The Apprentice Befana

Jun 08, 15 The Apprentice Befana

teco_spiritual_vision copyMONDAY . SPIRITUAL VISION




(Cross-posted from Quaglia Cocco’s blog)

During the most recent meeting and celebration of the Epiphany for the Damanhur Way of the Oracle group (which among other things, holds the full moon Oracle ritual) last January, Shama Viola the current “Befana” was preparing to pass on the role to a new person, only to discover that the consensus from the group was that Shama is to keep the role for now, while she finds and trains an apprentice. (The Befana is a role within the Way of the Oracle that is annually bestowed upon a lucky sage at the Epiphany, and throughout the year, the Befana occasionally shares messages of wisdom with the community.) So, among the names that were spontaneously yelled out by the crowd to suggest an apprentice Befana, I heard mine. I felt curious about this potential new adventure. I was tempted by the fun props and hats involved, though I stayed silent (since I am careful about accepting a new role without completely understanding what it means, knowing how a casual “yes” can turn into years and lifetimes of responsibility and commitment.) In any case, the moment passed, and it seemed to go in a different direction because I didn’t hear anything more about the Befana.

Then, last month, Shama writes to me saying that in her search for an apprentice, she used her trusty pendulum with the Damanhurian phone book, page by page, and discovered that it is to be… Quaglia Cocco! She asked the question and verified it three times just to be sure, and it seems that I am the “chosen” one for this role. I should have known that a room full of Oracle Way folks can’t be wrong…

So after consulting with Shama to begin to step into the Befana’s shoes, here’s my first article:


sacred danceSometimes we may find ourselves far from Damanhur or other places that feel sacred or like home… for various reasons, to visit relatives, for business trips. Many Damanhur citizens and initiates live almost always physically distant, even if in their hearts, their desire is to be fully present in the community, near the Temples of Humankind, with the Popolo Spirituale. In these situations, however long they last, there’s no reason to feel disconnected because of geographic distance, because as Initiates, we are the first temples, living in the sacredness of our bodies, which are optimal alchemical laboratories and repositories of knowledge and memories. During my life as a traveler and dancer, I have learned how to reconnect with a sense of the sacred, even in the most remote places, through breath, movement, and body awareness as a means of awakening. Let’s take a look at the sacredness of dance in different traditions, to better understand how the concept of the body-temple, with ritual opening to the divine through movement, is really universal. Almost all the peoples of the earth have practices of Sacred Dance, and of course at Damanhur, we do too!

Here are some commonly known sacred dances:

dervishesThe whirling dervishes of the Mevlevi order of Sufism, which was founded by mystic poet Rumi in Konya, Turkey in the 1200s. The ‘Sema’ ceremony means ‘listening’ and is a transcendental journey towards perfection, through Love, accompanied by music, singing and prayers. The dervishes, with a very precise discipline of spinning for hours to reach elevated states of consciousness, sometimes even leave the body (which continues to spin). With arms in a ‘T,’ the right hand palm upward to receive from above, the left hand palm down to offer to the earth.

Then, there is a Anastenaria ‘ecstatic’ dance of the Greek Orthodox Christians, where people are possessed by Saint Constantine and dance on fire without hurting themselves.

Native Americans practice several sacred circle dances and the “Ghost Dance,” which connects the living with the spirits of their deceased loved ones, in order to help the tribe.

OdissiIn India, there are beautiful classical ritual dances, such as the Odissi, which values the precision of movements, using various positions called “Bhangas.” One is the “Tribhangi” (three parts), which involves isolated movements of the head, chest and pelvis. Every angle of the gaze and position of the hands and fingers communicates a part of the story.

The modern dance ritual of Gurdjieff is perhaps the one that is most similar to Damanhur Sacred Dance. In the Gurdjieff dance, the knowledge of the movements (based on research of the Sarmoung Sufism and Buddhism traditions in Asia and Africa) is passed down from one generation of initiates to another, and every gesture is a cosmic truth that the observer can read like a book.

Quaglia Cocco





  1. Nicolai /

    Thanks a lot for sharing this, it really touches me, since I live far from Damanhur and sometimes feel disconnected myself. I then practice Yoga to get in touch with my higher self that brings me back to myself and also to Damanhur. In fact, I’ve seen the movie ‘Meetings with remarkable men’, where the story of Gurdjieff is told and one gets some little glimpses into the Gurdjieff dances. These images had a very strong impact on me; I literally thought/felt/knew: “This is a direct transfer of universal knowledge!”. Now hearing the same thing from you reminds me that I wanted to know more about Gurdjieff dance.

    One important aspect of contemporary sacred dance in relation to Damanhurian Sacred Dance is also eurythmics ( from the Antroposophic School of Rudolf Steiner. I think it is just as close to DH sacred dance as Gurdjieff (perhaps even closer)

    Some pictures are found under this link:

    • NxB /

      Nicokai – Gurdieff, resonance, giving thanks for your voice and new leads to look upon…Steiner Eurythmics ^ยง^

      Quaglia – shocKiNg ๐Ÿ˜€ ExploRation, Body Temples, atuning…direct commUniONcation ๐Ÿ˜‰


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