Epiphany on the Tyrrhenian Sea

SchiavoneaIn 1995, I took a sabbatical from my job to do genealogical research in Italy. My journey started with a pilgrimage to Goddess sites in southern Italy with a small group of women, led by archaeologist Frances Bernstein. I had been going to Italy for 20 years. But it had never occurred to me that among all the ruins and hidden in the churches and in nature were places once sacred to women and men who honored female divinities.

Here was common ground of my blood ancestry and my spiritual heritage. This land, consecrated by being at the crossroads of my passions, became holy ground for me. Continue reading

Queen of Peace

Madonna di LoretoDecember is the darkest month here in the northern hemisphere, a time of going within to access the dark maternal matrix of creation. On liturgical calendars throughout Italy, December 10 is the date dedicated to the Black Madonna of Loreto. The sanctuary of Loreto in Ancona, Le Marche, is a major pilgrimage site of Europe with millions of visitors a year. Considered to be the protector of Italy, the Madonna of Loreto is a highly revered and well-known. Sibyls and prophets adorn the outside of the marble enclosure of the Santa Casa, or Holy House, in which her image is venerated. As one enters the small shrine within the large church, there is a feeling of intimacy and accumulated devotion. Continue reading

Missing My Mother

Backyard shrineI guess it is inevitable that I should miss my mother, the person who birthed me into this world, as my birthday draws near. Although we are exquisitely connected for all time, I miss her presence in my life at this time. Paraphrasing a phrase that I read in a book about motherhood: “Mother is the first place I knew.” Continue reading