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A "Nekeuomanteion" is a name given to the Oracles Of The Dead" in the ancient Greek world. There were four oracle sites in Greece that we know of, dedicated to the underworld Gods, Hades and Persephone. The largest and most impressive of these sites  is located at Avernus. The other three oracle sites are located in Heracleia Pontica, Tainaron, and Acheron.

There are two very good books on the subject of the Nekeuomanteions.  

Oracles Of The Dead:  By Robert Temple

Greek and Roman Necromancy: by Daniel Ogden

Robert Temple writes extensively about the archeological finds of the Avernus Oracle and it's actual location which was discovered in 1962 underneath the rubble of some old Roman bath houses.

Daniel Ogden did not show any indication of being "in the know" about the archeological discoveries at Avernus as lined out in Robert Temples book. My assumption is that at the time he wrote Greek and Roman Necromancy, he believed as many did for so long that the entrance to the underworld at Avernus was a mythical story only, that had been considered "legend"  in the ancient writings of Homer.

The primary form of magic practiced at the Nekeuomanteions was a technique called "necromancy".  This is generally understood to be the practice of "raising the dead" but what is not commonly known are the types of necromancy that were actually practiced.  

One of the most interesting forms of this practice is called "Incubation" whereby individuals who consulted the oracles, and who may have been seeking grief counseling due to the loss of their loved ones, were facilitated in a very extensive meditative and purification process.  These practices were designed to assist in various types of trance induction which would enable an individual to speak to their loved ones in a dream state, and gain closure.   You could say that necromancy was possibly an ancient form of hospice and grief counseling, which incorporated more shamanic types of methods to get the job done for their clients.

This clearly puts a whole new spin on the idea of raising the dead, which is very different from the typical Hollywood idea of zombies and other forms of the "undead" walking around and wreaking havoc.  

The ancient world cultures needed to have their own methods of being able to deal with life transitions and grief, and this was one of their solutions. It does seem pretty clear that their methods may have been primitive and dangerous especially with the usage of highly toxic, mind altering drugs.  There are some accounts in ancient writings which seem to indicate that some people who consulted these oracles of the dead, sometimes were never the same afterward.  The implication being that they may have sustained irreversible, neurological damage, as a result of the toxicity of the drugs they may have imbibed at the oracle sites.   Because Aconite grew copiously in the region it is assumed that this was likely the intoxicant of choice due to it's availability and it's mind altering properties.  There is, as well, an entire mythological story about Aconite being the sacred plant of Cerberus.  It is said that when he drooled on the earth, his saliva made it possible for the plant to grow.  This particular plant is clearly very much associated with the underworld experience in mythology, and probably with the experience of these oracle sites as well, in actuality.  

Aconite is a very deadly plant, and it is not recommended for any ritual use. It is classified as one of the traditional "baneful" herbs of classical witchcraft, and it is not recommended for modern use in any capacity what-so-ever. We have much safer alternatives these days for achieving altered states of consciousness, including techniques that do not require imbibing anything. The information I provide on these substances is for historical and scholastic purposes only. I will not be held responsible for the actions of anybody STUPID enough to try some of these clearly dangerous and archaic methods, to reconstruct ancient rites. As ancient historians have already mentioned in various texts, it didn't work out so well for many of those folks, back then either. 

Below you will find links to specific blog posts on these underworld topics. 

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Light In Extension!

Monique Lockhart  

The Sybil Of Cumae

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