem to know how valuable it is to know ourselves, although very few of us really know what that truly means.
In the Old Testament,  to know some-one meant to have lied with that person. To know, is to be or have been with the other, to become one with the entirety of the other.
To know, really, is to comprehend. Today, we do know so much, but how little we comprehend!
To comprehend is to contain, to grasp, to make the other our own, which is not equal to the knowledge of the other.

Know Thyself doesn't mean think about yourself and have an understanding of who you are. It means comprehend EVERYTHING you are, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
It means bring all the words, the rhetoric of the mind, into a present awareness in the body. It means comprehend with all the senses, understand as the animal and spirit in the body that we are.
Few of us know ourselves because most of us are rarely there, in the body, in the moment, in the here and now, with all that we are, not jus the disembodied mind and the erratic emotions.
To know yourself is to understand and to be aware of your body's functions, digestive, muscular, osseous, organic, mental (which is a lot), and spiritual (which is infinite), in a way that you may optimize your entire organism, your whole self.

Can you imagine?  To really know everything about your self, the entire organism that you are?  And imagine how much more then we'll know others?   Our choices may be very different. 

"Nothing in Excess," on the other hand, is something we rarely hear. But what an advice it really is!
The word Nothing is absolute, and Excess is universal. Everything that we do or don't do, have or not have, can be done or had in excess. Eating. Drinking. Talking. Thinking. Building. Loving. Hating. Using. Having. Doing. Resting. Sleeping. Writing. Painting. Driving. Shopping. Learning.  Everything can be done in excess!
The advice doesn't tell us to not do any of those things; we could do them all if we want or need to, as long as in each case it is done or had moderately. Not doing can also be done in excess. Omission. Inertia. Apathy. Egotism. Egocentrism. Absence. Detachment. Stagnation. Boredom. Depression. Isolation.  We can indulge in them as well.

If we pay more attention to this advice, we would be more conscious of the negative effects that overdoing or overindulging have in us. Imagine the world's wealth attained by all humans, at various levels but all, if excess in accumulating by a few fortunate ones was not existent, if our personal desire was not to have but to be the best humans we could be. The social effects would be amazing.
In our own personal lives, if we don't allow excess, there will be no alcoholism, obesity, bulimia, depression, sickness, drug addiction, neurosis, hatred, loneliness, anguish, madness.

Imagine, if we all lived without excess and learn to know ourselves, what kind of world would this be? Two solid advices, four words, which, if we follow, could make us great, and could make the world a much more wonderful place.

The third phrase is the one we tend to simply dismiss today:
"Make a Pledge and Mischief is Nigh."

Why a pledge? A pledge could be a promise, an offering, or a vow. I think the oracle meant all of these. You promise to go to the Oracle one day in your life, and promise to take it seriously. You bring an offering to show how much the Oracle means to you. The offering comes in many forms, like the walk up the mountain after a long travel in itself, or the prescribed sexual abstinence and fast before entering the site. It could come in the form of a personal sacrifice, or a valued possession. For over a thousand years, the Oracle required all, the sacrifice and the material donation.
The museum in Delphi has some of the best sculptures done in the world for that reason. For the Oracle to take the question seriously, an equally serious offering had to be given.

Why Mischief? Pythia, the priestess who received the Oracle and gave it as a riddle, entered into a trance to do so. The message came from within the Earth, the whisper of Python. This, even for ancient Greeks, was out of the ordinary, and in order to do it, one had to suspend thought and go ahead like a child, with a faithful and thoughtless innocence. The whole act of asking and responding seems to enter dangerous ground, but whatever the results there was no malice. All innocent, with suspended thought, but real.  It's just mischief.

Why Nigh? Because if there was an answer, it was going to be given right there, on the side of Parnassus, inside Apollo's temple.  That's the beauty of it. One asks the Earth, the place, Python, and only there and then the answer takes place. Not like a prayer that may be answered later or somewhere else. The response is rigth there and right then; that's why the sacrifice is needed, to seal the deal.

On the forth wall of the temple, an epsilon (E) was also written, and not many good explanations for it have been given.
I just say, look at the symbol for epsilon and that for the sixth and seven chakras, which represent the highest level of understanding and consciousness. Could it be a common ancient form seen from the other side of the wall, as if what it represents comes through it onto your space?  Or simply a formal shift or flip in time and culture?