Crixeo: Failed Prophets


Failed Predictions, Psychics & Prophets Throughout History

Reality is defined by the mind observing it, and the mind instinctively rejects ideas that don’t fit within that reality. It’s a survival mechanism — keeping our deep emotional ties to certain belief systems intact, whether those beliefs are supported by facts or not. Undoubtedly this is why, in a 2005 Gallup Survey, three out of four Americans indicated they believed in the paranormal. To be more specific, 41% believed in extrasensory perception (ESP), 26% believed in clairvoyance, and 31% believed in telepathy and psychic communication. This is after a 1987 study by the United States National Academy of Sciences declared there is “no scientific justification from research conducted over a period of 130 years for the existence of parapsychological phenomena.”

I won’t attempt to prove whether paranormal activities or psychic powers exist. Instead I’d like to tell you how the concept of the psychic appears to have evolved throughout our cultural history, and I’ll do that with a focus on those who were charlatans and liars. Because in order to protect ourselves from being cheated, tricked or conned, we really must understand how we got here. So let’s start somewhere very near the beginning, in ancient Greece with the Oracle of Delphi.

An oracle is believed to be a vessel of communication for a god or goddess. In the case of Delphi, the Oracle originally represented the Mother Goddess, Gaia, and then later the god Apollo; but the Oracle was never a specific individual. Instead, this was a role portrayed by a number of women, all taking turns to serve their god as the Pythia. But the god Apollo spoke through the Pythia only nine times out of the year, on the seventh day after each new moon, and only from the Adyton, a small chamber beneath the temple where sweet, unearthly fumes rose through cracks in the floor. There, enraptured within the dark and fragrant chamber, the Oracle would answer questions pertaining to politics, war and government. Powerful men, such as Alexander the Great, traveled from around the ancient world to consult the Oracle, making the Pythia one of the most powerful women in history — but she did not act alone.