Oh boy do I feel blessed. In March this year, I had no idea that by April I’d be living in a spiritual community in northern Italy. Fortunately, life was doing some glorious colluding and I was doing my bit, riding waves of optimism and openness.

I’d packed up my little apartment in Melbourne, Australia, sold my car, completed my last work contract and set off in February on a one-way trip out of my home country. My first stop was India and, after two months exploring that vastly different world, I next found myself holding a ticket to Italy and enrolling in the New Life program at Damanhur.

A spiritual, communal life with strong contacts with nature had been calling for a time. I felt a restlessness inside, calling me for “more,” to stretch my mind and heart and take a thorough look at the possibilities of being.

At some point in 2010 I’d penned my dream future: to live where people exist in harmony amongst beautiful surroundings with spirituality at the forefront. Again, I had no idea this desire would carry me to Damanhur, a stellar example of this dream that’s often referred to as a City of Light.

As the single-carriage train climbed the hill to nearby Ivrea, my emotions and excitement started to well up. Having only briefly visited Damanhur’s website before arriving, I knew, regardless of how little I knew of this place, that I was about to embark on a very different journey.

I was greeted by Wapiti (Elk), who heads up the New Life program, which generously offers people from around the world the opportunity to experience Damanhur firsthand over a three-month period. When I mentioned my arrival butterflies, she responded with a smile and a twinkle in her eye: “That’s not unusual.”

As part of the New Life program, I was placed in a ‘nucleo’, a household of 20 adults and children living on a beautiful part of the Damanhurian territories. My home was to be up in the hills surrounded by vegetable gardens, vines, a mini bee farm, all sorts of fruit and nut trees, animals, gorgeous views, stone spirals and circuits and flowing, drinkable water.

Before arriving at Damanhur, I imagined each of the 25 or so households that comprise the Federation of Communities to neighbor each other on the same territory, but this is far from the case. Damanhur’s properties are dispersed throughout the foothills of the Piedmont Alps with houses both big and small nestled amongst a stretch of local villages.

During my first few days at Damanhur, I visited the Temples of Humankind, a marvelous, mystical feat of human endeavor that forms the physical and spiritual foundation of Damanhur and helps any visitor capture an example of the work and commitment this community has sprung from.

As a ‘newbie’, feeling a little overwhelmed is also the norm, particularly if you’re trying to get your head around Damanhur’s complex social and spiritual strata. Imagining the layers of development and work these people have completed over 36 years in existence makes it easier to accept that you won’t ‘get it all’ in one fell swoop, and especially not in the first few days. The keys for a New Lifer are patience, courage and questions. Community members are always willing to explain and inform.

The New Life program is varied, with healthy doses of education, spiritual practice and voluntary work, both in your home nucleo and twice a week with other New Life participants. Each week, there are two opportunities to hear from Damanhur’s founder, Falco. The first is the weekly all-in community meeting and the second is a one-hour public meeting presented especially for guests and New Life citizens to ask all manner of questions. Most activities are translated, at least into English, though it helps to know some Italian, or have a strong desire to learn.

There are also weekly excursions to various regions of Damanhur and a range of talks presented to New Lifers by various Damanhurians. Themes depend on each citizen’s focus (of which there are countless) and range from explanations of the synchronic lines (different from ley lines), Damanhurian tarot and divination rites, the Grail, all things Atlantis, healing modalities, subtle structures of the human being, and shared experiences of day-to-day life – how others entered the community and have established their lives here.

Damanhur offers plenty of festivals, weekly rituals and concerts, and I’ve had the good fortune of timing my arrival with that of summer, which has meant bountiful crops and plenty of agricultural work. (I haven’t done this much physical labor in years!). The abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables is glorious. It’s a true privilege having a rainbow of dishes at each meal, eating food that’s mostly come straight from garden to plate. As a New Lifer, you can also assist in the cooking and, if you’re feeling courageous, put your name down to fly solo, cooking entire meals for your big family.

All in all, there’s plenty going on and each New Life citizen can make as much or as little of their experience as they want. Damanhurians encourage participation, being active and creative. I’ve found, like anywhere, collaborating in groups is where the real juice is. I’m loving the simple stuff here – the earthiness: getting my hands in the ground; picking vegetables; plucking fruit; saying hi to the chickens, beautiful bugs and trees; helping build eco-houses; weeding; planting; cooking; renovating the circuits. From there, the choice of how you contribute to the community or how you want to develop yourself is completely up to you. As a New Lifer, there’s time enough to do this too.

Damanhurians are wide open to new ideas, new projects and are fully supportive of people using their skills, learning new ones, researching the infinite possibilities of being and pursuing their paths, be they creative, spiritual, artistic, educational or work-oriented. Like life everyday, wherever you are, Damanhur offers a living, breathing opportunity for the new, amplified by its surroundings.

~ Marcella


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