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.

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.
Catalyzing.
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.

stars

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.

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.

Hamurdan

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!

My name is Quaglia Cocco and I love coconut

cocco heartFrom my heart, I thank the Popolo of Damanhur for my new plant name Cocco (Coconut)! I have loved coconuts all my life and having it come to life within me as my name is a great honor that touches me deeply.

Here are some of the main reasons I love coconut so much:

The reason that is closest to my heart are my grandparents. I have known only two of my grandparents, my maternal ones, who lived in Taiwan when they were still alive, close to lots of my aunts, uncles and cousins. Every once in a while when I was a kid, my parents and I would go to visit them (from Houston, Texas to Kaohsiung, Taiwan) and I have beautiful memories of all the tropical delights that they offered me: fresh coconut ready to drink and eat, opened with a machete cutting through the husk of the green coconut, heavy like a bowling ball… (and other tropical fruits, mango, banana, papaya, that have already been taken on as plant names). So, Cocco connects me to one of my origins and emotions that still warm my heart. Just as Quaglia (Quail), which is the official bird of California, helps me to feel connected with California, faraway and beloved land and another one of my key origins.

cocco dolceI have other nice memories of coconut: so many experiments in the kitchen with coconut in every imaginable form, making raw vegan desserts and specialties. Long journeys on the Hawaiian islands where I drank coconut while exchanging natural healing methods and teachings with the native Hawaiians. On Big Island, where I fire danced for the first time at Rebirth – the Hawaii Burning Man regional. Kauai in particular was the place that called me with synchronic insistence to free myself from a satisfying life in San Francisco and dive into a nomadic journey of international exploration for two years, during which I found out about Damanhur and came here to visit for the first time.

cocco tropicsThen, there are the more scientific and health related reasons. The richness of minerals, alkalinity and protein in coconut milk makes it a viable substitute for mother’s milk when the mother is unable to produce milk herself. This is practiced most of all in tropical areas, where coconut milk is fresh and available. You can also substitute coconut water for blood plasma when needed. It’s vital nourishment! Drinking coconut water before or during a long airplane flight can reduce the effects of jet lag. I’ve tried it and it works! In addition to optimum hydration, coconut water increases lymphatic system circulation, so it helps with relaxation and sleeping well on the plane or even at home. So, I hope this name and how I live it will do its part for the nourishment, wellness, relaxation and most of all fun for the Popolo! Thank you!

Quaglia Cocco

Ringrazio di cuore il Popolo di Damanhur per il nome vegetale Cocco! E’ da una vita che amo questa piante e viverla è una grande onore che mi emoziona. Continue reading