The reflection I posted about a week ago had been written for about a month before I decided it should go up. As you can probably tell, my mind has been on divination and the otherworlds for quite a while. I wrote this piece thinking about what it means to see in the dark.
As part of this, I've been thinking about oracles a lot lately too. What does it mean to be an oracle and what is their purpose? Who do they benefit- themselves, the community, both? On the surface being an oracle or visiting an oracle sounds mysterious, exotic even. Prophecies, soothsaying, proclamations- all of these are in the domain of oracling and fall under "oracle job description" in the minds of many people. But, is this truly the job of an oracle, to issue proclamations? In various spiritual traditions oracles (diviners fall under this category too) are the ones that help keep the balance between the human world and the spirit world. They are the ones that maintain a connection to the Divine and they help laypeople touch and access these worlds as well.
My favorite description of an oracle comes from Jennifer Posada, she says that an oracle is one who remembers. I heard this description in her online self-love course but she has a book you can check out that is pretty amazing titled, The Oracle Within: Living the Intuitive Life (see notes at end for reference).
This definition is simple, easy to understand, and resonates as truth in my heart. One who remembers their connection to Source, one who remembers that they are Source. One that maintains this knowing regardless of life circumstances- both beautiful and horrible. One that sees possibility in remembering. This remembering business is powerful stuff! Perhaps oracles remember histories and possible futures because they are those, they carry those memories and potentialities inside and know how to access them. Through remembering and accessing that place where all is Source they can speak to that which is needed for right-relationship with various worlds and their inhabitants, both human and more than human.
Recently I encountered a paper by goddess scholar Max Dashu describing and detailing evidence that in Early Greece the first oracle was Gaia or Earth (see notes at end for reference). Although this makes sense I was blown away by this notion. It's similar in Dagara cosmology as described by Malidoma Some (see notes at end for reference) the element of nature holds the secrets for those that can decipher its language- cycles of sun and moon, wind rustling the leaves on a tree, birdsong. Perhaps an oracle is one that remembers the Earth. The histories of Earth and its place in the larger cosmos and our place as human beings in this vast universal song. After all, humans are literally made of stardust. It seems to me that it's a blood-bone-and-breath remembering. I think it is this remembering (in an infinite variety of iterations of course!) that oracles call into being and call us toward.
As I'm currently wading through research for my dissertation I wonder what the role of oracles are in today's world. Can women recovering from patriarchal soul-wounding be oracles? If many women are experiencing soul-wounding as a spiritual emergency of sorts, delving deep within and finding the jewels in the darkness of remembering trauma, can this be considered an oracular function? I think it can. Much of this remembering is centered on finding or remembering their wholeness as women and reclaiming this knowing in a world where it is still largely devalued. If oracles are guides and give counsel, these women have something to say about the (imbalanced) state of the world and may be able to give good advice on ways forward that are rooted in right-relationship and visions for a just and sustainable future. If woman is the medicine there will more than likely be truth and remembering coming from her lips; lips that have long been silent in fear and pain will open to remind us of the beauty way found in spite of/because of the deepest darkness.
The Oracle Within: Living the Intuitive Life by Jennifer Posada
The Pythias and other prophetic women by Max Dashu- academic paper, book excerpt
The Healing Wisdom of Africa: Finding Life Purpose Through Nature, Rituals, and Community by Malidoma Patrice Some