Fire dancing in the circus and riding wild horses

Ayoto 350[crossposted from the Damanhur Blog]

In making the choice to be a Damanhur citizen, my initial sadness over leaving behind other possibilities in life transformed to deep gratitude as one by one, everything came back around and manifested synchronically…

I came to Damanhur while I was traveling around the world for two years, relishing the nomadic freedom of moving around the planet and through my days and nights with no fixed schedules or destinations. I let synchronicity be my travel agent and intuition my compass. As much as I was thriving while living in the moment, I also was seeking a place to make a home and sink in some roots. Seeking sacred space, ritual, communal living, art and healing as a way of life, and land for growing organic things. I found Damanhur, and thought: this place has it all. I can’t believe it already exists! … I wasn’t ready to commit to being here yet, though I felt drawn to stay connected as I kept traveling.

Everywhere I went, I sensed possible timelines to the future solidifying. It seemed like, no matter where I was, no matter how exotic and absurd the situation was, there were peopleMacau jade elefant offering me long term places to stay and sources of income, transportation, food, everything I needed to live a comfortable life, as networks of love and friendship materialized. I knew that if I chose to stay, this place could be my home… Despite the glamour, beauty, or adventurous story surrounding my options, I always felt in my heart that it wasn’t right to stay in those places. Every time I said no to something, I felt this enormity of gifts from the universe and flow of events in a certain direction, collapsing back down into the void. What were the situations? Well, here are two:

At one point, I was on the island of Macau, a former Portuguese pirate colony turned Las Vegas of China, off the coast of Hong Kong, visiting a friend who was coordinating the construction of a Cirque du Soleil theatre at the newly erected Venetian hotel and casino complex. MacauIt was a surreal experience on many levels, including the fact that I was in Venice the week before, and I found myself in a sparkling new, still-being-constructed version of the time and water-worn, crumbling medieval city on the water. There were even brand new gondolas! In Macao, with my friend at an Indian restaurant, I met the director of the Cirque du Soleil show that was to debut in the Venetian theatre, and when he found out I was a fire dancer, he encouraged me to audition for the show. Fire dancer, in a luxury casino circus show, on a Chinese island. This was one of the timelines I hopped off of as I followed my path back toward Damanhur.

Macau fire dragon

Cappadocia jade horse 2Then, there was Göreme. In central Turkey, Cappadocia, way out, amongst Sufi mystics, cowboys and a Brazilian belly dancer, in a dusty landlocked alien landscape of infinite volcanic tuff rock protrusions and millennial cave homes. That timeline included a band of authentic cowboys, extremely rare (for a non-Muslim non-Turkish woman) whirling dervish ritual dance lessons from a Sufi master in the backroom of his carpet shop, a job at the local travel agency and nightly belly dancing at the tourist show for an absurdly high return, given the 15 minute caveperformance time. My own, simple, serene remodeled yet traditional “wall-to-wall” Turkish carpet-covered cave palace with organic vegetable patch and apricot, mulberry, fig and cherry trees out front, and famous cave temples right above. Hot air balloons, UFO museum, vast underground cities. The warming marble slab at the local hammam. Most of all, what drew me to stay in this tiny, remote, completely unique and incomprehensible place, beyond the rousing nights with a cave full of Spanish tourists, raki liquor flowing, spoon clacave2cking and dancing… were the horses. A small, cave ranch with the most beautiful wild brown horses. Contacting these deeply wise animals everyday and riding them through the strange, dramatic landscape. Occasionally, the cowboys would trek to Kayseri, ride into the mountains and come back wrangling more than 400 wild horses, including day old ones amongst the bucking stallions.

Cappadocia wild horses

Well, there are ever more places and unforgettable scenes, though let’s flash forward to Damanhur.

When I came back to Damanhur, to stay this time, I started a program to become an ‘A’ citizen, and after a Game of Life viaggio adventure and intensive communal living experience with other new citizens, I moved to my first established nucleo community, the one that synchronically had space for me… It was Tin, in the heart of the Sacred Woods Temple. And there, in the horse stables, were Lucy and Nuri, two horses, the only ones we had at Damanhur at that time. So, my love for living with horses returned, fulfilled.


Then, a few years ago, Arciere Aglio, one of the Damanhurian artists with a flare for directing provocative theatre shows, was casting for a new rendition of a musical theatre piece that was written and performed nine years previously, called Circus Hamurdan. He asked me to play a new part, written in specifically for me: Ayoto Kome Co-Chen. A Chinese. fire dancing. circus performer. My few spoken lines were all in Chinese… and purposefully, humorously mis-translated into Italian. So even that seemingly released dream came to be. As I was dancing with fire fans in the middle of the Damanhur Crea conference center Ayototurned big top circus ring, with my (fictional) Spanish bull-fighting fire-eating companion, this realization really landed in me. Seven years ago, when I made the impassioned choice to live here and become a Damanhur citizen, I thought I had cut off the other possibilities that were presented to me on renounced life paths. Little did I know that living in the heart of a mystical paradise, with golden node of Synchronic Lines, ritual connection to Oracle forces and divinities, populated with alchemists and magicians… the events here move in such magical and unexpected ways. If the intention is pure, and the will is strong, then all dreams, desires and wishes come true in time, even the forgotten ones. Life at Damanhur spans time and space in an infinte way so that everywhere is here and all time is now. And anything and everything is possible.

Ready to make a bold choice and experiment with living and manifesting your dreams in Damanhur? The Syncho-door is open. Destination Damanhur… Looking forward to playing in the synchronic field of possibilities together!


Ballad of the Flying City – Damanhur Sacred Dance


A performance at the Damanhur Damjl amphitheater on July 1, 2012 with Damanhurian Sacred Dancers, musicians and choir, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Temples of Humankind opening to the world.

Preparing for this Sacred Dance performance was such a joyful yet disciplined affair. I feel that the laughter, fun and love shared between us as we worked out the choreography and harmonized our moves shines through. In the end, what matters isn’t so much the perfection of the final performance—there were some slight mishaps—rather the spirit of lightness and beauty, discovery and magic that accompanies this commemoration of opening the Temples of Humankind in 1992.

Un performance all’anfiteatro di Damjl a Damanhur il 1 luglio 2012 con Danza Sacra, musicisti e coro, celebrando Il ventennale dell’apertura al mondo dei Templi dell’Umanità.

Preparando per questo performance di Danza Sacra è stato un percorso gioioso e disciplinato. Credo che si sente il divertimento ed amore condivisi fra di noi che brillava mentre lavoravamo sulla coreografia e armonizzavamo i nostri passi. Alla fine, non importa la perfezione del performance finale – c’era qualche cosa da aggiustare – ma conta invece lo spirito di luce e bellezza, scoperta e magia che ha accompagnata questa commemorazione dell’apertura dei Templi dell’Umanità in 1992.

radically inclusive video montage

I clicked the option in iMovie that makes thumbnails of all the video clips in my library. As I was watching them, I was moved to see how many events fade from memory over time.

I was thinking if in the end, I were to edit together a video montage of highlights from my life, I would have a hard time selecting and cutting footage. How do I decide? The everyday moments, sweeping the floor, hammering, preparing tea in the morning, are they less significant than the ceremonial ones and oaths? Is there less action in the silence and harmonization than in the shows and Popolo celebrations? I would leave it all in.

nailsI think I would just increase the saturation a little during the rituals, the elaborate and spontaneous ones, and turn up the red hue for the dances too. Let’s see how many times different scenes in costume and makeup reappear—they are rituals too, of beauty, transformation, joy.

I would slow motion the most firepressing moments to dilute them, transform even those into a dance. The unstoppable tears and fears, those of stage fright, when in the wings, courage negotiates to compensate for preparation, and I feel the hand of the first Questio pushing me from behind.

I closely observe the order of operations after the alarm clock: putting on the personal self again, then prayer, bracelet on the head and a sip of prana charged water, pausing on the card of the day. I take note of how many times the slippers placed in a ‘T’ before sleeping really brought fortune the next day.

Let’s fast forward through the depressive phases, flat grey differentiating itself with contrast adjustment, and add a filter to soften the most furious and manic peaks.

Go in for a close-up on the most beautiful exchanges, emotions and gazes, whispering of poetry in other languages, heartfelt stories that trigger a fade out into flashback, obliterating every geographic and temporal distance.

Turn up the volume for the songs and the birds, and activate the subtitles at the misunderstandings.

Where is the temperature control? Can’t I heat up that first winter under the snow in Perugia, or turn down the humidity for the sweaty summer adventures?

With videocameras from different angles, I see things that I have never seen before: unobserved shooting stars, things that were lost, princessthings that escaped, things that were thrown away but anyhow continuing a trace of existence in the trash heap. All the invisible help received—if I could see it now, I would never feel abandoned or alone.

I add a golden filter to every gift created and exchanged. The moments of totality in the creation, writing and dreaming, painting and traveling, depicted in Miyazaki style animation.

As director of this work of art, the most important step is tying the last scene to the beginning, because every resolution of the plot brings us to a sequel, another episode.
breakfastHo cliccato un’opzione nel programma iMovie sul computer e si sono messi in fila tutti i videoclip che c’erano nella mia biblioteca. Mentre li guardavo, mi emozionava vedere quanti eventi svaniscono dalla memoria…

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gratitude for Gabbiano


Damjl. twilight hour. in the living room of the former nucleo Tesan. low light. leather covered sofa. seated with several New Damanhurians. a little distracted and anxious about the fire dance for the film Dreams of Damanhur that I was about to do immediately after the lesson with Gabbiano. In fact, I was already in costume, red skirt with dangling strips of cloth and performance makeup. Gabbiano treated the scene as if it were all status quo.

a ritual is like a telephone, he said. to call and communicate with the beyond, with the divine… he shared other thoughts, wisdom, cracked a few jokes, saying very little in the end. he wanted to emphasize this metaphor of the telephone with respect to rituals.

Quaglia with fire outside. Piazza del Nuovo Popolo. under a cloudy dark gray sky. preparation. a flurry of white gas and poi, spun off to remove the excess, fire fans, adrenaline, music, videocameras, guest fire dancer Marisa, the lighter … lit … go! fire in motion, blurred vision of golden illuminated faces, of fire reflected by the eyes. fire in the heart, fire of the soul.

the next day, during Falco’s Friday evening question and answer session with the guests, during his response to a question like, “As an artist, how do you find time for inspiration if you’re always so busy?” Falco spontaneously thanked us for the fire dance performance, saying that he had a creative problem to resolve, and while he was watching the dance, a solution arrived to him… thus illustrating to the guest that by participating in many events, he can also find useful ideas and inspiration in unexpected moments. nothing is wasted.

thinking about that night, I am very grateful for Gabbiano, who passed me a kind of key during his brief and focused lesson, with which I opened a dimensional door, whether or not I was aware of it. during the rituals to come for Gabbiano, to honor his luminous and profound soul, I hope he hears us, that his voice arrives to us like an infinitely precious telephone call.

Damjl. la sera ore blu. dentro il salone del ex-nucleo di Tesan. luce bassi. divano coperto di cuoio. seduta, con Nuovi Damanhuriani vari. un po’ distratta ed ansiosa…

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