By Dana Limpert
My first view of Italy was on our approach to the Milan Malpensa airport. Piercing through cloud cover were the majestic snow-covered Alps. They reminded me that, yes, I was going to climb the mountain, both physically and metaphorically. I was on a spiritual journey of renewal to Damanhur. It was surreal for me to realize I was actually here, ready to experience this transformative, artistic, spiritual science community that lives sustainably and in harmony with Nature and each other. Little did I know how much I would be transformed.
Damanhur is a Federation of spiritual communities with 600 citizens spanning 15 kilometers (9 miles) in the Valchiusella Valley, the foothills of the Italian Alps, near Turin, Italy. Damanhur was envisioned and founded by Falco Tarassaco (Oberto Airaudi 1950-2013) in 1975. The Damanhurian way of living has attracted visitors and scholars with diverse interests from art, social sciences, and spirituality, to medicine and alternative health, economics, and environmental sustainability. The hard work of the citizens of Damanhur and their commitment to Falco’s original vision of ethical and spiritual living gained the attention of the United Nation’s Global Forum on Human Settlements, which in 2005, named Damanhur as a model for a sustainable society.
What struck me from the beginning is the enormous undertaking and soul-striking beauty that was created by Damanhurians in just 40 years. A beauty that greeted me and twelve other explorers with open arms.
We were introduced to Damanhur with a whirlwind tour of Damjl, the central area of Damanhur; Crea, the artistic, healing, and business center; the Temples of Humankind; and the Sacred Woods. Damjl is home to the Open Temple, altars for the elements, labyrinths, and a ceremonial area where the citizens gather for the Equinoxes, Solstices, and Day of the Dead. The area is filled with sculptures, many of which are reminiscent of Egypt as Damanhur is named after an ancient Egyptian city which means “the city of the god Horus” and was a center of worship. The focal point of the Fire altar in the Open Temple had a huge crystal point from Brazil that was the largest I had ever seen. Each of the many labyrinths of Damjl has a different intention, such as help for insomnia or digestion. All the buildings in Damjl and the Federation in general are white with colorful murals painted on them. Plants and insects are painted much larger than the humans and animals to express their importance in nature and help shift our tendency for an anthropomorphic view.
We were awed by the artwork of Damjl; however, this proved to only be the beginning as we entered the Temples of Humankind. The Temples of Humankind were dug into the mountain by hand and decorated with murals, tiffany glass, sculptures, statuary, columns, and much much more. They are considered an “Eighth Wonder of the World” and serve to ignite the divine spark within people. Divine spark ignited and mind blown! I had seen pictures of some of the temples but was totally unprepared for the emotional and visceral impact and experience of seeing them in person. It was akin to seeing the Grand Canyon in person versus a postcard. I encourage you to visit YouTube videos of the Temples or the Damanhur website for a taste. Tears of joy and remembrance are sure to follow just from watching.
The Temples of Humankind are located inside the mountain and are topped by the Sacred Woods or the Green Temple, which comprises about 124 acres. The trees are the antennas for the Temples. Damanhurians believe that there once was One World, one frequency and the humans separated causing the One to split into Three: Human/Animal World, Trees and Plants World, and Nature Spirits World. It is, therefore, the responsibility of humans to heal this split. Our guides introduced us to connecting with the energy of the Sacred Woods in preparation for communing with special Tree Beings later in the week. Chestnut, oak, and birch are the most abundant trees which shared their fall bounty by adorning the ground with a cornucopia of chestnuts, acorns and leaves. I wistfully thought this is what our woods would have been like had it not been for the chestnut blight.
Tuesday found us meditating in the Temples of Humankind in the Hall of Mirrors. The gong in the Temple reverberated in every layer of my being. And it was here I found my singing voice and I danced freely, being reflected, along with everyone else, seemingly a hundred times by the mirrors. Later, during a silent meditation, I went very deep and experienced selfica circuits. I experienced and felt who I truly was. So much beauty being reflected back to me by everyone in the Temple, that gratitude bubbled up within and I thought, “If everyone could experience who they truly were, there would be no more strife in the world.” I heard “That’s the goal”.
Wednesday was a magical full day in the Sacred Woods. Our guide Lucertola told us that Damanhur made a pact with the Spirits of Nature in 1978 to heal the separation. Nature Spirits leave where there is pollution. To show their commitment, the Damanhurian citizens cleaned up the woods, helping the Nature Spirits return. They also invited the Trees into a new alliance. Over 20 years, a total of 11,000 trees answered the call to form this alliance. Damanhurians renew this pact every week and honor their personal tree. Part of this alliance connected important Trees around the World to the oak matriarch of the Sacred Woods known as Diamantel. In 2011, this alliance was opened to the world through the Tree Orienting program, which now includes over 162 million Trees.
After walking several labyrinths, we prepared ourselves for a Tree Journey at the Ritual Circle. The clue to begin this journey started with pulling a card. My message was “Masculine” and I knew I would find my tree near the red menhir in the center of the circle. A Silver Birch with two trunks forming a “V” beckoned me to sit on her comfy mossy stump that was once a third trunk. I heard “V for Victory” and “I can get all the kinks worked out”. I asked her what her healing gifts were and she said “slippery” and laughed. I had pictures of lubricating joints, spine, arms, and legs. She encouraged me to continue my work in the states. When I journeyed I saw her as a shining being. When I opened my eyes, Silver Birch had gifted me with one of her leaves that had two small holes in it. She invited me to look through these holes and see the “little” picture and she laughed. I chuckled too because I often refer to myself as being a 'big picture person.'
We had the immense pleasure of working with master sculptor Facocero Radicchio on Thursday. Our task was to sculpt ourselves in clay. We started by looking at our hands with love, touching our body to feel what our forms were like, and selecting a posture. We were asked to heartily express “It is Joy!” with our whole being, which became a catchphrase for our group. My initial mental image of a clothed Kuan Yin transformed into a naked Ishtar teaching with delight the feminine mysteries and sacred sex, fully confident in her sexuality. At one point, Facocero invited us to take a walk and when we returned, he instructed us to walk around the table, take a seat at someone else’s sculpture, and begin work on it. I was floored and thought, “I can’t work on someone else’s creation.” But then I started to get some ideas. After an hour or so, we went back to our own sculpture to finish and found that the others had made welcome enhancements to our creation. After everyone was finished we had the opportunity to express the story that each sculpture spoke to us, discovering ourselves and one another. A very moving experience.
Friday found us exploring the organic Porta Della Terra Farm or Door of the Earth Farm. Here, intention, ritual, spirals, Nature Spirits, plants, and humans cooperate to grow nutritious and vital food for Damanhurians and the community at large. Every day, the farmers renew their pact to the Nature Spirits and I marveled at this committed way of living that resulted in flowering and fruiting strawberries as well as other vegetables in October! Farmer Leon has witnessed how their relationship with the Nature Spirits has saved the crops during freak hail storms and drought and has contributed to the fertility of the Farm. After the tour, we had an amazing lunch in their new Farm to Table restaurant. We delighted in the food grown on the Damanhur farms amidst dandelion murals, selfica, and glass windows where we could view the Alps bordering France in the distance.
After our epic meal, we experienced Selfica with Esperide Ananas and Antelope Verbena. Selfica is a technology once known by humanity but had been lost over time. Selfica draws positive experiences and health to those to which it is attuned and for its intended purpose. Selfica helps humanity to achieve our highest potential; opening our minds, hearts, and feelings to something much greater. We tasted the possibility of this through a group Selfica journey.
That night we held ceremony and spent the night dreaming in the Hall of Mirrors. My Greenbreath journey with Silver Birch was uplifting, literally, and at one point I felt my being shift. Silver Birch said “You moved to another timeline, your big dream timeline, so dream big!” Falco and many Nature Spirits were there amongst us and a great honoring took place.
Our final ceremony reconnected us with our Tree Being and Diamantel. I could feel her showering love to all of us, helping us remember who we are truly, and why we are here now. I experienced so much this week and shared this experience with a wonderful group of people and guides. I know I will be processing and integrating much over the next weeks or longer. Now that I’ve come down from the mountain transformed, my Selfica bracelets and Silver Birch fill me with so much gratitude for Damanhur, the trip organizers and guides, the mission of O.N.E. and remind me what it means to be a Nature Evolutionary. The Trees are calling us all to remember.
Dana Limpert is our 2018 scholarship recipient for the Damanhur Nature Consciousness Journey. Dana works as an ecologist for Maryland Department of Natural Resources and her focus involves conservation for rare and endangered plants and animals and their habitats, especially old forest. She teaches and shares Reiki and yoga in her community and she served as a volunteer coordinator for a research project offering Reiki in her local hospital. Dana has also served on the board of a non-profit therapeutic riding program and developed SOAR with Nature, both free programs for at-risk youth, underprivileged youth, and people with special needs.Her focus now is exploring the spiritual ecology of Gaia, following Guidance, and participating in Earth gridwork projects and missions.
To learn more about Damanhur, visit their website http://www.damanhur.org/