I’m not a Pilgrim.
I’m not on The Bus.
There are strict rules against teachers having non-school holiday time off and immanentizing the eschaton.
But I was sold on Damanhur as a destination for the Easter Holidays. I would spend the night of April 12th there when Brexit didn’t happen…again. The plan was that if things kicked off, the safest place to be was a secret underground bunker, but more of that later.
Now, Damanhur isn’t exactly local.
So, I plotted a course across France that would take in stops at Rouen (for Jeanne D’Arc), Chartres (for The Labyrinth) and Grenoble (for the Huguenots).
Once we were over (actually under) the Alps, Turin raised its head so we took a slight detour to take in The Shroud and the Egyptian Museum. The tunnel to get us under the Alps was the Fréjus Tunnel, which required the excavation of millions of tonnes of rock at a cost of €700 million.
Near the midpoint of this tunnel is the Laboratoire de Sousterrain de Modane (also referred to as the Fréjus Underground Laboratory). This site houses the Neutrino Ettore Majorana Observatory (NEMO experiment), an international collaboration of scientists searching for neutrinoless double beta decay. An observation of neutrinoless double beta decay would be evidence that neutrinos are Majorana particles and could be used to measure the neutrino mass. Attempts are underway to build a larger laboratory, in the same tunnel…
The Federation of Damanhur is about an hour North of Turin, with most of the journey on a dual carriageway until it rapidly transforms into a twisty mountain road to the middle of nowhere. Just next to nowhere, we’d found Valentina’s B&B, only three minutes drive from the Damanhur Welcome Centre. She’s a fantastic host and if you visit Damanhur, I recommend you stay with here. I reckon she could cope with a party of eight or nine.
So after a night of nervous excitement unlike anything except perhaps the night of 21/8/17, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in anticipation of our three hour visit to Damanhur in the afternoon.
Our tour started at 3pm with a walk around Damjl, the central hub of the Federation of Damanhur. Our guide was Canadian and had been there for just over a year. Her Damanhurian name was forgotten as soon as we left, but I remember it translated as Nymph Frog.
She gave us a tour of all of the outside spaces, altars and temples, whilst covering the history of Damanhur – essentially 70s academics decide to change the world through art and research.
Every now again we’d come across a sculpture that was the really of an Art Battle – who could put together the best artwork using just the materials to hand. 🤔
Just about to say something funny.
Who lives in a house like this?
The Earth Altar with a massive quartz pyramid on top.
One of the many meditative labyrinths offering solutions to things as diverse as insomnia and stomach ache.
For the second part of the tour, we were handed over to another Damanhurian guide – again, her name is forgotten – who drove us up a winding road, through a Golden Gate and into the Abaton complex, that houses the entrance to The Temples Of Humankind.
The Abaton is a modern and comfortable grouping of five rooms strategically annexed to the Temples of Humankind and Sacred Woods Temple. The space is reminiscent of rooms in the back of the temples in ancient Greece, such as Asclepios, where patients slept and received inspired dreams. Guests at Abaton can experience both inner pilgrimage and sacred sleep. Each room is specifically prepared for lucid dreaming, inspiration and intuition. Selfic art and circuitry channel synchronic energy from the Temple halls, activating opportunities for the dreamer to connect and exchange with this energy. Individual rooms may be booked for a private retreat of your own design.
The Temples were built underground in the foothills of the Alps and required the excavation of millions of tonnes of rock at a cost of 23 years of volunteer labour.
There are seven temples, called the Blue Temple, the Hall of Water, the Hall of the Earth, the Hall of Metals, the Labyrinth, the Hall of Spheres, and the Hall of Mirrors. They are connected by passages, stairs and secret doors, normally hidden behind Egyptian iconography.
The first hall entered is the Blue Temple, the oldest hall of the structure. It is circular, with the mosaic of a naked woman on the floor, an interpretation of the tarot card The Star, and a painting of an Arcadic landscape on the wall.
On one side is a blue sphere integrated into the wall, on the other side a terracotta throne, which is used to meditate on the sphere. The room is designed to perfect the acoustics of the human voice, creating all kinds of wonderful resonances, that would no doubt intrigue ancient frequency guru, ex-Ford Timelord owner and original Badger Kull member, Flinton Chalk. An amazing secret staircase in the floor leads down into the next level.
The Hall of Water is dedicated to the element water and the female principle. It is formed like a chalice, circular with a cuppola, and a window of stained glass in the ceiling, giving a blue light. A window in the wall contains a symbol of the moon, also an ancient female symbol. The wall is covered by ancient texts, enigmatic, beautiful, and a library to those who are able to read them, which is practically no one. Falco, the founder of Damanhur, covered the walls with writing in dozens of different ancient languages, many of which have been lost to antiquity. Mathematics also features heavily and I could have spent hours in that one room looking for answers – there were plenty of 23s obviously. It was in this room that I broached the subject of time travel. Did Falco time travel back to visit his younger self and give him information and inspiration? Our tour guide just nodded and smiled.
The Hall of the Earth is dedicated to the male principle. Again a circular room the ceiling supported by a central column.
The wall is painted with the history of humankind, at least as Damanhurian philosophy sees it. Four doors open to altars and passages.
During our visit there were around half a dozen Damanhurians working on the artwork, demonstrating that the Temples are still a work in progress.
The Hall of Metals is dedicated to the ages of humankind, which are linked to metals or elements. There are eight windows giving data on the eight metals, including details like atomic number and chemical notation. The vices of mankind are depicted on the floor in mosaics. Six human figures, displayed like islands in a sea of dark stone, depict pride, egoism, pessimism, falsity, lack of awareness, and self destruction. Each exit is partially blocked by a pillar forcing the initiate to choose a way around the obstacle. In this case, as always, I went left.
The Labyrinth is not really a labirinth, but an array of three parallel naves with pointed arches, crossed in an right angle by three other parallel naves.
It is dedicated to the divine forces which have been worshipped during the millenia. The gods and prophets are depicted on on sixteen Tiffany glass windows, with another set still being finished in an adjoining wing. I don’t think the Damanhurians have misnamed this. I’m sure it is a Labyrinth in the sense that there is a particular, meaningful way to negotiate it. As we saw above ground, the Damanhurians use labyrinths a lot for their meditations.
The Hall of Spheres is rectangular, four meters wide and seven meters long. The ceiling is covered by gold, which is said to insulate the room, although we could not find out from what.
Eight niches, four on each side, contain the namesake crystal spheres, a ninth sphere is placed in the middle of a narrow side.
This hall is located right on the intersection of three Synchronic Lines.
According to Damanhurian beliefs, this allows to contact all points of the planet and transmit messages, both around the planet and into space.
The Hall of Mirrors is a frustum of a four sided pyramid, the walls covered by huge mirrors.
The ceiling is the largest Tiffany glass cupola in the World. It is located above the entrance hall and is the highest point of the structure. We were handed cushions and instructed to lay down at look at the mandala on the ceiling while our guide used a gong and the rooms incredible acoustics to change our realities.
This was the end of our amazing tour and stepping out into the early evening light was very disorienting. How long had we been in there? It felt simultaneously like an age and no time at all. Maybe we’d time travelled a little ourselves, just to fit things in.
On the subject of time travel, we saw no evidence of the infamous Cages that have been discussed by David Bramwell, Ken Campbell and Jeff Merrifield amongst others. The Cage, of course, is the original title of ‘Disaster Fund Collection’ from ‘Who Killed The JAMs?’
If only someone was writing a science-fiction, time travel musical…
I left our tour guide with a postcard and a promise to return.
SEEKERS might want to check the Damanhur Lending Library, near the café and the toilets for an Easter Egg.