Earth and Spirit Journeys - A pilgrimage to the Seven Sacred Sisters of Cilento National Park
In Southern Italy
October 2019
Earth & Spirit Journey, April 2019
with Gail Faith Edwards
Southern Italy Earth & Spirit Tour April and October 2019
Southern Italy Earth & Spirit Tour April and October 2019
Item# Italia

Product Description

We are excited to add a second tour of our lands! We’re introducing an entirely new journey taking place next fall. We are accepting reservations now on a first come, first served basis for both trips.

Our journeys are limited to seven participants. Please place your $500 deposit to hold your place using the button above, if you'd like to join us. Full payment for the Seven Sacred Sisters is due by August 1, 2019. You’ll find information below regarding our April tour.

La Sette Sacro Sorelle di Cilento
A pilgrimage to the Seven Sacred Sisters of the Cliento

October 10-20, 2019

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 connections to much earlier beloved Mothers, Goddesses, Divine Feminine personages of great beauty, strength, healing and protective agency.

Please note this is not a Black Madonna Tour to the Seven Black Madonnas of Campania. The Seven Sisters of the Cliento represent all the colors of humans and so also include one Black Madonna.

The cult of the Seven Sisters has been kept alive for thousands of years through the great devotion of the 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 with the same offerings as we have since long before the common era.

During this ten day pilgrimage we will meet, comune with, honor and make our prayers to Hera/Juno, Demeter/Ceres, Cybele, Diana/Artemis, Minerva/Athena and always, Mary. We will step into an 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, comaraderie, gracious hosts, fabulous food and great wine!

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. It happens to also be the place of my origins, my ancestral home. 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 October the weather is sunny, comfortably warm and beautiful, the skies are blue, the harvest is in, fresh fruits and foods of all kinds are in abundance and the tourists have all gone home!

Join us for a fun-filled weaving together of travel, fabulous food, art, history, archaeology, prayer, plant medicine, the divine feminine and the magnetic, healing energy of a small group of people into a rare and beautiful experience that will be deeply soul nourishing and long treasured, while at the same time relaxing, restorative and entirely low key. We'd love to have you with us!

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, one of the largest intact wilderness areas of the world and our village is a 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. Bring a head lamp or flashlight and I'll take you inside to see housing Italia style 50,000 years ago, including hand carved seating!

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 culture of Villanova, 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. 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.

"We all loved your village and especially the people. They were all so welcoming!" L. Brainerd

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 visit several of the world's best preserved archaeological sites and hilltop villages, make pilgrimages to ancient as well as modern shrines and meet many of the earliest Mediterranean Gods and Goddesses as they are still portrayed, though perhaps renamed, in their original locale.
We'll have many opportunities to learn about the 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 many guises throughout these lands.

All the while we will be surrounded by the local flora and the mountains will be awash with an amazing array of fall color. The wonder and abundance of a great diversity of wild medicinal herbs, flowers, trees and fruits will be all around us and permeating all we do.

I will update this page with the new itinerary by the end of this year to describe in full our pilgrimage to the Seven Sisters of the Cliento. The cost is $5,400, and includes all transportation from Boston to Naples and return, as well as all transportation during our journey, each day's breakfast and dinner are also included and all entrance fees to sites visited during the tour.

What is written below describes our itinerary for our April 2019 Earth & Spirit Journey. You may place your deposit now to hold your place and full payment is due on February 1, 2019.

We'll visit the Certosa di San Lorenzo, the second oldest monastery in Italy which took over 400 years to build and holds an extraordinary collection of art and artifacts, many as old as 7,000 years and uncovered right here in our valley. These are world treasures that are virtually unknown and an absolute blessing to behold.

In a nearby village we'll enter an ancient Aslepian Healing and Dreaming temple, in use for many centuries before Christianity, transformed into a Catholic Church and now a remarkable museum.
Next to the Dreaming temple is the Museo della Erbe which houses a collection of the rich botanical diversity of the region and explanations of their traditional uses. I'm excited to take you there! We'll see frescoes that date back over 1500 years.
And we'll also pay a visit to the ancient Baptistery of St. Giovanni, a renowned healing spring, long dedicated to the winged God Attis and Leucothea, the goddess of the waters, long before the Christian era.
You will be awed by the natural wonders of the Amalfi coast, the inland mountains, the Cilento Parco Nationale, the villages that climb into the sky, the olive groves and gardens, as well as the proliferation of magnificent art and architecture everywhere we go.
The people of this area, descendants of the indigenous people of the Apennine mountains, are among the most generous, loving and hospitable people found anywhere in the world. You will have plenty of opportunities to associate with and learn from these inspiring people.

We'll visit a few of their well tended organic gardens, go to a local farm to pick up fresh milk and cacciocavallo, a cheese our valley is famous for, and if the timing is right, will get to watch mozzarella cheese be formed before our eyes by artisans who have been doing this for generations.

Just as they have done for centuries, village women will be on hand to personally guide us through local shrines and share their history and meaning. Our village design and archetecture is outstanding. It was built in the 9th century, but human habitation here goes back at least 50,000 years.

"Your people are so beautiful, and I just wish we had more time to spend with them. I definitely want to go back again" D. Zawalik

"I had such a great time! I especially loved the herb gathering and putting up herbal medicines. I am still enjoying my rosemary oil!" C. Perry

Cost of the entire 10 day tour is $5,400. The fee includes your airfare from Boston to Naples and return, your transportation from Naples to the village and back as well as all transportation while on tour and all lodging. The majority of your meals are also included in your tour fee. Your fee does not include a gratuity for the chefs which is appreciated but not expected.

Your dinners, with one exception, are all included in your fee. All dinners will be prepared and graciously served to you by a local family with amazing traditional Mediterranean meal preparation skills, using the freshest, local, and for the most part, organic ingredients, much of it from their own gardens. Our meals are guaranteed to be not only culinary masterpieces of highest quality, but a major highlight of every day. We'll provide some basic ingredients for breakfast to start you off and you'll provide for your own lunches.

There is one occasion when we will eat our evening meal out in a traditional Italian Trattoria and you will be responsible for the cost of your meal.

It is a great joy for me to lead the Earth and Spirit Tour and introduce you to an area of the world that is stunning for its incredible, ever changing landscapes, diversity of nature, both flora and fauna and its wealth of ancient history and culture, and proudly maintains it's connection to both the land and it's rich spiritual heritage. The village that will host us is my maternal family's ancestral home. I am truly honored to introduce you to it's people and their way of life, which is beyond inspirational. It is simply and deeply soul nourishing.

Because we have ancestral roots here and know it so well, we can bring our guests to amazing places off the beaten tract. Many of the places we visit are virtually unknown to "outsiders." The small size of our group (we limit it to six guests each time) ensures you have a deep and intimate experience, well beyond the scope of a large travel tour.

Note: If you are already in Europe and would like to join us for the tour, we welcome you! Please email us regarding the possibilities and adjustment in tour fee.

We are also willing and able to host private tours for small groups of friends and/or family. Let us know your needs and we will try our best to cater to them.

"I had a wonderful time and congratulate you, Rosa and Adam for your hard work, long hours, and dedication. Everything you did was aimed at our pleasure and you sure hit the mark...this trip was exactly right and I treasure every minute of it." J. Cohen

"You have a magnetic personality and a very calming presence. Your village and its people are absolutely amazing and inspiring. I predict the Earth and Spirit Tour will blossom beautifully. It certainly deserves to! We all had a fabulous time." N. Lovelace

We'll no doubt be joined from time to time by our neighbors: Carmella will give us a tour of her amazing garden, my cousin Anna will pop in occasionally and the fruit man will come by on a daily basis, tooting his horn from a truck laden with the freshest fruits and vegetables imaginable. Maria Rosaria and Michelina are our main chefs, and will not only serve us exquisitely prepared traditional foods and describe their preparation, but will also bless us with their sparkling personalities, stories and unique world view.

The Earth and Spirit Tour is intended to be a secure space where we can come into meaningful contact with our common, ancient spiritual history, culture and inheritance. It is a time to immerse ourselves in and hopefully resonate with the language, art, artifacts and customs of our Old World ancestors, still vibrantly alive and actively celebrated in Southern Italian culture. As the people here are fond of saying, in their deeply generous way: "This is not just Italian culture, this is human culture and belongs to all of us."

Our tour is limited to six participants per year. A $500 non-refundable deposit will hold your place for this once in a life time experience in southern Italia. You may use the button at the top of this page. The remainder of your payment for the April 2019 tour is due by February 1, 2019. You'll find payment links at the bottom of this page for that, but we prefer you send a check. If you use the link below we will add the bank charges to your fee, usually an extra $150.

The following itinerary will be subject to small changes. We plan to spend a day or two in and around Naples, visiting the beautiful Orto Botanico (botanical garden) the National Museum of Naples which houses the most incredible collection of Old World art in the world and the Capodimonte Museum and grounds, which contains an enormous collection of Renaissance treasures and, if time and interest allow, we will visit the Cimitero Della Fontanelle. We may also take a trip to Pompei to visit the Madonna of the Rosary Basilica, and perhaps the ruins of Pompeii, depending on our group's interests.

Approximate Itinerary:

1 - Departure USA - Arrival Italia! You'll probably want to rest and recuperate after all your traveling. We'll feed you a wonderful welcome meal and help you get settled in and ready for bed.

2 – We'll spend most of our first full day getting acclimated to our amazing Medieval village, walking the cobblestone passageways, meeting village people, visiting gardens and shrines. We'll enjoy a picnic lunch, and then take a short drive to the Baptistery of St. Giovanni, an ancient sacred spring, for your welcome and baptism into our sacred lands. We'll probably gather a small amount of the most fragrant bay leaves imaginable from the hedges there, perhaps for pressing as a remembrance of this special place. Rosary and mass at Sant Giacomo church for those who choose in the evening, dinner at home with Maria Rosaria and Michelina.

3 - Paestum archeological site and museum where we'll see over 2,000 year old amazingly well preserved temples, walk the temple grounds and examine close up original Goddess images in stone and fresco preserved inside the museum. This is the home of Hera and Minerva. A visit to an ancient temple outside the Paestum walls, now an active Catholic Church. Dinner at home with Maria Rosaria and Michelina.

4 – Today we'll spend the morning in Teggiano, a nearby village, known as The City of Art. Teggiano was founded in approximately 600 B.C. It has an incredibly rich history and was once the center of Dianic worship for all of Southern Italy. This is where the king of our valley lived during medieval times. We'll visit the Museo della Erbe here which holds a complete ethnobotanical collection of local plants as well as animal parts and minerals and is laid out as a medieval apothecary. We’ll have the chance to explore traditional Italian folk medicine and the common uses of herbs in the home as well as for magic. We will also visit the ancient Aslepian Dream Temple and will take a walking tour around this amazing village, viewing 1500-2000 year old frescoes. After lunch we will visit Padula and the Certosa Monastery & Museum, which holds an outstanding collection of art as well as 5-7th century BCE artifacts uncovered from our immediate area. Dinner at home with the family.

5 – We'll take a ferry ride along the Amalfi Coast where we will enjoy the most incredible vistas imaginable...we'll walk the cobblestone passageways of Positano, a haven for artists and intellectuals for thousands of years and where the shops are bursting with unique, homespun fashions, most of them hand made. It is here that we will visit and make offerings to the Black Madonna whose shrine sits atop the beach area. We'll have the opportunity to browse the shops and we'll eat dinner out at a fabulous restaurant when we return to our starting point.

6 – We’ll be staying close to home today, traveling up our mother mountain, Mont Cervati. The vistas will be awe inspiring, as will be all the gardens! We'll visit the ancient Grotto de Vallicelli (our local cave with several rooms, including a half round, hand carved seating arrangement the ancients used for councils, carbon dated to at least 50,000 years of habitation.) There are lots of etchings on the walls in here, and the better your imagination and background in ancient art, the more you’ll see. We'll probably enjoy a picnic lunch up on the mountain, in the midst of one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Dinner at home in the evening.

7 - A visit to the world famous Gardens of Minerva, Europe's first medicinal herb garden, the one from which all others sprang. These historic gardens are located in Salerno, and were originally created as part of the first medical school in all of Europe. There are hundreds of medicinal plants growing here in the terraces that reach high up above the beautiful Gulf of Salerno. We'll have plenty of time to visit each of the terraces and discuss the plants and trees we find there. Before we leave we will visit the gift shop, which contains lots of lovely herbal creations and interesting botanical books. After the garden tour we will walk down into the village square of Salerno to have a look around, eat at one of our favorite little places, perhaps sit in the lovely park or do a bit of shopping. Dinner at home.

8 - Today is our beach day! We'll take an early morning trip to Maratea, visit the Grotte die Miravigle, an amazing cave, and check out the black sand beach, one of the most exquisite beaches in this world! We’ll most likely bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the beach...bring your bathing suit as there is a very good chance the weather will still be warm enough for splashing around in the waves. Dinner at home with the family.

9 – Our last day in the village! We'll viait the Museo Della Suolo where there are four long walls filled with beautiful herbarium samples of the plants that are native to our will be amazed by the incredible diversity of plants and their traditional uses. There is a wild and cultivated seed display here as well, with hundreds of varieties of heritage peas, beans and grains that have grown in our valley for millennia. We'll have a closing ceremony together on the balcony around sunset. Our farewell dinner with Maria Rosaria, Michelina and the children, who usually help set the table and carry in our food-laden plates, will be somewhat bittersweet. We may be joined by some of the friends we have made here and you won’t want to leave this magical land!

10 - Traveling home day. Your plane leaves Naples in the morning and you'll be back in the USA by tonight.

"I had the most incredible, magical, life-altering trip. Thank you!" C. Perry

"We all agreed that the trip was the trip of a lifetime—no other way could we have stayed in the village without your family connections. To be so remote, without tourists around, and out in the hills and the very special Valley of Diana, was something none of us will ever forget. Also, we all agreed that you were the perfect guide to the sacred sites we visited—your enthusiasm, knowledge and delight were wonderful to be part of."

"This has been a deeply soul nourishing, healing and life changing experience that I will carry in my heart for the rest of my life."

"The itinerary was perfect—I loved every place we visited, and the rhythm of it all."

"Rave reviews for the place we stayed…absolutely perfect! Rave reviews also for our chefs — though the portions were daunting, the food was exceptional in both preparation and the fact that it represented dishes they traditionally use. Wouldn’t change any of this experience!"

Explore the small villages that we share our valley with...all have ancient roots...via this website created by my friend Claudia Cardello.

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Thank you for visiting ~ blessings on your day!