Restoring the Power of the Sacred Feminine:
A Pilgrimage from Aegina to Crete
with Brad Laughlin, Eleni Skrekou & Vasiliki Skrekou
Dates: To Be Announced
Crete: One of the last places on Earth where the goddess-worshiping Neolithic culture thrived—where priestesses held spiritual power, and the masculine and feminine lived in balance and harmony. Their society revered fertility, the Great Earth Mother and qualities such as peace, joy, beauty, community, sharing, and abundance for all. This extraordinary field is still palpable there—still alive in the palace ruins, land and art—and waiting to be revived in our modern times.
We will follow the steps of the Minoan Goddess Aphaea from Aegina to Crete gathering in ceremony at the sacred sites, temples and caves, and among the fertile valleys and mountain villages, connecting us to a mythic landscape that still holds the energy of those long ago times. Together we will practice our sacred activism through dance, songs, and heartfelt offerings for the balance of masculine and feminine inside and outside.
The Island of Aegina and Myth of Aphaea Athena
Goddess Aphaea—“the invisible one”—is a potent archetype for our current times, in which the suppressed power of the feminine is reawakening and reuniting with the out-of-balance masculine energies in the world.
Her story begins on Crete, as Vritomatris (“sweet maiden”), a powerful goddess—the alter ego of her sister, Artemis. Cretan King Minos, son of Zeus and Europa, lusted after her. To escape his pursuit, she threw herself into the sea and swam to the island of Aegina, where she was caught in fishermen’s nets. She hid away in a cave on top of a hill and became known as Aphaea, “the invisible one”. During patriarchal times, she became associated with the goddess Athena. Above Aphaea’s cave, an exquisite Doric temple was erected for Aphaea-Athena’s worship, one of the most well-preserved classical temples in Europe today.
On our pilgrimage, we will explore this myth, rich with archetypal meaning. We will gather at the Aphaea Athena temple—amidst a tranquil, forested area with breathtaking views- and will invite Aphaea, the invisible Goddess to reemerge and accompany us back to Crete on our journey of restoring the power of the sacred feminine.
Aegina, Amforeas Estate and the Skrekou Sisters
On the island of Aegina, we will stay at the beautiful Amforeas Leisure and Integration Estate, home of our dear friends, the Skrekou family. Sisters Vasiliki and Eleni will not only host us on Aegina but also accompany us on our Cretan pilgrimage. Along our journey, they will very graciously open rare and precious doors for us to experience their local, authentic and personal Hellas (Greece). This is one of the greatest gifts we receive on our intimate journey to this beautiful country.
Eleni has been living for years on Aegina and Crete, hearing the call of Aphaea and Zeus. She has been exploring the interconnections of archetypes and places through mythology, archaeology, psychology, and philosophy, as well as through personal insights and visions. Throughout our journey, she will share with us her fascinating findings, unraveling the thread of mythological archaeology from Aegina to Crete.
As part of our ceremonies, Vasiliki will lead us in ancient, traditional, sacred dance rituals. The last years she is passionately developing Hellenic Archetypal Expression, a psychosomatic technique she is developing, utilizing the ancient alphabet of improvised bodily movement and sound to facilitate integration, release, and embodiment of the energies we long to reawaken on this pilgrimage.
Our Mythic Journey on Crete
Traveling on to Crete, we will weave the mythic elements throughout our journey as we visit ancient sacred sites, archaeological ruins and places of great spiritual power and natural beauty. As we travel, we will explore the deeper meaning of the myths associated with the sites, often revealing fascinating insights about the transition from the Neolithic into the Patriarchal era and the imbalances occurring then between the masculine and feminine. We will also explore how they relate to our current time of transition from the Patriarchal era into a new paradigm of heart-centered consciousness and masculine-feminine balance.
Some of the sites we will visit include:
Ruins of the Palace at Knossos: This ceremonial and political center of Minoan civilization is associated with the famous labyrinth myth: King Minos lived here and had a labyrinth constructed in which to retain his son, the Minotaur, who was half man, half bull and who ritually devoured Athenian youth. Theseus, a prince from Athens, sailed to Crete to fight the powerful creature. Ariadne, the king’s daughter, fell in love with Theseus. Before he entered the labyrinth, Ariadne gave him a ball of golden thread, which he unwound while navigating the Labyrinth so that he could find his way back to the entrance. Theseus succeeded in killing the Minotaur and escaped with Ariadne.
Heraklion Archaeological Museum: The superabundance of Minoan frescoes, statues, pottery, jewelry and other art here evoke an exquisite feminine energy. Often depicting the female form and aspects of nature, the curvaceous, flowing and sometimes whimsical designs convey a feeling of joy and beauty. The Minoan energy in these magnificent pieces is still alive, uplifting and infectious. From gallery to gallery we will explore the change in vibration of each phase of the Minoan culture from the goddess-worshiping beauty, lightness and flow, to patriarchal rigidity and austerity.
Cave of Zeus at Mount Idi: Newborn Zeus was hidden in this cave by his mother Rhea to escape the rage of his father, Kronos, who ate his children for fear of their taking his power. Rhea gave Kronos a stone wrapped as a baby to swallow instead. It is here
that the father of the gods took his first steps and brought qualities of unification to the land of Crete. Zeus means the one who pairs the two poles, the integrator. In Minoan iconography he is the male counterpart of the goddess; however, later, in patriarchal times he acquired the opposite quality, one of division, of separation. In the modern Hellenic language, he is called Dias, literally meaning the one who separates.
Ruins of the Phaestos Palace: While a kind of sister palace to Knossos, Phaestos is more off the beaten tourist route. When we visited previously, we were able to find quiet places to sit, meditate, feel the energy and experience the Minoan culture as still alive! For those who are sensitive, the joy, beauty, and reverence for the feminine energy are palpable here. Balance, peace, and happiness permeate these ancient ruins.
Amari Valley: This magnificent, verdant valley is identified in Cretan mythology as the holy grove of Amarios (immortal) Zeus. Myth and land blend in a magical way in this hidden gem of Crete that resides timeless and protected from modern-time invasions. Our base will be Meronas, a small, picturesque village off the beaten tourist path. Meronas sits high atop a hill, overlooking Amari Valley and Mount Idi. We will explore the quaint village, stroll along beautiful mountain trails, visit ancient ruins and hear the many local myths and sample the local delicacies. The kindness of the locals and the fecundity of the Earth are highlights. We will connect with Cretan nature during our stay in luxury, walk-in tents with wooden floors and en-suite bathrooms at an eco-camp in a peaceful, forested area just outside the village.
Asterousia: The birthplace of Minoan civilization. In Gortys, disguised as a bull, Zeus mated with Europa. Bearing three sons, she was given by Zeus to Asterion, the eponymous first King of Crete, in marriage. Europa and Asterion raised Zeus’s sons, who grew up to create the first kingdoms of Crete. We will hold ceremonies in Gortys, and immerse ourselves in the secret hideouts of the goddess. We will stay at the unique, traditional and beautifully renovated village, Thalori. From here we can explore the area with local friends, including Manolis, an organic farmer, and keeper of the goddess wisdom, who will prepare a delicious, healing meal for us in his home, and Nikos, a keeper of the ancient art of grape distillation and winemaking. During our stay, we will visit beautiful nearby beaches where we will integrate our experiences and celebrate the sea.
About Your Facilitators
Brad Laughlin is the Executive Director of the international non-profit organization, CoreLight, which is dedicated to fostering outer peace in the world through developing personal inner peace. For over 20 years he has taught classes in the transformation of consciousness, using innovative ways of helping people awaken during these times of great change—the Squares technique being one of the most effective ways of unifying polarity and moving beyond separation, which we will explore on this particular pilgrimage. He is the co-author of books, which offer tools, guidance, and inspiration for spiritual transformation through the teachings of non-duality. Brad facilitates journeys to sacred sites worldwide, focusing on meditation, prayer, and ceremony on the Earth’s ley lines. He is a co-founder of Seeds of Light, CoreLight’s humanitarian arm, serving marginalized communities and AIDS orphans in South Africa. He has a B.S. degree from Duke University and when not with his life-partner, Leslie Temple-Thurston, in South Africa, is traveling and offering events in other parts of the world.
Vasiliki Skrekou is the co-owner and director of Amforeas Leisure and Integration Estate on the island of Aegina, Hellas. Amforeas, meaning sacred vessel, is a guest house and retreat center founded to facilitate the transition of consciousness from duality to synthesis and unity, thus re-creating our “ancient future”. Her academic background includes a B.A. in Business Administration from the Economic University of Athens and an MSc in Consciousness and Transpersonal Psychology from John Moore University. She has been teaching laughter therapy and certifying Laughter Yoga leaders since 2008, initiating the Social Laughter Club movement in her country. Her theatrical experience includes acting, writing and producing. For the past four years, she has been developing Hellenic Archetypal Expression, which is a blend of psychological astrology and hieroglyphic bodily movements from ancient Hellas, the Orient, Sufism and Bodynamic psychotherapy for the purposes of healing and integration. She offers Hellenic Archetypal Expression in personal sessions, workshops and retreats with Amforeas Estate as her base.
Eleni Skrekou is a life-long researcher of what makes us Human. Inspired by long-forgotten cultures, she strives to reconstruct the thread that connects past, present and future. To this end, after she studied Economics with a BSc from the University of Athens, she went on to receive an MA in Archaeology and an MSc in Georchaeology from Reading University, focusing on prehistoric Aegean civilizations. Called to immerse into the field of Crete, in 2010 she moved to Gavdos, and joined PIFEA ,a multinational commune exploring, by means of applied philosophy and mystery, the predestination of Humanity, namely enlightened embodiment. Since December 2012, following the calling of Zeus, Aphaea, Athena and Medusa, she has been living between Crete and Aegina, exploring these archetypal qualities, which seek integration in a New Human Civilization. Currently, she lives on Aegina and is the co-owner and retreat facilitator of Amforeas Estate, where she offers BodyMind Thriving coaching, a method that she develops based on her personal research and the principles of Eating Psychology and Expansion Method.
Katia and Maria Mavrelli, Tour Organizers: Inspiration Ventures was born out of passion, experience, and love for Greece and classical education. With an accumulated experience in the travel industry of over 50 years, Maria and Katia Mavrelli, mother and daughter, are always ready to craft tailor-made itineraries to Greece based on the unique theme, needs, and dynamics of each group. «As Greek boutique tour operators, we are deeply rooted in our local history and culture. It is always an honor and a pleasure for us to welcome in our country guests from all over the world who value not only the history, ancient sites, landscape, and gastronomy, but also the secret spiritual gifts that Greece has to offer”.
Dates To Be Announced