Reflections on Damanhur

I'm writing this on my way home from a trip that ended with a short visit to Damanhur, an intentional community in Italy. With 1000 members it is, as far as I know, the largest in the world next to Auroville. But what makes it extraordinary is the worldview and mission that carries it.Damanhur is founded on a very rich and detailed mythology. It originates with its founder Falco, who in lectures and writings spanning several decades presented a kind of alternative history of humanity, with associated metaphysical and cosmological teachings. It involves galactic civilizations, prehistorical and para-historical civilizations on earth, a cosmic battle between the forces of life and anti-life, and a series of great defeats suffered by humanity in its galactic expression that cost us most of our senses and archetypes, leaving us with only a limited menu of archetypes and the five recognized senses. While these defeats happened millions of years ago, the Damanhurian worldview holds linear time lightly, which means that it is also happening right now. It also includes multiple future timelines. One of them leads to the final extinction of the divine aspect of humanity, corresponding to apocalyptic futures on earth related to catastrophic climate change, nuclear accidents, thermonuclear war, and so forth. A contrary positive timeline leads to a triumph over the forces of anti-life, and the recovery of lost human capacities and archetypes.

Against the backdrop of this mythology (thousands of pages of which I've condensed, hopefully not with undue violence, into a single paragraph), Damanhur conceives its mission as the serving of the positive timeline. At present, it could go either way. Both coexist well within the bounds of the possible. They speak of the "densification" of the positive timeline, which involves creating events and institutions that are aligned with it, that draw it into actuality through principles of resonance.

One needn't accept as "real" any part of the Damanhurian mythologies to participate in the densification of the positive timeline. Any choice, any action that is life-affirming rather than life-denying will strengthen this timeline. It is not necessary, I advised my hosts, to proselytize the explicit mythology of Damanhur. It is only necessary to create conditions from which people will act in accordance with a world built on love. That might mean presenting the mythology as fiction, and being cautious about how and when it is shared.

The reader may notice a paradox here: that this advice applies equally whether or not I personally "believe in" Damanhur's mythology. Aren't you curious whether I buy into it or not? The modern mind craves certainty, craves an objective starting point of the verifiably real before it proceeds to map out its future, wants to reason from first principles. I will not venture to say whether I believe Damanhur's mythology is objectively true or not. I will only say that I'm not using the word “mythology” in the pejorative sense that holds it as the deluded cousin or primitive forerunner of science. Science itself bears all the hallmarks of a mythology, including quasi-religious institutions, an initiated priesthood, rites and rituals, an implicate social and political order, and a set of unquestioned metaphysical assumptions. Chief among these is the doctrine of objectivity (a universe separate from the observer whose properties are fundamentally independent of the observer's beliefs, choices, actions, and state of being). That is the foundation upon which the reliability of the experimental method rests. It is also the conceptual wedge that sunders science from mythology (in the view of science, that is).

However we might venerate it or malign it, science has been an extremely generative mythology. To a large extent, its rituals (technology) have created the modern world. Equally, however, it has been a destructive mythology, as the ecological crisis makes plain. Therefore, many of us seek to abandon it, replace it, or expand it into something constitutionally different.

I seek its expansion. In seeking to expand the present dominant mythology we call science, we might evaluate an alternative such as the Damanhur narrative not according to the old standard of factual accuracy (which presumes an objective external reality) but by its coherency, effectiveness, and resonance. For me, the Damanhurian mythology carries the ring of truth despite its blatant contradiction with near-universally accepted facts of archeology and astrophysics, of which I am far from ignorant. And no, I'm not claiming that "science is wrong." I am holding multiple, contradictory narratives simultaneously, and learning to toggle among them as circumstances require.

I discovered on my visit that despite being at odds with conventional science, Damanhur’s mythology and its associated rituals have been impressively generative. What the Damanhur community has accomplished is astonishing. Most impressive of their accomplishments is the underground temple complex, constructed by hand, in secret, by a group of a few dozen people over more than a decade, without even their families knowing what they were doing, let alone the local authorities. This is no mere underground chamber; it is an impressive engineering feat that involved tremendous foresight to integrate its ventilation, electrical system, ubiquitous and highly intricate artwork, and esoteric systems that link its parts with fluids, crystals, and wires. Yet it was constructed by people with little or no experience in excavation or architecture, who had days jobs and families and who somehow managed to maintain their lives while working every night. On my tour I kept thinking, "According to what we normally consider possible, this place cannot exist."

I like to define a miracle as something that is impossible within an old story, but possible within a new one. One might say then that a useful alternative mythology is one that is capable of generating miracles; social, political, medical, or material.  My impression of Damanhur is that it is one of the hotspots of miracles on earth. Please, don't mistake my use of the word as a synonym for divine intervention. All I am saying is that unlike most metaphysical musings, the operating mythology of Damanhur is generating results. One of these is the temple. In a future post I'll talk a little about the singing plants.

Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing, Charles. I find that the expression “densification” of the positive timeline is a good way to describe what is currently happening in places like Damanhur (among countless others, all over the world). These places, which might be (and most probably are) founded on different mythologies, they all share the same core – life-affirming action. The beliefs, even if different, are only a direct outcome of what is going on in our inner universe. This densification is happening on the core level, and it comes into life with every single life-affirming action, and not to forget, life-affirming thought. We are the ones to make this positive timeline a dense one, all while the life-denying timeline continues getting weaker. Even if it seems that our stories upon which our action is founded on, come in various forms – they all start from the same place. We can call this place Oneness.
    I just realized I am not really saying anything new here, just rewording…I guess I just wanted to express how it resonated with me. PS. You also nailed the “definition” of miracle : “A miracle is something that is impossible within an old story, but possible within a new one”. Well said…Well said. Now – looking forward to read about the singing plants 🙂

    • The line about miracles resonated with me, as well. Not because of any religious bent, although I have one in the larger spiritual sense, but because of the words “old story” and “new story”, with regards to possibilities. I experienced this at Ananda in W Oregon a couple of years ago during a symposium ‘Awakening the Dreamer/Changing the Dream’ (Pachamama Alliance) Truly a worldview changing event

  2. What I wrote when I reposted this on my Facebook timeline, was that my thinking gets pushed a little by your deliberate wording, your careful explanations of what you mean by your words, and your integrity. By integrity I mean how you remain clearly aligned to densification of the positive timeline, and how you are fair and patient with what so many of us are tempted to discard that also aligns there. Thanks for your example of being open to the possibilities that serve the more beautiful world.

  3. Beautiful writting: the balance of humans between spiritual and material. The spiritual as the force which let us to built the material.
    I like very much your definitition for “miracle” and also wish to read about the singing plants.
    Seems to me, that we need a “miracle” to find a new bounding between our spiritual being and the “super material world” we are living in, which our spirit rejects, but, due to cirscunstances, you can not scape from it.

  4. Reality only exists in the stories that you are telling yourself. That’s a miracle! It really is a miracle that you are reading my message here and now.
    I love your reality to be as real as mine.

  5. Very interesting, and I like your “holding” of what could look like contradictions. I love Italy and have been there many times, but don’t know about Damanhur. But now I do, so thanks!

  6. What I notice in this is the similarity of Jung reading of the ‘lost gospels’. All the stories, or myths that we may have lived by, but were narrowed down to the chosen few of the ‘book’ that formed the formal and informal margins of society and how the human story moved in the last two thousand years.. and the limitations to the senses that that brought, into the world of science.
    I believe that community rituals are the valuable lesson in the Damanhur community and all other spiritual communities that come together with positive loving intention. Yet the most powerful oracle in society today.. the media, shies away from this as a possibility for our well being and that of the planet.

  7. Thank you for this life-affirming story. A curious thing happened when I read your words Charles, “Aren’t you curious whether I buy into it or not? The modern mind craves certainty, craves an objective starting point of the verifiably real…” I answered “no, that’s not important to me.”
    Now, i’m a “scientist” and i teach science, the scientific method, observation, etc. I am surprised at my answer. Well, maybe not that surprised as I think about it now. For years I have been teaching the biological work of Humerto Maturana, (do you know it?), on perception. He says that at least 80% of all perceptions are in the “mind” already and the 20% or less that comes from the senses serve only to perturb the system. So much for pure objectivity. So much for one universal answer. Science is a mythology (and a tool), an important one, that now relies more on creativity and collaboration than ever.
    Something is shifting. i am noticing how much more important it is to me to create a life affirming story within me and within each of us. To me the notion of the negative timeline is totally contained within the positive one and there is one intention, to, as you say, recover lost human capacities and archetypes.
    I love this story. And I love the notion of the mythology of science. I will bring this conversation to my Environmental Science classes this fall as we strive to understand the old story causes of the crises we are in and endeavor to move into the Space between Stories.

  8. It is an impressive project with a dark side. How then can anyone outside of Italy make an informed decision about Damanhur when there is no reliable information in English? Why is there no mention about the worries of Damanhur being a sect and of the problems people have getting out? https://damanhurinsideout.wordpress.com

  9. Excellent. I am following this consciousness and reality. It “resonates” with my being and leaves room to create a “new story”. All is becoming more dense as we share this collective new story and vibrate to its core. Thank you so much for taking the time to so articulately share your experience and insights.

  10. exquisite as always. love in the time of science. i too cannot wait to hear about your experience with the singing plants – i’ve seen videos of these fellers 🙂

      • Oh, they took out the URL. I found it, so can you, by searching the Damanhur site and then selecting the distributor in your country of choice. Birgids Way is the one for the US.

  11. Yes!!! Love this. So clear. Such a gift…Good to know we’re in this together. Super juicy:)! Thank you, dear Charles.

  12. What i appreciate about this post is how it makes the contradictions of Damanhur accessible. When we hear it’s amazing tale of an alternative history we are faced with a choice “Should we disbelieve all the history books we have been taught to embrace this strange deviant version of the past?” Your answer is a clear “Not necessarily”
    By opening up the possibility of holding two conflicting stories in ones mind, you are inviting us to the macro version of the uncertainty principal. If light can be both a wave and a particle, can their be multiple contradictory histories which get us to today?
    By framing the miracle of the Damanhur temples as a challenge to the old version of what is possible reality, you invite your reader to hold more than one view of what could be. Is this new age puffery, or is this the antidote to our impending decline as a species?
    It was a pleasure meeting you, i look forward to more of your writings and perhaps our paths crossing again.

  13. Dear Charles:
    What a beautiful distillation of your adventure – thank you for sharing.
    The Damanhurian experience – which only can be had via a visit and then integrated after time for reflection – is nothing short of a “miracle” (as you so perfectly define that word). I am so happy for you and Paxus that you made the trip!
    For me, Damanhur is beyond life-affirming … it is a LIFE-RAFT to what is possible for our collective existence in a preferred time-line.
    At Oracle, we wish to co-create a similar “miracle” on Turtle Island – one that anchors and also glorifies the “Secret Destiny of America” (to borrow from Manley Hall).
    Now that you have experienced the “dream” of Damanhur, I look forward to talking with you more about what you feel is possible to manifest here, now, and for our collective future.
    In Truth, Love, and Light,
    laura

  14. Charles, this is a wonderful affirmation not only of the basic principles upon which Damanhur has evolved, but a lesson on how people throughout the World can aspire to create a more unified existence. It is the model we at The Oracle Institute’s Valley of Light Community wish to emulate. I particularly appreciate how you affirmatively yet gently invite all of us to consider that multiple realities can harmoniously co-exist, in order that we can foster a better world…….. Bravo!

  15. “According to what we consider possible,this place could not possibly exist,” you wrote. Precisely my thoughts, Charles, when I visited Damanhur in March of 2014. And that’s what made it so intriguing, because it then begs us to reconsider “what we think is possible.” Thank you for your beautiful summation. You rekindled for me the visceral experience of being there.I look forward to your Part II, Part III and so on . . . .

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