THE PROPHETESSES of Ancient Greece, who were said to provide the Delphic oracles, claimed to have gained their inspiration by breathing a mysterious vapour that rose from a cleft in the floor. This then gave them convulsions and put them in a fit state for Apollo to make use of them to deliver his messages to mankind. The whole operation was highly suspect, since the output was in the form of mutterings, and a sort of ancient information officer in the guise of a priest was needed to interpret them to the enquirer. The end product was often sound advice, although the answer to an awkward question was given in such a way that whatever happened it could be claimed to have come true.
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