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


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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Ritual dance in a circle of animalistic fervor

A great circle is born

To tell the truth, I went away from the Mantica of the Lamb this year (a kind of game-divination involving red and green teams that call for a lamb, or this year a goat, to exit a big circle in a grass field cut into four alternating pie slices) without a clear idea about how to read the signs and interpret the messages, if not the understanding that animals can really express sense of humor and a theatrical sense of life. Dear Saetta the goat, with two feet over the line of victory and two still in the unknown of the game where everything is possible, you just need to choose your team…walk around, change your mind, choose again, forget, go straight, get distracted for a moment, speed up, go in a circle, slow down and flirt with the desires of the humans passionately calling you to come, to exit the circle on their side to win a point for the team. Now over here, now over there, another quarter turn of the teams around the circle and all reference points are lost. If you knew where you were, you are now 90 degrees more aligned with your inner north that pulls you towards destiny, other than the colors that you may not even be able to distinguish in the same way as we do.

What really stayed within me was the dance. In these beginning years of training in Sacred Dance, I was getting used to the meditative and tranquil atmosphere of the rituals. The usual ritual silence, or if there is sound, it’s a light Music of the Plants singsong or some sweet melody in Sacred Language or at the most a rousing version of Oro Men. This time however, there were the yells, screams, whistles and taunts from one side to the other. The midday sun burning down on us with the heat, sweat trapped between the red cape – which the wind was continually rustling – and my bare shoulders, while I went down on one knee and stood back up for the various Sacred Dance movements. Going down on all fours repeatedly for the ‘animal’ gesture, the ants took advantage and started crawling up my pants. Dancing the word for the color of my team, I felt the red that burned inside, the fiery and uncontainable energy. Everyone around us yelling in animalistic fervor, calling for victory, fading into a blur as I moved and concentrated all my energy and intention in every gesture. Refusing to be distracted and letting everything enter into me. It’s only a game, right? Though the emotions are real, an ocean of pure feeling that reminded me of a contemporaneous lifetime as a light-welterweight boxing champion inside the ring with 13,000 people around me, and I couldn’t even see them, only an indistinguishable black background. The only thing I could hear were their primordial screams for the fight. I remember the intensity.

Per dire la verità, non sono andata via dalla Mantica dell’Agnello quest’anno (una sorta di mantica-gioco coinvolgendo squadre rosso e verde che chiamano un agnello, o una capra quest’anno, da uscire da un grande cerchio in un prato, tagliato in quattro) con un’idea chiara su come leggere i segni ed interpretare i messaggi… Continue reading

Water: my favorite alchemical substance

mareWater. You just might be my favorite alchemical substance (Please don’t tell fire I said this). You are so pure, clear. They say you are a purifier, though instead of annulling memory, energy and residual emotion, you communicate them I believe. You fall from the sky in a torrent of rain curiously mixed with hail and the sun shining in daylight, like you did today before being ritually celebrated in the wooded area of Damjl with prayer, water fountainSacred Dance and flute, honoring your sweet presence on the earth, your gift of life on this planet and beyond.

You come down and bring with you like a chalice stories and memories, written in your molecules so beautiful and symmetrical, hydrogen on this side, hydrogen over there. You are a brilliant storyteller, the author of jokes for telling after midnight and the most tender fantasies before dawn, fallen to my skin, you enter within me, whispering all of this hidden history, within my cells that nourish themselves with you, absorbing your invisible vitality.

Thermal waters, water from the sea and ocean, faucet water that is newly potable again, I feel honored to take you in every time I drink from my bottle. You become my blood. You are a part of me, sixty percent to be precise.

L’acqua. Forse sei la mia sostanza alchemica preferita (non dirlo al fuoco ti prego). Sei così pura, limpida, ti chiamano una purificatrice, ma più che annullare memoria, energia, emozione residue, le comunichi secondo me… Continue reading

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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