First stop. I went to Evora to visit Paula and her daughter Raquel, whom I first met when they came to Damanhur for the first Ecovillage Design Education course in 2011. At the time, Raquel was 14 years old, and it was really a joy to see her now at a ripe age of 19 as a very busy and elegantly dressed university student researching marine biology. She even has a long cape as part of her uniform, draped in different ways depending on the circumstances! Paula is an art professor at the University of Evora and is developing an initiative called “Academia de Sofia” to promote education from a community, artistic, ecological and spiritual perspective. She has brought a group of her students to visit Tamera and dreams of bringing them to Damanhur as well.
After an all day journey to Milan then flying into Lisbon, Paula came and met me at the airport, and as we navigated our way to Evora via a series of buses, she explained, overjoyed, that after years of political obstacles from conservatives in Parliament, a progressive coalition had succeeded in winning a vote to overturn previous election results, which was a huge victory and hope for the Portuguese people. All this the moment my plane landed.
The next day, we departed for an explorative journey around the area. The sun was brilliant and the landscape was green and verdant again, after the rain of the previous weeks. We first went to the Almendres Cromlech, a very ancient, more than 6,000 years old stone circle, which is one of the most sacred spaces for the Portuguese of the area, where we meditated and danced a prayer to connect with the land. In contact with the stones, I had visions of how this circle was a space of healing and nurturing in ancient times, including in sleep and dreams, and a place of connection with the divine feminine, a counterbalance to times of intense violence and war. In this history, I sensed a lot of horses, movement and migration all around, contrasting the absolute peace within the circle.
After Almendres, Paula showed me her second home in Igrejinha, a small countryside town and lake area where she intends to create a community group. I enjoy how the towns in Portugal almost all have the same basic color scheme of stark sun-washed white, lined with colorful edges.
In the afternoon we went to the University of Evora art and architecture campus, into a library which used to be a pasta factory and has a dome that Paula envisions with stained glass like the domes of the Hall of Mirrors and Hall of Water in the Temples of Humankind. This is where I offered an interactive presentation of Damanhur with some people from the university and local residents, perceiving how even at a distance, a contact with Damanhur stimulates curiosity and fascination in the sensitive people who choose to be present at such events, whom I invited to come, visit and participate in the Amine’ program. I delighted in sharing some of my favorite aspects of Damanhur in this place of study and creativity: the Temples, Inner Harmonization, Sacred Dance, Selfica, Tree Orientation, music from the mUvement, Bral Talej cards, and answering all the questions ranging from marriage and financials to more esoteric matters.
We went to visit Aldegice one of the spiritual elders of the community in the late afternoon and into the evening, enjoying a generous spread of tea and snacks, while talking about art and healing and such in a more intimate group. Algis is a Jungian scholar who has spent many years studying and working in California, and she was very grateful to have contact with a Damanhurian, as she can no longer travel to go visit in person. Her home has a library full of impressive volumes including Jung’s Red Book which I could lose myself in, a space for sandbox therapy, and some space for hosting guests as well.
I spent a few days visiting Tamera for the first time, participating in their olive harvest, while Damanhur community members were contemporaneously harvesting olives on our lands in Tuscany. It was the very tail end of their guest season, so a bit of an unusual moment to show up, though I suppose I’m not known for doing things in a sensible and predictable way. In any case, I was surprised to see several familiar people within an hour of stepping onto the lands: Elsa, a French Damanhur initiate, and two other people who had come to my nucleo community Dendera for work exchange last year, one of whom is now living in Tamera, the other who was visiting for a month. Well, the community world is tightly woven with interconnections, and most all of the guests I met there were curious to hear about life in Damanhur and possibilities for visiting.
I had the fortune of spending some time with Sabine, one of the founders of Tamera, sharing an enriching conversation about our communities, and one of the themes we touched on was archetypes, which she has also been researching for some time. At Tamera, there is a sacred stone circle nestled in the woods atop a hill with 96 large stones, each one of which represents a specific archetype with an engraved symbol on the stone, a “cosmogram.” An interesting stimulus for our research in Damanhur on the 163 elements… which is another story for another time. As it happens, Sabine was initially inspired at the Almendres stone circle in the manifestation of Tamera, and it was nice to feel a kind of connective flow between the two sites. With some members of the Terra Deva group which develops spiritual ecology at Tamera, we shared about a range of points from animal and plant communication to Oracle connections. Then there are the lakes, the research on water, the Solar Village where renewable energy experiments are taking place in a beautiful equilibrium of simplicity and technology… well, quite a lot of similar and parallel aspects as Damanhur, particularly in our Arca Baita Tentyris region, some that are already in conversation.
Then, I went to the Algarve region in the south to Moinhos Velhos, Anne Karine’s wellness and retreat center – she’s a Damanhur initiate from Norway who has lived in Portugal for 24 years. I felt welcomed home finding a sanctuary with oriented trees, one of which is an aged cork salutation tree, a spheroself and cord spiral, lots of pieces of Damanhur, including the heart and the communal meals with the staff and volunteers. I offered a Damanhur sharing here as well and some sessions with the guests who were present for a juice fast, almost all from the UK. Such a delight to harmonize and do Sacred Dance in the meditation temple with glass walls letting in the sunlight and green, where evening meditations are held too, some with gong, other with steel drum and etheric harp. One evening there was the Damanhur cord spiral in the center, with candlelight and coloring, a quiet atmosphere of introspection.
As with every journey, it’s been an opportunity to ride the waves of synchronicity, shine some light and see my home community with an added perspective. I am grateful, and quite enamored with Portugal. Looking forward to feeling the heat of the sunlight on my skin again and being in the special frequency of purity and aliveness that permeates the people and land.