Federation of 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 Gnostic/theosophical myth. God is unknowable and approached only through a number of intermediate deities. The universe is also populated 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 http://www.damanhur.org/.
Airaudi, Oberto. Tales from Damanhur. Translated by Espe-ride 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: Thor-sons, 1998.
City of the Nile delta.
Damanhur is the capital of Buhayra (Beheira) governorate; it is southeast of Alexandria, Egypt. Its original name was Timinhur (city of Horus), and it was called Hermopolis Parva in Byzantine times. It has been the seat of a Coptic bishop since the fourth century c.e. It became a commercial center during the early spread of Islam and was made the residence of a senior Mamluk officer because it commanded the entire Nile delta region and was a major stage on the post road from Alexandria on the Mediterranean Sea to Cairo on the Nile River. In April 1799, its inhabitants destroyed a company of Napoléon's troops.
Now a major station on the railroad and the center of a network of secondary rail routes within the delta, it is an important market center for cotton and rice. Its population was estimated at about 222,000 in 1992.
See also Buhayra; Copts; Mamluks.
Atiya, Aziz S., ed. The Coptic Encyclopedia. New York: Macmillan, 1991.
Damanhur (dämänhŏŏr´), city (1986 pop. 188,939), capital of Beheira governorate, N Egypt, in the Nile River delta. It is a communications center and a market for cotton and rice. Industries include cotton ginning, potato processing, and date picking. In Roman times it was called Hermopolis Parva.