I’ve written about the Maiella before. That powerful mountain massif in the Abruzzo region of Italy. I wrote about her in my novel, The Strega and the Dreamer. The Maiella, also spelled Majella. The mountain the people of the village of Torre de’ Passeri prayed to, oriented themselves by. The mountain that created many saints, to where pilgrims journeyed, facing off with the Gran Sasso to the north in a binding duet.

But there was something that escaped me. The hidden name of the Goddess. The name of the Goddess of the Abruzzo hidden in the mountain’s name. The name Maia. Powerful one. Mother Goddess of the Abruzzo. Her Ancient and enduring name.

This Oscan pre-Roman Maia is not to be confused with the Greek Maia, the one for whom is named the month of May.

The Maiella

It has taken me years to find her but she was there all along. I found her right away when I went searching for my great-grandmother. Maiella, the mountain, was right there the minute I opened a book about the Abruzzo, but I didn’t know the all-powerful Goddess was folded within her name.

And it matters to me. I began my search for my great-grandmother from a place orientated to the Goddess. Mine was a spirituality of the Goddess. I didn’t know if it was the same for my great-grandmother. I wasn’t sure I would find the Goddess when I went searching for the spiritual lineage of my great-grandmother, the spiritual lineage of the Strega and the Janarra.

a novel, by Theresa C. Dintino

In the Abruzzo where my ancestors and spiritual lineage is from, I found the Goddess of the forest and the moon, Diana and the Snake Goddess Angitia. But Maia, the all powerful Creatrix, the Mother, at once birther and destroyer, remained hidden, camouflaged to me in the landscape: a powerful woman on the horizon.

There she was, the mother of life, rising from deep within the depths the earth, carrying with her the powers of the underworld. Maia Maiestas. Majestic Mother. The Oscan Goddess of the inner earth.

We learn from Thalia Took in her Obscure Goddess Online Dictionary that:

“Her name means “She Who is Great”, and is related to Oscan mais and Latin majus, both of which mean “more”. She is also called Maia Maiestas, “Maia the Majestic”, which is essentially a doubling of Her name to indicate Her power, as both “Maia” and “Maiestas” have their roots in latin magnus, “great or powerful”(https://www.thaliatook.com/OGOD/maiamaiestas.php).

Travel Poster by Vincenzo Alicandri 1926. Women from a village of Abruzzo in front of the the Maiella Massif.

The mountain of my spiritual lineage

In the novel The Strega and the Dreamer I wrote:

The whole village was built onto the top of a hill overlooking other hills and valleys around them, with panoramic views of the Apennine range. The most prominent feature on the landscape was the Maiella, or “Mother Mountain” as it was called by locals. The Maiella protruded in the distant southeast as a looming and constant purple-blue shadow. Her peak ascended above the other hills and mountains in a way that made it appear to be the most precious mountain that ever was and ever would be. Its body had the perfect image of a woman’s breast, nipple and all. This likeness had not, through the ages, gone unnoticed.

Spiritual pilgrims traveled to her many grottoes and caves in retreat. This mountain had transformed many regular humans into saints. The pulse of the Maiella penetrated La Tor’. A true villager’s physical orientation was based on the location of the Maiella. When someone had lost their sanity, needed deep healing or was experiencing grief, it was said they needed to go “eat the mountain” and remember to whom they belonged.

Maiella, named after Maia

I had familiarized myself well with the Maiella, but only recently did I locate Maia. She appeared one morning in my inbox from the deliciously.com website:

“The Majella in Abruzzo has always had a mystical atmosphere. The peaks are neither particularly high nor particularly extensive, but the soul of Abruzzo can be found here as well as one third of the entire flora of ltaly.

In ancient times this was the territory of the Goddess Maia and the Maiella is still referred to as Mother Mountain by the people of Abruzzo.

It is a huge and wild massif and a protected National Park from 1991”(https://www.deliciousitaly.com/abruzzo-itineraries/majella-mountains).

Suddenly there she was.

Right where I had beheld her. A powerful Mother Goddess. The mountain named after her.

Mountain or massif?

Apennine Wolves

The Maiella is referred to as both mountain and massif. But truly it is a massif. The Oxford dictionary tell us that a massif is a “compact group of mountains especially one that is separate from other groups.”

The highest peak on the Maiella massif is Monte Amaro, mountain of sorrow or grief, which stands at 9170 feet/2793 m. It faces the tallest peak of the Gran Sasso massif, Corno Grande 9554 feet/2912 m. These are the two tallest peaks in the Apennines.

In 1991 the Maiella National Park was formed for conservation and to serve as a recreational area. It houses many important and endangered species, most especially the Italian Wolf or Apennine Wolf which is a subspecies of the grey wolf. The Apennine Wolf is native to the Italy. In the the 1970s the population was down to 100 but now is at 600.

The Maiella National Park and the Maiella yet retain wildness at their core. This wildness was surely one of the forces of Maia that the Streghe, the Janarra and the witches of the wild ways revered and strove to protect. May that continue to be so.

Blessed be.

© Theresa C. Dintino 2024

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