Mythic Prelude for August, 2010:

A Laboratory for Humanity's Future

Hail, and welcome to the Universal Festival Calendar for August, 2010. This prelude is posted on the day after the Leo Full Moon of July 25 - 26, so that it can go out in the UFC newsletter several days before what many expect to be the momentous "Cardinal Climax" alignment of Aug. 1. Much has been written on this site over the last two years about The Crosses of 2010, most recently in last month's prelude, Heroic Choices. There is no need to add anything here to the topics so many have already covered about what the powerful cross formations now in effect are, how they can be expected to manifest, and why they are so hugely transformative, likely to bring such unmistakable changes in so many areas of our lives.
Now, in some quarters, the questions have begun to shift, as we've now passed quite mildly and uneventfully through the first of the great cross alignments of late July and early August. If the next few weeks, especially around August 1, prove to be as "uneventful," as lacking in big, splashy, stunning news stories as the last few days have been, then by August 15, a great many people will wonder . . . ahhhh, Is That It? Wasn't this supposed to be the "meanest . . . worst planet alignment" in thousands of years? Where were the Earth changes? The falling currencies and collapsing governments? The rioting in the streets? The bankers hanging from the lampposts? We didn't see any of that. What happened?
Much has happened, in fact, and keeps happening, whether we get to see it or not -- through the scrim of corporate-controlled media, especially in the Gulf of Mexico -- and whether or not we think that to be important, the story has to be as violent and/or dramatic as the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union or Sept. 11, 2001. One thing that makes all of us who are now alive unique is that we've seen more riveting events than any generations in history, all brought to us in color on TV, so that our expectations have zoomed up like a rocket full of cortisone. To qualify as something important, an event has to top, or at least equal, the biggest, baddest news stories from the Tienanmen Square massacre of 1989 to the Great Bank Robbery of 2008.
So if the story lacks spectacular production values, it may hardly get noticed at all. Like the stunner from a week ago that would weigh a hundred megatons of shock value if our eyes were not fixated on leaders, celebrities and disasters the size of the Deep Water Horizon catastrophe. Consider the hardly-a-blip story, as reported by Common Man News on July 21, that "Half of Americans Have Less than $2,000 Banked for their Golden Years." If an economic nosedive as precipitous as this, in what was until recently the most prosperous country in history, is not a signal that changes of extreme importance are now underway, then one wonders what does qualify as that Big Story.
Let us make no mistake about it. Whether we see the important outcomes or not, they are surely underway. It may turn out that the whole point of 2012 is that by then we grasp and act coherently on the events that now flow from the mindshifts and soulquakes of 2010. This summer is still what many of us have known it to be: a moment when we need to simplify, choose our battles wisely, strengthen alliances, and affirm links with community, which is our only true wealth and safety now. This brings us to this month's topic, which may well be, in Sam Shepard's phrase (from Fool for Love), the "extra long black Mercedes Benz" of intentional communities.
Abandon Mope, All Ye Who Enter Here:

It has been called “The Eighth Wonder of the World,” and many other things besides, since it was established in 1975 near Turin in the Piedmont region of northern Italy by spiritual teacher, author and holistic health practitioner Oberto Airaudi and two dozen other founding members. In the years since, the Federation of Damanhur has grown into “an eco-society based on ethical and spiritual values, on social commitment, on volunteer work and solidarity [whose] citizens apply these principles in order to realize their collective dream of a more sustainable and equitable world, built upon People and Communities." Damanhur received a United Nations Global Settlement Award in 2005 as an outstanding model for a sustainable future, and has received many other honors for bringing its optimistic vision to practical realization.

The 1,000 members of the main Damanhur settlement live in independent and largely self-sufficient villages that comprise together a sophisticated, highly-evolved city-state with its own constitution, currency, businesses and civic services, a daily newspaper, medical and scientific research facilities, an open university and a school system that teaches children from nursery through middle school. The Damanhur constitution has evolved organically over the years in response to new conditions and priorities. Its "leaders" -- who serve more as arbitrators than as officials, least of all as authorities -- are selected and rotated at intervals of several years.
The name of the region that houses the center of Damanhur, in the foothills of the Alps, hardly conveys the tireless reach and effort that the community brings to everything it does. Valchiusella means “closed valley,” but Damanhur is anything but isolated in space, or in its aims. It has grown to include 20,000 members living in satellite communities in Europe, the Americas and Japan. It has created relationships with many international organizations, including Wisdom University, which Damanhur has joined in committing to the goal of getting 100% of the world’s electricity from renewable sources by 2018.
From its beginning, in hundreds of ways, Damanhur has fused the practical business of life on the Earth plane with a mystical vision and alignment with spiritual energies that are no less potent and “real” for not yet being well understood in conventional scientific terms. Determining the location where Damanhur’s “cathedral” had to be built was not only a matter of finding the right spot on the ground, but of building at the precise depth under the ground where “synchronic lines” flow in “rivers of energy that link the Earth to the cosmos.” When the time came to sink the shafts into the mountain, everyone – teachers and elders too -- got down and dirty, hauling up the rock and mud in bucket brigades, even late into the night, because Damanhurian spirituality is “extremely pragmatic, for proposing complex thought, which is realized through complete and responsible action,” as Stambecco Pesco wrote in his foreword to Dying to Learn, the first of Airaudi's three Books of the Initiate.
The result of the years of effort that followed has been compared to the great cathedrals of medieval Europe. All of Damanhur's Temples of Humankind – the Halls of Water, the Earth, the Spheres, Metals, and the Labyrinth – are filled with incomparably beautiful works of painting, sculpture, mosaic and stained glass, built underground in resonant sound spaces, some of them linked by secret stairways and doors that open when one follows the clues in the murals. But these new Temples, which are often called Damanhur’s "cathedral," differ from the great Christian works of architecture in one important respect: the Temples of Humankind do not encode the symbols of only one religion. Rather, all are represented, as Damanhur’s spiritual symbols and principles are eclectic and Earth-based.
Ancient Egypt is an important influence, as the name Damanhur comes from Temen-Hor, the “town of Horus.” Like an Egyptian mystery school, Damanhur exalts Horus the Falcon as the “stellar/solar symbol of light, towards which the initiate guides his path of consciousness." (Dying to Learn, p. 124)
Otherwise Damanhur can hardly be said to have a belief system, much less anything resembling dogma. The community’s spiritual principles are set forth in Oberto Airaudi’s three Books of the Initiate and other writings.
They consist mainly of ideas common to many mystery traditions: that within each human being is a divine energy or force that must be awakened by individual effort that enables us to break free of limiting habits, to discover and pursue each one’s talents and dreams. While his emphasis on such personal fulfillment is high, Airaudi – who as Damanhur’s guiding Horus figure uses the initiate name Falco and writes through the personae of OroChritshna and other teachers – also makes it clear that we will develop and emerge only through honoring our responsibilities to others and working with them in a spirit of fully-engaged, committed living in relation to other human lives, our communities and our planet. This is never quick and easy, as we know.
It really is a process of Dying to Learn, and requires at some point the making of “the esoteric choice [that] can only ask EVERYTHING of you. Choose or stop. Get off the train or endure and continue the Journey, with joy, enthusiasm, courage and a spirit of adventure.” What makes this challenge bearable and doable for Damanhur’s brave souls? It helps that the community’s philosophy and style are grounded in practical activity on the Earth plane, in empowering discoveries of talents that one didn’t know were there, in teamwork and relationships, and in an outlook that is consistently optimistic and joyous.

One example, in the Hall of the Earth, is a mural that is startling at first glance because the last thing we expect to see in this serene, exquisitely beautiful place is a battle scene. A closer look shows that, curiously, the warriors wear armor and carry shields that look ancient Roman – but the fighters have no weapons, there are no dead or wounded on the field, no blood to be seen anywhere, and everyone is laughing and grinning as though they’ve never had so much fun. In the background are masses of gray, faceless beings who look nearly human in form, but are not quite there. To become realized as individuals, to gain full color and expression, these yet-unformed candidates for humanity will have to join the battle that is joyous because each one who fights it full-out is winning the victory over everything within himself that is small, timid and uncommitted to awakening that divine spark and principle of the human being in the full emergence of his light.

As an essential practice of this fight with one's perceived limits, Damanhur has always encouraged, and done all but require, the creative expression of each of its members in whatever art medium gives him or her joy. The tangible results have filled the grounds of Damanhur over the years, as our guide Shama -- her initiate name, like all at Damanhur, is from nature, in her case from the elegant black Hawaiian songbird -- showed us before we visited the Temples.
Amazingly, not even one of Damanhur's founders was an accomplished artist, though skilled talents have since come to fashion the Temples of Humankind, and to teach others who have filled the outdoor temples, labyrinths and parks with sculptures like these, murals and other installations of wood and stone that show what works of beauty may wait within each one who is willing to learn, and to challenge old assumptions about what I cannot make and do.
Images of the great god Pan, of dragons and other mythical beasts, of sprites and other elemental spirits, appear at every turn, affirming that Damanhur's main well of creative inspiration is in the myriad forms of nature and the wild imagination it inspires, and in universal mythic symbols that link the lives of human communities with the currents and rhythms of Earth and Sky.
Damanhur's respect for the sanctity of life is evident in murals like this one from the elder care house. It shows two of the departed Damanhurians as smaller in size than the flowers, plants and insects because human beings are not here to control nature or dominate and exploit it.
Rather, as Damanhur has always seen it, our role is to find our place among beings who are equal to us in dignity and beauty – and who, like us, are now emerging into their highest possibilities as they, and we, form interdependent connections that help us grow together in the field, and play our dynamic roles in the conscious evolution that fulfills us all. Though it has never defined itself as an Aquarian experiment, Damanhur clearly is one in its communal sense of effective teamwork, its Earth-based spirituality and reverence for life, its fluid synarchy and above all on its emphasis on stretching the capacities of human beings to act in greater service to themselves, one another and their planet. The Damanhur experiment articulates some of the great Aquarian paradoxes and themes. About how this time is heady and terrible because it frees us from our ancient need to seek, support and be disappointed by leaders -- yet demands a greater creativity and passion than we have ever had to pick up and use before. The tough news about this dawn of the Aquarian Age is that it will require more of an effort than we have made before. Yet the glad news is that we can handle it -- not because our capacities will increase, but rather because we will find and use in courage and joy the resources we didn't know were there until we had to use them.
And we will. How best to play this priceless opportunity? In the ways we saw at the end of last month's UFC prelude. And by remembering that Sunday August 1 is the great feast of Lughnasad -- south of the equator it's Imbolc -- when we consume away in fire ceremonies the old opinions and assumptions that burn slowly because they are as dense and heavy as they are false. We feast on Earth's abundance, and the new bread and wine. We sing and remember that our glass, our tankard, or stein, or soul, is more than half full if we will only see it so. Keep Holding That Frequency.
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The Chiron - Neptune Conjunction of 2009 - 2012:
Prelude (Nov. 2008) and Acts 1 - 3 (April 2009 - Feb. 2010): see UFC Index
Act 4: Crisis and Climax: The Crosses of Summer, 2010
Act 5: Denouement: Near Chiron-Neptune Conjunction of Nov. 2 - 3, 2010
2012: The End of . . . What?
Copyright 2010 Dan Furst. All Rights Reserved.