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Word of the Weak: OMPHALOSKEPSIS

May 18, 2013

om·pha·lo·skep·sis [om-fuh-loh-skep’-sis]

(noun) contemplation of the navel for the purpose of attaining philosophic calm.

1925, from omphalo- + Greek -skepsis, from skeptesthai “to reflect, look, view”

Mystics of the Middle Ages practiced omphaloskepsis, believing that concentrating on a single focal point such as the navel would help them experience divine light and glory.

Greek mythology holds that Zeus released two eagles, one
from the east and one from the west, and made them fly toward
each other. They met at Delphi, and the spot was marked with a
stone in the temple of the oracle there, a stone they named
omphalos,” Greek for “navel” (it supposedly marked the center
of the world). Mystics have been practicing omphaloskepsis for
centuries, but it wasn’t until the early 1920s that English
speakers combined “omphalos” with another Greek term, “skepsis”
(which means “examination,” not “skepticism”), to create a word
for studying one’s own middle and thinking deeply.

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