Adventures in Wonderland

.......not just a travel blog

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Location: Canada

In our sixties, with apparently no other authentic option, my husband Don and I sold our car and apartment, sold or gave away all our stuff, and set off to discover the world. And ourselves. We started in Italy in 2011 and from there have travelled to Spain, India, Bali, etc. - you can see the blog archive. We will continue travelling until it's time to stop - if that time ever comes. So far it suits us very well. We are interested in how the world works, how life works, how the creation of experience works, how the mind works. As we travel and both "choose" our course, and at the same time just let it unfold, we discover the "mechanics" of life, the astounding creativity of life, and a continual need to return to trust and presence. Opening the heart, and acceptance of what is, as it is, are keystones for us both.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Mural in Vidracco, Northern Italy

After many months of preparation we have arrived in Italy!

In late May of this year Don and I decided to sell our apartment, sell or give away everything in it, sell our car, give up our life in Vancouver and become gypsies, living the life we really want to live. It took 4 months to completely turn our life around from going in one direction to going in a whole new direction, tying up every last detail and loose end we could possibly think of. It took 2 weeks longer than we imagined it would. We had no idea how much would have to be accomplished, or how stressful it would be. There were great lessons in presence, and patience, and letting go, and humility, and just focusing on putting one foot in front of the other, until one day it was all done, all the obstacles evaporated, and we boarded a flight for Italy. There's a lot more to come in later blogs about this change in our circumstances, but for now we wanted to connect with everyone, and share a bit of our travels.

Our first stop, mainly for logistical reasons, was a small hotel near the Torino airport, unremarkable, but adequate for our needs. Attached to it was a Chinese/Italian restaurant with an enormous menu (never a good sign) so we settled on pizza! Perfetto for our first night in Italy. We couldn’t eat it all so they boxed our left overs for us.

They don’t make pizza boxes like this in Canada!

Next morning we rented a car and drove to the village of Vidracco, and Damanhur, an intentional spiritual community north of Torino. What most drew us to visit this community are the temples they built underground, in secret, during a 16 year period from 1978. Click on the link to the temples. No, really. Click on the link to the temples. (Or cut and paste it into your browser). And then click on “virtual tour”. (And also don’t forget to click on the arrows that show you the ceilings and floors of each hall.) You won’t be disappointed. They are astonishing and far better than any pictures I could take. Besides photography is prohibited in the temples.

One of the main philosophies of the community is the development of the self through creativity and art. There is art everywhere, indoors and out.

We visited their outdoor temple, and the many complex labyrinths for walking meditation, their Stonehenge style circle for solstice and equinox rituals, as well as their main building housing all the artists’ studios, a gallery of paintings, meeting hall, healing centres, store, coffee shop, and restaurant.

Outdoor temple

Solstice/Equinox celebration circle. These rock columns are about 20m high and go as far into the ground as they are above it! I think there are about 8 of them, forming a complete circle.

And of course the temples. Words cannot describe the energy and feeling in these astonishing, and astonishingly beautiful, underground hidden sacred spaces. We’d seen the virtual tour on their website but it is nothing compared to the real thing. Each of the halls is connected with narrow decorated corridors and hidden doorways. It would be easy to get lost in there. These people dug into the mountain for years, bringing out the rock and dirt bucket by bucket. It is truly a mind-blowing accomplishment. On our first day here we toured all the temples, and on our third day we got to do a private meditation (with only one other person) in the Hall of Spheres and the Hall of Metals. Very powerful and profound. I felt blessed and privileged, and knocked into stillness. We both came back to our hotel room and fell asleep for 2 hours!

On our second day here we attended their beautiful Fall equinox ritual in the great outdoor circle – drumming and dancing and singing to mark the change of the seasons. Everything about Damanhur feels Atlantean. Maybe they know something we don't? Either way this small group of committed people has achieved a huge amount, and contributed a great amount of beauty to the world. I wish I could have stayed longer, and maybe one day we'll go back for another look inside the Temples of Humankind.

Next we go back to Torino and take the train to Cinque Terre – five tiny villages clinging to the steep west coast of northern Italy for lots of hiking and ferry rides and hanging out in cafes.

It took most of the first three days in Italy to finally feel like I’d actually arrived here. And begun this new life. Both Don and I are writing just about every day, recording the inner and outer journey. I frequently have the feeling that I have absolutely no idea what we’re doing, but that it’s OK, living in the not knowing is OK. The only thing that seems important is to do what feels right.

More Damanhur creativity:


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Blogger Kate said...

I did click to the temple website and looked around. Wowzers! It sounds like a community I could enjoy and thrive in -- what you said about self-development through creativity and art, that's been my life on and off. Living in a community where everybody is doing that, whoa, that would be super-inspiring I'm sure.

October 1, 2011 at 3:41 PM  

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