A Secret Wonder in Italy
The quiet Valchiusella valley, close to Torino in Northern Italy hides a secret below ground. Unknown to most visitors and for a time even the Italian Government, this valley is home to a bewildering temple complex known as the Temples of Damanhur. The vast underground temples were begun forty years ago by a man who now goes by the name of Falco, following his lifelong vision. From a handful of followers digging under a house, the temples and the movement known as Damanhur have grown considerably.
Temples of Damanhur: Origins
Damanhur started with the visions of a young boy named Oberto Airaudi who described magnificent temples and an utopian society as part of a past life. So strong was his conviction that Oberto never forgot and set out to recreate his vision in adulthood. Oberto became friends with others who shared his dream of humanity and began the process of digging under a house he bought, starting the now famous temples.
They chose the site because of the unique and powerful cosmic energy points located in the Valchiusella valley. Today like many other members of Damanhur, Oberto uses an animal name and so calls himself Falco or Falcon. Unlike many other spiritual movements that depend upon the charisma of its leader, Damanhur does not have a true leader. Falco does not involve himself in decision-making; he is considered more a visionary or spiritual adviser by the community.
Temples of Damanhur: The Federation of Damanhur
The Socially, politically, spiritually, economically and ecologically active followers of Damanhur are known as The Federation. Today they have worldwide offices and number over one thousand individuals living in what they call an Eco-Society. The Federation lives in small, but active groups known as Nucleo Communities and are focused upon the principles of ecological sustainability, ethics, kindness, social responsibility and spiritual awareness. Living Green is a major component of the Damanhur ethos and followers are involved with eco-conscious activities like solar farms and creating a seed bank. The Damanhur community is striving for complete self-sufficiency.
Temples of Damanhur: The Underground Temples
The Temples of Damanhur are dedicated to individual aspects humankind and each temple acts as a focus point for specific meditation. These nine underground temples are otherworldly, filled with brightly painted murals, stained glass, sculpture, Egyptian motifs and strange symbols. The Temples of Damanhur were so secret that the Italian Government did not realize they existed until they were nearly complete, and were awestruck once they were discovered. Since the builders had no permits for such an undertaking, the government could have decided to demolish the entire complex. However, what the authorities found underground nearly defied description.
The Blue Temple, vibrantly painted in Damanhurian murals was the first Temple of Damanhur. Today the temple is used as a conduit for meditations on social matters. The entire floor of the temple, including the trap doorway, is covered in a mosaic depicting The Star from the Tarot deck. Federation elders, known as Guides can sit in a throne while focusing upon the large and tranquil blue sphere embedded into the wall.
The Hall of Water is a chalice-shaped temple dedicated to femininity and water. One chamber is awash in blue from the large blue stained glass cupola, intended to give the visitor the feel of being underwater. The walls are covered in mysterious designs and slender columns reach up to the ceiling. The Hall of Water also acts as a Damanhurian library containing ancient spiritual texts.
The Hall of the Earth represents masculinity, the planet earth and the Damanhurian concept of reincarnation. The layout is reminiscent of an oracle site from classical antiquity, but is covered in brightly painted murals depicting the Damanhurian story of Humankind. The Temple's brilliant stained glass, including four glass doors represent humanity and its relationship with the Sun and Moon.
The Hall of Metals is dedicated to the history of humankind since the Damanhurians believe that the different metals symbolize human history. Murals and stained glass represent the ages of human history, separated into good and evil accomplishments. The Hall of Metals combines science, mythology, history and metaphysics to help explain the Damanhurian philosophy of history.
The Labyrinth is more a multi-chambered hall than a true maze, but it is just as whimsical. The Labyrinth is dedicated to Humanity and its diverse forms of spiritual worship are displayed in a series of Tiffany-inspired stained glass windows. These windows further emphasize the Federation's belief in celebrating both the diversity and the similarities of human culture.
The Hall of Spheres is used to house nine crystal spheres. The hall is covered in mosaics and expensive but insulating gold leaf. The Hall of Spheres is used by the Federation Guides as a means to communicate ideas and visions by way of meditation across the globe.
The Hall of Mirrors is an enormous underground space topped with a Tiffany glass cupola, which according to the Damanhur website, is the largest in the world. The Hall of Mirrors is dedicated to "the sky, the air and the light." and has small recessed altars dedicated to the Four Elements.
What might be most amazing of all is that the temple complex is estimated to be only about ten percent finished. Future plans call for an enormous cathedral, a theater and a library of sacred texts among other wonders. Besides expanding, the existing Temples of Damanhur also undergo occasional changes since these temples are active conduits to the human spirit, which is constantly developing and learning. What was once a secret is now open to all, whether seeking spiritual enlightenment or just to satisfy curiosity.
By Justin Demetri
For More Information:
Damanhur Website: http://www.damanhur.org
Damanhur Temples Website: http://www.thetemples.org/