Hey beautiful friends,
As I mentioned in a message last month, a number of magical synchronicities during my two weeks at Damanhur in Italy led me to attend a 10-day gathering of sacred activists from around the world this month held at and sponsored by the intentional community of Tamera in Portugal.
Founded in 1995, Tamera is a shining example of what is possible when a community of people comes together with a deep commitment to environmental sustainability, trust, vulnerability, spirituality, love, mutual support, courageous exploration, sexual experimentation, and global transformation. About 170 radiant individuals (including over 30 children) live in the rolling hills of southern Portugal on about 350 acres of land. What was once a dry, shrub covered landscape has been transformed into a vibrant village with several small lakes, abundant fruit and vegetable gardens, a gathering hall which holds hundreds of people, beautiful homes, an experimental solar village, and much more.
Tamera is one of the few communities I’ve visited that is really thriving. Only Damanhur has equaled it’s level of aliveness and joy. Dozens of people from around the world spend several months a year at Tamera hoping to eventually be received as full members. And unlike many intentional communities, the average age of members is under 40, most of whom are full of energy. Everyone I talked with there said that community living with deep transparency is not easy, but it is well worth the challenges as they learn and grow in a carefully cultivated field of collective love and support.
Tamera is in many ways living the new paradigm that so many of us hope for. Implementing a gift economy wherever possible, full members are provided food, lodging, health care, and education free of charge, so that money is hardly needed in the community. No one is paid to work. Yet community members work hard because they love their community and what it is doing and creating. There are no time clocks and people change jobs as the need arises or as they lose passion after doing one job for a period of time. The community also supports dozens of international groups and initiatives related to peacemaking, conflict resolution, and environmental sustainability. They have won numerous awards for this.
Yet Tamera is not for everyone. Flush toilets, indoor showers, and air conditioning are not available as the community strives to leave a minimal carbon footprint. Members are given only a small amount of funds (which they must request) for trips outside of the community which require money, so that trips abroad are only possible for those who have their own funds or can raise them. In a powerful community forum process held several times a week and valued greatly by all, members are publicly confronted on places where they need to step up in their personal lives and in support of the community. As everyone there will tell you, life in Tamera is not easy, yet it is incredibly rich and meaningful.
A very unusual aspect of Tamera is their commitment to breaking through old standards and taboos around sex. They are doing profound work to heal deeply held shame and work through jealousy and other limiting beliefs which stop the flow of love and eros. I was deeply impressed with how sexually vibrant the large majority of Tamerans were. And I loved how numerous Tameran women would gently flirt in a way that felt very clean and unattached. So different from the outside world. Though this expanded relationship style is rare in the outside world, every member of Tamera who I talked with said that though it was intensely challenging at times, they very much enjoyed everyone’s commitment to welcoming love and eros in ways that break through old, stuck patterns. They are truly a wonderfully experiment group in so many ways.
Inspired by the huge gathering which formed last year at Standing Rock in North Dakota to stop the oil pipeline there, Tamera decided to sponsor a spiritual activist gathering for a few key people from Standing Rock along with dozens of other indigenous leaders from around the world committed to nonviolence and environmental sustainability. An online campaign raised over $50,000 to fly many key individuals to Tamera. Dozens of other spiritual activists from around the world like myself paid a 500 Euro fee to join in this 10-day gathering of about 100 people.
Though I loved the participants and individual connections I made, I was not impressed with the program for these 10 days. We were divided into three groups on the first day, and I hardly got to know any of the people from the two groups I was not in. I was fortunate to be included in the activist group of 40 or so which included almost all of the indigenous leaders who were featured at the gathering, yet most of the time in our group was spent with just one person talking while everyone else listened. Many hardly spoke at all and by the end I still didn’t know the names of many in our group. There were only two exercises in 10 days where we broke into small groups to learn more about each other and share our skills and experiences on a more intimate level. Similar to the course I took in Damanhur, it felt like the emphasis was excessively focused on theory and idealism with little time for practical networking and interpersonal sharing.
Thankfully, I had numerous very rich personal connections with amazing individuals during our meals and free time. A few of these activists were very interested in my research into deep politics and appreciated information I shared which could help them in their work. I will almost certainly be keeping in contact with several of these great people.
So overall, though I was disappointed with the way the sacred activists gathering was run, I thoroughly enjoyed connecting with numerous great people, and I loved learning about this most amazing model community. My time in Tamera was very well spent. I hope to get back there some day.
With much love and joy for all the transformative people and communities in our world,