The Cave Project

It was “Clean Monday” bank holiday weekend. I arrived in Arachova and I immediately felt the need to visit Corycian cave – a cave that I had hiked to by chance a couple of years when I was last here

When we got in the cave I googled – as I always do nowadays when I arrived to a point of interest the history of the Cave which interestedly a couple of years ago I did not even care to learn what it is called. (Croce was a nymph – whose name the cave takes) Amongst other interesting facts I found out about the cave I discovered that in 1969 when it the major excavation work took place they found approximately 50,000 terracotta figurines and 24,000 astragaloi “knucklebones” used for astrogalomancy – a type of divination using knucklebones like dice to predict the future. The cave was dump like last time I was there.

When I went outside I found my two friends chatting with a guy they had just met who was telling them that for some weird reason the temperature in the cave remains the same – no matter what the temperature is outside.

That afternoon my friend – Angelo Plessas who was doing a residency program for his Documenta 14 project with ten artists in Delphi at the school of fine arts texted me to join the group at a paganistic fair in Amfissa. – A town approximately 30 minutes drive from Delphi. I went with excitement after reading the brief of the residency which was drawing the parallel between Pytheia and Sybilla oracles and a modern day “oracle/spy – Maria Zamanou – Mickelson ” who Angelo met by chance in Athens a few years ago and who had found a way of decoding plane and ship movements of the Germans during world war II.

The “Stoixeio of Harmaina” reenact ion fair was very interesting to see. It was a fair extremely strong in folklore elements and local traditions and definitely a mixture of paganistic elements and African traditions. Whilst having dinner at the town square and chatting with Chryssane – one of the participating artists that I knew she mentioned, that as part of her residency project she would like to visit the cave that I had just visited this morning. Angelo immediately paired us to do the project together, although I had no clue what he meant by that I just went along with it and was explaining to Chryssane the astrolomancy intelligence I had found out about earlier.

When I went home that evening I started discussing with my friends what could potentially be the “cave project”. Should we find wooden or clay “astragaloi” or just some dice and try to do some symbolic deviation in the cave? We then started discussing the idea of “modern astralomancy”: we had the idea of using redundant technological waste like batteries and using them for devination (same way ancient people would use leftover bones). We came up with all sorts of ideas, iPhones, iPhone cases, chargers, pads, and calling cards…. I left them to go to bed agreeing we would go to Arachova then next morning and try to find a technology store where we would buy something for the Monday cave project.

Before I went to bed I researched divination even further. I read about the four main types of divination: omens, sortilege (cleromancy, sticks, bones etc., where astrolomancy falls under), augury (that ranks a set of given possibilities (. e.g. the organ of an animal shape and color, or looks at flight patterns of birds and so on and finally spontaneous where the medium can be whatever (e.g. a random book page). I also read about Ifi divination – which UNESCO has recognized as one of the unwritten forms of human tradition to protect it and how in Africa and other parts of the world divination is used instead of traditional medicine.

I woke up frustrated. Why do humans need divination? Why do they have this inherit need to predict the future? Why is this part of human nature. I discussed again with my friends who by this point were getting very amused by new obsession. I told them; why is not divination used about the past, if we had managed our past better we would not be so anxious about our future.

I locked myself in my room and started writing down the chimaera of thoughts flooding my head. Is meteorogoly divination? What is the difference between science and divination? Economic theories; are they a form of divination? For example in perfect competition one of the assumptions is perfect information, if that’s the case you can predict the economic outcome. Is about behavioral pattern predicting hedge funds? Are they also a form of divination? Difference between using divination to make a strategic decision and plain curiosity. Have Abrahamic religions dropped divination? Is the Second Advent a form of divination? In the religion spectrum are the ones with a stronger element of divination less evolved?

By that point I got so confused I started texting at 11 o clock in the morning my friends for help (yes I can get a bit manic when I am preoccupied with something at times). The question I posed was the following

Good morning, I am working on an art project in Delphi about divination/predicting the future and how is this a past and present phenomenon that has not changed. Two questions 1) why do you think people have always tried to find out about the future 2) what is the prime example for you of modern day divination?

Some of the best answers I got are the following

My mother:

Compared to all other beings human is the only one that knows he is going to die. Today the knowledge we have from science has almost got rid of divination. Modern day divination? I am sure there is an app of that

My aunt

All alive organisms have a fear of loss of life of pain etc. fear in humans creates insecurity for future and the need to comfort the anxiety by information for the future. Nowadays there is astrology, taro cards, mediums, coffee readers … the needs for humans don’t change

Friend number 1:

  1. To make the right choices in order to be the best
  2. The universal god for Christians, prophet Mohamed for Muslims, I just believe in love and spirit

Friend number 2:

People want to know the future for reassurance they are doing the correct thing so they are constantly looking to the future for validation of their actions today. I think snapchat and instragram false ideals of standards provide options into the future for people however unobtainable.

Friend number 3:

  1. For comfort/security
  2. My mom the whole time is reading tarot cards for people/herself practicing astrology/ graphology. My mom is the family witch

Friend number 4:

Man is inheritably fearful and from an evolutionary perspective, man is the most insecure animal that has occupied the top of the food chain. This is because man evolved to this position very very quickly. Unlike lions of tigers or wolves etc. which did it over millions and millions of years we went on low on the food chance to very high, even on top in no more than 20,000 years. This is unheard of. So to answer to your question I think that man is inheritably insecure which means that man is inheritably seeking control… and to gain control, power fulfillment, you name it we need to se the future to plot the right course… the best I can think of modern day divination is Elon Musk speaking about AI or Bill Gates or perhaps working on mass hadron collider at CERN and spiritual leads who have the ability to strip down everything down… what do you think…?

My answer after having heard all of the above

I think that if we trust the universe and have faith and have a standpoint of love rather than fear – then we wont have the need to predict the future. If we do the best we can with our time here and just focus on love humanity would evolve and would not have this need. We need to evolve

I left the house with my friend to go for a walk in Arachova to find some supplies for the cave project. We found coffee cups and considered buying those and doing a project on coffee reading, we walked into a crystal shop where the woman that was trying to sell us crystals had no idea about them (a very common divination theme is charlatanism), I even walked by OPAP store (Greek betting company) and wondered if betting falls in the divination category.

And then I turned to my friend and I said to her – you know what? I don’t want to do this. Doing a divination is feeding the fear. I don’t want to feed the fear, I want to grow. The same way the cave temperature remains the same no matter what – the world will keep going around and the fundamental truths are going to be there for us to discover through the life mentality we adopt. The cave project should be a ceremony of love and of focusing on the current moment. So dear Chryssane let’s just do that !