SACRED SITES JOURNEYS
Since 1994 ...Spiritual Pilgrimages
to the world's most important Sacred Sites
to enliven your Body, Mind and Spirit



GREECE

Spiritual Odyssey: Sacred Sites and Ancient Oracles
October 1 - 9, 2018



Post-tour Excursion to
CRETE - Sacred Sites & Cradle of Minoan Civilization
October 9 - 17, 2018
Post-tour Excursion to MYKONOS & DELOS - Birthplace of Artemis & Apollo
October 17- 20, 2018


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We won't be offering another Sacred Sites Journey to GREECE again in the near future.
This is "it"! So if you're being called to go, please join us for this very unique experience in 2018.



TOUR DESCRIPTION


Eleusis, home to the Eleusinian Mysteries

The profound depths of Greece's mythology and philosophy pulls strongly at our western psyche,
as the pantheon of the Gods and Goddesses of the ancient mystery schools
have become etched into our unconscious and our world view. 
We live their timeless myths in our everyday lives; therefore we can so easily relate to them.
For some of us there is a deep inner knowing that we must make this spiritual pilgrimage
to the ancient sites to come home to more of our True Selves!

           
Athena, Asclepius, Demeter, Persephone, Zeus


The beauty and majesty of the Greek countryside pulls at our heartstrings!
And the warm smiles of our sisters and brothers who live there draw us closer for positive connections on a human level.


Greek food
 awaits our exploring palates, a plethora of different tastes, textures, aromas that enlivens all or our senses
 - the essence of the good life!

And of course there's always the much-loved enjoyable pastime of retail therapy!
Treasures await us that will give us fond memories of our enjoyable journey for years to come.
A statue of your Greek God or Goddess to grace your meditation altar.
Jewelry, scarves, local handicrafts and intricately embroidered clothes from the Plaka District in Athens.
The hand-made olive oil soap in various fragrances from Mykonos makes excellent gifts for yourself and others!



And for a fun-filled evening at a local taverna, you too can be Zorba, dancing and singing and smashing the plates...
full of the passion and love for life! Find your Inner Greek! Ooopah!


During your Spiritual Odyssey: Sacred Sites and Ancient Oracles, you will:



Persephone, Goddess of the Underworld, Death & Regeneration

 Connect with the powerfully transformative energies
of the ancient temples that housed the Greek Mystery Schools and ancient oracle sites!


Receive the legacy of the great Gods and Goddesses that shaped Western Civilization,
and accept them as aspects of your own consciousness!


Explore the ancient temples and oracles to connect with the palpable
transformative energies at these sacred sites:

ATHENS: City Tour, including the Acropolis and Parthenon, dedicated to Athena

ELEUSIS: Site of the Eleusinian Mystery School of Demeter, the Earth Mother Goddess,
and Persephone, Goddess of the Underworld, Death, and Regeneration

LEVADIA:
The Oracle of Trophonius

DELPHI: Temple of Apollo, site of the world-famous Oracle of Delphi & the Sanctuary of Athena

DODONA: The Oracle of Zeus

VRAVRONA: Artemis Temple



SPECIAL OFFERINGS!
Facilitated by Andrea Mikana-Pinkham & author Mark Amaru Pinkham
- Experience Meditations & Sacred Ceremonies
to connect with the ancient sacred sites & their Gods and Goddesses
- Learn about the esoteric Mystery School Traditions of Ancient Greece


During the Post-Tour Extension to CRETE


Temple of Knossos on Crete

The Greek Island of Crete boasts at least 4,000 years of continuous inhabitation,
during which it has hosted the ancient and powerful Minoan civilization,
centuries of Orthodox Christianity and almost 700 years of Venetian and Turkish rule.
Each culture and religious tradition has left its distinctive imprint.

Come with us to explore this fascinating land of the Minoans and their Gods and Goddesses.

Experience the ancient temples, palaces and sacred areas, as well as the intriguing caves and dark places,
where the Gods and Goddesses were worshipped as they gave love and hope to the living.
Meet with them today, thousands of years after they were first celebrated here.
These sacred places of Crete are still here for spiritual seekers to find!
Heraklion, Knossos, Paliani Monastery, Venerato Gorge, the Idean Cave,
Mount Juctas, Skoteino Cave, Dikteon Cave, Eileithyia Cave, Minoan Palace of Malia,
“cyclopean” Lato and much much more!


Cretan Snake Goddess

Meet Aphrodite, Apollo, Ariadne, Artemis, Eileithyia,
the Cretan Snake Goddess and Zeus in their sacred places.

Participate in meditations and ritual to connect with and embody their life-affirming attributes,
empowering yourself to reclaim more of your Inner Wisdom.

During the Post-Tour Extension to MYKONOS and DELOS ISLANDS
DELOS ISLAND:
Temples of Artemis and Apollo


Temple of Apollo on Delos Island



TOUR PERSONNEL

Mark Amaru Pinkham
Featured Speaker, Author, Researcher of Ancient Megalithic History,
Visionary and Shamanic Practitioner


Co-Founder of Sacred Sites Journeys
Founder /Director of The Seven Rays Order and Mystery School

 Mark Amaru Pinkham has been traveling the globe for nearly 40 years while studying the secret mysteries of the ancient lands and civilizations of ages past, including Easter Island. Mark's research has been published in his six books: Sedona: City of the Star People, The Return of the Serpents of Wisdom, Conversations with the Goddess, The Truth Behind the Christ Myth, Guardians of the Holy Grail: The Knights Templar, John the Baptist and the Water of Life and World Gnosis: The Coming Gnostic Civilization. Mark is also a guide and shaman trained in helping people access altered states of intuitive and visionary consciousness.



hroughout our spiritual odyssey Mark, with Andrea, will facilitate meditations and shamanic rites to assist you in reaching altered states of consciousness where you may tap into the ancient energies of the sacred sites in Greece, as well as that of the gods and goddesses. He will also share his in-depth knowledge of the esoteric history of GREECE.

For more information about Mark, Click here


Andrea Mikana-Pinkham
Fe
atured Speaker, Tour Director & Meditation Facilitator


Director of Sacred Sites Journeys
 

Andrea Mikana-Pinkham is an avid researcher of the world's ancient megalithic sites. She is also a trained shamanic practitioner, Reiki Grand Master of Ichi Sekai (One World) Reiki, and a spiritual counselor.

Andrea has over 23 years of experience in the sacred travel field. Her journey began in 1993, with the founding of Sacred Sites Journeys. She is familiar with the operations of sacred programs on all levels.

Andrea is the Tour Director as well as the Speaker and Meditation/Sacred Ceremony Facilitator on Sacred Sites Journeys  to the world’s most important sacred sites.

In addition, Andrea is an Initiate of and Teacher in the The Seven Rays Order and Mystery School and The Sisterhood of Sophia.

She is a trained shamanic practitioner, Reiki Grand Master of Ichi Sekai (One World) Reiki, and a spiritual counselor.

During our spiritual
odyssey Andrea will facilitate meditations and shamanic rites to assist you in reaching altered states of consciousness where you may tap into the ancient energies of the sacred sites in Greece, as well as that of the gods and goddesses.

For more information about Andrea, Click here

An Invitation from Andrea: I invite you to join Mark Amaru Pinkham and myself in Greece, as well as on the islands of Crete, Mykonos & Delos, for the ultimate in the Greek experience! I’ve designed a diverse itinerary that offers you unique opportunities to explore some of the most well-known and accessible ancient sacred sites, as well as others that are off the beaten track. And, you’ll have the opportunity to engage with the energies of the Gods and Goddesses that were worshipped at them head-on, as you receive them into your heart and mind. By facilitating meditations we'll support you to connect with their timeless Wisdom. Mark and I will be honored to be with you to assist your sacred travel experience and to support you to have the transformation you seek. Blessings to you!


TOUR ITINERARY
Spiritual Odyssey: Sacred Sites and Ancient Oracles

October 1 - 9, 2018

(B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)

Day 1. Monday, October 1. Arrive Greece; Welcome Dinner (D)
This is a Land Only sacred travel package. You are responsible to book your roundtrip international airfare to Athens.
Arrive Athens today on your own. We suggest you book a flight that arrives in the morning so that you have time to go to the hotel and rest a bit before our evening dinner. OR, come a day early to rest and get over jet lag. Once you register and book your flights, SSJ can offer you a quote for the meet/greet and roundtrip airport/hotel/airport transfers, which are not included in your travel package, as well as the price for the hotel if you want to come early.

Clear Immigration, claim your bags, clear customs. If you’ve booked a meet/greet and private transfer to the hotel with Sacred Sites Journeys, then meet our local tour representative in the Arrivals Hall. Transfer to your hotel in downtown Athens. Rest for the afternoon.

A bit about Athens: It's a cosmopolitan city, where the concept of democracy was born 2,500 years ago at the foot of the Acropolis, and is very alive and vibrant! The modern metropolis has kept its very unique atmosphere that reflects the Athenians and their way of living, while at the same time adapting to the changes of the 21st century. The memories of its ancient past abound, full of history and esoteric teachings. We'll explore all of these aspects during our visits to the temples and ancient buildings in the city.

The Legend of How Athens Got Its Name: During the rule of Cecrops, who was half-man and half-snake, Athens was considered the crown jewel of all cities. Athena and Poseidon decided that they wanted the wonderful city as their own, and they weren't opposed to fighting for it. Athena came up with an idea about who could claim the city as theirs. She suggested that whoever gave the city the best gift would win and that Cecrops would be the judge, and that his decision would be final. Poseidon went first; he lifted his trident and struck the earth with it. A beautiful spring shot forth. Unfortunately for Posiedon, the spring was of salt-water. Athena then buried an olive tree in the city; it gave the Athenians olive, olive oil, and wood. Cecrops deemed Athena's the better gift, and the city was thus named after her.

Welcome Dinner at the hotel. Take time to introduce yourself to your fellow pilgrims and enjoy the excelllent Greek food.
Overnight Athens. Hotel to be announced.

Day 2. Tuesday, October 1.
Group Meeting; Free Time; Athens City Tour (B)
After breakfast we have a Group Meeting. To prepare us for our spiritual odyssey, our Featured Speaker Mark Amaru Pinkham will present "The Greek Goddess Mysteries of Athens, Delphi, and Eleusis".

Then you have free time to explore on your own. Perhaps you'd like to visit some of the museums:
1) The National Archaeological Museum ranks among the top ten museums in the world. Its impressive collection, housed in a beautiful neoclassic building, includes ancient Greek sculpture, jewelry, pottery, and the 2000 year old computer found in the shipwreck off the island of Antikithera.
2) The Benaki Museum offers a better understanding of the country which is modern Greece.
3) The Museum of Greek Folk Art has a collection of embroideries, wood carvings, jewelry, and other traditional folk art. Its not-to-be-missed collection of ceramics is housed in a beautifully renovated former mosque.
4) The National Historical Museum is worth a visit if you're interested in the Greek War of Independence and its artifacts.
5) The Museum of Popular Musical Instruments offers you the opportunity to listen to different instruments and styles of music through headphones at each exhibit of the various instruments.
6) At the Byzantine Museum you can view a collection of Byzantine Icons, mosaics, sculptures, garments and more.

The National Gallery houses a permanent collection of modern Greek painters and international contemporary artists, and also  includes large-scale sculptures.

Or take in some shopping in the Plaka District. Lunch is on your own.

This afternoon we'll enjoy an Athens City tour.
Our visit includes the Acropolis, the original site of Athens, a limestone plateau overlooking the city and supporting the Parthenon, the all-marble temple dedicated to Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, War, and Crafts.

Born full-grown from the brow of her father Zeus, Athena represents the power of the mind, and thus sometimes may appear cold or purely mental, separated from more feminine attributes such as tenderness and maternal love. But She is not cold. She was chosen as the Patroness of Athens, over Poseidon, god of the sea, because she gave the sustaining olive tree to the Greeks. She was not only a warrior Goddess, but also ruled over domestic crafts: the spindle, the loom, the cooking pot, as well as all arts of civilization. She is the Goddess of the City of Athens, of community and democracy. With her owl companion, Athena sees far with the gray eyes of perspective and clarity. She does not act rashly, but wisely considers Her strategies. Athena symbolizes the ability to conquer fear with intelligence and vision.  

Long a religious shrine and high fortress for the Athenian people, today the Acropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which honors the universal symbols of the classical spirit and civilization. Its monuments form the greatest architectural and artistic complex bequeathed by Greek Antiquity to the world. In the second half of the fifth century BCE, Athens, following the victory against the Persians and the establishment of democracy, took a leading position amongst the other city-states of the ancient world. In the age that followed, as thought and art flourished, an exceptional group of artists put into effect the ambitious plans of Athenian statesman Pericles and, under the inspired guidance of the sculptor Pheidias, transformed the rocky hill into a unique monument of thought and the arts. The most important monuments were built during that time: the Parthenon, the Erechtheon, the Propylaea, the monumental entrance to the Acropolis, and the small temple Athena Nike. We'll explore those open to the public.

We return to the hotel later afternoon. Dinner is on your own this evening. There are many excellent restaurants in the area.
Overnight Athens. Hotel to be announced.

Day 3. Wednesday October 3. To Levadia - Oracle of Trophonius and Delphi (B/D)
After breakfast we check out of the hotel and depart Athens to
Levadia for our visit to the Oracle of Trophonius, named after the Greek hero with a rich mythological tradition, whose name means "to nourish". The Oracle overlooks the river Herkina which bubbles up from the springs of Lethe (forgetfulness) and Mnemosyne (remembrance).

In Greek mythology, Trophonius was a son of King Eriginus. According to Pausanias, Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century CE, they built a treasure chamber with a secret entrance that only they knew about for King Hyprieus of Boeotia. They used the secret entrance to then steal his fortune. The King laid a trap to catch the thieves, and Agamedes was trapped. Trophonius cut off his brother's head so Hyprieus wouldn't know who the body was, and then fled into the cave at Levadia and disappeared forever.

Later, when the Levadians suffered from a plague, they consulted the Oracle of Delphi, who advised them that an unnamed hero was angry at being neglected, and that they should find his grave and worship him in order to stop the plague. Several unsuccessful searches followed. The plague continued until a shepherd boy followed a trail of bees into a hole in the ground. Instead of honey, he found the ghost of the dead Trophonius, who became a popular oracle for the people. In addition, he was a proponent of sound Pythagorean doctrines and also related dreams concerning the cosmos and the afterlife.

Pausanias also related details about the Oracle of Trophonius, which stood on the side of a hill with an entrance so small that it seemed impossible for a human being to enter. Here is his mind-bending account of the things that happened when you went down into the holy place. First, during the night you are taken to the river Herkyna by two local thirteen year old boys , called Hermai, who rub you with oil and wash you. After this you are escorted by the priests, not to the oracle straightaway, but to two streams which flow very close to each other. First you have to drink the water of Lethe, so you will forget all your current preoccupations. Then you drink the water of Mnemosyne, which makes you remember what you see after you go down.

After looking at the statue of the god, which is only shown by the priests to those visiting Trophonios, you worship it and pray. Then you proceed to the oracle, dressed in a linen tunic, and wearing stout boots. The oracle is up the mountain, past the grove. Round it is a circular white marble base, about one meter high and the size of a very small threshing-floor. On this base are bronze spikes, held together by bronze cross-pieces. You pass through a double door to enter the sanctuary. Inside is a man-made cave, shaped rather like a bread-oven, with the entrance 6 ft. high and about 13 ft. across. There is no fixed way down to the bottom of the cave, but when someone comes to Trophonios, they bring you a thin, light ladder. After climbing down you find a horizontal hole between the floor and the structure. The hole is about 10 inches wide, and 20 inches high. The descender lies with his back on the ground, holding barley-cakes kneaded with honey, pushes his feet into the hole, trying hard to get his knees into it. After his knees the rest of his body is immediately sucked in, just as a large quick-flowing river will catch a man in its eddy and suck him under.

After this those who have entered the shrine learn the future, not always in the same way, but sometimes they see something, sometimes they hear it. The return upwards is by the same hole, the feet sliding out first. After his ascent from Trophonios the inquirer is again taken by the priests, who sit him on a chair called the chair of Mnemosyne, not far from the shrine, and they ask him, when he's sitting there, all he has seen or learned. After gaining this information they announce the Oracle and then hand him over to his relatives. They lift him, paralyzed with terror and unconscious both of himself and of his surroundings, and carry him to the building where he lodged before.

We won't undergo this difficult situation, but instead will sit along the river, near the ancient place, and open our hearts and minds to see what message there might be for each of us.

Afterwards we enjoy a lunch on your own with the group along the way, as we continue to Delphi. Arriving in the afternoon, we visit
this most ancient site located in a spectacular mountain setting and famous for the magnificent Temple of Apollo. We explore the varous areas, including the remains of the famous Oracle of Delphi, the most prestigious oracle in the Graeco-Roman world for 2,000 years, until it was closed by the Christian emperor Theodosius I (346?-395CE).

Prophetic messages and words of counsel from Python, the wise serpent son of the Mother Goddess Delphyne, or from the Moon Goddess Artemis, were relayed through their priestess daughters, the Pythonesses or Pythia. Myth states that
the god Apollo murdered Delphyne and claimed the shrine and the Pythia for himself, imprisoning the serpent seer in the recesses of a cave beneath the temple. The historian Plutarch (46-120 CE), who served as high priest at the Oracle, said that this oracle remained popular while others fell into disrepute because the gods declined to speak through the other oracles who approached them because the questions they asked were too trivial, asking for advice concerning love affairs and disreputable business transactions. He described how the oracle worked: The priestess went into a small chamber where she inhaled sweet-smelling fumes that were released from fissures in the rocks by the serpent deep within the cave. The Pythia would go into a trance, seeing the future and issuing predictions. Even though the oracle has not been "active" for centuries, it still attracts a million visitors a year. "Magic" is still there! In order to receive guidance from the Oracle during our visit, keep an open mind and listen with your heart.

Our last stop at Delphi is the Sanctuary of Athena, Goddess of Wisdom. Take some meditation time to connect with Her powerful energies, and invite in those attributes that will most serve you on your spiritual life in your present life circumstances. Remember, She can assist you to conquer your fears with intelligence and vision!

We continue to the hotel and check in. Group dinner at the hotel. We'll take time to share (optional) about our day's experiences.
Overnight Delphi. Hotel to be announced.


Day 4. Thursday October 4. Delphi Museum; To Ioannina/Dodona (B/D)
After breakfast we check out of the hotel and visit the on-site museum at Delphi.  Afterwards we depart Delphi on our way to
Ioannina, often called Yannena within Greece, the capital and largest city of Epirus, an administrative region in the north west. And home to the site of Dodona and the Oracle of Zeus.

Enjoy lunch on your own with the group along the way. We arrive later afternoon and check into our hotel in Ioannina, located in the mountains 5 miles SE of the southernmost tip of modern Albania and 30 miles inland from the Ionian Sea.

Dinner with the group
at the hotel, a time to relax and unwind from our day's drive.
Overnight Ioannina. Hotel to be announced.

Day 5. Friday October 5. Dodona, the Oracle of Zeus (B/D)
This morning we're off for our full day visit to Dodona, the oldest of the Pagan Greek oracles, dating to the 3rd millennium BCE, dedicated to Zeus, the King of the Gods. Zeus was the sixth child born to the Titans, Cronus and Rhea. He is the Supreme God and Ruler of all the Gods and Goddesses who lived on Mt. Olympus. He became the undisputed master of the Universe, and as the God of rain, drought, storms, and all weather. He was worshipped as the source of heavenly signs. He called upon tempests and created storms, and kept the peace among the family of Olympians. He is usually represented as an older, vigorous bearded man. But representations of Zeus as a powerful young man also exist. His symbol is the thunderbolt. His strengths are that he is highly powerful, strong, charming, persuasive, and his weaknesses are that he gets in trouble over love affairs, and can be moody.

The Oracle of Zeus was presided over by Zeus Dodonaios, who uttered prophecies through oak trees. Some legends also say it was through birds and vases of brass. Many writers have noted the similarities between the rituals of Dodona and those of the Druid priests of Britain and Gaul. The priest or priestess Oracle of Dodona sat upon the branches of the sacred oaks and spoke at length about philosophy and religion, as well as answering the questions of the pilgrims who came from distant places to consult it.

The picturesque setting for the ruins of the Oracle of Zeus is overlooked by the mountains of Tomaros and is nearly as dramatic as Delphi! Legends says there was an oak grove near a year round stream which ran during the day. There were three Priestesses who kept the shrine and interpreted the Oracle, known as Selli. In later years there were both priests and priestess, known as Selloi. The most ancient name for people of the area was also Selloi. The priestesses went barefoot, never washed their feet and slept on the bare ground. The oracles were received from the rustling of the branches of the holy oak tree by the bare-footed priests and priestesses. Oak trees were considered sacred by many ancient people because they are prone to lightning strikes and spots struck by lightning were thought of as sacred. Later three elderly priestesses, named Peleiades ("Doves"), were appointed to be the voice of the oracle.

When Herodotos visited Dodona in the 6th century BC, he was told a story of two black doves coming from Thebes in Egypt. One of them founded the sanctuary of Zeus-Ammon in Libya and the other settled in the oak tree at Dodona; it announced in human speech that the oracle of Zeus should be built there. The Egyptian version of the story says that two foreign women were being sold as slaves; one of them came to Dodona. Her foreign language sounded like the 'twittering of birds' to the people who lived there. The Greek word at the time for dove (peleiades) was the same as that for priestess or prophetess, so that might be where the name of Dove came from.

The most curious of the oracles there were the "talking" vases, or kettles th
at were made of brass and were so carefully fashioned that it's said that when they were struck they gave off sound for hours. Some writers have described a row of these vases and have declared that if one of them was struck its vibrations would be communicated to all the others, resulting in a terrifying din. Other authors describe a large single vase, standing upon a pillar, near a column supporting the statue of a child holding a whip. At the end of the whip were a number of swinging cords tipped with small metal balls, and the wind, which blew incessantly through the open building, caused the balls to strike against the vase. The number and intensity of the impacts and the reverberations of the vase were all carefully noted, and the priests delivered their oracles accordingly. Eventually the priests mysteriously vanished and the oracle was served for many centuries by three priestesses who interpreted the vases and  interrogated the sacred trees at midnight. The patrons of the oracles were expected to bring offerings and to make contributions.

We visit various areas of the site, including the impressive theater surrounded by natural splendor, that was restored in the 1960's. Also the Stadium, the venue for the athletic events of the Naia festival and games, which were as famous as those at Olympia.

As we take our meditation time here, invite in the energies that Zeus symbolizes: power, strength, charm, and persuasion. You can embody them and employ them in your life to make things happen - big time! Now's a good time to focus on this as you envision yourself a success in whatever it is you want to accomplish!

We return to the hotel early afternoon, where you have time for lunch on your own. Then free time to rest, integrate and reflect on your morning's energetic connections.

In the later afternoon we gather for a Group Meeting and presentation by Mark Amaru Pinkham: The Greek Serpent Mysteries of Dionysus and Zeus.

Tonight our group dinner is at the hotel. Would you like to share about your sacred travel experiences today?
Overnight Ioannina. Hotel to be announced.

Day 6. Saturday October 6. To Vravrona (B/D)
We check out of the hotel after breakast and board our motorcoach to make our way back south towards the Athens area. We travel through the picturesque Greek countryside, stopping for lunch on your own with the group along the way.

In the later afternoon we arrive at picturesque Vravrona, a tiny settlement located near the archaeological site of the Sanctuary of Artemis. The adjacent gulf of Vravrona is rocky and not suited to swimming. The area, amply watered by the seasonal Erasinos River, was once famous for its tomatoes and figs. And, we're only a few minutes drive from the Artemis Temple that we'll visit tomorrow. We check in at the spa hotel, located by the beach in the beautiful Vravrona Bay. 

At our group dinner at the hotel we'll once again have time to share our sacred travel experiences.

Overnight Vavrona. Hotel to be announced.

Day 7.Sunday October 7. Free Time; Artemis Temple (B/D)
After breakfast you have time to sleep in, rest and/or enjoy the spa facilities. Lunch is on your own today.

In the afternoon we're off to visit the nearby Artemis Temple in the
tranquil countryside. Artemis as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the sister of Apollo. This Greek Goddess of the hunt and the moon, is not easily categorized. She is the deity of wild places, groves and ponds and the Protectress of Animals. She was "whole without a man," and was thus immune to falling in love. Artemis is the magic of freedom, the woman who cannot be defined, for she is continually reinventing herself, as the moon changes from night to night. She is also known as a healer, a midwife, a champion of those set upon by circumstances that seem overwhelming. Artemis is the spirit of the wild forest and the quiet glade, and her magic is in being true to the self, a true "woman who runs with the wolves". She was renamed Diana, Queen of Heaven, by the Romans.

First we visit the little museum. Since the temple complex is also known as "The Parthenon of the Bear Maidens", here we see images of children who once studied at the temple; they were known as Artemis' "little bears". They danced for their goddess in sacred processions, trying to make her happy after the death of one of her pet bears. One legend relates that Iphigeneia, the daughter of the famous Mycenaen King Agamemnon, lived here as a priestess of Artemis. She brought with her a wooden statue of the goddess which was enshrined here for many years. Other stories say her father sacrificed her to Artemis so that his ships could sail to Troy, while the local legend relates that instead, she was "sacrificed" to a life in the temple and lived here until she died. There is a broken, roofless cave that is said to be the remains of her tomb. As well a small temple dedicated to Her worship also stood here. At other temples to Artemis there were only priestesses. However, at this site boys were allowed to study. Thus in the museum we see their statues along with their female classmates. It's also possible that boy-girl twins were permitted in acknowledgement of the relationship between Artemis and her own twin brother, Apollo; or for Iphigeneia and her own brother, Orestes, who are credited with founding the site in some tales.

During our time at her ancient temple,
as you meditate upon Artemis, call in Her qualities of decisiveness and self-esteem. Connect with Her confidence to inspire you to manifest your dreams!

Time allowing, and if it's open, we might be able to visit a prehistoric acropolis near the site that's been excavated, as well as a small Byzantine chapel with seldom-seen icons painted on the walls.

We return to the hotel
later afternoon. Our group dinner is at the hotel this evening - another time to relax and share with your fellow pilgrims.
Overnight Vavrona. Hotel to be announced.

Day 8. Monday October 8. Eleusis; Free Time; Farewell Dinner (B/D)
We check out of the hotel this morning and depart back to Athens, stopping on the way in nearby Elefsina to visit Eleusis, the temple complex of the most famous of the Greek Mystery Schools, dating back to the 5th century CE, and the last to be destroyed. The teachings of the Eleusinian Mysteries centered around the myth of Demeter, the Great Mother Goddess of Agriculture and Vegetation, and her daughter Persephone, the Goddess of Death and Regeneration.

Their well-known myth: Persephone was abducted into the underworld by Hades. In a rage of grief, Demeter withdrew her energy from the earth, and autumn and winter came to the land. Demeter wandered through the dying earth, searching for her daughter. Eventually, Persephone was restored to her mother for part of each year, and with Demeter's joy, spring came again. Essentially, the rites imitated the agricultural cycles of planting the seed, nurturing its growth, and harvesting the grain. On the esoteric level the drama enacted for the initiates symbolized the odyssey of the human soul, its descent into matter, its earthly sufferings, its terror in the darkness of death, and its rebirth into divine existence.

The Eleusinian Mysteries were the most profound and sacred festival of the Greeks. The initiatory rites were performed only for select participants, and were secret, their mysteries thus became shrouded in the ancient mists of the past. The initiates were sworn to secrecy on pain of death. Apparently, no one ever broke their vows and described the details. Therefore there is no conclusive evidence available today that describes the scope of these esoteric teachings.

Edward A. Beach writes in The Eleusinian Mysteries: What happened in the sacred ceremony? Initiation into the mysteries, which brought about a spiritual birth, thus regenerating the whole individual. This was intended to reunite the personal self with the divine spirit of the cosmos as a whole. It was often accompanied by and aided the bringing about of enlightened comprehension. It also led to the development of intuitive insight and spiritual will-power as well as a deepening realization of oneness with all that exists, as well as a growing power to draw upon that oneness for the benefit of others. What actually were the revelations made is entirely unknown. The solemn vows, under the penalty of death, ensured that secrecy was maintained. Archaeologists and historians have speculated on these secrets, but no-one disclosed what occurred and what was revealed in the Anaktoron. Some contemporary writers however have provided hints as to what was revealed."

Among these ancient energies, we have time for meditation. Open up to receive your initiation into the esoteric mysteries of the Great Mother Goddess. She will bless your spiritual growth, as you look inside, let go, and let Her fill the void.

Afterwards we head back to Athens and check in at our hotel. Lunch is on your own and you have free time this afternoon.

Tonight is our Farewell Dinner, our last time to see some of our pilgrims, so after our meal we share fond hugs and Good-byes, knowing we're forever changed by our time here in this ancient land, in many positive ways!

Overnight Athens. Hotel to be announced.

 Day 9. Tuesday, October 9. Depart Greece (B) OR Come with us on the Post-Tour Excursion to CRETE and on to MYKONOS & DELOS!
The tour ends after breakfast. - If you’ve booked a return transfer to the airport with Sacred Sites Journeys, then you’ll be picked up at the hotel and taken to there in a private vehicle.


TOUR ITINERARY



CRETE: Sacred Sites & Cradle of the Minoan Civilization
October 9 - 17, 2018

(B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)

Day 9. Tuesday, October 9. To Crete; Welcome Dinner (B/D)
This morning we check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport for our short flight to Heraklion (booked by Sacred Sites Journeys as part of your sacred travel package).

Heraklion or Iraklion, is the largest city and capital of Crete and the fourth largest city in Greece, on the largest and the most rugged of the Greek islands. It's the home of the great Minoan Civilization and the mythological home of Zeus. One of the most popular regions in Crete, it offers us many remote villages, sacred sites and remains of the ancient Minoan civilization to discover.

Who were the Minoans? The Minoan Civilization is the culture that flourished on the island of Crete, in the Aegean Sea, during the III and II millennia BCE. It's named after King Minos, who was recorded in Greek tradition as a prehistoric king of Crete. Minoan culture is divided into three periods: Early Minoan (2900–2000 BCE), Middle Minoan (2000–1550 BCE), and Late Minoan (1550–1200 BCE.). The Minoan civilization was first recognized as distinct from the Mycenaean civilization of mainland Greece by Sir Arthur Evans, the British excavator of Knossos, its largest site. Other palaces have been excavated at Phaistos, Malia, and Kato Zakros. Minoan settlements have been found on other islands of the southern Aegean—notably Thera, Melos, Kythera (Cythera), Keos (Kea), and Rhodes. Minoan exports are found throughout the eastern half of the Mediterranean region.

Upon arrival in Heraklion, we transfer to our hotel, located near restaurants and shops so that you can explore onyour own walking. Lunch is on your own and you have free time.
 
In the later afternoon we gather for a Group Meeting. Speaker Mark Amaru Pinkham will present "The Goddess Tradition in Crete and the Mystery of the Labyrinth".

Tonight we enjoy a Welcome to Crete Dinner at our hotel. 
Overnight Heraklion. Hotel to be announced.

Day 10. Wednesday, October 10. Heraklion Archaeological Museum & Knossos (B/L)

After breakfast we're off to visit the Heraklion Archaeologica Museum, one the greatest museums in Greece and the best in the world for Minoan art, as it contains the most notable and complete collection of artifacts of the Minoan civilization of Crete. Besides the Minoan collection, the museum covers other periods of Cretan history, with artifacts from the Neolithic to the Greco-Roman period. Some of the more famous artifacts that we'll view are the mysterious Phaistos Disk, the Cretan Snake Goddess statue, figures of bull leapers, and the King of the Lillies Frescoes.

The Snake Goddess, a figurine of a woman holding a snake in each hand, was found during the excavation of Minoan archaeological sites in Crete dating from approximately 1600 BCE. The two elegant idols found in Knossos represented goddesses and by implication, the term 'snake goddess' also describes the chthonic deity depicted. Little more is known about her identity apart from that gained from the figurines. These idols were found only in house sanctuaries, where the snake was the protector of the house. It's possible that they're related with the Paleolithic tradition regarding women and domesticity. The goddess is depicted just as in other statues, wth a crown on head and her hands grasping snakes. Her facial expression is life-like, and she is also wearing the typical Minoan dress. While the statuette's true function is somewhat unclear, her exposed and amplified breasts suggest that she is probably some sort of fertility figure. It’s also possible that bared breasts represented a sign of mourning.

Some researchers believe that the snake goddess was the folklore heroine Ariadne (“utterly pure” or “the very holy one”), who in classical Greece was often depicted surrounded by Satyrs and Maenads. She was the daughter of Minos king of Crete, and his queen Pasiphae, daughter of Helios, the Sun-titan. She is mostly associated with mazes and labyrinths, due to her involvement in the myths of the Minotaur and Theseus.

The knot with a projecting looped cord between the breasts of the Snake Goddess is like the sacral knot, a knot with a loop of fabric above and sometimes fringed ends hanging down below. Numerous such symbols in ivory, faience, painted in frescoes or engraved in seals sometimes combined with the symbol of the double-edged axe or labrys were found in Minoan and Mycenaean sites. It is believed that the sacral knot was the symbol of holiness on human figures or cult-objects. In Minoan Crete the cult didn't use or permit images, idols, etc so the goddesses were called forth by ecstatic sacral dance, as well as by tree shaking and rites using meteorites.

Afterwards we have lunch with the group at a local restaurant; enjoy the delicious and nutritious Cretan cuisine!

Then we're off to visit the fantastic ruins of the Palace of Knossos! Archaeological evidence testifies to the island's habitation since the 7th century BCE. After the 5th century BCE there is the first evidence of hand-made ceramic pottery which marks the beginning of the civilization. Sir Arthur Evans, the famed English archaeologist and pioneer in the study of Aegean civilization in the Bronze Age who excavated Knossos, named it "Minoan" after the legendary King Minos. Discovered in 1899 and partially reconstructed, the elaborate Palace is believed to be the seat of the ancient Minoan culture and the mythical Cretan Labyrinth of King Minos.

When Knossos was excavated by explorer Arthur Evans, he found various bull motifs, including an image of a man leaping over the horns of a bull, as well as depictions of a labrys carved into the walls. The palace is thought to have been the site of a dancing-ground made for Ariadne by the craftsman Daedalus, where young men and women, of the age of those sent to Crete as prey for the Minotaur, would dance together. By extension, in popular legend it is associated with the myth of the Minotaur.

According to Greek Mythology, King Minos hired the craftsman Daedalus to construct the Labyrinth to conceal the Minotaur, the half-bull, half-human offspring of Minos' wife Pasiphae and a bull. The word Labyrinth comes from the Pelasgians, the pre-Greek civilization that was absorbed by classical Greek, and is apparently related to labrys, the "double axe", thus the labyrinth was the place of the double axe. The predominant labyrinth form during this period is the 7-circuit style known as the classical Cretan Labyrinth. A labyrinth has one pathway into the center and one pathway back out, which teaches centeredness. This differentiates a labyrinth from a maze, which has many paths and dead-ends leading to confusion. Like life and destiny, a labyrinth may be a long journey, but it has a specific beginning and a definite end. It offers a holistic route from the periphery to the center, which imprints a ceremonial pathway designed according to the principles of Harmonic Proportion and Alternance of Energy. The the clockwise (sunwise) and counter-clockwise (moonwise) pathways creat a balance between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. The seven circuits of the classical Cretan Labyrinth pathway are associated with the seven primary chakras of the body. (Chakra is a Hindu word meaning 'wheels of light.' They are spiralling vortexes of energy that make up the energy field of our bodies. Many holistic health modalities, including yoga work with the chakra system.)

The Minotaur Legend: When Pasiphae and Minos were the Queen and King of Crete, Minos, feeling a need to assert his legitimacy of rule over that of his brothers Radamanthys and Sarpedon, asked the gods to send him a sign that he was the rightful ruler. An amazingly beautiful bull from the sea appeared, a sign from either Zeus or Poseidon; the myths are unclear. The idea was that Minos would use the bull as a kind of public relations campaign, and then send it back to the gods by sacrificing it in their honor. But Minos liked the beautiful bull so much he kept it to fertilize his own herds, and sacrificed a lesser bull in its place. Bad idea. Aphrodite was asked by Zeus to make Pasiphae fall madly in love with the bull and mate with it. This was accomplished with the aid of a fake cow suit designed by Daedalus. Pasiphae then gave birth to the Minotaur, who was so savage he had to be contained in the labyrinth. Later, Minos demanded tribute from Athens in the form of youths and maidens whose fate was to be fed to the Minotaur. Some say this is a metaphor for the dangerous bull-leaping games the Cretans were famed for. Theseus, son of the King of Athens, arranged to be among the tribute group and, with the help of Princess Ariadne, a daughter of the King and Queen, he made his way into the labyrinth guided by a thread and was able to kill the Minotaur.

Our visit to Knossos will be a journey of discovery to learn of the sophisticated culture that flourished thousands of years ago on this island. The Palace, decorated with frescoes and shields, houses the Hall of the Royal Guard, the Hall of the Double Axes, the King’s Chamber with the alabaster throne, the Queen’s Apartment, beautiful courtyards and shrines. We'll explore as many as time allows.

Many fine artifacts and ritual objects have been uncovered from Knossos, including the two famous Snake Goddesses or Priestesses that are displayed the local museum. There is an emphasis on double axe and horns of consecration inscriptions. Both of these motifs are found throughout Minoan art and buildings, and both were sacred symbols denoting aspects of Goddess worship and celebration. The horns of consecration were probably a sacred symbol to the Minoans of their bull cult, and are also often found in connection with nearby Peak Sanctuaries where the people went to worship the Goddess. We’ll visit the a modern sculpture in the central courtyard of the horns of consecration from Knossos that align to the saddle hill of Mt. Juktas in the distance, which we’ll be visiting later in our sacred journey. We’ll take time at Knossos to connect through meditation with the palpable energies of this ancient civilization.
We return to the hotel in the later afternoon. You have free time this evening. Dinner is on your own. Enjoy exploring in the nearby area for a restaurant to suit you.
Overnight Heraklion. Hotel to be announced.

Day 11. Thursday, October 11. Paliani Monastery; Venerato Gorge; Idean Cave; Minoan Villa at Tylissos (B/L)
Today is another full day! Our first stop this morning is at the Paliani Monastery, located next to the village Venerato, north of Heraklion at the exit of Venerato Gorge. The monastery is considered one of the oldest monasteries in Crete, perhaps dating back to the Early Byzantine Period. Before that it was associated with Aphrodite, the Goddess love and beauty. Even today the nuns sing hymns in honor of both the goddess Aphrodite and the Virgin Mary, a rare sharing of worship. - Aphrodite was the great Olympian goddess of beauty, love, pleasure and and procreation. She was depicted as a beautiful woman usually accompanied by the winged godling Eros (Love). Her attributes included a dove, apple, scallop shell and mirror. In classical sculpture and fresco she was often depicted nude. Her love and conquests are legendary and inspiration for all women. She was born of the blood of Uranos (the Heavens) and the foam of the Sea. She is pure power and blessings. Many women seek out the power of Aphrodite in order to gain true and pure beauty and sexiness. Weekday: Tuesday; Planet: Venus; Month: September; Gemstone: Sapphire; Color: Yellow; Foliage: Gardenia; Animal: Peacock; Scent: Rose; Herb: Ginger.

Some researchers associate the name of the monastery with Palia Moni (Old Monastery). Others state that the name is linked to Apolonia, an ancient city that was located very close to Venerato. Even though it was founded on a site of ancient Goddess worship, the monastery was patriarchal and for several periods it had enormous wealth and owned many smaller monasteries and churches.  The main church is a basilica with three aisles dedicated to the Assumption (August 15th), the Three Hierarchs (January 30th ) and St. Panteleimon (July 27th ). Also there's a small chapel of the Holy Apostles (June 30th ). The temple is supported by ancient columns of Byzantine style with acanthus leaves, parts of which are scattered in the monastery. Generally, you will see marble parts scattered everywhere belonging to the Byzantine era. Today the monastery has been altered considerably. While the nun cells and auxiliary rooms still surround the main area, you can still discern traces of the fortress wall that protected Paliani. The monastery operates a museum with icons, relics and several books of great historical and archaeological value.

We’ll visit the famous ancient Holy Myrtle tree, where pilgrims have left their twig or leaf charms for good luck for millennia. This trademark of Paliani is honored on September 24th. Legends say that inside the trunk is the icon of Panagia Mirtidiotissa, or the Virgin Mary of Myrtle. According to the tradition, once the area was covered by forest; then the villagers set fire to create farmlands. Suddenly, the voice of Virgin Mary was heard and the surprised villagers found the icon of Virgin Mary, with branches of myrtle painted around her. And when children went to the same place they saw that the painted branches had sprouted and the trunk gradually covered the icon! Some say that the icon of Virgin Mary is visible only by children. The cult of Holy Myrtle is actually a survival of ancient religious habits, specifically the worship of sacred trees in the Minoan religion. - Next to the candles left at the base of the tree and the many offerings hung on its branches to honor the miracle, we’ll have the opportunity to also sit a while in reflection and meditation and perhaps leave our offerings.

Then we’re off to view the amazing Venerato Gorge, a virtually unknown canyon located just next to the Paliani Monastery, in the village of Venerato, whose name means “respected”. The deep part of the gorge is a little over 1,600 ft. deep. Inside it flows the Apollonas River, named after the ancient city of Apollonia, which was located here, and was named for and dedicated to Apollo, one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in ancient Greek and Roman religion, Greek and Roman mythology, and Greco–Roman Neopaganism.

Apollo, son of Zeus and Leto, is the god of music as well as the god of prophecy, colonization, medicine, archery(but not for war or hunting), poetry, dance, and intellectual inquiry. He is a tower of knowledge, strength, creativity, and inspiration. He is known primarily for his prophetic powers and can give incredible visions, premonitions and intuitional gain. Weekday: Sunday; Planet: Saturn; Month: August; Gemstone: Yellow Jasper; Color: Yellow; Foliage: Periwinkle; Animal: Eagle; Scent: Heather; Herb: Aspand. - During our time here we’ll meditate to connect and commune with His powerful energies.

Afterwards, time allowing, we'll take a short walk around the village of Venerato, where the Venetian nobles used to have their villas. They called Venerato "Little Venice" because of the beauty of the landscape.

We then enjoy lunch with the group at a local restaurant.

This afternoon our first stop is to the Idean Cave on the east slopes of Mount Ida, at an altitude of 4,900 ft. It was the principle site for the worship of Zeus the King of the Gods, the most important god in ancient Greece. He was the God of the sky, thunder and lightning and law, order and justice. He was the most powerful Olympian and a lover of both goddesses and mortal women. Zeus, the son of Kronos and Rheia, is the Ruler of the Immortals. Weekday: Monday; Planet: Sun; Month: January; Gemstone: Tiger's eye; Color: Gold; Foliage: Thornbush; Animal: Hawk; Scent: Bayberry; Herb: Germander.

The Idean Cave was in use through the 6th century BCE. The main chamber is around 130 by 160 ft. wide. It's been excavated twice, the first time in 1885 and the second in 1982. Legend says that Mount Ida has the privilege of seeing the sun before the dawn. And it’s true that on clear days you can see almost the whole of Crete from here, as well as the Cyclades and even Mount Taygetus in the Peloponnese. The cave is also known as the Cave of the Shepherdess. The locals say that near the cave the wife of Charidimos, the lord of the region, was buried here after he accidentally shot her with an arrow while hunting on Mount Psiloritis. Another name of the cave is the Cave of Aid. Worshippers came to the cave to seek the aid of Zeus, who, legend has it, had also received aid in the past and escaped death.

One of the pilgrims to the Ideon Cave was the great ancient sage from Samos, Pythagoras. It's said that he took part in the ceremonies at the cave and was even initiated into the mysteries of the Cretan Zeus. Details of the mysteries of the Idean Cave are not known today, because initiates were forbidden to speak of them to the general public. Pythagoras described an altar carved in the natural rock at the cave entrance, which can still be seen today. Inside the cave was a large ivory throne in honor of Zeus, which is no longer there.

In very ancient times festivals were held at the Idean Cave each year, originally in honor of Zagreus the god of vegetation (the Cretan Green Man), who died and was reborn in the cycle of the seasons. He was later replaced by the Cretan-born Zeus, the local young Zeus, who according to local myth also died and was reborn each year. Theophrastus tells us that during the ceremonies, worshippers hung offerings from the branches of a poplar in front of the entrance to the cave. Even Minos, the legendary king of Crete, came on pilgrimage to the Idean sanctuary every nine years to receive the renewed laws from his father Zeus. - During our time at the cave, we’ll take some time for meditation to tune into the energies Zeus.

Our last stop for the day is at the Minoan Villa at Tylissos, an ancient Minoan peak sanctuary and town. Peak sanctuaries are widespread throughout Crete. Most scholars agree that they were used for religious rites. In all peak sanctuaries, human and animal clay figurines have been found. Clay body parts, also called votive body parts, are also found in most peak sanctuaries. These open-air sanctuaries are found high in the mountains. Tylissos was excavated in 1909-1913, in 1953-1955 and in 1971. Archaeological evidence shows that the town was in use Early Minoan II (2900-2550 BCE) to Late Minoan IIIA (1200-1150 BCE), and the peak sanctuary, excavated in 1963 was in use until at least Late Minoan IA (1600-1450 BCE). Structures include houses, a cistern and an aqueduct with clay pipes. Excavation finds have included a pithos (a very large earthenware jar with a wide round mouth used throughout the ancient Greek world esp. for holding and storing large quantities of food (as grain) or liquids (as wine, oil) and sometimes for the burial of the dead ) with Linear A inscriptions, stone horns, and clay human and animal figurines.

We return to the hotel late afternoon. Tonight you have more free time to rest and relax. Dinner is on your own.
Overnight Heraklion. Hotel to be announced.

Day 12. Friday, October 12. Archanes Archaeological Museum; Mount Juctas; Skoteino Cave (B/L)

After breakfast we depart to the nearby the traditional settlement of Archanes, a large village with a population of nearly 4,000 people, and of great archaeological interest. Situated on a hillside, the surrounding area is lush and fertile with many streams and rivers. It was an important center during the Minoan times. There are four archaeological sites within the vicinity. In the village itself there are the remains of a Minoan palace. We are here to visit the Archanes Archaeological Museum. The archaeological collection was created in 1993 with the initiative of archaeologists Yanni and Efi Sakellaraki. The museum is small, but surprisingly good and informative, and contains finds from nearby sites, including clay Minoan coffins, fragments of pottery, and a sacrificial dagger that may have been used in human sacrifice.

Then we’re on our way to Mount Juctas, the most sacred of Minoan Peak Sanctuaries. Reaching our destination we'll see stunning views across this eastern central part of the island. At 2635 ft. we'll feel on top of the world, just as the ancients did! The site consists of slate rocks with many fissures in them. One of these fissures is a natural cave-like chasm, opening 30 ft. or so into the rock. It was here that the Minoan people came to throw or pour their offerings to the Goddess. Nearby are the remains of buildings and enclosures linked to the site: on the west side of the cleft a stepped altar had been constructed, and next to it a large stone kernos, a cult vessel with depressions in it, used for offerings. A hoard of bronze double axes was found nearby, as well as rich finds of offerings and vessels for libations.

It’s not known which goddess was worshipped at the peak sanctuaries. The Mountain Mother and her young male god/companion who is called either Velchanos or Hyakinthos have been written about by Evans and Nilsson among others. It is possible that the site may be linked to the new-born child Dias or Zeus. Originally he may have been the spirit of the wealth of the earth, although mythology was to assign to him a different role under the Ancient Greeks.

Here in this place that that links the two worlds together - the upper world of light and air, and the chasm leading down to the deep world of inner darkness, at the cleft for ritual offerings, we'll take turns standing at the chasm. We’ll each have an opportunity to offer our prayers to the Goddess.

We’ll enjoy a later lunch with the group at a local restaurant.

Then we’re off to Skoteino Cave, one of the three largest caves of Heraklion. Situated at an altitude of 700 ft. the cave is 32 ft. high and 88 ft. wide. In ancient times it was used mainly as a cult place, and later as a religious center for the Christians. There is a modern chapel built on the remains of an ancient chapel to the right side of the cave's entrance. The cave is not officially open to visit, due to its depth which makes visiting dangerous. It goes deep down leading to the formation of extraordinary stalactites and stalagmites. The most interesting feature of this cave is the formation of amazing shapes and rocky structures. Along time, these rocky structures have taken the shape of a smiling child, a bear, a woman's head and many others. Deeper inside the cave, there is an altar here, where sacrifices were executed during the ancient times for the purpose of cult worshipping. Lots of peculiar names and symbols have been inscribed in the walls close to this praying room. There are other chambers inside the cave at various depths and heights.

Ancient legend says that it was in this cave that the worship of Goddess Artemıs took place. Artemis is one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name and indeed the goddess herself was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: "Artemis of the wildland, mistress of animals". The Greek goddess of the Hunt and Wild Animals, Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo, daughter of Zeus & Leto. She is the virgin goddess and represents purity and perfection. She is well-companioned with those who have an affinity for animals or who are seeking to live a more pure life. She increases the ability to communicate with and understand wild & domesticated animals. She also helps those wanting to live a more pure life obtain cleansing & support to make life changes. Weekday: Wednesday; Planet: Mercury; Month: April; Gemstone: Sugilite; Color: Green; Foliage: Walnut; Animal: Gazelle; Scent: Wisteria; Herb: Coriander. - We’ll take time here to commune with the energies of this ancient Goddess through meditation.
 
We return to the hotel. Yolu have free time. Dinner is on your own.
Overnight Heraklion. Hotel to be announced.

Day 13. Saturday, October 13. Dictean Cave (B)

Today we enjoy a morning visit to the Dictean Cave, one of the most important and famous of the 3,000 caves in Crete and the 8,500 in Greece. According to legend, it is in this impressive cave, rich in stalagmites and stalactites, that Zeus was born. This is why the Dikteon Cave was already famous in antiquity, dedicated to the worship of the greatest of the gods, as the many offerings found there indicate. We head to eastern Crete, to the Mt. Dikti range on the Lassithi Plateau. The plateau was inhabited as early as the Neolithic Period (6000 BCE) and is one of the few sites in the Mediterranean where settlements arose at such high altitude (an average of 2,750 ft. above sea level). An important factor was that the Lassithi Plateau has particularly fertile soil, and large amounts of water from the snow that falls on the peaks of Mt. Dikti collect in the water table.

The foundations of a built altar and the remains of offerings were found in the antechamber, where we'll first enter. The worshippers’ offerings, such as olive oil, honey, wine, wheat and animal sacrifices, were placed on the altar and burnt. The ashes were still considered offerings, so they could not be thrown away like common rubbish; they were collected reverentially next to the altar. The Dikteon Cave was in continuous use over a long period of time, so due to the lack of space it seems that many finds have been exposed to fire many times, from successive burnings of offerings on the same altar. An unfortunate consequence of the use of the cave down the centuries is that many finds have been despoiled. As we descend into the cave we'll see the ancient walls of the temenos, the sacred space.

The cave consists of five chambers. The most impressive sight is the lake surrounded by massive stalactites and stalagmites. Here we can see the “Mantle of Zeus” (photo right), a stalactite which hangs over the lake like a chandelier and whose shape, in the local imagination charged with centuries of myths, resembles a cloak. At the back of the lake is the small chamber where it's said that the Father of the Gods was born.

The cult of Zeus at the Dikteon Cave: This sacred cave seems to have been a central sanctuary of East Crete, and many myths surround it, demonstrating its significance for Crete and indeed the whole of ancient Greece. The Dikteon Cave and the Ideon Cave which we've already visited in central Crete are the most important ancient sacred caves in Crete, and they share many myths. The most famous myth is obviously the birth of Zeus, which Hesiod tells us took place near the city of Lyktos in east-central Crete, i.e. at the Dikteon Cave. Examination of the various finds has shown that the Dikteon Cave was used by humans as early as deepest antiquity. Originally y it was probably a place of habitation and burial, while from the 2nd millennium to around 700 BCE it was used as a place of worship.

The god worshiped in the Dikteon Cave was the Diktaean Zeus. He is depicted on the earliest offerings as a young, beardless man. He died and was reborn each year, in a spectacular way: fire blazed up from the depths of the cave at the moment of his rebirth. Information on the ritual of the festivals in honor of Zeus comes from a major find, the fragmentary inscription bearing the Hymn to Diktaean Zeus. As it says, “...Greatest Kouros (Zeus)... you come each year to Dicte and we chant your Hymn... striking lyres... to the sound of pipes... around your altar...” The Hymn was a prayer by worshippers at the Dikteon Cave for prosperity for their families, flocks, fields and ships, and for peace and justice to prevail.


Myths of the Dikteon Cave
The birth of Zeus: Undoubtedly the best-known myth connected to the Dikteon Cave, the cause of its fame in antiquity, was that of the birth of Zeus. According to the myth, this was where Rhea bore the greatest of the gods, Zeus, hidden from her husband Cronus. This was also where Zeus grew up under the protection of the legendary Curetes, cared for by the goat Amalthea and the nymph Melissa.

Laius, Cerberus, Celeus and Aegolius: According to another legend, mortals were forbidden to enter the sacred cave of Dicte. This injunction, however was broken by four men - Laius, Cerberus, Celeus and Aegolius. Wishing to enter the cave and take the honey from the sacred bees, they put on bronze armor to avoid being stung. Inside the cave they found the swaddling-clothes of Zeus, who was so angry that he struck them with a thunderbolt. But none could die in the cave of the birth, so Themis and the Fates turned the four friends into birds, including the thrush, the cuckoo and the owl.

Meeting-place of Minos and Zeus: Local tradition also has it that Minos met his father Zeus in the Dikteon Cave every nine years, when the courses of sun and moon converge, to receive the renewed laws. It is therefore no coincidence that Minos symbolized absolute justice and became a judge in Hades after his death. (Center in photo at left; shown with Rhadamanthys & Aeacus, the other two of the three judges of the dead, or underworld demi-gods. They were originally mortal men, sons of the god Zeus, who were granted their position after death as a reward for the establishment of law on earth.)

Minos born in the Dikteon Cave: Another, relatively unknown local myth has it that Minos, like his father Zeus, was also born in the Dikteon Cave. When Zeus, in the form of a bull, abducted the Phoenician princess Europa, he carried her off to Crete, to the Dikteon Cave (unlike the better-known version in which he took her to Gortyn), where he revealed himself to her in all his glory. Their union bore fruit: Minos, the legendary king of Knossos, Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon.

We’ll have time here for meditation to connect with the powerful and still-palpable energies of this sacred place.

We then return to Heraklion. Lunch is on your own. Then you have some free time to rest or explore.

In the later afternoon we'll gather for a group meeting. Speaker Mark Amaru Pinkham will present "The Dactyloi Priesthood of Crete and its Secret Mysteries".

Afterwards you have more free time to explore on your own, shop, etc. Dinner is on your own.
Overnight Heraklion. Hotel to be announced.

Day 14. Sunday, October 14. Amnisos: Eilitheia Cave; Malia; Lato (B/L)

We depart east again this morning for Amnisos to visit the Eileithyia Cave, a Neolithic, Minoan and Mycenaean sacred cave dedicated to Eileithyia, (or E-re-u-ti-ja - Elefthyia), the goddess of childbirth and midwives, and daughter of Zeus and Hera. She was considered to be a good companion for pregnant women and mothers lending them a sense of focus & calm. Weekday: Friday; Planet: Mercury; Month: June; Gemstone: Peridot; Color: Indigo; Foliage: Grapefruit; Animal: Blackbird; Scent: Lilac; Herb: Abrus

The cave was discovered during the last century. The locals also call it Neraidospilios, meaning the Fairy Cave. The cave was known to Strabo and Homer, who mentioned it for first time in 4 Linear B tablets of Knossos (14th century BCE). Archaeological findings indicate that the cave was an important worship center from the Neolithic Age to the 5th century CE.

Near the entrance of the cave, a house of priests or guards was found. Seven steps lead to a deeper level and then, an ascending lane leads to a higher hall with a width of 32 – 39 ft. and a height of 13 ft, which is shaped in three successive rooms with uneven floors. Near the entrance, there is a huge stone of 2,5 ft. high by 7 ft. in diameter. In the center of the cave is a “vetylos”, a worship stone that was considered to bear an image of the Goddess. Near the middle of the cave is a cylindrical stalagmite enclosed by a low wall. Within the enclosure and in front of the stalagmite is a stone altar. This is where archaeologists have found figurines of women and animals, tools, and other gifts from those praying to the goddess for a child. The stalagmite might have been a symbol, or perhaps a vessel of the goddess (if you squint your eyes, it sort of looks like a person). Minoans worshipped the spirits residing in various objects, including trees and stone pillars, which they believed had mystical powers.

We’ll take time in this sacred place to meditate and call forth the energies of fertility into our lives through connecting with the Goddess Eileithyia.

Then we’re off to Malia, east of Heraklion, on the northern coast of Crete. A small town of around 2500 permanent inhabitants, the town is divided into an old part and a modern part. The old town has narrow alleys where taverns, bars and shops are lining and get crowded in high season, especially at night. The modern town is still developing and the municipality has made an interesting work and effort to preserve the old and authentic character of Malia. We are here to visit the archaeological site with its superb Minoan mansion which has survived from the Minoan city that used to stand there and the Palace of Malia, a few miles east of the town, the third largest Minoan Palace of Greece.

The palace of Malia was discovered in 1915 by Hadzidakis, a Greek archaeologist. It was fully excavated from 1922 onwards by the French School at Athens in collaboration with Greek scholars. Importantly, the palace was surrounded by a Minoan town which has only recently been uncovered. Excavation is ongoing. Important parts of the old and new excavations are covered by a series of large semi-transparent roofs, which protect them from the elements. In places tourists are allowed to wander among the ruins; in others, walkways allow passage above. There are rooms which have been identified as metal workshops, ceramic workshops and meeting rooms; there is also a large residential dwelling with on-suite bath, which is similar to a design at Phaistos, both taking advantage of expansive views.

Leaving the ancient town by the north entrance, we follow the paved Minoan road, which leads to the Hypostyle Crypt and what are believed to be meeting rooms. To the north is a necropolis, the royal graveyard. It was here that a pendant in the form of a bee was discovered. Perhaps you saw it in the Heraklion Museum?

The palace of Malia is one of the ancient Minoan palaces which testify to the magnificent civilization which grew up on the island. It dates from the Middle Bronze Age (2100 to 1500BCE) and was destroyed by an earthquake during the Late Bronze Age (1500 - 1200BCE), about the same time as Knossos and other sites were destroyed too. The palace was later rebuilt toward the end of the Late Bronze Age. Most of the ruins visible today date from this second period of construction. The palace features a giant central courtyard. On the south side are two sets of steps leading upwards and a maze of tiny rooms. Also here is a strange carved stone called a kernos stone, which looks like a millstone with a cup attached to the side of it. On the north side of the courtyard were storage rooms with giant earthenware pithos jars, up to 6 ft. tall. These were used for holding grain, olive oil and other liquids; the floor of these rooms has a complex drainage system for carrying away spilled liquids.

Afterwards we enjoy lunch with the group.

Our afternoon visit is to the archaeological site of Lato, in the Lassithi prefecture. The town of Agios Nikolaos is actually built on the ruins of ancient Lato. In the late 19th century, a famous archaeologist examined its “cyclopean” walls and declared Lato a Mycenaean city. That misguided assertion was more than a thousand years off the mark. The city was founded by Dorians in the 7th century BCE, during what is known as the Archaic Period. The location of ancient Lato, built between two hills, offers a magnificent view of Mirabella Bay and in the past, it provided natural protection against invaders.

Immigrants from the mountainous region of northern Greece, Dorians were a warlike people who preferred to build their towns in hard-to-assail locations. They found an ideal place on two naturally fortified hills overlooking a seaport the Dorians had established at Kamara. The city was named Lato, the Dorian pronunciation of Letomother of Apollo and Artemis. It prospered and grew into one of most powerful cities of Classical-Hellenistic Crete.

We hike up the ancient road to the main entrance gate, a rather small opening in the mighty fortification wall surrounding the city. In ancient times, the gateway was actually a rectangular building closed by three strong doors which forced attackers to break through repeated barriers in a narrow passage controlled by fierce warriors.

If invaders survived this trap, they would still have to climb a long stairway, passing through a number of terraces before reaching the city center. Each terrace adds another strong wall with a portal that could be blocked off, creating a series of defensible positions to the top of the hill.

On the left side of the road are stone-walled homes and a couple of defense towers. On the right are the shops and workshops of craftsmen. One of these is believed to have been the workshop of a textile dyer, because of the mortar and stone vessels found there. At the top of the stairway we enter Lato’s central market square, or agora, which lies in a shallow valley between two peaks. Directly before us are the remains of a large stoa (a covered walkway or portico), which was probably used for market, cultural and political activities. Around the stoa are other public structures, including a shrine, an unroofed building with public seating, and a deep cistern that provided water for the community. Just north of the agora is an impressive staircase – flanked by the remnants of towers – leading up to the prytaneion (government house), where the ruling council met to deal with political, military and judicial matters. Behind the prytaneion is a complex of houses where members of the ruling council lived during their term in office. There are other houses in the neighborhood around these government buildings, but these are only partially excavated.

South of the agora, on a terraced hillside, are the remains of a large temple dating from the late 4th to early 3rd century BCE, and a house (perhaps where the temple priestesses lived). We walk through the temple vestibule into the inner sanctum, where we find the base for a cult statue – probably of the Goddess Eileithya, the city’s patron deity. Interestingly, Eileithya was a Minoan goddess long before she was added to the Greek pantheon of deities.

East of the temple, on a lower level, is a small theater space formed by a narrow terrace used as a stage and stone steps that seated 350 spectators. Next to the “bleacher” seats is an open building with stone benches around its three walls. These were obviously the good seats used by the city leaders when attending religious festivals or civic assemblies.

Walking back to the agora and down the stairs towards the city gate, we pause at Terrace IV to explore several houses. All of these homes are built with heavy boulders and have narrow entrances to prevent a large group of invaders from breaking down the front door. But this never happened.

We’ll take some time for individual meditation and reflection here among these ancient ruins to connect with the ancient peoples who lived, loved, laughed and died here.

Then we return to the hotel. You have free time. Dinner is on your own.
Overnight Heraklion. Hotel to be announced.

Day 15. Monday, October 15. Faistos; Farewell Dinner (B/L/D)
This morning we depart for Phaistos, or more correctly the Minoan Palace of Phaistos, located in the Messara Plain in south-central Crete, about 35 miles south of Heraklion. Phaistos (also Phaestos, Faistos or Festos) is one of the most important archaeological sites in Crete. The Minoan palace of Phaistos corresponds to a flourishing city which arose on this fertile plain in prehistoric times, from circa 6000 BCE to the 1st century BCE, as archaeological finds confirm.

Phaistos is famous for the Phaistos Disc (also spelled Phaistos Disk, Phaestos Disc) having been found here. (We saw it in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.) A disk of fired clay from the Minoan palace of Phaistos on the Greek island of Crete, possibly dating to between 1950 BCE and 1400 BCE (middle or late Minoan Bronze Age 2nd millennium BCE), it’s about 5.9 inches in diameter and covered on both sides with a spiral of stamped symbols. Its purpose and meaning, and even its original geographical place of manufacture, remain disputed, making it one of the most famous mysteries of archaeology.

The disc was discovered in 1908 by the Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier in the Minoan palace-site of Phaistos, and features 241 tokens, comprising 45 unique signs, which were apparently made by pressing pre-formed hieroglyphic "seals" into a disc of soft clay, in a clockwise sequence spiraling towards the disc's center.

The Phaistos Disc captured the imagination of amateur and professional archeologists, and many attempts have been made to decipher the code behind the disc's signs. While it is not clear that it is a script, most attempted decipherments assume that it is; most additionally assume a syllabary, others an alphabet or logography. Attempts at decipherment are generally thought to be unlikely to succeed unless more examples of the signs are found, as it is generally agreed that there is not enough context available for a meaningful analysis.

The name, Phaistos, survives from ancient Greek references to a city in Crete of that name, shown to be, in fact, at or near the current ruins. The name is substantiated by the coins of the classical city. They display motifs such as Europa sitting on a bull, Talos with wings, Heracles without beard and being crowned, or Zeus in a form of a naked youth sitting on a tree. On either the obverse or the reverse the name of the city, or its abbreviation, is inscribed, such as ΦΑΙΣ or ΦΑΙΣΤΙ, for Phaistos or Phaistios (adjective, "of Phaistos") written either right-to-left or left-to-right. These few dozen coins were acquired by collectors from uncontrolled contexts. They give no information on the location of Phaistos.

In the earliest versions of the story of the Minotaur, the site of the labyrinth is located here in the Minoan palace of Phaistos. The area was known for its herds of sacred solar cattle, and also was near Gortyn, the place where Zeus, in bull form, brought Europa.

The Minoan palaces were centers of political, economic and religious activity rather than simply residences of the elite. Despite their labyrinthine form, they had a specific architectural layout. The core of the various complexes was the large, open-air Central Court, around which the wings were set. These were multi-story buildings with indented facades of coursed masonry monumental gateways, luxurious rooms with hypostyle halls, polythyra, light-wells and open balconies.

The First Palace was built around 1900 BCE. It was extensive, covering an area of 26,000 square ft., and spread over the three stepped terraces of the hill. It was inhabited for about two and a half centuries, during the course of which it was destroyed and rebuilt three times, and was destroyed for the last time by earthquake in about 1700 BCE. After the final destruction, its ruins were covered in a thick layer of lime mixed with clay and pebbles, on which the New Palace was built.

The New Palace was smaller in size but more monumental than the Old Palace. It was destroyed in 1450 BCE, as were most Minoan centers. The New Palace of Phaistos was not rebuilt after its destruction. The city around it continued to be inhabited, flourishing in Geometric (800-700 BCE) and Hellenistic (323-67 BCE) times. Around 150 BCE the city was destroyed by neighboring Gortys, which arose as the new power of south Crete.

The main courtyard is vast and it retains its original pavement of stones, and it offers unobstructed views of the Messara plain. The irrigation works under the central courtyard and the entire palace indicate an emphasis on sanitation which was a priority for all Minoan palaces. The palace of Phaistos used the small river Ieropotamos at the foot of the hill for its water supply, along with some deep wells on the palace itself. The builders of Phaistos took great care to create a functional as well as an aesthetically pleasing environment, which accommodated the spectacular views from the hill. The buildings are arranged around expansive courtyards following the uneven surface of the hill, and with their walls enclose the panorama of the Messara plain and Mount Idi to the south and North respectively. The spectators sitting at the theater would have had a great view of the south and the east. The buildings of the palace were constructed in such a way that the open areas were always enclosed on one side by a palace wall, and on the other side by a major mountain mass.

Phaistos was the home of Radamanthis, the brother of the legendary king of Minos. The palace continued to be used even after its destruction of 1400 BCE, although it gradually lost its power until the emerging center of nearby Gortyn destroyed it finally in 200 BCE.

We’ll explore this ancient Minoan site thoroughly, taking time to wonder through its ancient rooms and monuments. As we’re doing so take some individual time to meditate on the lives of the ancient ones who lived here. Were you one of them?

Then we’ll enjoy a lunch on your own with the group.

Afterwards we’ll return to Heraklion and our hotel. Take some time for rest and relaxation before our Farewell Dinner at the hotel. On our last night in Crete we’ll come together to share our meal and experiences here in this ancient land of the Gods and Goddesses and Minoans. We’ve seen them in their houses, the towns and the palaces of the Minoan peoples. We’ve experienced them in the temples and sacred areas, as well as in the caves and dark places, where they had taken back the dead and given love and hope to the living. We end our pilgrimage by reaffirming our love and respect for the place they’ve played in our journey, and we give thanks for all the sacred places of Crete that are still here for spiritual seekers to find, where we can all meet with them once again, thousands of years after they were first celebrated here.
Overnight Heraklion. Hotel to be announced.

Day 16. Tuesday, October 16. Return to Athens (B)
We check out of the hotel after breakfast and depart to the airport for our return flight to Athens. Upon arrival we transfer to our hotel and check in. You have ample time for lunch on your own, and then to rest and relax or do some last minute shopping or explorations on your own. Dinner is on your own this evening.
Overnight Athens. Hotel to be announced.

Day 17. Wednesday, October 17. Depart Crete (B) OR Come with us to Mykonos!


TOUR ITINERARY



MYKONOS and DELOS - Birthplace of Artemis & Apollo
October 17 - 20, 2018

(B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)

Day 17. Wednesday, October 17. To Mykonos (B/D)
After breakfast we check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport for our flight to Mykonos, one of the Cyclades Islands. (Your flight is booked by Sacred Sites Journeys as part of your sacred travel package.) Hundreds of tiny chapels dot this blue and white-washed island with its beautiful windmills. One of the most popular islands in Greece, it's the most cosmopolitan of the Greek Islands and attracts many visitors from all over the globe, including large numbers of artists and intellectuals.

On arrival we transfer to our hotel in Hora, the island’s capital and check in. Lunch is on your own and you have free time to explore the island! Take your own walking tour in the narrow cobbled streets of the town. You'll pass by chic boutiques, elegant nightclubs and white–washed houses. You'll find numerous shops offering art and local handicrafts. The handmade olive oil soap in various fragrances makes excellent gifts for yourself and others! There are many local tavernas where you can enjoy a delicious and inexpensive meal. Tonight we enjoy a group dinner at a local taverna.

Overnight Mykonos. Hotel to be announced.

Day 18. Thursday, October 18. Delos Island (B/L)
After breakfast we depart Mykonos by boat to visit Delos, the birthplace of the twins, Artemis and Apollo. We're already familiar with Artemis from our visits to Her temple near Vravrona, as well as Her sanctuary at Delphi. Here we can focus on Apollo,  the son of Zeus, who is the god of arts, archery, and divination. He represents order, harmony, and civilization in a way that most other Olympian deities cannot quite equal. Apollo is most often associated with the cultivated arts of music and medicine, and his role as the leader of the Muses establishes him as a patron of intellectual pursuits. Apollo is always depicted as a beardless young man. His attributes are the tripod, omphalos, lyre, bow and arrows, laurel, hawk, raven or crow, and fawn. Although often associated with the sun, Apollo is not really a sun god. Apollo is a god of healing, prophecy (oracles), the arts -- especially music (Apollo taught Orpheus to play the lyre) -- and archery. His arrows could send plague, as happens in the Iliad Book I. The sacred island was a major sacred site for the ancient Greeks, second in importance only to Delphi. At its height, the site was covered in a variety of temples and sanctuaries dedicated to many different gods and goddesses. On the barren and hilly landscape, are many fascinating archaeological ruins. They consist of four main areas. Time allowing, we'll visit all of them.
(We have a boxed lunch.)Sanctuary of Apollo: This was the ancient heart of Delos. Today it's the most important area for us as well. In ancient times it contained three great temples dedicated to Apollo, as well as many other temples, altars and monuments. Nearby are the Sacred Lake, Sanctuary of Dionysus, site museum and tourist pavilion. Unfortunately, very little remains of the great temples today.

The Great Temple of Apollo, which was begun around 477 BCE, but was neglected after the treasury was transferred to Athens, was finally completed in the 200s BCE. The Temple of the Athenians (425-17 BCE) is next door. This temple was most likely home to the Archaic statue of Apollo. The third temple, the Porinos Naos (6th century), was where the treasure of the Delian League was originally kept. (The league was an association of 173 5th-century BCE Greek city-states under the leadership of Athens, whose purpose was to continue fighting the Persian Empire after the Greek victory at the end of the Greco-Persian Wars.) On the north is the base of a colossal marble Statue of Apollo from 7th century BCE, which Plutarch said was destroyed when a bronze palm tree blew over onto it. It's likely that it was re-erected in its present position. The base has several inscriptions, one being the original dedication in Archaic letters, reading "I am of the same marble, statue and pedestal". The Temple of Artemis (rebuilt c.179 BCE) lies on north end of sanctuary, on a site that had been sacred since Mycenaen times. Many of the statues of Artemis that were found here are displayed in the museum.
Maritime Quarter: This was the main residential area of Delos when the city was at its peak of prosperity. We'll see the ruins of many beautiful mansions and villas. Many of them were paved with fine mosaics; some still in situ. In the House of the Masks and the House of Dionysus we can view mosaics of Dionysus, the god of fertility, wine, and ecstasy.

Theater District: In the southern part of this area is the great classical theater of Delos. In its heyday it seated 5500 people. There are beautiful houses with mosaic floors; the House of the Dolphins has one depicting the gentle sea creatures.

 Lion District: This area occupies the north end of the ruins and is named for the famous Terrace of the Lions (7th century BCE). Nine elegant marble lions guarded the sanctuary, looking out to the Sacred Lake. The current statues are replicas; five of the weathered originals are on display in the museum. The sacred swans and geese of Apollo were kept in the oval Sacred Lake, which was drained in 1926. In the center is a palm tree, commemorating the one Leto clutched while giving birth to her divine twins. Beyond the Terrace of the Lions is a complex includes several courtyards, chapels, meeting rooms, and shops that was used by an association of merchants from Beirut who worshipped Baal, identifying him with the Greek god Poseidon, Lord of the Sea.

We return to Mykonos in the later afternoon. You have free time for dinner on your own and to wander about the island.
Overnight Mykonos. Hotel to be announced.

Day 19. Friday, October 19. Return to Athens (B)
We check out of the hotel after breakfast and depart to the airport for our return flight to Athens. (Your flight is booked by Sacred Sites Journeys as part of your sacred travel package.) Upon arrival we transfer to our hotel and check in. You have ample time for lunch on your own, and then to rest and relax or do some last minute shopping or explorations on your own. Dinner is on your own this evening.
Overnight Athens. Hotel to be announced.

Day 20. Saturday, October 20. Depart Greece (B)
The tour ends after breakfast.
If you’ve booked a return transfer to the airport with Sacred Sites Journeys, then you’ll be picked up at the hotel and taken to there in a private vehicle.



TOUR INCLUSIONS

Your Sacred Sites Journey to GREECE Includes:
- Accommodations in first class hotels, including taxes, service charges and daily breakfast
- 7 dinners (including special welcome and farewell dinners)
- Professional English-speaking local tour guides
- All sightseeing, including entrance fees, as per itinerary in modern air-conditioned coach
- Baggage handling at hotels
- Pre-Paid Gratuities for guides, drivers, waiters at meals provided to the group

Special Added Features
- Travel in a smaller group with other spirit-centered people
-
Fully escorted by Sacred Sites Journeys' Director Andrea Mikana-Pinkham
- Featured Speaker author Mark Amaru Pinkham
- Athens City Tour, including the Acropolis and Parthenon
- Temple of Eleusis: Site of the Ancient Eleusinian Mystery School of Demeter & Persephone
- The Oracle of Trophonius at Levadia
- Delphi: Sanctuary of Athena, Temple of Apollo, Oracle of Delphi
- The Oracle of Zeus at Dodona

NOT INCLUDED:
- Roundtrip international air to/from Athens, Greece
-
Individual airport/hotel/airport transfers
- Meals not included, as indicated in the itinerary
- Cost to obtain valid passport
- Any items of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks, internet and telephone calls. Any item that is not specifically detailed on the SSJ website, in the tour brochure or final trip itinerary


Your Post-Tour Excursion to CRETE:
- Group roundtrip flight Athens/Heraklion/Athens via Aegean Airlines (price estimated and subject to change until ticketed)
- Group arrival and departure transfers in Crete in air conditioned motorcoach with English-speaking escort
- Accommodations in first class hotel, including taxes, service charges and daily breakfast
- 5 lunches, Welcome and Farewell Dinners
- Professional English-speaking local tour guides
- All sightseeing, including entrance fees, as per itinerary in modern air-conditioned coach
- Baggage handling at hotel
- Pre-Paid Gratuities
- Pre-Paid Gratuities for guides, drivers, waiters at meals provided to the group

Your Post-Tour Excursion to Mykonos and Delos:

- Group roundtrip flight Athens/Mykonos/Athens via Aegean Airlines (price estimated and subject to change until ticketed)
- Group arrival and departure transfers on Mykonis in air conditioned motorcoach with English-speaking escort
- Accommodations in first class hotel, including taxes, service charges and daily breakfast
- 1 dinner, 1 lunch
- Professional English-speaking local tour guides
- All sightseeing, including entrance fees, as per itinerary in modern air-conditioned coach
- Baggage handling at hotel
- Pre-Paid Gratuities for guides, drivers, waiters at meals provided to the group



A Few Words from Some of our Former Pilgrims to GREECE

"Greece was my fourth sacred journey with Andrea and it was nothing but fabulous. Each island on the cruise had its own flavor, beauty and history. And there was so much I learned from our gracious and knowledgeable local guide at the sacred sites and throughout our tour of the mainland. Driving through the mountains and along the coast was as educational as it was scenic. I am convinced that there is no better way to appreciate the accomplishments and spiritual traditions of the past than to experience them first hand (and with Delphi, Crete, Epidaurus, Olympia, Ephesus and Eleusis there was so much to learn). My 12 year old son has never had such a fabulous history lesson. What an adventure through so many different spiritual traditions for us both! The pilgrimage through Greece cannot but deepen the spiritual unfolding of a person's life. I most highly recommend it " - C. Bjergo, WA

" I would recommend the Greece trip to ANYone! It's a fascinating and beautiful country. SO much history! I didn't really know much about Greece before the trip. Just that I needed to visit Delphi. And the food ....it's fantastic and healthy. Andrea is a wizard at keeping things organized and on time. And I highly recommend the olive oil soap by the way. I gifted a bar to my cleaning lady and she's already called me to report how nice her skin feels! I'm definitely sold on Greece and will return in the next year or two." L. Merrill, KS

" The sacred journey to Greece with Andrea was experience that I will have with me for the rest of my life. Thank you! What a place to celebrate my Birthday! I greatly enjoyed the company of everyone in our small group; I felt that I really connected with everyone on the trip. And I hope to see you all again"  - C. Bland, ME

" I found that going to Greece with Andrea with no expectations was the best! I am still in another dimension, and as time permits me, I will document my version of my visit, what I have learned, and what is currently happening to me as a result of visiting the temples and sacred sites. I am delighted we had such a small group; the bonding was extremely wonderful. The connections I made to my past are very real! I recommend this journey to everyone." - R. Garrett, NM

"The sacred journey to Greece with Andrea was a magical trip! The countryside was charming. Our local guides were very informative and interested. The place I connected with the most was the Asclepius Sanctuary. All of the museums were excellent. Best of all, it was a wonderful group of people to travel with!" – D Balch, CA



TOUR PRICING

This tour is LAND ONLY. You are responsible to book your roundtrip international flights to and from ATHENS, GREECE.
Please see the itinerary above for details that will help you book your arrival and departure.

Spiritual Odyssey: Sacred Sites and Ancient Oracles, October 1 - 9, 2-18
Per Person, double occupancy, Land ONLY
Price to be posted soon - for payments via check or bank wire


If you'd like to use your credit card to pay for this journey, please contact Andrea Mikana-Pinkham at info@SacredSitesJourneys.com for more information.

Optional Single Room Supplement:
Price to be posted soon - for payments via check or bank wire

NOTE:  This is the additional amount you will pay if you choose to have your own private room throughout the tour.

ROOMMATES: Would you like to meet and make a new friend on your journey? If you're not traveling on the journey with anyone you know, and would like for SSJ to try to match you up with a suitable roommate, we'll be happy to try to do so.
Per our Terms and Conditions, we will hold the registration for the trip open until 30 days before the departure date (or later if possible) in order to try to match you with someone. If by that date we have not been able to do so, you will be responsible to pay for the single supplement. If you would like to be matched with a roommate, please register early.

Extension to CRETE: October 9 - 17, 2018
Per Person, double occupancy, Land ONLY
Price to be posted soon - for payments via check or bank wire


Optional Single Room Supplement: Price to be posted soon - for payments via check or bank wire

Extension to Mykonos and Delos Islands  - October 17 - 20, 2018
Per Person, double occupancy, Land ONLY
Price to be posted soon - for payments via check or bank wire


Optional Single Room Supplement: Price to be posted soon - for payments via check or bank wire



TOUR REGISTRATION
 

Registration Form to be posted soon.

Questions? Email Andrea Mikana-Pinkham at info@SacredSitesJourneys.com
Or, call our office at 928 284-1429 (MST Zone in Sedona, AZ USA)



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IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT!
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Updated 10/26/2017
Copyright Sacred Sites Journeys/Heartlight Fellowship 2003 - 2017