Saturday, September 12, 2009

Belated words on Damanhur

Belated words on Italy and Damanhur from Will:

For me, Damanhur was an interesting and introverted time. The place felt thick: the air was thick and humid, the vegetation was thick, the “field” of spirituality and unique Damanhuian practices was thick, even my body felt heavy, thick. I was making good use of the Italian espresso and still, I felt tired the entire time I was there.

Like Tamera, Damanhur is also a community that is some 30 years old.We were only there for 9 days, so it’s much more difficult to say a lot about it. We did not have the community immersion experience at Damanhur that we had at Tamera. Being at Damanhur was wonderful and very eye opening; an incredible chance to see a new way of being in community. Damanhur is spread throughout an area in northern Italy, with pieces of property sprinkled around a number of towns and valleys.Unlike Tamera, one needs a car to see all of Damanhur. We were staying in the central hub of the community, on some of the longest-own land in Damanhur. We were a short drive and a longer walk away from many of Damanhur’s primary projects, businesses, and social initiatives, including the famous “Temples of Humankind.”

Perhaps what Damanhur is most known for, the Temples were one of the first projects the community undertook, in secret, long ago. Without building codes, and following the inspired vision of their founder(s), they began to excavate a mountainside, hand-digging bucket-loads of dirt and rock by night so no one would see them. What has emerged there over the years is now both known and celebrated (though the unveiling process wasn’t easy). The Temples go some 30 meters under the earth and are an elaborate maze of corridors and secret passageways, leading in and out of multiple chambers, temples, and halls. Every wall is painted with “sacred language” developed by the Damanhurians, incredible murals, stain-glass, mosaic, and other sculpted and welded works of art. Putting all spiritual philosophies and intentions aside, the Temples stand alone simply as incredible works of art and architecture. And yes, there are many more esoteric and occult qualities to them, but I will leave those to you to discover if you are interested.

Damanhur impressed me again and again with the scale and accomplishment of its alternative society. They have their own schooling and child-care, their own currency, their own real-estate offices, stores, shops, super-market, and businesses of many kinds.People generally live in family groups called "nucleos," in large houses with 20-30 people in each. An impressive use of space and resources.Everything is quite well functioning and immaculate. The community functions smoothly on a “normal” everyday level, while at the same time integrating incredible alternative forms of… everything. This is a place where art and spirituality are highly valued; where alternative energies and ecological designs are being pursued quite matter-of-factly; a place with a dedicated focus on researching the paranormal; a place full of rituals, philosophies, beliefs, and insights that guide their unique culture.

For me, a highlight of Damanhur was the nearby river, where we took our breaks numerous times. We had wonderful opportunities to sit and ask questions of our hosts. We held a council with the youth. We toured, and were fed, and saw much. My overall impression was that Damanhur offers much to see: an incredible living example of a very highly functioning, artistic alternative society – and, at the same time – there seems to be much more than meets the eye at Damanhur. I left more curious about the place than I was when I arrived.

Now we’re at the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland. It’s wonderful… but that’s another story. Thanks for reading!

~ Will

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