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, as Shay mentioned in her previous post. It’s wonderful… but that’s another story. Thanks for reading!

~ Will

Monday, September 7, 2009

Greetings from Findhorn

Hello friends. Shay here. We have been at Findhorn for 4 days now and the green hills have never been greener. Damanhur passed with a flash, just a short stay of 8 days and now we reuinite in Scotland after our first short break from group living. I spend my first three days solo in Italy and then traveled to Brighton on the Southern coast of England. It was a great place to be with my Clarito after so many months of separation. I had my birthday there and am now 31! Somehow being 31 feels so old to me . .. a new phase of life where the 20s seem to be fading far away already.

I have enjoyed our days here at Findhorn. We are currently staying at Cluny, one of the two main campuses. Cluny is a gigantic old hotel that became part of Findhorn in the 60s or 70s, not sure which. It is 5 stories tall, houses about 100 people, has more bathtubs than I could count, and continuously reminds me that I am in a very old and ancient land. The landscape here is as beautiful and lush as I imagined. Every shade of green imaginable fills my eyes everyday. The sun is like a special guest that only makes itself visible long enough to be deeply appreciated, only to disappear again behind the grey sky.

Findhorn is nearly 50 years old, making it the oldest community we have visited so far. They seem to have a very accepted way of doing things and have touched thousands upon thousands of people with their unique view on life and their innovative contributions to both social and environmental efforts. This is also a deeply spiritual community and awareness of 'spirit' infuses everything we do here.

We will be here for another 3.5 weeks and the days are jammed packed. Currently, we are participating in Experience Week and are grouped with people from all over the world . .. Brazil, Portugal, Kenya, South Africa, Spain, the USA, London, Germany, Austria, etc. It is a great group and I feel quite young both in our group and also being here generally. I am not sure what the average age is here, but certainly over 45. I have met some great elders, some true elders of the movement. This Week is like a basic introduction to life at Findhorn, in all its aspects and will give us a good platform for deeper sharing in the coming weeks.

More soon . . .