Epidaurus Asklepion - Holistic Health Care
Archaeological evidence give us proof that Asklepieia offered in antiquity what we nowadays call holistic health care. The therapies and treatments practiced by the mystic-physicians were extremely sophisticated. Centuries of observation of nature, the human body and the interdependence of mental harmony and physical health created a complex medical context for healing, which proved extremely effective.
On the site of the imposing Asklepieion the existence of an even older sanctuary and healing centre has been confirmed, which was dedicated to a female fertility goddess. Later Apollo was worshipped on the same site, also as a god of healing, until Asklepios, who was thought to have been born in Epidaurus, took over divine responsibility for medical care. Over the years the accumulated experience of the priests, together with the effective synergy of the incomparable climate and natural surroundings of the land of Argolis, led to highly successful medical treatments. This resulted in a veritable swarm of visitors seeking treatment, not only from within Greece, but also from countries far away.
Therapeutic Treatment of the Spirit, Body and Soul
Each activity which took place at Epidaurus was designed to harmonize the mind, body and soul. The theatre of Epidaurus, this miraculous shell-like structure with its amazing acoustics and harmonious architecture, was a place where visitors could attend performances and "escape" from their small, debilitating everyday problems. Music, theatre, and the reading of philosophical texts prepared the soul to achieve the ultimate healing of the body.
The patient, after the necessary cleansings and having reached a calm and mentally relaxed state, was led to the main therapeutic area, the Abaton. This was a mysterious dome shaped structure, with mystagogical corridors and complex circular mazes. The architecture of Asklepieion is still remarkable today. The building was circular, referencing the safety and security of the maternal embrace. The layout of the sanctuary served to focus the concentration of the patient and draw strength from his inner world.
This preparatory stage was followed by the main healing phase, known as enkoimesis a gentle non-invasive method, which nevertheless proved very effective. During sleep, the person allowed himself to dream of the god, who would visit him in the inner sanctuary, offering the healing treatment that was needed. The mystic followers of Asklepios guided the dream experience with appropriate interventions in order to create the best outcome for the patient. In 1883, 70 inscriptions, providing epigraphic evidence, were found - the so-called iamata or remedies, which indicate many successful treatments for a wide range of ailments.
The Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus, its peaceful natural surroundings influenced by its primitive and mysterious place in history, invites us to explore the forces of nature and those within ourselves.
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