Saturday, August 29, 2009


Greetings from Damanhur, where esoteric knowledge meets community…
The underground Temples are magnificent! Truly awesome, I am humbled by the amount of work that went into the excavation (by hand) and construction of these holy works of art. The full construction was in secret, both from the local authorities and new members of the community. Now they are not so secret, and are known as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’, a major tourist attraction. Known for their craftsmanship, the art combines mural, stained glass, mosaic and metal work. They have created beautiful tiffany style domes; in fact they hold the record for the world’s largest.
On our first afternoon here we were given a tour, finishing our day with a beautiful concert in the temple of mirrors. It was amazing! Drawing on many traditions they have created a uniquely Damanhurian style of music accompanied by spirit dancing.
We spent a day painting rocks in one of the extensive spiral labyrinths, a meditative service. These are considered to be connected to the temples, which are situated at the crossing of many synchronic lines of earth energy.
A special treat was the ‘concert of the trees’ , they have researched a way to use bio feedback technology to interact and generate music with plants. Sitting in the beautiful woods, listening to new age sounds, I felt my inner voice questioning the feasibility of the situation… but the truth was these people are working with the plants, and living in connection. The concert was in the middle of one of the many neucleo, or families, here. Twenty to thirty people live together with common kitchens and living spaces and private rooms. This particular neucleo is known as ‘the tree people’, because they live in the trees! It was beautiful; in this space I felt playful and was reminded of the Miwok village.
Today I learned a lot about the alternative technologies through visiting the neucleos doing this research. So cool! In addition to straw bale houses and tree houses (with living trees supporting the structures both inside and out) they are building a rotating building. This building is situated on a crane joint, and when complete will move with the sun to receive the most energy possible. It is designed to be a completely self sustaining home, with no input or output. This means full solar, rain catchment and composting toilets.
Immersed in this new community, I already miss Tamera. I miss my new friends, and the feeling of being surrounded by open hearts. Damanhur's analytical and esoteric approach to spiritual and research feels different to the heart centered field of research at Tamera. Both are working to create models for holistic sustainable communities, in very different ways. It is interesting to see these different models and notice similarities and differences, and notice the effects on my personal experience. More and more I am learning what is important to me, and what I value in community and work.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Global Grace Village

Hold on this is a long one! I have been too busy to write, and the passing days have been full.
The Summer University was amazing! The diversity and complexity of the offerings and experiences created a powerful field. We joined a group of almost 500 peace workers from around the world to participate in 'a vision for a free earth'. We heard messages and lectures from specialists and leaders from Tamera as well as individuals from the solar movement, the Peace Community Community San Jose de Apartado in Columbia, Tibet, Palestine and much much more. The members of Beyond Boundaries separated into various 'focus groups', I joined the 'Peace Activism, Grace Activism' group. This group was incredibly diverse, and I was deeply touched by the stories of both pain and success I heard. The first days I was hit with a question of hope, how to face hope in an extremely violent world? I felt deep emotions in response to the stories I was hearing, and shame for being an American who is somehow ignorant of the world situation. I was particularly touched by peace workers who said they had no hope for the end of violence in Columbia, and yet they are living in a peace community committed to protecting their lives and land. By the end of the ten days I felt a real connection, and heard that many shared feelings of connection and support. As we step back into the world, our work begins a new, strengthened by the love and commitment we share.
During this time we were serving in the garden, helping with early morning harvest. The mornings were beautiful, waking up with the sun rising over the lake outside our tents, moving through the mist to a opening prayer and then on to various gardens on the land. Beautiful, and sometimes hard due to late nights at the 'Aonda', the Tamera bar full of good conversation and often live music.The landscape is a waterscape here, sculpted by lakes that are designed to regenerate the soil, feed the greater water table, and contribute to the health of endangered local species, such as the cork oak.
As our time in Tamera comes to an end I feel grateful for the full experience, and the opportunity to share in this experiment. Tamera is interested in research, facing the question of how to live peacefully in this world. Creating models of social, ecological and technological healing, Tamera is a healing biotope providing alternatives to our current systems of violence. The core teaching here is about love, and the belief 'there can not be peace on earth as long there is war between the genders'. The work of peace and healing in the world goes hand in hand with the work on ourselves and in our communities.
We enter into this community, and each community 
on this journey, as witnesses, pilgrims and servers. As witnesses we have soaked up the field, and are now sharing our research in beautiful discussions on a variety of topics. We have been acknowledged for our 'witness' role, and have been thanked and given opportunities to share our insights and experiences with individuals and the community. Yesterday we performed the 'Matinee', the Sunday morning community gathering. We began walking up on stage singing Emilia's 'Mountain Song', and we all participated in some way. It was beautiful. I gave a dedication, begining in gratitude for the vision quest that is currently going on here. I was so nervous before hand, but when it was time the words came and I felt good.
We continue to look for ways to collaborate and share, individually and collectively. This morning we will be doing men and womens councils with the youth, with witnesses from the community.
I have made a few great friends, people I am sure I will continue to work with in the future. 
One is Mara, who is a youth leader, and the other Momo Jana, our hostess here and a leader
 for Monte Cerro Peace Education. We have seeded a dream of a program taking 'Peace 
Workers in Training' (students) from Tamera to India and beyond. . . I am interested to see how our futures weave together, and how we can support each others work.
We leave in a few days for Italy, where we will visit Damanhur. I am sad to leave this place, where I resonate so strongly with the work and the people. I have made some amazing contacts, and have new dreams of future collaborations. I am curious, will I fall so deeply in love with each community I work with?