Fall Equinox Retreat 2019

September 18-28 (10 days)

Sacred Mountains, Caves and Springs: Mystical Portals to the Goddess in Northern Spain



Certain places have the power to suspend ordinary reality and transport visitors to a multidimensional realm beyond time and space. Some of these places ground us in nature, supporting the physical self while allowing our spirits to soar into unknown inner territories. Sacred pilgrimage is a process that takes us out of our every day lives and responsibilities so that we may revitalize ourselves, expand our consciousness, and then return to our lives empowered and with a more authentic perspective that comes from the experience of deep transformation.

Northern Spain offers the opportunity to be immersed in ancient energies that nurture and feed our spirits. We will explore original ceremonial sites devoted to the Great Mother by Paleolithic and Celt-Iberian cultures, as well as sacred caves and mountains dedicated to contemplation with Mother Mary. Our journey follows the traditional pilgrimage route from the Basque Country city of Bilbao into the city of Barcelona, culminating at the spectacular mountain Monastery of Montserrat to receive the blessings of the Black Madonna. Along the way we will enter sacred groves, visit mountain hermitages and bathe in sacred springs so that we may experience direct communication, healing and transformation within these mystical realms of the Goddess.



Why the Black Madonna?

Spain Unspoilt - Black Madonna Itinerary - MrsModern culture, when focused on a disembodied transcendent God, leaves us feeling disconnected from the Divine Source that dwells within all of us. When we are unconscious to our own divine power, it affects our self worth and we form habits of giving our strength and energy to forces and authorities outside ourselves. We learn to feel shame and hide what we consider to be flaws or weaknesses, unaware that these very qualities may be what open the doorways to our own unique gifts and contributions to the world.

What if we were to interact with these forces outside ourselves from a space of wholeness, rather than brokenness or needing to fight to be seen?  What if we were to engage with authorities and spiritual leaders as equals, with the awareness that we have our own direct access to divine guidance and healing power within? All too often, we give away our power looking for, even demanding, that someone or some organization outside ourselves must make things “right” so that we can be free.

The Path of the Black Madonna dissolves this illusion of any outer power having control over our destiny by bringing light to all the patterns of separation that keep us hidden, believing that we are broken or unworthy, striving for something that is already within us. In Her sacred space, we are encouraged to embrace our whole selves, move beyond the duality of the mind always judging how we’ve lived as right or wrong, good or bad, into the truth of who we are. We become aware that we are everything, the shadow and the light, and by fully accepting and honoring our raw and wild self, without all the masks that conceal our perceived weaknesses, we may enter into the Oneness with all that is… and into the presence of our own Divinity.

Integrating the energies of “wrongness” back into the Oneness releases tremendous creative power and expression.  All of the energy we have used to keep ourselves small is freed and we become anchored in our true authentic selves, finding the confidence and clarity to fulfill our dreams.

This journey is for you if:

  • You feel called to a mission to express you sacred self, but feel like you don’t have the time or space in your daily life to deeply explore this call.
  • You are in a time of transition in your life, maybe you have recently divorced or your children are leaving home after years of mothering them, maybe you are going through menopause or looking for a new career where you are able to express yourself more authentically… you are transitioning from a familiar phase of life and entering into a new way of being.
  • You are finished with the drama of the past and are ready to fully embrace your life in this NOW moment with confidence and divine support.
  • You are following a new direction on your spiritual journey, or maybe you have been on that path for years and are still yearning to live your life from a more empowered perspective.
  • You see the challenges you’ve experienced in your life as gifts that you have been honored to receive and that enrich your mission.
  • You embrace your WILDNESS, take risks, open the path to living your life to the fullest with freedom and an abundance of inner resources such as strength, clarity and joy.

On this sacred journey, through visiting the sites and deepening our experience of the inner realms, we will encounter our own Source of power within. The Black Madonna is an archetype and divine energy that is alive within us. She supports us in our deepest encounter with our own sacred Self that transcends mental patterns and obstacles into the full expression of our most authentic Self.

Call now (305) 336-8539 for more information on Transformative Destinations’ Black Madonna Retreat!


Sacred Mountains, Caves and Springs: Mystical Portals to the Goddess in Northern Spain

Bilbao to Barcelona

Itinerary September 18-28 (10 days)

Price: $3,370.

On this Transformative Destinations signature tour, we will journey from the Basque Country, visiting sacred sites in La Rioja, Navarra and Aragon, on a sacred pilgrimage to the Black Madonna of Montserrat outside of Barcelona.

The Black Madonna is more than a statue venerated by devotees throughout the centuries in Spain, she is an archetype and spiritual guide. The Black Madonna may be seen as a manifestation of the Mother Goddess whose element is the dark, rich and fertile earth. On this tour, we will be connecting to the energy of ancient caves, mountain monasteries and sacred springs as a way to activate and cultivate our relationship with this archetype within our own being to find that inner source of strength and clarity as we enter into times of transformation and transition in our lives.




Arrival in Bilbao, Hotel Petit Palace Arana. Our group will gather in the evening for a Welcome Dinner and Sharing Circle.

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Hotel Petit Palace Arana.

We will begin with a visit to the sanctuary of the Virgin of Begoña, which stands in the early medieval settlement of Bilbao, a city founded in the 14th century on the banks of the river Nervión. We will also visit the city’s Gothic cathedral and the spectacular Guggenheim Museum to relish the works of Spain’s most famous modern artists.

Hotel Petit Palace Arana.

Guggenheim Museum, Black Madonna retreat, tour, Spain , travel curator

Guggenheim Museum.

We will make an early start for the Cave of Santmamiñe, a Paleolithic site (13,000 BCE), one of the ancient places of the Basque Country’s Mother Goddess, Mari. Caves and deep places in the earth are her residence and we will view the vibrant paintings of bison and horses, as well as the geological beauty of the site. We will then go to the enchanting Island of Gaztelugatxe. This solitary hermitage dedicated to John the Baptist reflects his wild and solitary life.  Built out on a stone outcropping in the Atlantic Ocean and can only be reached by a stone bridge, half made by nature and half by man.  The rock island of Gaztelugatxe is fabled to be one of the sites of pagan sun worshipping cultures with Celt-Iberian roots that carried over into the hermitage that celebrates the Baptist’s wild man qualities.

Hotel Petit Palace Arana.

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Island of Gaztelugatxe.

Cave of Santmamiñe

Cave of Santmamiñe.

Today we will drive south to Logoño. On the way, we will first stop at the Monasterio de Santa María la Real in the region of La Rioja. According to legend, this beautiful monastery was founded in 1052 and built into a red sandstone cliff with a cavernous passageway into the mountain that leads to the cave of Santa María la Real, patroness of Nájera, a lovely Gothic image of the Virgin Mary.

We will then continue on to the San Millán Monasterio de Suso. After visiting this mountain monastery, we will follow a natural trail to the Cueva Santa del Santo Millán. Here we will enter a mythic realm of the hermetic ideal, a wild and solitary life dedicated to God that includes a sacred forest. We will visit the Tree of Desires with her split trunk where pilgrims place stones with their wishes and dreams as they walk by.

Hotel Gran Via Logroño.

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Suso monastery.

Today we will explore the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage stops of Logroño and Pamplona. We will walk part of the original Camino path to the fascinating Iglesia de Santa Maria de Eunate. The octagonal shaped chapel is shrouded in mystery as to its purpose and its creators. Some say it was constructed by the Knights Templar.

Eunate is a unique structure and offers a deep connection with the surrounding countryside, as if the spirits of the land are woven into its walls. The structure is surrounded by an open-air cloister with 33 arches, a significant number related to the Goddess. We will enjoy a walking meditation at this site.

Hotel Gran Via Logroño.

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Iglesia de Santa Maria de Eunate.

After breakfast, we will check out and head into the Aragon region. On the way we will stop in Soria at the Santuario de San Saturio. This is an astounding cave dwelling. The entire hermitage and chapel have been built onto a cave system and within its belly is an ethereal shrine to the Virgin.

We will then continue on to the Balneario Termas Pallares in the village of Alhama de Aragon where we may soak in a natural thermal lake where bathing will not only relax you, but will also help you to breathe better and revitalise your body. Swimming in this lake is an incredible sensation with springs that feed it with water flow at a constant temperature of 32º C. Surrounded by parks and gardens, the harmony of the setting creates a magical atmosphere.

Hotel Balneario Termas Pallares.

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San Saturio santuary.

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Balneario Termas Pallares.

Balneario Termas Pallares, Alhama de Aragon, trip, retreat in Spain, travel curator, custom itinerary Spain, culture

Balneario Termas Pallares.


Today we will have a leisurely morning at the thermal springs. A variety of spa treatments are also available at this hotel. We will then go for lunch at Monasterio de Piedra. The natural park that surrounds the monastery consists of stunning scenery made up of lush vegetation and fascinating rock formations created by the erosive action of the Rio Piedra. A particular highlight is the Cola de Caballo waterfall which falls 50m to the lake below where you can walk into the hidden Iris cave.

Hotel Balneario Termas Pallares.

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Monasterio de Piedra.

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River Piedra at Monasterio de Piedra.

Today we will take the AVE high speed train into Barcelona. In the afternoon, we will visit the Miro Foundation with its breathtaking views of the city. In the evening, we will attend a Flamenco performance.

Park Hotel Barcelona.

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Miro Foundation.

Full day in Montserrat Monastery

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Monserrat monastery.

Monserrat monastery, Black Madonna, Barcelona, retreat, Spain, travel itinerary, Ana Estrada

Monserrat monastery.

Monserrat monastery, Black Madonna, Barcelona, retreat, Spain, travel itinerary, Ana Estrada

Black Madonna.

Our pilgrimage will culminate with a visit to the Black Madonna of Montserrat, Spain’s most venerated image of the Virgin Mary. Located about an hour outside of Barcelona, the mountains striking forms rise above the Basilica and Monastery built to honor “La Moreneta” or the Dark One as her devotees lovingly refer to her.

Prior to construction of the monastery, it is said that a temple to Venus stood here and even prior to Venus, the mountain was considered sacred to the indigenous Iberians.  Some even claim that the Black Madonna is linked to the Egyptian Goddess Isis and her son Horus, another story of the Divine Feminine and resurrection, because certain qualities of the statue are so similar to images of Isis and Horus.

We will contemplate and integrate all these stories and legends as a unified divine feminine archetype that flows through humanity regardless of time or place. We will visit the Santa Cova where the Romanesque statue was discovered, explore the pilgrims’ paths behind the basilica by taking a cable car up to the peak, and listen to the Escalonía boys’ choir performing devotional hymns. The most captivating experience will be to stand before her and receive her vibration and blessings.


Our final group excursion will be a private tour of Sagrada Familia, Antonio Gaudí’s most famous work in Barcelona.  The spectacular interior of this cathedral dedicated to the Holy Family is a visual feast for the soul. We will then have some free time to explore the city. We will meet in the evening for our Farewell Dinner.

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Sagrada Familia.

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Passeig de Gracia.


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