Damanhur
Damanhur is a large esoteric community founded in 1979
in the Valchiusella valley north of Turin, Italy. The community
grew out of the work of Oberto Airaudi (b. 1950), a precocious
young man who involved himself in the lively metaphysical
community of Turin in the early 1970s. He became a psychic
healer and a Spiritualist medium. By 1974 he had established
a following which he brought together in the Horus Center.
Airaudi began to advocate the ideal of communal living and in
1976 a settlement was established on the present site of the
community, which was officially constituted in 1979.
In 1981 the community promulgated a constitution that emphasized
the notion that Damanhur was a separate state. A government
was organized and a currency issued. The idea of operating
as a separate state created tension with the local
authorities. That tension was increased when community members
founded successively their own day school, elementary
school, and high school. Local authorities finally relented on
the school issue and soon discovered from standardized tests
that students were scoring above the national average.
Damanhur operates out of a modified Gnostictheosophical
myth. God is unknowable and approached only through a
number of intermediate deities. The universe is also populated
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with a number of lesser entities, including angels, nature spirits,
and demons. In the prehistoric past human beings fell into
matter, and one of the objects of spiritual esoteric work is the
return to the primeval state. Aside from the more common arts
of alchemy and magic, the community also promotes Selfica,
the science of the accumulation and use of subtle energies. The
ancient arts related to Selfica have been enhanced in the modern
context through the use of various contemporary technologies.
The citizens of Damanhur also have developed a special
relationship to the animal world, and each person takes a second
name as an animal.
Damanhur jumped into the news in 1992 when it was discovered
that for some years the community had been involved in
the creation of a vast underground temple complex. A member
of the leadership revealed the existence of the complex when
no amicable parting settlement could be reached. The beautiful
temple was carved out of solid rock and includes many
rooms of paintings, frescos, stained glass, and mosaic art. The
temple has been designed for the various magical and ritual
purposes of the larger community, and is ultimately tied to the
occult, and unrevealed goals of the group.
Damanhur has developed a number of businesses that support
the community. Though nuclear families dominate, marriages
are for a specific length of time, after which they are renewed
or terminated. As the 1990s drew to a close there were
approximately 400 resident members and an additional 300 associate
members who lived in the vicinity. Damanhur may be
visited on the Internet at httpwww.damanhur.org.
Sources
Airaudi, Oberto. Tales from Damanhur. Translated by Esperide
and Ileana Troni. Canavese, Italy Damanhur Editrice,
1997.
Intrivigne, Massimo. ‘‘Damanhur A Magical Community in
Italy.’’ Communal Studies 16 (1996) 71-84.
Merrifield, Jeff. Damanhur The Real Dream. London Thorsons,
1998.