Italy. passion and bureaucracy.

Lots of people ask me what it’s like to live in Damanhur, in Italy, far away from my birthplace and hometown, blood family and earthly origins. (Cleveland, Ohio; Houston, Texas; Taiwan and San Francisco, California, USA.)

It’s quite an experience. And it takes a lot of determination and even hard-headed stubbornness at times to move through the apparent obstacles and moments of confusion, disorientation and frustration to just keep going with it and find the joy and enchantment again.

Operating in Italian for most every interaction throughout the day and into the night for late community meetings and Mediterranean dinners, there is a certain kind of passionate charge to it, an emotional depth and poetry that really can’t be reproduced saying the same thing in English. I do often feel fatigued at the “end” of the day. Routing the neural pathways of every communication through foreign language circuitry takes effort, especially since I am not using my first or second acquired language but fifth… behind English, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and French.

The Italian bureaucracy is part of the trial as well. It’s stereotyped and exaggerated, though sometimes it really is as convoluted as it is portrayed in urban myths and media.

moduloLately, I’ve been moving through the steps of renewing my Permesso di Soggiorno (residency permit – kind of a greencard equivalent) and these kinds of processes highlight the nature of this phenomenon.

To do this renewal, I picked up a packet of forms from the Ivrea post office and very determinedly tracked down all the information and codes, documents and papers I needed to complete it. Including the 16 Euro marca da bollo which can’t be purchased at the post office, and must be acquired for some reason at a tobacco shop… Continue reading

Sychronic wedding adventures, Ecstatic Dance and Damanhur in Colorado

Meredith and TimmIt all began in the Temples of Humankind. I was the guide for a couple, Timm and Meredith, for their first visit to the Temples, and then they came to Ecstatic Dance at Damanhur, which I facilitate. They hosted me at their place in New York when I went to Omega last October, happy to have another contact with Damanhur after an enchanting visit.

Then, Timm contacted me months ago because he was asked to officiate a wedding for dear friends in Denver, and he wanted a special outfit for the occasion made by Damanhurian artists. I put him in contact with the right person and facilitated the order, with the effort of conversion from inches to centimeters and various Italian vocabulary for clothing measurements. A grey suit set in cashmere and silk, the perfect mix between eastern and western style. With great distrust in the Italian postal system after precious things have already been lost between Italy and America, I told him that I would hand deliver the outfit from Damanhur to Denver.

art at the Fusion Factory He enthusiastic about the idea, so I said, “If you help me to organize some events that I can do while I’m there, I’ll come!” Right away, we were activated. Timm introduced me to friends and friends-of-friends, until we had manifested a schedule of activity in Denver for the week before the wedding, all through Facebook. The organizers at the Fusion Factory for the Friday evening event hadn’t really heard of Damanhur until they met me online, did their research and put everything together: the art, music, film, invitations, in less than a month.

Ecstatic Dance at Guildwerks

Wednesday evening, I facilitated an Ecstatic Dance session at Guildwerks, another Denver community art space, with a visual journey through the Temples of Humankind in video projection. The theme of the dance: union and synchronicity, seeing as how Amber and Mike, the bride and groom were present. Thursday, I went to Rhythm Sanctuary, the weekly ecstatic dance event at Denver, and there were more than 300 people there! Waves of joy and movement. Ahva, the founder of Rhythm Sanctuary, had followed the conversation on Facebook for our event organization, and she presented me as a Damanhurian that evening, announcing the Friday event. Like on Wednesday, many people came up to me after the dance to talk about Damanhur with interest and curiosity.

We were hosted at Muse’s place, and Michael came out from California to Denver for the Damanhur infused events. Muse and Michael are two friends of Timm and Meredith, and they all had met each other at Damanhur. So, in this beautiful house with Asiatic and gothic-violet decor, there was a kind of class reunion from their group at Damanhur.

geometric power Saturday, the wedding was held in a sacred space called “The Starhouse” in the Boulder hills. Consecrated land, round wooded structure designed with sacred geometry. Every tree was asked if it wanted to be part of the temple. Before the wedding, Timm was almost as anxious as the groom, and we went to Tonic Herban Lounge in Boulder, an oxygen bar with Atlantean paintings on the walls, where even the proprietor Mark was fascinated by Damanhur. We were nourished by healthy elixirs and delectable raw vegan desserts. While all the raw cacao from the dessert probably didn’t help Timm’s nerves, the aromatherapy infused oxygen did.

wedding danceThe wedding was conceived as an esoteric ritual, with dedicated texts and prescribed gestures, and the outfit made in Damanhur added value and magic. There was also a multicultural aspect, with the Mexican grandmother and the German one reciting prayers in their original languages. The close relatives offered blessings and strips of colored cloth placed over the hands of the couple. At dinner, planetary symbols on the candles indicated the tables for the guests, and each guest had a Thoth tarot card synchronically chosen. Mine was “Completeness.” To balance out all the spiritual seriousness, there was also a rock n’ roll side to it all. During the ceremony, the bride entered to an instrumental rendition of Guns n’ Roses’s “Sweet Child of Mine,” and after dinner, a live band played classics from the Beatles to Michael Jackson while we danced in a rhythmic pulse of celebration.

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Tutto è cominciato nei Templi dell’Umanità. Ero l’accompagnatrice con una coppia Timm e Meredith per la visita nei Templi, e poi loro sono venuti alla Danza Estatica a Damanhur, che guido io. Mi hanno ospitato a casa loro a New York quando sono andata ad Omega in ottobre, felici di aver un ulteriore contatto con Damanhur dopo una visita incantevole... Continue reading

FAQ (frequently asked questions) for new and international citizens at Damanhur

I remember the tingling excitement I felt at the thought of becoming a Damanhur citizen, in those days when it was all still a dream within a dream. Then, the endless questions and unknowns would spin in my head, and I wondered if I could really manifest it as a destiny, with so many practical things to consider and resolve.

Here a few frequently asked questions I’ve heard from people considering citizenship at Damanhur and responses based on my experience here. Whether you are coming for the new temporary citizenship or longer, or just browsing through the website, I hope this brings clarity and ignites the courage for you to dive into your dreams… Continue reading

The journey and the destination: Damanhur

My name is Quaglia Cocco, which means “Quail Coconut” in Italian. I live in Damanhur Spiritual EcoCommunity in northern Italy as a full time resident “A” citizen. This means I live in one of the nucleo communities and fully participate in all aspects of Damanhur, so: the social and community life, the spiritual tradition and rituals, and the aspect connected to playful transformation. I am the first and (so far) only born-and-raised American who has made this particular choice of full immersion Damanhur.

I often hear the questions, “How did you hear about Damanhur? … How did you come here? … How did you come to live here?!?” asked rather incredulously. Yes, it does seem unlikely that an Ohio-born, Texas-raised nomadic Renaissance artist with ancestral roots in China and Taiwan and educational roots in Berkeley, California and tribal roots in San Francisco, with a tendency to hop tropical islands and fire dance all over the world … would decide to settle in provincial northern Italy at the foothills of the Piedmont Alps. Well, this isn’t just an Italian mountain village here, folks. This is Damanhur. I could live anywhere in the world, and I chose to live here. But how?

Like many important, life-altering choices, it all started at Burning Man.

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