Castalia In Greek mythology, daughter of the river god Achelous and sister of Callirrhoë and Peirene. Castalia was chased by Apollo and turned into a spring at Mount Parnassus at Delphi. The spring, called Castalia, then became sacred to Apollo and the Muses. Castalides was an epithet applied to the Muses because of their connection with the sacred spring.


Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow– Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante

Castalia is a spirit of water, prophecy, knowledge, purification, and divine inspiration. She is the presiding goddess of the Castalian Springs, which emerge from a ravine on Mount Parnassus near the Oracle of Delphi.

The Castalian Springs were an integral part of Delphic rituals. Pilgrims, all who wished to consult the oracle, and contestants in the Pythian Games were required to wash their hair at the Castalian Springs before continuing to the shrine. The water was used to cleanse the shrine and served as drinking and bathing water for the Delphic priestesses.

When Apollo arrived in Delphi, Castalia already presided over the spring, although classical Greek myth suggests otherwise. According to myth, Castalia, a daughter of Achelous, preferred to commit suicide by leaping into the spring rather than submit to Apollo’s embrace. Apollo named the springs in her honour. The Castalian Springs were placed under the dominion of Apollo and the Muses. Drinking the waters of Castalia allegedly bestows the gift of poetry and creative inspiration.

Sacred sites:

Her springs are still accessible and may be sipped from. Two fountain houses fed by the springs survive. The older, from the early sixth century BCE, displays benches where people sat around the marble-lined basin. A later fountain features niches carved into the rock wall where votive offerings to Castalia were placed.

See Also:

  • Achelous
  • Apollo
  • Daphne
  • Muse


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.

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