Benedicaria: The Blessing Way of Southern Italian Folk Medicine

Benedicaria: The Blessing Way of Southern Italian Folk Medicine

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Benedicaria: The Blessing Way of Southern Italian Folk Medicine, written by Gail Faith Edwards

Benedicaria is a profound odyssey into the myster­ies of Old World European sacred heritage. 

A vibrant, living tapestry of our ancestral healing culture, woven together with archaic wisdom from the heart of Mediterranean traditions. This book is an invitation to reclaim and reintegrate Old World spirituality, plant medicine, animism and mysticism back into our daily, modern lives and offers its reader both the map and tools needed to do so. 

Orders will ship July 2024. 

”Gail brings her many gifts and decades of research, experience, and deep listening to this compendium of ancestral wisdom. "Doing a little holy thing" is a charism instilled in Gail from her earliest years. Here, she expounds upon the many permutations the Benedetti of Southern Italia have provided to do precisely that. From cultivating a relationship with plants and Saints, honoring the ever-present spiritual elements around us, reciting prayers, chants, and songs, Gail takes us by the hand and guides us through ancient history to the present day, where these potent practices continue to bring healing to body, mind, and soul.
Benedicaria: The Blessing Way of Southern Italian Folk Medicine is a seminal work and an incomparable gift.”

Jacqueline Demeri, author of Golden Apples; A Poetic Journey of Self-Discovery.

Layout and Cover Design by Gia Anna Giasullo. Richly illustrated, full color, 8 ½ X 11, 331 pages.

Excerpt from the Introduction:

“Benedicaria is a living story and a spiritual and cultural guide, offering insights into folkloric traditions, ancient mythologies, devotional practices, and even the secrets of our local mountain herbs. What sets this book apart is Gail's unique perspective. Through her eyes, our Vallo di Diano, our Campania, and the Sud Italia we know and love are illuminated in a new light, revealing their beauty and complexity in ways we may never have imagined. It's a journey of discovery, a celebration of our past, and a poignant reflection on the resilience of our people.

Through the lens of the Benedetti practicum, an experience rooted in the Italian American immigrant tradition, we see how migration may alter and, as in this case, protect and preserve but never sever, our connection to our heritage. In tracing back to this beautiful tradition of Benedicaria, in Southern Italy fast disappearing among the very young, but still strongly alive among the elders and in the New World, we are reminded of the comforting truth that nothing is ever truly lost; all that we are and all that we know is preserved, transformed, and perpetuated along the ages through our commitment and our devotion to the teachings of those before us in a deeply spiritual continuum that strengthens at once our past, our present and hopefully our future.

While it resonates with emotion and touches the soul of the reader, Benedicaria, as an immersive and meticulous exploration of a people and its culture, maintains an erudite and academic depth that merits inclusion in educational curricula for its invaluable contribution. One hopes to see this important text translated into as many languages as possible for a well-deserved widespread recognition and appreciation.”

Tiziana Rinaldi Castro, Creative Director of Literary Programs B.A.C.A.S.

"You are holding a lush, vibrant tome that springs like new greens from the rich traditions of the Mediterranean basin, a place I still call home and which holds many of my ancestral memories. Gail storytells this lineage in spirit, fairytale, medicine and ceremony - but crucially, also through tales of flora, of living talismans from the natural world, and of lives spent in deep communion with all of it. The blessings of Benedicaria, we learn, are tangible, practical, embodied in plants and stones and streams as much as in our own form, our own wellness, and our own sense of purpose and belonging.

Although the context, language, and characters you will find in the text and images are drawn specifically from the traditions of Southern Italy, this book suggests a roadmap to resonance that can provide insight and inspiration to anyone interested in exploring their own ancestral healing traditions. Gail shows how to build this resonance not just with plants and ecology and places around us, but with the rituals and remedies that still live in the memories of our own lineages. Our bodies remember, too: from ceremony, from travel to magical places and the enchanting of our own sacred spaces, from simple remedies like honey for minor wounds, from powerful allies like rue speaking through a dreamscape - from all these wellsprings and more come threads that knit together who we are in physiology, in place, in time, in community. By engaging with these threads, we all can learn to walk the blessing way. And by showing us how, over the ages, these same embodied practices are refracted through a myriad of different prisms - Goddess traditions, Greco-Roman mysticism, Italian Catholic folk religion - Gail suggests that they have always trained us to live in partnership with a world that is alive, curious, and involved with our health and purpose. I can't but wonder how relevant these seemingly antiquated traditions might be today!

I recognize the sacred stones, the talismans, the stories, and the remedies (though they are drawn more from the sea and hills of the South of Italy than from my native Northern mountains). It is familiar and comforting to hear of them again through Gail's rich, lyrical storytelling voice. But the ways of building alignment, of gathering the embodied context needed to be a whole human being in this world, will be something everyone recognizes as they read through this book. There is rich and fertile soil here, and from it may green paths and grounded peace grow in your life."

 Guido Mase RH(AHG), herbalist and author of The Wild Medicine Solution

“In BENEDICARIA, brilliant healer, herbalist, scholar and teacher, Gail Faith Edwards, brings the readers into a deep journey though the ancient pre-Christian history of the rich and diverse culture of Southern Italy and the Mediterranean. In a flow of vivid images of historical accounts and spectacular locations,it is as if we are traveling back in time in the physical and spiritual world surrounded by ancient trees and healing plants.

In this mystical guide to the Southern Italian tradition of medicinal herbs we are taken into magical caves and intricate portals where the writer reveals the significance of learning about our ancestors, our lineage of healers and the infinite healing power of plant medicines.  

I was born in Rome, my relatives are from the south of Rome, and I have done deep research all my life, yet I was really taken by the accurate and fascinating scholarly research by Gail Faith Edwards and learned even more about our rich civilization. She gives precise accounts of the pre-Christian history combined with the complex story of the division between the south and the north of Italy, not always acknowledged in other studies.

Gail also shows us that the healing power of the people from Southern Italy is rooted in the devotion of the Madonna and the Saints as it was for millennia in the worship of Goddesses as  Cybele, Artemis and Isis among the ancient Etruscans, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. She carries the ancient knowledge of the true “gauritrici” as she comes from Campania the “land of seers and healers.”

This book is a must read for anyone interested in the true healing power of herbs and plant medicine as the writer demonstrates that they are our allies and will always be there for us  if we allow them.”

Alessandra Belloni, author of “Healing Journeys with the Black Madonna”, singer percussionist and teacher of Southern Italian Folk Traditions and Director/Founder of Giullari di Piazza.