Springtime birthing in community

blossomIt’s Spring Equinox time and the rebirth of nature is in the air. I feel the heat of the earth rising, the colors blooming, the light in the sky and the eyes shining. Many things are being born, growing and strengthening. Dreams launched, projects and partnerships chosen, reaffirmed and reinforced.

In Damanhur, we have recently welcomed a soul and new child into the Popolo. For me, Eros’s birth has been an expansion of the understanding and awareness about what it means to give birth to a child in Damanhur. Every full moon with my Sacred Dance group, we dance a ritual for the women of the community who are pregnant or intending to have a child, which brings thoughts to the arriving soul, even before conception and birth. I have also begun a new Apprentice role (now that I have concluded the Befana apprenticeship and fully taken on the honor), this time with Vigogna in Sacred Dance, to dance prayers that recall certain characteristics for the baby in the womb.

Hall of Water Every week for some months before Eros’s birth, Vigogna danced a prayer to invoke characteristics and talents for the child in a temple of Damanhur, and I did the same dance in the Hall of Water in the Temples of Humankind, the hall connected to femininity, pregnancy and birth. Feeling this ritual and subtle contact with a soul that is coming from afar has gifted me with new perspective and emotion. I can feel that this child is everyone’s child… everyone who has thought of his characteristics and personalities, and performed the rituals, prayers and preparations, those who were singing in a circle around the mother as the childbirth began.

In addition to the parents, there are relatives, godparents, friends and nucleo community residents who support. It’s a beautiful network of extended parenthood, like ancient peoples would naturally weave, while today we need more awareness and intention to dedicate time, to be present and supportive. I wish all the best to Eros and family in these precious moments of growth!

childrenThis all reminds me of the World Summit on Birth by PerLa Donna (an organization dedicated to women’s heath and childbirth), which I volunteered for in organizing and translating the Summit, as one of the first projects that presented itself on my path right after I came to live in Damanhur. It was a synchronic teaching, entering into this world of birth with many midwives, obstetricians and experts in the field. From the plethora of presentations and sessions, the impression that has stayed with me is that birth is an event that can be transcendental and even pleasurable, if not downright “orgasmic” as Debra Pascali Bonaro shared with us at the Summit. I saw a window into the power of the feminine in pregnancy and birth, the traditions of the peoples, water birth with dolphins, and I understood the value of the placenta. I began to approach pregnancy as a sacred event, not just something to cautiously avoid, as was my relationship with pregnancy up to that point.

I wish you all a beautiful springtime, with the joy of giving birth to new aspects of the self… life, vision, action and creation in every field!

Quaglia Cocco
The Befana

ITALIANO

Sono i giorni dell’Equinozio di primavera, e si sente la rinascita della natura, il calore della terra che si aumenta, i colori che affiorano, la luce nel cielo e negli occhi. Molte cose stanno nascendo e prendendo forza. Sogni inviati, progetti ed alleanze scelte, riscelte e rafforzate. Continue reading

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Fire of love in the direction of the heart

At Damanhur every year at the end of December, we gather at the spiral in Damjl and hold a ritual bonfire to celebrate the Nativity (birth of the divinities) and the beginning of the Epagomenoi days. The qualities and behavior of the fire can give synchronic indications for the present moment and future events. The pyre is built up with very long, thin wood trunks and branches so that at a certain point, it collapses and falls in a certain direction, which can also be meaningful. The Sages light the fire, the King and Queen Guides are present and the Sacred Dancers are in a circle at the perimeter of the spiral, dancing prayers in unison.

fire - 1Last year, the Nativity pyre fell toward me while I was dancing. I was standing at North, just to the right of the entrance to the spiral. With my survival instincts intact, I stopped dancing and jumped a little to the left to get out of the way as it fell, though the flaming wood touched the earth without reaching me. I felt a little silly for being scared. I understood that whoever builds the pyre takes accurate measurements of the wood, so it falls without hitting anyone, neither the Sages nor the Guides, Sacred Dancers or spectators.

At this year’s Nativity fire which was held last Monday evening, we were practicing beforehand and one of the Sacred Dancers half jokingly said she was afraid it would fall on us, and I said, “Oh that’s not going to happen! Someone measures the wood and it stays inside the spiral without reaching us when it falls. I learned this last year.”

The community gathered around and the Nativity pyre was lit. It burned and grew and then… it fell in my direction (South-West). This time though, I completed the Sacred Dance movement I was doing (Damjl – capital or #1 city) without jumping aside. I was standing there watching the fire fall toward me, feeling emotion and intensity, though also a kind of tranquility, without any fear. For me, this was an indication that there had been an evolution in trusting others, in the Popolo, in the divine, in the fire itself, and there was a capacity to stay centered in this trust even in moments of apparent danger.

Some people tend to comment on the Nativity fire and other rituals like it, sharing their interpretations and readings, though this is the first time I am doing so. I don’t feel very skilled in reading signs of this kind on a big, public scale. I usually do better with more intimate and individual divinations. Although seeing as how the fire keeps falling toward me, maybe it’s not just by chance. So, I’ll also share the personal divination reading I did.

fire - 2Before the lighting of the fire, I instinctively established a code:
If the fire were to fall toward me, it means that the most important thing to focus on during the coming year is the world of the heart (which means relationships with those around me, communication, connection, unity)
If the fire were to fall away from me, it means that the most important thing to focus on is the mission of Damanhur through work and projects, within Damanhur.
If it were to fall to the left, the most important thing would be Damanhur mission, work and projects, outside of Damanhur and abroad.
And if it were to fall to the right, it means that all three of these realms are equally important.

The fire fell toward me, so my reading of it is: for me, and maybe beyond me as well, the essential thing is love. Loving each other, living in connection, really knowing each other deeply and authentically. Understanding through the heart, beyond the mind. Making an effort to connect on a soul level and learning something from others every day. This is the simple essence of what will bring about solutions and success in all spheres of life.

A Damanhur ogni anno a fine dicembre, ci avviciniamo alla spirale di Damjl per una pira, per celebrare la Natività (nascita delle divinità) e l’inizio dei giorni Epagomenoi. Le qualità e comportamenti del fuoco possono dare indicazioni sincronici per il momento e eventi futuri… Continue reading

The shamanic power of Mahjong tiles…

…games and competitions.

Throughout history, different cultures have expressed the pleasure of connecting to others through playing in games, races and competitions. Having fun in this way creates deep connections and lightens conflicts. Peoples around the world have always devised playful ways to express this kind of connection in their own culture.

The Damanhurian Popolo has also been exploring this modality for a while now, playing and having fun as a way of connecting different people and groups. We value living with a sense of humor and not taking ourselves too seriously. We have the Game of Life, which since 1983, has made sure that the spirit of play is alive in hearts and everyday lives. We have had historical competitions, ones on the beach at Gargano in Southern Italy… Then there is the Horusiadi (a kind of Damanhurian Summer Olympics). There is also a new space at Damjl called the Giocoteca that creates spaces and opportunities to play and throw yourself in the game. On Tuesday evenings at the nucleo community Magilla, you can often choose to participate in the right challenge for yourself, whether playing board games, video games, foosball or a pretty fierce game of volleyball.

mahjong tilesThinking about the value of play, I remember when I was a child and I went to visit my relatives in Taiwan, and almost every evening after dinner, they played Mahjong, a Chinese game where you win points and sometimes money by creating favorable combinations of tiles that are like playing cards. My grandparents, aunts and uncles would sit there for hours divided in tables of four, snatching up and pushing around the tiles with their signature click-clack sound. I asked myself, why do they spend so much time playing this game? It was an immovable ritual, an absolute priority.

Sometimes I would play with them, and often win too! And I began to understand the fascination of Mahjong, the magic of it all. Gradually entering into connection with the other players in a network of telepathic thought, navigating with strategy and speed. Sometimes synchronicity would make extraordinary and improbable combinations with the tiles laid down and passed from one person to the next. Basically, it was a veiled shamanic school. Even the tiles contained interesting natural elements: wind from the four directions, different kinds of dragons – red, green and white, the four seasons of the year, and four flowers (bamboo, chrysanthemum, orchid and plum).

These experiences in my youth taught me that giving space to playing and games nourishes us, creates bonds, opens news doors and refines our perceptive and magical powers.

Quaglia Cocco, Apprentice Befana

Il potere sciamanico delle tessere di Mahjong… i giochi e le competizioni

Da quando il tempo è tempo, i Popoli hanno sempre espresso la piacevolezza della connessione attraverso il gioco, le gare e le competizioni. Il divertimento lega gli animi e alleggerisce i conflitti. Qualsiasi popolo ha sempre escogitato modalità giocose per esprimere nella propria cultura modi di connettersi l’una all’altro.

Anche il Popolo damanhuriano da tempo sta esplorando questa modalità, che attraverso il gioco ed il divertimento sta legando i vari gruppi. Valorizziamo il vivere con l’umorismo e il non prendersi troppo sul serio. Abbiamo il Gioco della Vita che da 1983 fa si che lo spirito del gioco sia vivo nella nostra vita e nei nostri cuori. Abbiamo avuto le gare storiche, quelle sulla spiaggia a Gargano… Poi le Horusiadi (una sorta di Olimpiadi d’estate a Damanhur). C’è anche uno nuovo spazio a Damjl che si chiama la “Giocoteca” che crea spazi ed opportunità di giocare e giocarsi. C’è la martedì sera al nucleo comunità Magilla dove spesso si può scegliere la sfida più adatta a sé, tra giochi a tavolo, videogiochi, calcetto o un torneo di pallavolo piuttosto accanito.

Pensando del valore del gioco, mi ricordo quando ero piccola e andavo a trovare i miei parenti in Taiwan, e quasi ogni sera dopo cena giocavano a Mahjong, un gioco da tavolo cinese dove si guadagnano punti e a volte soldi, creando opportune combinazioni di tessere. I miei nonni e gli zii si sedevano divisi in tavoli a quattro, scambiando e spostando le tessere lisce con i clic-clac, immobili per delle ore; mi chiedevo: perché passano così tanto tempo a questo gioco? Era un rito immutabile, una priorità assoluta.

A volte giocavo con loro, e spesso vincevo anche! E ho cominciato a capire il fascino del Mahjong, la magia. Man mano entrando in connessione con gli altri giocatori in una rete di pensiero telepatico, da navigare con strategia e velocità. A volte la sincronicità faceva succedere combinazioni straordinarie e improbabili con le tessere lasciate e passate uno all’altro. Insomma, era una scuola sciamanica non-dichiarata. Anche le tessere contenevano elementi naturali interessanti: il vento delle quattro direzioni, tre tipi di dragone mahjong flowers– rosso verde e bianco, le quattro stagioni dell’anno, e quattro fiori (bambù, crisantemo, orchidea, pruno).

Queste esperienze della mia gioventù mi hanno insegnato che dare spazio al gioco ci nutre, crea legami, apre nuove porte, raffina i nostri poteri percettivi e magici.

Quaglia Cocco, l’Apprendista Befana

Fire dancing in the circus and riding wild horses

Ayoto 350[crossposted from the Damanhur Blog]

In making the choice to be a Damanhur citizen, my initial sadness over leaving behind other possibilities in life transformed to deep gratitude as one by one, everything came back around and manifested synchronically…

I came to Damanhur while I was traveling around the world for two years, relishing the nomadic freedom of moving around the planet and through my days and nights with no fixed schedules or destinations. I let synchronicity be my travel agent and intuition my compass. As much as I was thriving while living in the moment, I also was seeking a place to make a home and sink in some roots. Seeking sacred space, ritual, communal living, art and healing as a way of life, and land for growing organic things. I found Damanhur, and thought: this place has it all. I can’t believe it already exists! … I wasn’t ready to commit to being here yet, though I felt drawn to stay connected as I kept traveling.

Everywhere I went, I sensed possible timelines to the future solidifying. It seemed like, no matter where I was, no matter how exotic and absurd the situation was, there were peopleMacau jade elefant offering me long term places to stay and sources of income, transportation, food, everything I needed to live a comfortable life, as networks of love and friendship materialized. I knew that if I chose to stay, this place could be my home… Despite the glamour, beauty, or adventurous story surrounding my options, I always felt in my heart that it wasn’t right to stay in those places. Every time I said no to something, I felt this enormity of gifts from the universe and flow of events in a certain direction, collapsing back down into the void. What were the situations? Well, here are two:

At one point, I was on the island of Macau, a former Portuguese pirate colony turned Las Vegas of China, off the coast of Hong Kong, visiting a friend who was coordinating the construction of a Cirque du Soleil theatre at the newly erected Venetian hotel and casino complex. MacauIt was a surreal experience on many levels, including the fact that I was in Venice the week before, and I found myself in a sparkling new, still-being-constructed version of the time and water-worn, crumbling medieval city on the water. There were even brand new gondolas! In Macao, with my friend at an Indian restaurant, I met the director of the Cirque du Soleil show that was to debut in the Venetian theatre, and when he found out I was a fire dancer, he encouraged me to audition for the show. Fire dancer, in a luxury casino circus show, on a Chinese island. This was one of the timelines I hopped off of as I followed my path back toward Damanhur.

Macau fire dragon

Cappadocia jade horse 2Then, there was Göreme. In central Turkey, Cappadocia, way out, amongst Sufi mystics, cowboys and a Brazilian belly dancer, in a dusty landlocked alien landscape of infinite volcanic tuff rock protrusions and millennial cave homes. That timeline included a band of authentic cowboys, extremely rare (for a non-Muslim non-Turkish woman) whirling dervish ritual dance lessons from a Sufi master in the backroom of his carpet shop, a job at the local travel agency and nightly belly dancing at the tourist show for an absurdly high return, given the 15 minute caveperformance time. My own, simple, serene remodeled yet traditional “wall-to-wall” Turkish carpet-covered cave palace with organic vegetable patch and apricot, mulberry, fig and cherry trees out front, and famous cave temples right above. Hot air balloons, UFO museum, vast underground cities. The warming marble slab at the local hammam. Most of all, what drew me to stay in this tiny, remote, completely unique and incomprehensible place, beyond the rousing nights with a cave full of Spanish tourists, raki liquor flowing, spoon clacave2cking and dancing… were the horses. A small, cave ranch with the most beautiful wild brown horses. Contacting these deeply wise animals everyday and riding them through the strange, dramatic landscape. Occasionally, the cowboys would trek to Kayseri, ride into the mountains and come back wrangling more than 400 wild horses, including day old ones amongst the bucking stallions.

Cappadocia wild horses

Well, there are ever more places and unforgettable scenes, though let’s flash forward to Damanhur.

When I came back to Damanhur, to stay this time, I started a program to become an ‘A’ citizen, and after a Game of Life viaggio adventure and intensive communal living experience with other new citizens, I moved to my first established nucleo community, the one that synchronically had space for me… It was Tin, in the heart of the Sacred Woods Temple. And there, in the horse stables, were Lucy and Nuri, two horses, the only ones we had at Damanhur at that time. So, my love for living with horses returned, fulfilled.

Hamurdan

Then, a few years ago, Arciere Aglio, one of the Damanhurian artists with a flare for directing provocative theatre shows, was casting for a new rendition of a musical theatre piece that was written and performed nine years previously, called Circus Hamurdan. He asked me to play a new part, written in specifically for me: Ayoto Kome Co-Chen. A Chinese. fire dancing. circus performer. My few spoken lines were all in Chinese… and purposefully, humorously mis-translated into Italian. So even that seemingly released dream came to be. As I was dancing with fire fans in the middle of the Damanhur Crea conference center Ayototurned big top circus ring, with my (fictional) Spanish bull-fighting fire-eating companion, this realization really landed in me. Seven years ago, when I made the impassioned choice to live here and become a Damanhur citizen, I thought I had cut off the other possibilities that were presented to me on renounced life paths. Little did I know that living in the heart of a mystical paradise, with golden node of Synchronic Lines, ritual connection to Oracle forces and divinities, populated with alchemists and magicians… the events here move in such magical and unexpected ways. If the intention is pure, and the will is strong, then all dreams, desires and wishes come true in time, even the forgotten ones. Life at Damanhur spans time and space in an infinte way so that everywhere is here and all time is now. And anything and everything is possible.

Ready to make a bold choice and experiment with living and manifesting your dreams in Damanhur? The Syncho-door is open. Destination Damanhur… Looking forward to playing in the synchronic field of possibilities together!

The Apprentice Befana loves to dance

During the most recent meeting and celebration of the Epiphany for the Damanhur Way of the Oracle group (which among other things, holds the full moon Oracle ritual) last January, Shama Viola the current “Befana” was preparing to pass on the role to a new person, only to discover that the consensus from the group was that Shama is to keep the role for now, while she finds and trains an apprentice. (The Befana is a role within the Way of the Oracle that is annually bestowed upon a lucky sage at the Epiphany, and throughout the year, the Befana occasionally shares messages of wisdom with the community.)

Befana3So, among the names that were spontaneously yelled out by the crowd to suggest an apprentice Befana, I heard mine. I felt curious about this potential new adventure. I was tempted by the fun props and witchy hats involved, though I stayed silent (since I am careful about accepting a new role without completely understanding what it means, knowing how a casual “yes” can turn into years and lifetimes of responsibility and commitment.) In any case, the moment passed, and it seemed to go in a different direction because I didn’t hear anything more about the Befana.

Then, last month, Shama writes to me saying that in her search for an apprentice, she used her trusty pendulum with the Damanhurian phone book, page by page, and discovered that it is to be… Quaglia Cocco! She asked the question and verified it three times just to be sure, and it seems that I am the “chosen” one for this role. I should have known that a room full of Oracle Way folks can’t be wrong…

So after consulting with Shama to begin to step into the Befana’s shoes, here’s my first article.

Sometimes we may find ourselves far from Damanhur or other places that feel sacred or like home… for various reasons, to visit relatives, for business trips. Many Damanhur citizens and initiates live almost always physically distant, even if in their hearts, their desire is to be fully present in the community, near the Temples of Humankind, with the Popolo Spirituale. In these situations, however long they last, there’s no reason to feel disconnected because of geographic distance, because as Initiates, we are the first temples, living in the sacredness of our bodies, which are optimal alchemical laboratories and repositories of knowedge and memories. During my life as a traveler and dancer, I have learned how to reconnect with a sense of the sacred, even in the most remote places, through breath, movement, and body awareness as a means of asacred dance 1wakening. Let’s take a look at the sacredness of dance in different traditions, to better understand how the concept of the body-temple, with ritual opening to the divine through movement, is really universal. Almost all the peoples of the earth have practices of sacred dance, and of course at Damanhur, we do too! Continue reading