Seven Sisters of Cilento

Seven Sisters of Cilento

Regular price $500.00 Sale

Pilgrimage to the Seven Sacred Sisters of the Cilento

May 1 - 10, 2024

During our early May pilgrimage to the Seven Sacred Sisters of the Cilento we will be visiting shrines and holy places, archaeological ruins and historic landmarks.

LE SETTE SORELLE DEL CILENTO


The Cult of the Seven Sisters of the Cilento National Park is among our most treasured sacred traditions. These seven beloved madonnas all have roots reaching back to archaic times, all are evolutions, transformations that took place slowly across centuries. They each have still vivid threads connecting them to much earlier beloved Mothers, Goddesses, Divine Feminine personages of great beauty, strength, healing and protective agency.

The cult of the Seven Sisters has been kept alive for thousands of years through the great devotion of the indigenous people of the Cilento National Park and has in fact grown more vibrant through the centuries. The sancuaries that are home to these Seven Sacred Madonnas are situated on the same high holy ground, the same sacred place, as their predecessors. We honor them in a continuous unbroken tradition and in the same ways as our ancestors have done since long before the common era.

During this ten day mythic journey we will meet, comune with, honor and make our prayers to Great Mother in her ancient personifications as Hera/Juno/Uni, Demeter/Ceres, Cybele, Diana/Artemis, Menrva/Athena and always, Maria. Most of these sites go back to ancient indigenous Italic tribal peoples and their Goddesses, in place long before Indo European and Greek contact. These are the Great Mothers venerated by our Sud Italian tribal ancestors, our grandmothers of long ago.

We will step into this ancient lineage together with deep soul purpose. You can expect a sweet nourishing, spirit filled journey that will also be lots of fun, include a few spontaneous side trips, creativity, camaraderie, gracious hosts, fabulous food and great wine! We’ll be weaving together art, history, archaeology, Southern Italian folk medicine ways, spirituality, prayer, rhythm, ritual, healing dream, plant medicine and magic, ancestral wisdom, the Divine Feminine and the magnetic, healing energy of a small group of people into a rare and beautiful experience that will be long treasured. Our time togeher will be relaxing, low key and deeply inspiring and restorative.

The Cilento National Park in Southern Italia, is one of the last true wildnerness areas in this world, a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to vibrant, still thriving Old World culture, traditions and beliefs. Because of its biological and cultural characteristics, the park is also member of the World Biosphere’s Reserve, Unesco’s Man and Biosphere program. It is also the place of my origins, my ancestral home. My roots are here, my blood and bones are made from this land, these mountains and trees are my body and I am honored to introduce you to our ancient, deeply spiritual ways.

La Settle Sacro Sorelle di Cilento - During the month of May the weather is usually sunny, comfortably warm and beautiful, the skies are blue and wild orchids and wildflowers are blooming. 

Our base camp during the journey is located in our remote and friendly medieval village at the foot of our mother mountain, Mount Cervati, the largest mountain in our region. Your rooms are comfortable, spacious and designed with an eye toward maintaining traditional features. There is central heating in every room, fully modern bathrooms, a large comfortable and private balcony. Best of all, it's conveniently located with easy access to our parking area and is right down the cobblestone passageway from my own house. I can't wait for you to come and stay here with me in my beloved Italian village!

We're in the heart of the Cilento National Park and our village is also a protected World Heritage site. Our location puts us in very close proximity to the Grotto of Vallicelli, which was a thriving Bronze Age community, inhabited since the Paleolithic era, and home to some of the original inhabitants of this mountain area.

From time immemorial its unique geographical position has made this land a natural crossroads for the cultures that developed on the Adriatic, Ionic and Tyrrhenian coasts. The ancient Etruscan, Enotrian and Villanova cultures, Lucanian civilization and the later Greek colonization all met here. In fact this is the very center of ancient Magna Grecia. It is a most amazing and magnificent place!

Our valley was once the central location for Dianic worship in all of Southern Italia. We had numerous Healing Dream temples here as well. We will visit a couple of them while you're here in my valley!

This spiritual tone and sense of reverence for nature and all that she represents still permeates the hills and valleys as well as the lives of the people here. Life, and the sense of the divine, really hasn't changed all that much since ancient times.

This pristine, magical, and centrally located place is in the region of Campania, (formerly Basilicata until the unification of Italy changed our borders.) and we'll be in the midst of one of the most incredibly fertile agricultural areas of the world with a legacy of growing and preparing foods that goes far back into ancient history.

We'll be traveling the ancient roads and pilgrim trails of our ancestors and be presented with numerous opportunities to learn about the ancient lineage of Great Mother, the plants and trees long associated with her, and to understand the depth of her roots in human culture. We'll pay homage to her in her still living guises as the Seven Saced Sisters of the Cilento. We will also take a beautifull cruise ship along the Amalfi coast to visit the Black Madonna of Positano as an extra bonus, because you cannot come this close to her without paying your respect!

The full cost is of the Sette Sorelli di Cilento Pilgrimage is $5,989, and includes all transportation from Boston to Naples and return, travel from Naples to our village and back, as well as all daily transportation during our pilgrimage, each day's generous breakfast and traditional dinner - also included are all entrance fees to sites visited during the journey. You will be responsible for providing your own lunch. Please place your $500 non-refundable deposit to hold your place using the button above, if you'd like to join us. The remainder of your fee, $5,489 is due by January 15, 2025 and is best sent by check made out to Gail Faith Edwards. If you use a card or PayPal to submit your fee you will need to add an additional $150 to cover banking fees.

Tour cancellation policy: All deposits are non-refundable. If you cancel at any time after paying your tour fee in full, you will be charged a $100 cancellation fee. If you cancel within 60 days of the tour start date you will be refunded half your payment. If you cancel within 30 days of the tour start date you will forfeit your payment.

These are the Sette Sacro Sorelle:

1 Madonna dell'Annunziata, Moio della Civitella – This village has remote origins, dating back to the so-called Enotrian age (Bronze Age). The Inotrians were regarded as a mythical people by the Greeks and across the centuries they became the Lucana tribe. The Inotrians honored a Mother Goddess here on this spot, as did the ancient Greeks who came much later. Today we honor this Great Mother as Madonna dell’Annunziata.  

2 Madonna del Granato – Madonna del Granato – Madonna of the Pomegranate The Cilento is filled with pomegranate trees and in fall we celebrate a great abundance of this ancient, sacred fruit that speaks of the fertility and renewal of the earth and all of life. The sanctuary of the Madonna of the Pomegranate is built on an ancient site of devotion to the Goddess Hera and before that to Juno, her Roman counterpart. The sacred plant of both of them was the pomegranate and their animal totem was the peacock. Their earlier Etruscan counterpart was Uni, mother goddess and protector of women. All have been revered here on this magnificent site through countless milennia. We will also visit Paestum today, an ancient Greek settlement on the coast with some of the best preserved temples in the world. You’ll walk the Via Sacra to the temple of Hera where together we will make prayers and offerings. We’ll also visit the intimate museum just outside the ancient city walls that houses all the artifacts recovered from the site; amazing frescoes, vases, scultpture and more. We’ll end our day trip with the most delicious gelato!

3 Madonna del Sacro Monte –The Black Madonna of the Sacred Mount Viggiano - Maria Santissima del Sacro Monte is the Queen and Patroness of Lucania Her shrine is placed on the very top of Mount Gelbison at 1705 m above sea level and is the highest Marian shrine in Italy. From here one enjoys an extraordinary panoramic vista - almost all of the Cilento area, with the Alburni Mountains on one side and the blue of the Tyrrhenian Sea on the other side and, farther south, even the massif of Pollino. Beyond the Amalfi coast, you can see Ischia and Capri. The large forests that cover the slopes are home to rare and precious animals like wolf, marten and black peak. Madonna del Monte is a Byzantine icon with a brown, elongated face and slender figure. She is revered as a powerful healer. If we are lucky, and the weather cooperates, we will participate in a procession in her honor.

4 Madonna Della Stella – Omignano Capoluogo. The sanctuary building dates back to about 1000 BC, but reverence for this Madonna, located at one of the highest points in the Cilento, is much, much older than that. 

5 Madonna del Carmine – Carmello Agropoli - Our Lady of Mount Carmel gave us the sacramental cloth scapula and told us to wear it, pray the rosary and life a simple life. This particular shrine dates to the 1100s, but again, the site itself has roots going much farther back in time.

6 Madonna della Neve – Sanza – Our Lady of the Snow. She is particularly special to me. If conditions permit, we will drive up her rocky trail, all the way to the top of Mont Cervati, our sacred mountain. We will climb up the steep hill and then down the ancient rock staircase leading to the Madonna’s cave. We will peer into the cave to see her and leave prayers and offerings in this high, holy place.

7 Madonna della Pietrasanta is located between the villages of Vibonati, Ispani and Santa Marina. There is an old walking trail and also new drive way right to the top. After we pay homage to. the Madonna we will climb down an ancient stone staircase to gather water at the sacred well. It is famous all over Europe for its miraculous healing waters. Iodine lamps illumine the whole area making the shrine look like a lighthouse that guards the Gulf of Policastro.  After our visit we will head down the coast, stop for lunch at one of my favorite restaurants and continue on to Maratea and a classic beach. 

This coastline is the home of the ancient and mysterious sirens. The Sirens originally had the bodies of birds and the faces of women. Homer described their voices as "golden-sweet above the sound of wind and wave, like drops of amber floating on the tide." Euripides refers to them as “winged maidens, virgin daughters of Gaia.”

These beautiful, supernatural sea nymphs, believed to inhabit the ocean waters all along the western coast of Sud Italia, were the subject of many of the legends and myths of Old World Sud Italia and ancient Greece. Sirens were goddesses of nature, specifically of the sea and oceans. You can still hear their enchanting songs.

8 Maria Assunta – Positano – We will take an exquisite cruise along the gorgeous Amalfi coastline to Positano. This will be a very special trip to visit the Black Madonna of Positano. Although Maria Assunta is not one of the Seven Sacred Sisters of the Cilento, she is one of the Seven Sacred Sisters of Campania, and no trip to our area would be complete without paying homage to her. We’ll have lunch on the beach, listen for the sirens and maybe also do a bit of shopping.

 I’m looking forward to introducing you to these powerful healing Madonnas and the ancient lore that surrounds them. .

We probably won’t visit every one of the Seven Sisters, as we will want to visit other spectacular places, like the cave on our mountain and the healing Dream temples in our valley, be exposed to Ancestral Skills, make spur of the moment fun side trips, carouse with colorful people…and always there will be fabulous foods and lots of love and magic! I hope you can join us! 

testimonials:

Embarking on this journey was like stepping into a meticulously crafted adventure, where every detail was expertly curated by our learned “Professoressa  Gail”, to ensure an unforgettable experience. The hallmark of a superb vacation lies in its seamless blend of convenience and immersion. Every aspect, from transportation to accommodation to dining, was flawlessly coordinated, allowing us to focus solely on soaking in the wonders around us and discovering the strengths within us. Whether we were navigating the bustling harbor at Positano, going behind red altar ropes or traversing and picnicking in the serene mountainside to the gentle sound of cow bells munching on cheese and meats , we were accompanied by our most learned guide Gail who effortlessly unraveled the Sud Italia’s secrets, offering insights that breathed life into every location we visited. Because of our authentic interactions with locals especially our drivers and the family at our B&B, we gained a deep appreciation for the culture and heritage that defined our tiny, idyllic little village in the South. The true magic of this pilgrimage with Gail lies in the fact that it transcended mere sightseeing, transforming into a journey of personal growth and reflection for all of us. Each moment, be it honoring a Madonna or peering into an ancient cave, served as a catalyst for introspection, inviting us all to ponder life's mysteries and realize our own unique place and value within the vast universe. As the days too quickly unfolded and the journey ended, I was left with cherished memories.  If excellence is measured in the transformative power of shared experiences and the enduring bonds forged along the way, then I consider my time with my Sisters of the Cilento as the most excellent journey of my life.  I thank you Gail for being the catalyst and Rosa, Monica and Teresa for being my beloved journeywomen, for I truly did have the time of my life.  Eileen O’Donnell

 

I sit here in deep gratitude for you and all your wisdom in creating such a beautiful pilgrimage. 

Everything was planned beautifully and we were well taken care of from the moment we landed. Your choice in drivers, locations, activities and accommodations was well thought out of and considered all guests on your retreat.  Any apprehension I may have had, as a result of some recent surgery, was completely erased on meeting you at our accommodation. 

This pilgrimage was a sacred gift to myself. Your intention to open each day with smudging, drumming and prayer set the tone of the magic that we woukd embrace . 

I leave Italy with a deeper understanding, of life, culture and healing. I leave with a hunger for more knowledge on my own lineage and a deep love and respect for this beautiful village and region we called home for the last 10 days. 

Thank you for your authenticity, compassion and love .. the respect and love you have for your culture and lineage is evident in all that you share. 

I highly recommend this pilgrimage to anyone who wishes to connect; deeply with the blessed earth/terra,  with the mysteries of our sacred mother, with a culture that understood universal laws, with women who feel the call to delve deeper and reconnect with their physical, mental and spiritual body and with a teacher who has experience in living the culture and understanding how to run an engaging retreat with sacred rituals. Teresa Corso