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


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

the olive tree

divine olives

published in the book Intimacy with Trees

my tree is an olive tree
from the air, breathing in the infinity of the sky, free clear and light
roots twist and entwine in the fertile depths of the earth
leaves purify thoughts and whisper the rhythm of time
moving in a contained dance with the wind

ancient rich tree
reflecting the nature of your land
microcosm of solid vitality

most saturated of all the earthly paradises that I have seen
fire of life distilled from the collecting chamomilesun in rays of light
pure gold

golden, the sunflowers
golden, the fruit trees
the cherry, fig, apricot and plum

every object that you contain
everything created and touched in you
a natural expression of beauty
the spheres of the Medici
six sister planets of Venus that orbit in an eternal cycle
Renaissance potency in every courtyard and chapel
vital and creative incision

your people, armed with smiles of innocence and joy
pleasure in the air, in La Maremma
from the sea, up to the hills, into the vineyards
I could spend a lifetime going around your roads
lined with cypress and oak

In Regello
surrounded by bright, red poppy flowers
interrupting the infinite green with kisses of passionate color
in the fields with beans and potatoes,
strawberries and cabbage
I feel at home on this faraway land
agricultural outpost charged with light, thought and intention

spiritual brothers and sisters with luminous eyes
like the azure of the sea
every dinner a simple and delectable party
every drop of oil and wine, worthy of a queen

at sunset, leaning against the trunk of the olive tree
my tree, it envelops me with poetry
subtle nourishment and the wisdom of this sacred earth

~ inspired by Damanhur nucleo community “Netila Ra” during my first visit there with Milena of the What’s Your Tree project and Rona from Findhorn


Netila Raho deciso. il mio albero è un olivo. dall’aria prende l’ampiezza del cielo, libero limpido e leggero. mentre i radici attorcigliano e si intrecciano nella feconda profondità della terra. le foglie purificano i pensieri e danno il ritmo del tempo, muovendo in una danza contenuta con il respiro del vento. tu, albero antico, ricco, rifletti la tua terra, microcosmo di solida vitalità.

Toscana. fra tutti i paradisi terrestri che ho attraversato, tu sei di sicuro il più saturo. fuoco di vita distillato dal sole in raggi di luce, d’oro puro. dorati i girasoli, dorati i frutti. il ciliegio, fico, albicocco e susino. ogni oggetto che contieni, ogni cosa creata e toccata in te è l’espressione naturale della bellezza. le palline dei Medici – sei pianete sorelle di the greeting treeVenere che orbitano in un ciclo eterno. potenza rinascimentale in ogni cortile e cappella. impronto vitale, creativo, il tuo popolo armato con un sorriso d’ingenuità ed allegria. piacere nell’aria, nella Maremma, e dal mare in su per le colline, nelle vigne. potrei passare una vita intera girando per le tue strade alberate da quercia e cipresso.

ma arrivata qui circondata dai papaveri che interrompono la verde infinita con baci di colori appassionati…fra i fagioli e le patate, le fragole ed i cavoli, qui sento a casa, su questo territorio lontano, avamposto agricolo caricato di luce e pensiero. fratelli con occhi luminosi come l’azzurro del mare, ogni cena una festa semplice e stupenda, ogni gocce d’olio e vino, degna di una regina. al tramonto, appoggiata contro il tronco del olivo, il mio albero mi avvolge con poesia, nutrimento sottile e la saggezza di questa sacra terra.

~ ispirata dal nucleo damanhuriano Netila Ra durante la mia prima visita con Milena del progetto ‘What’s Your Tree’ e Rona da Findhorn

revolutionary unchanging

birthday traditionChange nucleo community? But why? Before coming to Damanhur, I was a big traveler for an intense period of time. The only constant in my life was change. One of the many reasons I chose Damanhur is that here, I can stay in one place and the world comes to me, the most interesting and creative people from all countries and cultures… instead of going around and seeking them out. I realized that the same dynamic is happening in the microcosm of the nucleo. If I stay here, if I am the constant and I make an effort to stay in one place, in one nucleo, instead of following my mechanisms of evasion by constantly moving around… people come and go, grow, evolve, change diets, schedules, haircuts, Tecnarcato verifiers, now they become parents, now vertices – responsible for pillars of Damanhur, now esoteric marriage renewal, changed jobs, new relationships, Ways – spiritual pathways, cars, animals… new cups, potholders, what color will they be? The riding lawnmower is here! Let’s give back the bunkbeds. In the stillness, I have a precise measure of exactly how much life changes around me. A reverse journey. Stillpoint in the center of a temporal and human storm. Always new worlds to sculpt and discover.

Cambiare nucleo? Ma perché? Prima di arrivare a Damanhur, per un periodo ero un gran viaggiatrice. L’unica costante nella mia vita era il cambiamento. Continue reading