Damanhur was created according to the precise wishes of Oberto Airaudi at the end of the 1970’s and the beginning of the 80’s.
There are currently 300 full time Damanhurian citizens (contrary to the number declared by the Federation) and the territories of the community amount to less than a hundred hectares.
Damanhur presents itself as a federation of communities but in reality it is a single community managed centrally by Oberto Airaudi (who supervises every decision) and his collaborators (the King Guides). The costs and economic commitments regarding investments, loans and building renovation, equal to many millions of euro are delegated to the so-called ‘Nucleo-Communities’ and citizens are required to fund Community projects from their own personal resources. The number of Nucleo-Communities varies according to the creation and dismantling of groups but usually numbers around fifteen units, each one inhabited on average by 12-20 people.
Damanhur, although it presents itself as an eco-society is in fact an esoteric community based on a strong initiate hierarchy headed by its unquestioned and charismatic leader Oberto Airaudi.
The Constitution of Damanhur was created to establish precise limits and behavioral obligations to which its citizens must abide, including the obligation to program the birth of children and the obligation to conduct arbitration without legal representation in the internal tribunal (The College of Justice). The tribunal, always supervised by Airaudi, has the power to express verdicts without right of appeal.
Damanhur mints its own currency (The Credito) which it manages by means of its own ‘bank’. It declares that it has its own health service, which in reality makes use of Damanhurian general practitioners (paid by the Italian state), a structure (called Free University) that offers – at a cost of many hundreds of euro, its own courses in esotericism and magic that promise to reawaken inner senses, reveal one’s previous reincarnations, help contact alien entities and even be possessed by them etc.
Born in Balengero (Turin) in 1950, he finished his education at 16 and for a few years worked in collaboration with an insurance broker. He married young and had two children by his first wife. In Damanhur he practises Polygamy. His official partner is the High Priestess and he has a daughter by the female head of the Monastery. It is reputed that other children in the Community have also been fathered by him.
In 1975 he created the first esoteric initiate school of Meditation (based upon a variety of esoteric teachings – a sort of religious syncretism) and then in 1979 the Community of Damanhur.
In Damanhur he is currently the unquestioned leader. He supervises all the ‘bodies’ (in depth analysis to follow) and oversees every decision. He dedicates his time to activities concerning Selfica, selfic painting, prana therapy, magic, and courses in esotericism from which he has created a personal fortune amounting to many millions of euro.
***According to official Damanhurian sources Oberto Airaudi died in 2013 of colon cancer aged 63. He was facing judicial hearings for tax fraud which could lead to imprisonment and a series of other legal suits. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that his death was orchestrated for various reasons leaving him free to pursue other activities. Fooling his followers into believing he had died would have been a simple matter. It would be interesting to know just who signed the death certificate. A Damanhurian Doctor perhaps?
Damanhur has illegally constructed an underground temple currently known as the Temples of Humankind, which is used as a means to promote its public image. Damanhur’s tourist office organizes guided visits to the Temple at a cost of between 35 – 100 euro per person.
The Temple can be found in Vidracco, Canavese and was excavated by Damanhurian citizens (using the practice of ‘Terrazzatura’). The Temple was built by digging out the mountain and using the excavated earth to construct terraces in the surrounding area (Terrazzatura means terracing in Italian).
Work on the Temple has never been interrupted, (notwithstanding the prohibition on further excavation after the crime of illegally building it received an amnesty). It is interesting to underline the fact that the Council of Vidracco was ‘conquered’ in local administrative elections and has been completely under the political control of Damanhur since 1999.
Damanhur has created its own political movement which over the years has allied itself to various political campaigns both of the right and left (it is currently allied to Sinistra Ecologia e Liberta’ after a brief courtship of the Green Party) and as a result of cleverly orchestrating the movement of the residencies (the right to vote in the local Council elections) of its 300 inhabitants from one Valchiusella council area to another, it has left its mark on local politics. The Damanhurian phenomenon of moving residencies is well known and feared by the other valley administrators and has resulted in Damanhur taking the majority of seats on Vidracco Council and inserting its councilors in other Valchiusella councils.
Apart from facilitating legal permissions regarding the Temple, often by finding original solutions such as authorizing the building of a water reservoir and then transforming it into a new hall of the Temple, the Damanhur administration has also favored the economic development of the Community in the village.
Various attempts by Damanhur to enter the Mountain Communities Council (The coordinating body for local valley councils) have been met with fierce opposition on the part of a significant number of Valchiusella administrators and have always been successfully blocked.
From the beginning Damanhur has tried to penetrate many institutional structures by motivating its citizens and by using its position to gain advantages (for example to carry on activities undisturbed in its own territories and gain political support). This has also produced considerable benefit in terms of its public image with regard to civil protection, first aid, ecology, and the environment.
Environment and Ecology
Damanhur defines itself as an eco-society. In fact Damanhur’s interest in ecology has only surfaced recently, that is, many years after the Community was founded as a result of its links with the Eco- village network and environmentally based communities.
Damanhurian houses have for decades been built with an abundant use of cement (including those in woodland and specially protected natural areas) and their construction has often resulted in the ruin of rural and forested areas.
Thanks to the active interest of certain citizens, Damanhur has slowly developed an ecological awareness which has been quickly exploited by Airaudi and his mangers to create economic activities (for the most part privately owned by current or previous King Guides of the Community) which have become an entry visa into state institutions.
For example, there are special ‘laws’ in Damanhur that oblige all citizens to buy their groceries and supplies exclusively from the Damanhurian food distribution center which sells organic produce at not particularly popular prices.
Damanhur has been using its own currency called the ‘Credito’ for years, declaring that it is a ‘complementary currency system’. Every issue of coins must be ‘covered’ by an equivalent quantity of Euro in bank deposits.
It would be interesting to verify if the amount of Crediti currently in circulation, matches the amount of euro deposits. One would also have to include the checks written from the ‘internal bank’, the debit notes, IOUs written to the internal bank in favor of Airaudi to pay for his paintings and Selfs, (see following note), Airaudi’s courses, twice weekly lectures and miraculous selfic cabins.
To this we can add the many millions of euro that citizens are constrained to invest in loans to build houses and buildings, the personal loans taken out to pay off debts, and the fact that those who work inside Damanhurian companies are mostly employed illegally according to the directives of Oberto Airaudi, (up until a couple of years ago the major part of Damanhurian services were provided by citizens obliged to work in the ‘black’) and deprived of social contributions, pensions and health insurance.
At the end of this analysis one could question the sustainability of such a system. A system that makes it impossible for citizens (having given all their money and real estate holdings to the community purse) to disentangle themselves economically from the Community, in as much as they are heavily in debt, have no property and are without any social or pension contributions.
Selfica, Selfic paintings, Therapeutic Cabins
Oberto Airaudi invented Selfica and all its derivatives (paintings and cabins). Selfica, according to members of Damanhur, is a technique that allows vital and intelligent energies to be concentrated and directed but as yet, no scientific proof exists to demonstrate its claims. In the past, research was carried out using double blind trials on selfic bracelets – the intention was to produce them in industrial quantities – but the results showed no positive effects from their use. More recently, researchers from Germany and the United States measured the energetic potential of the so called ‘therapeutic cabins’ (by means of which Airaudi claims to cure cancer, rejuvenate cells and modify the physiology of internal organs), revealing a negative effect on health. The cost of ‘Selfs’ (those made or personalized by Airaudi), selfic paintings and therapeutic cabins begins at several thousand euros and extends to several tens of thousands of euro.
Although it defines itself as a spiritual community and does not wish to be seen as a religion, Damanhur is to all intents and purposes a new religious cult.
It has its own god (The TRIAD HORUS) and a pantheon formed out of thousands of divinities. In the Damanhurian theogony a good part of the mission of Airaudi and Damanhur has been to return all the divinities of the planet– and of the planetary system – to the status of being ‘under control’. To recreate a new divine order presided over by a ‘Triad’ formed by the divinities Horus, Bastet and Pan, who reunite to form the higher divinity ‘Horus’. The real name of Horus is in fact ‘Lucifer’ (but this is one of the mysteries revealed only to initiates of the very highest esoteric grades).
Horus is the largest part of the ‘fragmentation’ of the primeval divinity Humankind (transcendent principle) who in descending into the material world of form shattered into tiny pieces to give origin to life in the material world of form.
Airaudi, who is the High Priest of the religion, is also the incarnation of the god Horus.
It is also said that Airaudi declares that he has come from the future (600 years ahead) and has reincarnated in our time to realize two fundamental objectives:
1) Save the planet
2) Turn every Damanhurian who faithfully carries forward their incarnation inside Damanhur into a divinity.
Below Airaudi there is a strict initiate hierarchy bound by a series of esoteric secrets.
The initiate with the highest grade is one of his female companions and on Airaudi’s behalf conducts rites of theurgic and black magic.
Descending the pyramid of initiates, we find the grade ‘Lanu’ at the base: initiates who begin their ascent by swearing an oath to Horus and offering to give their lives for the cause.
There are rites (which every initiate is obliged to attend), practices for worshiping divinities, dietary rules to observe, fasts, sexual prohibitions, individual control over the behavior of initiates and the imposition of obligations and oaths.
The ‘Bodies of Damanhur’
Damanhur declares that it is based upon four basic structures defined as ‘bodies’ that are interactive but independent of one another: The School of Meditation, the Social body, The Game of Life and the Tecnarcato. Meditation represents the religious sphere, it is the initiate school on which the truth of Damanhur is derived and founded. Its unquestioned Master and Divine Incarnation of God is Oberto Airaudi, who, through his ‘Vertice’ (heads) of Meditation (one of his female companions) issues his directives which are unquestioned and not open to discussion.
The Social body is represented by the Federation of Communities which should be independent. But in reality the Federation’s managers (called King Guides) are elected inside the School of Meditation according to the indications of Airaudi – who can by virtue of his unquestionable authority – call for elections to be repeated if citizens make mistakes by electing the wrong person and voting contrary to his indications.
The Game of Life is another of Airaudi’s emanations, which by means of another of his female companions* controls the lives of Damanhurian Nucleos (family units). The Game was founded to encourage innovation inside the Community but has transformed itself into an organ of control that supervises every aspect of life in the Nucleo-Communities. One of the emanations of the Game of Life is the ‘Viaggio’ (magic journey). Begun in 1983, it has always carried out the function of training young Damanhurians and bringing new ideas into Damanhur. For many years the Viaggio – which happens on a weekly basis– has been a cover for the fact that Airaudi’s weekends are spent in luxury motor homes (costing over a million euro each) enjoying the company of young female Damanhurians.
The Tecnarcato/Tecnarcalato was the last structure established to extend control over individual citizens. Damanhurians are obliged to keep a daily diary of their activities (the diary is checked periodically) and write fortnightly/monthly reports describing their financial position, personal relationships, feelings, sexual relationships, level of commitment to Community decisions and any other relevant personal information.
*As of November 2009, Airaudi’s faithful companion of weekend camper fame has been replaced by the daughter of one of Airaudi’s right-hand men. She was nominated for the position by the King Guides (i.e. Airaudi) and will run the Game assisted by one of the Federation’s male financial managers.