Community alchemy and building a home

california-quailNow that I am “home” in Damanhur after a 33 day journey, I reflect on the viaggio of the past month, beginning with bringing Damanhur School of Meditation teachings to Tamera in Portugal and concluding with a Burning Man Symposium held like an egg in a nest at Esalen in Big Sur, California. It’s so heartening to see those of us who carry and move within group identities connecting in with each other deeply and dissolving boundaries in these collaborative endeavors.

I have noticed that Damanhur facilitates transformation within people in a certain direction, and Tamera does so too on a different and unique trajectory. Holding the Damanhur Path to Spiritual Freedom course in Tamera brought the participants into a movement that ended up in a different place than either of those, a beautiful synergy of the gifts from each source, sparking joy, authenticity and liberation.

tameraThe same thing happened during the Burning Man Symposium at Esalen I feel. The unique alchemy of each container poured together to create softly exploding fireworks of pure magic that mixed the sound of the Pacific ocean waves crashing into the night with the smell of sulfur in the sesalenteam of the baths and the taste of miso soup and marinated kale, together with the roar of power tools and high caliber laughter, swigs of tequila, pink hair and building up something colorful and creative just to set it on fire immediately. Somehow it worked.

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Healing of love and the dream of a new world

Con voi! My most recent journey in Portugal has been very rich with events and connections.

Evora

After landing in the Lisbon airport, I immediately took a bus to Evora and after changing into my temple dance costume in a refined hotel bathroom, I found myself standing on the Temple of Diana and doing a Sacred Dance performance. It felt very powerful to claim the honor of catalyzing millennial sacred space there. The temple is usually off-limits to anyone, and it felt transgressive on a human level yet very welcome on the divine level to step up and awaken it.

temple dance - 1I sensed the deep layers of history, the primal and elemental energies still breathing underneath the projections and oppression of religion over the centuries. A sense of reclaiming, for the feminine and the goddess. I danced a prayer for the temple and opening to intimacy and union through the public art performances that followed: blind hugs - 2blindfolded hugging and eye contact with strangers. Locals, travelers from northern Europe and Chinese tour groups stopped to observe, and some were brave enough to come in and participate. A feeling of love and magic all around.

The next day Paula S. – the Portuguese art professor who had organized the temple dance and performance piece, who came to Damanhur for the first Ecovillage Design Education course we held in 2011 and is now the organizer for the Path to Spiritual Freedom (new Damanhur School of Meditation path) in Portugal – took me around to meet different people and places in the spiritual and alternative world of Evora. She explained to me that there is a tight network of people who bring light to this city, although it takes determination to keep going because they can still feel the repressive resonance of the inquisition days. Despite this, I sensed the lightness in the hearts of the people in this area of Alentejo.

Then, I went to Tamera and participated in two events, Global Love School, along with Betsy and Eddie, and the World Council.


Global Love School

fire and waterthis and the following photos from Tamera by Ian Mackenzie

The intention of Global Love School is to explore the theme of love within communitarian, spiritual and political perspectives. There were a hundred participants or so, diverse individuals involved in community, communications, activism, healing of the body, soul and earth. Continue reading

Portugal. journey into earth and sunlight.

ocean1Here is a sharing of some events from an eventful trip to Portugal in November, dancing into the realization of several intentions seeded over the years…

First stop. I went to Evora to visit Paula and her daughter Raquel, whom I first met when they came to Damanhur for the first Ecovillage Design Education course in 2011. At the time, Raquel was 14 years old, and it was really a joy to see her now at a ripe age of 19 as a very busy and elegantly dressed university student researching marine biology. She even has a long cape as part of her uniform, draped in different ways depending on the circumstances! Paula is an art professor at the University of Evora and is developing an initiative called “Academia de Sofia” to promote education from a community, artistic, ecological and spiritual perspective. She has brought a group of her students to visit Tamera and dreams of bringing them to Damanhur as well.

After an all day journey to Milan then flying into Lisbon, Paula came and met me at the airport, and as we navigated our way to Evora via a series of buses, she explained, overjoyed, that after years of political obstacles from conservatives in Parliament, a progressive coalition hAlmendresad succeeded in winning a vote to overturn previous election results, which was a huge victory and hope for the Portuguese people. All this the moment my plane landed.

The next day, we departed for an explorative journey around the area. The sun was brilliant and the landscape was green and verdant again, after the rain of the previous weeks. We first went to the Almendres Cromlech, a very ancient, more than 6,000 years old stone circle, which is one of the most sacred spaces for the Portuguese of the area, where we meditated and danced a prayer to connect with the land. In contact with the stones, I had visions of how this circle was a space of healing and nurturing in ancient times, including in sleep and dreams, and a place of connection with the divine feminine, a counterbalance to times of intense violence and war. In this history, I sensed a lot of horses, movement and migration all around, contrasting the absolute peace within the circle.

houses

After Almendres, Paula showed me her second home in Igrejinha, a small countryside town and lake area where she intends to create a community group. I enjoy how the towns in Portugal almost all have the same basic color scheme of stark sun-washed white, lined with colorful edges.

In the afternoon we went to the University of Evora art and architecture campus, into a library which used to be a pasta factory and has a dome that Paula envisions with stained glass like the domes of the Hall of Mirrors and Hall of Water in the Temples of Humankind. This is where I offered an interactive presentation of Damanhur with some people from the university and local residents, perceiving how even at a distance, a contact with Damanhur stimulates curiosity and fascination in the sensitive people who choose to be present at such events, whom I invited to come, visit and participate in the Amine’ program. I delighted in sharing some of my library1favorite aspects of Damanhur in this place of study and creativity: the Temples, Inner Harmonization, Sacred Dance, Selfica, Tree Orientation, music from the mUvement, Bral Talej cards, and answering all the questions ranging from marriage and financials to more esoteric matters.

We went to visit Aldegice one of the spiritual elders of the community in the late afternoon and into the evening, enjoying a generous spread of tea and snacks, while talking about art and healing and such in a more intimate group. Algis is a Jungian scholar who has spent many years studying and working in California, and she was very grateful to have contact with a Damanhurian, as she can no longer travel to go visit in person. Her home has a library full of impressive volumes including Jung’s Red Book which I could lose myself in, a space for sandbox therapy, and some space for hosting guests as well.

I spent a few days visiting Tamera for the first time, participating in their olive harvest, while Damanhur community members were contemporaneously harvesting olives on our lands in Tuscany. It was the very tail end of their guest season, so a bit of an unusual moment to show up, though I suppose I’m not known for doing things in a sensible and predictable way. In any case, I was surprised to see several familiar people within an hour of stepping onto the lands: Elsa, a French Damanhur initiate, and two other people who had come to my nucleo community Dendera for work exchange last year, one of whom is now living in Tamera, the other who was visiting for a month. Well, the community world is tightly woven with interconnections, and most all of the guests I met there were curious to hear about life in Damanhur and possibilities for visiting.

I had the fortune of spending some time with Sabine, one of the founders of Tamera, sharing an enriching conversation about our communities, and one of the themes we touched on was archetypes, which she has also been researching for some time. At Tamera, there is a sacred stone circle nestled in the woods atop a hill with 96 large stones, each one of which represents a specific archetype with an engraved symbol on the stone, a “cosmogram.” An interesting stimulus for our research in Damanhur on the 163 elements… which is another story for another time. As it happens, Sabine was initially inspired at the Almendres stone circle in the manifestation of Tamera, and it was nice to feel a kind of connective flow between the two sites. With some members of the Terra Deva group which develops spiritual ecology at Tamera, we shared about a range of points from animal and plant communication to Oracle connections. Then there are the lakes, the research on water, the Solar Village where renewable energy experiments are taking place in a beautiful equilibrium of simplicity and technology… oceanwell, quite a lot of similar and parallel aspects as Damanhur, particularly in our Arca Baita Tentyris region, some that are already in conversation.

Then, I went to the Algarve region in the south to Moinhos Velhos, Anne Karine’s wellness and retreat center – she’s a Damanhur initiate from Norway who has lived in Portugal for 24 years. I felt welcomed home finding a sanctuary with oriented trees, one of which is an aged cork salutation tree, a spheroself and cord spiral, lots of pieces of Damanhur, including the heart and the communal meals with the staff and volunteers. I offered a Damanhur sharing here as well and some sessions with the guests who were present for a juice fast, almost all from the UK. Such a delight to harmonize and do Sacred Dance in the meditation temple with glass walls letting in the sunlight and green, where evening meditations are held too, some with gong, other with steel drum and etheric harp. One evening there was the Damanhur cord spiral in the center, with candlelight and coloring, a quiet atmosphere of introspection.

Oh and all over, I oriented lots of trees, endless rows of cork trees, some that seemed quite unhappy from being continually stripped, tree orientationthe olive ones while harvesting, some birch and oak…

As with every journey, it’s been an opportunity to ride the waves of synchronicity, shine some light and see my home community with an added perspective. I am grateful, and quite enamored with Portugal. Looking forward to feeling the heat of the sunlight on my skin again and being in the special frequency of purity and aliveness that permeates the people and land.

Why I am crying in the Lisbon airport

LisboaSo, here I am pulling my black just-within-airline-regulation-size suitcase behind me and weaving my way through the Lisbon airport, on the way to Milan, crying.

Which surprises me in some ways, since I feel more a sense of elation and joy than sadness after 13 magical days in Portugal, though there is also a kind of underlying grief. I realize that I am once again experiencing this special flavor of lovesick grieving reserved for Viaggiatori, that is, Travelers. You know, traveling: not as a temporary trip but as a way of life. The ones like me, and maybe you too, who move through life following the pull of the heart into motion, oriented by an inner compass that magnetically gives the direction toward the right place, at the right time, with the right people, in the perfection of the present moment, in the saturated fullness of being here now.

And sometimes this pull carries me to improbable destinations, where the southern Mediterranean sun saturates my skin with heat and glowing light, immediately soothed by autumn breeze. Where moist, freshly picked olives slip through my fingers as we corral them fast into buckets, the dark purple-grey ones a ripe contrast to the hard shades of, well, olive green. Where ten of us barely fit into the back of a rusty pickup truck bed along with 6 ladders and a collection of rakes, shovels, pitchforks and tarps, bouncing around, holding onto the sides and waving to farmers and passers by.

wavesWhere ocean waves in pure aquamarine splash up the pristine sandy shore through emerald reflections and crystalline white foam, and after swimming naked in the breathless cold water, I perch on the rock shelves observing the strata of earth in a rainbow of fierce iron reds and golden yellow, as the heat of sunlight dries my skin beaded with salt water.

Where clear lucid eyes are still glowing and sweet laughter still singing in the echo of memory, of friendships both ancient and freshly made. Souls found and rediscovered, reunited after… how much time? And every gift of presence, breath, sound, movement, stillness, storytelling, tea service and love… returns in an instant in the infinite flow, of gratitude, generosity.

Memories of community dinner time, marina coffee break, mango trees in the greenhouse dripping with heavy fruit, the cherimoya seeds embedded in soft white flesh, and the dangling red beads of magnolia blossoms.

AlmendresWhere I dance in stone circles, millennial matriarchal healing circles and more recent ones holding the power of cosmic archetypes. Sunrise, ring of power. Danced prayer. Water and reawakening.

Ritual night fire, white sage and red blessings. Warm chestnuts and washes of starlight.

Temple space surrounded with quiet woods, opening the heart through spirals and candlelight.

I realize I am crying because I have fallen in love, not even with a particular person, place or thing really; it’s more like being in love with the ripe lushness of everything, the infinite delicacy of being free, feeling so lit up and alive. A breath of fire, breathing through the journey, over fertile farmed landscawaterpes and rolling green hillsides, to the edge of the ocean and deep inside. Orienting hearts, trees.

So, I wipe away the tears and divert my eyes as I move forward in the airport security line, distracting myself from the emotion of flying away yet again, from one world to another, from home to a home away from homeViaggiare. means constantly arriving saying hello and goodbye and see you again sometime – some lifetime – and in the meantime “io sono con te, sempre,” all in the same breath. I shake off the tears in the rushed chaos of removing belts and shoes, getting my toothpaste tube inspected, and listening to a cacophony of Italian and Portuguese conversation. Finding the Departures monitor. Checking the gate number. Ticket and passport in hand, to remind myself of where I am going and who I have been. Knowing that the journey is always the destination, and every departure an act of closure and celebration, a flight into the pure infinite azure sky of rebirth and new possibility, new love, new synergy, new dreams.