Panagia, All Holy Mother

photography by Susa SilvermrieThe Paliani Monastery in the mountains of Crete was called “ancient” when it was first mentioned in Greek literature in 668 CE. The sacred myrtle tree is venerated there as the home of the Panagia, The All Holy Mother, and is estimated to be as old as one thousand years. One of the elder nuns invited our Goddess Pilgrimage group into her monastic cell and told us the story of both the sacred myrtle and of her own calling to Paliani by the Panagia Mother, who appeared to her when she was 6 years old. The great tree spreads an exquisite blanket of living peace about the grounds, a serenity the depth of which, I have never before experienced.photography by Susa Silvermarie

When our group performed a ceremony of tying prayer ribbons to myrtle branches, I remembered Sister Theofilakti (who was clearly conscious of contemporary events and had just returned from voting in Greek elections) telling us that she always prays first for the world, and then for her loved ones and herself. I had my personal intention for our ritual but I made my offering, first, for peace and harmony on our tiny spinning planet. More and more, photography by Susa SilvermarieI see my own purpose as the simple daily practice of contributing to that peace.

I think the serenity I experienced at Paliani comes as much from the radiant 73 year old nun who prays for the world every single day, as it does from the thousand year old myrtle tree sending its daily breath of blessings to the world. I send it out to you.

photography by Susa Silvermarie. thousand-year-old Sacred Mrytle at Paliani

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