Healing of love and the dream of a new world

Con voi! My most recent journey in Portugal has been very rich with events and connections.


After landing in the Lisbon airport, I immediately took a bus to Evora and after changing into my temple dance costume in a refined hotel bathroom, I found myself standing on the Temple of Diana and doing a Sacred Dance performance. It felt very powerful to claim the honor of catalyzing millennial sacred space there. The temple is usually off-limits to anyone, and it felt transgressive on a human level yet very welcome on the divine level to step up and awaken it.

temple dance - 1I sensed the deep layers of history, the primal and elemental energies still breathing underneath the projections and oppression of religion over the centuries. A sense of reclaiming, for the feminine and the goddess. I danced a prayer for the temple and opening to intimacy and union through the public art performances that followed: blind hugs - 2blindfolded hugging and eye contact with strangers. Locals, travelers from northern Europe and Chinese tour groups stopped to observe, and some were brave enough to come in and participate. A feeling of love and magic all around.

The next day Paula S. – the Portuguese art professor who had organized the temple dance and performance piece, who came to Damanhur for the first Ecovillage Design Education course we held in 2011 and is now the organizer for the Path to Spiritual Freedom (new Damanhur School of Meditation path) in Portugal – took me around to meet different people and places in the spiritual and alternative world of Evora. She explained to me that there is a tight network of people who bring light to this city, although it takes determination to keep going because they can still feel the repressive resonance of the inquisition days. Despite this, I sensed the lightness in the hearts of the people in this area of Alentejo.

Then, I went to Tamera and participated in two events, Global Love School, along with Betsy and Eddie, and the World Council.

Global Love School

fire and waterthis and the following photos from Tamera by Ian Mackenzie

The intention of Global Love School is to explore the theme of love within communitarian, spiritual and political perspectives. There were a hundred participants or so, diverse individuals involved in community, communications, activism, healing of the body, soul and earth. Continue reading


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


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

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 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

Ritual dance in a circle of animalistic fervor

A great circle is born

To tell the truth, I went away from the Mantica of the Lamb this year (a kind of game-divination involving red and green teams that call for a lamb, or this year a goat, to exit a big circle in a grass field cut into four alternating pie slices) without a clear idea about how to read the signs and interpret the messages, if not the understanding that animals can really express sense of humor and a theatrical sense of life. Dear Saetta the goat, with two feet over the line of victory and two still in the unknown of the game where everything is possible, you just need to choose your team…walk around, change your mind, choose again, forget, go straight, get distracted for a moment, speed up, go in a circle, slow down and flirt with the desires of the humans passionately calling you to come, to exit the circle on their side to win a point for the team. Now over here, now over there, another quarter turn of the teams around the circle and all reference points are lost. If you knew where you were, you are now 90 degrees more aligned with your inner north that pulls you towards destiny, other than the colors that you may not even be able to distinguish in the same way as we do.

What really stayed within me was the dance. In these beginning years of training in Sacred Dance, I was getting used to the meditative and tranquil atmosphere of the rituals. The usual ritual silence, or if there is sound, it’s a light Music of the Plants singsong or some sweet melody in Sacred Language or at the most a rousing version of Oro Men. This time however, there were the yells, screams, whistles and taunts from one side to the other. The midday sun burning down on us with the heat, sweat trapped between the red cape – which the wind was continually rustling – and my bare shoulders, while I went down on one knee and stood back up for the various Sacred Dance movements. Going down on all fours repeatedly for the ‘animal’ gesture, the ants took advantage and started crawling up my pants. Dancing the word for the color of my team, I felt the red that burned inside, the fiery and uncontainable energy. Everyone around us yelling in animalistic fervor, calling for victory, fading into a blur as I moved and concentrated all my energy and intention in every gesture. Refusing to be distracted and letting everything enter into me. It’s only a game, right? Though the emotions are real, an ocean of pure feeling that reminded me of a contemporaneous lifetime as a light-welterweight boxing champion inside the ring with 13,000 people around me, and I couldn’t even see them, only an indistinguishable black background. The only thing I could hear were their primordial screams for the fight. I remember the intensity.

Per dire la verità, non sono andata via dalla Mantica dell’Agnello quest’anno (una sorta di mantica-gioco coinvolgendo squadre rosso e verde che chiamano un agnello, o una capra quest’anno, da uscire da un grande cerchio in un prato, tagliato in quattro) con un’idea chiara su come leggere i segni ed interpretare i messaggi… Continue reading