2016: the year of the yang Fire Monkey

At this time of year, there are celebrations in many cultures, including Imbolc, an ancient Irish tradition connected to the birth of milk sheep as a source of nourishment and the growing light toward springtime. The Greek Dionysian celebrations and Roman Saturnalia are the ancient origins of Carnevale. They were moments of renewal when social obligations were dissolved and the hierarchical orders were overturned to give space for playfulness, chaos and debauchery. The tradition of using masks at Carnevale might have originated in the Egyptian celebrations in honor of Isis, which were imported by the Roman Empire.

fire monkey - 1The next full moon, February 8 is the New Year of the lunar calendar, traditionally used in many countries of Asia, including China. According to this system, 2016 is the year of the yang Fire Monkey. Powerful! As you may know, every year is connected to an animal/lunar zodiac sign (there are 12), a Taoist element (there are 5, each one associated with a planet: water-Mercury, metal-Venus, fire-Mars, earth-Saturn, wood-Jupiter) and is also categorized as yin (feminine) or yang (masculine).

So here we are, moving from the yin Wood Sheep of 2015 to the yang Fire Monkey of 2016. Changing gears! The Monkey is associated with the zodiac sign Leo in the western tradition. It’s a creative, fun, vivacious influence, full of expression, quick thinking and leadership capacity. It’s already a fiery sign, and this is increased twice, by the fire element of this year, which brings passion, joy, energy and dynamism, and by the masculine-yang influence.

It is a year full of exuberance that moves with speed and determination. The Monkey increases communication and a sense of humor that can help us to move beyond stressful moments with ease and tranquility. Unusual solutions for old problems could come forward, and we can achieve successes – even in the most incredible plans – through strong personal effort, if we dare to try diverse strategies. A spirit of risk and rebellion is present. Physical movement is also useful.

It’s important not to go too far beyond our capacities, especially during the heat of summer. It is also important to verify the authenticity of words exchanged in velocity, basing our evaluations on facts and not emotions. Sometimes it is necessary to calm the monkey-mind that jumps from one thing to another without stabilizing and deepening an effect. Anyhow, it is useful to keep moving. If something doesn’t work, seek another path instead of staying stuck in analyzing the past.

It’s a year of movement and achievements, a year to speed ahead with new and innovative ideas put into action, daring to launch new projects, to be playful and courageous.


2016: L’anno della Scimmia di fuoco yang

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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

days of the hunt and gold rays of the sun

Mt. ShastaOpen up lives, stories of different eras and morals. Days of the hunt, the green of the leaves, pines strong and centred. Animals, bearers of messages and companionship, nourishment. Sacred alliances. Rhythms of nature. Encounters and ecstasy. Silence. Fire. Reading stones and clouds. Stars speaking in winks. Codes in the flowers, in the colors of clothing that identify: Roles. Relations. and every emotion is truth because every gesture, every word comes from the spontaneous purity of being. Gold in the rays of the sun touching the fertile land. Silver in the reflection of the moon. Fire concentrates all eyes toward a great unified vision, of life and victory.

written on Mount Shasta, California, 2 September 2013

Aprire le vite, racconti di epoche e morali diversi. Giorni di caccia, la verde delle foglie, i pini forti e centrati… Continue reading

Tarot cards and chicken coop doors: the ritual of a nucleo community ‘turno’

Medicinal plants in the gardenAt Damanhur, we have the idea that living in our nucleo communities is like a ritual, and ideally, we move through all our moments at home with Attention. Presence. Enchantment. It’s true, there is a palpable everyday magic in the simple moments and tasks of living in a Damanhurian nucleo. Things that may seem like normal household chores, with this intention, become dense and significant, living acts of magic.

It’s 9 o’clock and time to start my ‘turno.’ For one half-day every week, each one of us in the nucleo has our turn to watch over things, take care of cleaning and cooking, attending to guests, and additional projects like gardening, building or fixing things, deep cleaning, and working the land.

I begin. I unlock the front door, put on my work coat, lightly dusted with wood shavings, and a pair of water resistant work gloves, maybe the 8th pair I have worn down and sometimes lost in my years at Damanhur. I go outside, feeling the clear, pure chill of Valchiusella winter air on my face. I twist open Asinella offers water to the firethe metal handle of the wood burning heater. I heft and throw in one log after another, taking them from a pile of logs meticulously stacked according to size, circumference and length. I attempt to vary their shape, as I have learned that stacking alternating round and triangular pieces is most effective and energy efficient. This is one of many pieces of practical information I have accumulated over the years here, ones I never would have known otherwise and that now have become automatic. There is a certain visceral satisfaction in hefting wood, a feeling of really using the muscles of the body in this primal functionality. Wood, fire, heat. It is a symbol, it is the warmth of family, closeness, care. Life force. Camaraderie. Living consciousness in the heart of a community home.

chickens!I walk along the former greenhouses turned tool shed, bike shed and storage space. I let the chickens out of their coop as today is a sunny day, with no ice or snow on the grass, warm enough for them to go out despite the winter chill. I pull the string system my housemate Volpe Zenzero (Fox Ginger) devised to open a little hatch door from outside the chicken coop. Volpe is the devoted caretaker of the house chickens, and we joke that this is the only place in the world where a fox nurtures chickens instead of preying on them. The chickens dash out to graze in an enclosed grassy lawn… Continue reading

birth: creation, autonomy, self-destruction and Renaissance

bird_roughBirth. the birth of anything, a divinity, a child, a fire, a love, from seed to flower, from an ingenious idea channeled in the night, feverish and awake until dawn, to its completion, the fatigue repaid three times over again by the joy and satisfaction in materializing something… it is always an act of trust. a letting go.

once alive, the creation takes the reigns of its own life. it can gallop, run like a wild horse, fly like a phosphorescent pegasus, sing in every color and form… or burn out and destroy itself, not in the flames of passion and excess which would still be a spark of vitality — even if intensely brief like those that shoot from the bonfire, launching themselves toward the stars, pretending to be shooting stars before darkening into ashes escaped in the wind — but the most destructive destruction is the one that doesn’t dare to fly, dance, not even walk. shut in darkness and silence, in the shadows of inflated fears and ghosts of regret. an illness that I can only heal myself. rebirth. Renaissance. infusion of courage in the blood and pills of artistic impulse coursing through the lines and veins.

life is gifted only once, then it is regained with every breath, movement and creative act.

la Nascita. la nascita di qualsiasi cosa, divinità, bambina, fuoco, amore, dal seme un fiore, dall’idea geniale canalizzata di notte, febbrile e sveglia fino all’alba, alla compiutezza, la stanchezza ripagata tre volte dalla gioia e soddisfazione nella materializzazione… è sempre un atto di fiducia. un lasciarsi andare. Continue reading