The myth of the Python tells u show Apollo fired a hundred missiles (Hekateros) to slay the Python and take over the Oracle at Delphi. Modern scholars believe this may be a reflection of a male society taking over a female society, or a male cult over a female cult. However, I believe that this holds a deeper message for us, a message found among all Word Religions.
The first to hold Delphi was Gaia, Mother Earth. Later, she passed it to Themis, who was in charge when Apollo, through means of slaying the Python (dragoness daughter of Gaia), got the Oracle.
I find Delphi a most curious metaphor to human development. Psychologists now recognize three stages of development: pre-personal (or pre-conventional), personal (or conventional), and trans-personal (or post-conventional). Curiously, these stages were already known to mystics from both the East and the West, and they find a striking correspondence with the stages of Delphi.
The pre-personal stage, I believe, corresponds with the time Gaia ruled over Delphi. This is the stage we are brought into the world, the primordial stage or, should we say, the earthly stage. This is before education, before we realize we are a person and other people are people too.
The personal stage naturally takes over, through education. This is the stage most people live and die in. It is the stage of conventions and acquiring culture, not the rules set by law but those set by society and tradition – the very essence of the Goddess Themis, second ruler of Delphi.
Finally, comes the third stage. This stage is found in every religion and it is described as enlightment, freedom, recognizing the ultimate truth, liberation. The transpersonal stage is described the same way as Apollo, the third ruler of Delphi.
This last stage was also described by the Greeks, namely by Plato. He says that the transpersonal stage is like, having lived our entire life in a cave seeing shadows, we get to go out and see the light. And he describes, just like Buddhism, Taoism, Christianism, Judaism, Islamism, Hinduism and many others, that to set ourselves free from that cave we need to look inside.
Looking inside is the very essence of Delphi – “Know thyself”. Know that the ultimate truth is inside you, know yourself and you will see the ultimate truth, Apollo will shine on you. Recognize the importance of Gaia and Themis, but don’t let your body rot (root of the word Python) without passing to the last stage, don’t just meet Apollo “whose temple lies at the door of Hades”, know thyself and meet Apollo the slayer of the Python.
Contrary to modern scholars, I believe that “Know thyself” doesn’t mean “Know you are not divine”. Quite the opposite, it means, to me, “Know that the divine is inside you.”
Release yourself from the Asian maya, the dream or illusion, Know Thyself is, to me, one of the most important messages of Delphi, one that should be heeded by today’s followers, far more than oracles, rituals or the many stories surrounding that place that is, after all, each and every one of us.