Airaudi, Oberto (1950 )
Oberto Airaudi, the founder of Damanhur, an Italian esoteric
community, was born in 1950 in Balangero, north of
Turin, Italy. As a youth he became involved in the metaphysical
community in Turin and found himself drawn to psychic healers,
especially some that practiced what was termed pranotherapy,
a form of healing that used prana, considered by Hindus
the life force, to heal. He became a pranotheraphist in the early
1970s and soon established offices in several towns in northern
Italy. He also began to operate as a Spiritualist medium and
eventually wrote a book on the subject. By 1974 he had attained
a following that joined him in the formation of two organizations,
the Horus Centre and an associated School of Pranotherapy.
Airaudi advocated the ideals of the communal life and in
1975 land was rented in the Valchiusella Valley north of Turin
as a possible site for the community. The following year some
two dozen people moved to what was called Damanhur, the
name of an ancient Egyptian city. The land was eventually purchased
and Damanhur was officially organized in 1979. Airaudi
led in the writing of a constitution, first promulgated in 1981,
that described the community as a separate state or nation.
Members began to think of themselves as citizens of Damanhur
and even issued their own money. As the community grew, and
married couples with children moved in, a school system was
established. Airaudis attempts to structure a separate community
brought initial tension with the local authorities, but these
were slowly worked out.
Airaudi has watched the group grow steadily. By 1985 there
were some 200 citizens resident at Damanhur. According to the
constitution, a community could not exceed 220 members, so
the original community was reorganized into several communities
which were linked in a federation. The federation grew to
approximately 400 citizens by the mid-1990s. To provide an
economic base, a variety of small industries have been organized
and their products sold to the outside world.
Airaudi has served as the guide of the community and has
written a number of books that embody his vision of the world
which has grown from Gnostic Theosophical roots. He also led
in the creation of the new science of Selfica, the technology of
accumulating and utilizing subtle energies, such as prana.
In 1992, it was revealed that soon after acquiring the land
for Damanhur, Airaudi had begun directing the building of a
large underground temple complex that the residents carved
out of the hard mountain rock. Not only were large rooms
carved inside the mountain, but each was beautifully decorated
in a manner following themes that embodied the groups beliefs.
The existence of the temple work had remained a secret
in spite of visits by numerous outsiders and the defection of
members who were aware of what was occurring. In the wake
of the revelation concerning the temple, Airaudi was threatened
with his violation of a variety of zoning, building, and tax
laws, but as in the past, he was able to work through the issues
with the authorities.
As the twentieth century comes to an end, Airaudi continues
to lead the community, which has entered a new period of prosperity.
Work on the already impressive temple continues.
Airaudi has noted that the work is far from complete. The temple
construction has been developed in such a way as to embody
what has been learned from the selfic science, and structure
that concentrate subtle energies may be found throughout
Airaudi, Oberto. Tales from Damanhur. Translated by Esperide
and Ileana Troni. Canavese, Italy: Damanhur Editrice,
Intrivigne, Massimo. Damanhur: A Magical Community in
Italy. Communal Studies 16 (1996) 7184.
Merrifield, Jeff. Damanhur: The Real Dream. London: Thorsons,