A year of being the Befana


Best wishes to everyone on the day of the Epiphany (La Befana)! I have been playing the role of the Befana (fully in the role and no longer an apprentice) for a year now. I still remember the wonder and also the fear that I felt when I received news from Shama Viola that she had chosen me as her apprentice. I remember the day of the official passing of the role, staying up at night to respond with the right action to the first challenge: a letter from Zela and Nilo (Damanhurian children) asking for particular gifts.

Here I share some lessons that I learned throughout the year, listening to the voice of the Befana within and beyond:

I am ready. I am a young Befana. At first I thought maybe too young to fill a role that requires wisdom and represents a mystical appearance in connection with divine forces. However, all throughout my life I have found myself in situations where I didn’t have all the traditional qualifications, although by overcoming doubt and choosing to be there, to do, to act, to learn, to offer myself to others… I find that something always comes together to support: inspiration, synchronicity, the knowledge of the Popolo, mysterious aid, rewards that are proportionate to the courage involved in making the choice.

Listening and communicating. There are messages, always. To receive and to give. It’s just a matter of finding the right way to listen. Sometimes it’s silence. Sometimes it’s an observant eye. Sometimes I need to let go into the flow of connection that is always moving around me. Sometimes I don’t quite understand: why this message, in this moment, and for whom? But I trust in it, and I express it, and the open channel surprises me with synchronic results, like the story of the parking lot blocks and the dome of the Hall of Mirrors!

The broom. Part of the Befana myth says that she is always occupied in housecleaning. Even when she is flying out and about, she leaves the floor clean using her Befana broom. And this represents sweeping away of the problems of the year. It’s true, I have always swept the floor in the spaces around me attentively and a little obsessively. There is a distinct feeling before and after, renewed energy, lightness, a stage that is reopened to welcome new events and presences. The broom is a symbol, and it is also a tool for taking action in the material world.

Happy cleaning and celebration!

Quaglia Cocco
The Befana

befana-quagliaAuguri a tutti nel giorno della Befana! Svolgo questo ruolo da Befana (piena e non più apprendista) da un anno adesso. Mi ricordo ancora lo stupore e anche il timore che sentivo quando ho ricevuto la notizia da Shama Viola che mi ha scelta come apprendista, e il giorno del passaggio ufficiale, rimanendo sveglia di notte per rispondere con l’azione giusta alla prima sfida: una lettera da Zela e Nilo chiedendo doni particolari. Continue reading


breathe in.

It’s time to inhale.

So… I admit. I’m exhausted. Not like in a totally heavy or empty sort of way. More like drifting into stillness at the tail end of a so-many-months long exhale of uninterrupted movement, play, service, love.
Creation.fire Fire, offerings, performances, camera lenses, gazes, in the temples and under the starry night sky open fields. So much dance. Dancing in every way. On every occasion. Birth, death. Equinox. Two steps forward, three steps back… breathing deep and flying right over the obstacles and the letting go.
Magnetizing the tappi.
Italian driving adventures. Velocity, autostrada. Torino. Ivrea. Milano Malpensa after midnight.
Going to new places, ancient ones too, coming home. Healing, dreaming, building. Making, art. Orienting, trees. Harvesting.
Cleansing. Alchemy. Ritual magic. From Solstice and back again, from one full moon to the next. Every week, repeat.
Translating, everything.
Writing, in stellar and human languages. So many voices and stories insisting on coming through the filter of my body, mind. voice.
Connecting the dots… communicating, with everyone, the Dutch TV personality wandering around our kitchen and interrogating me about my love life and future children, all the hundreds of people who ask me the same questions about how long I’ve been here and how I did I end up here in the first place and what do I do and what is my ‘typical’ day like and and where on earth am I from anyway? …
Escaping. Sun-bathing.
And now … it’s the darkness of new moon and time to breathe in again. Refill and filter through. In solitude, in the shadow of the mountains, in the starlight always nourishing me.


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