The Damanhur Federation is an eco community based in Piedmont in Italy
Members say they have built a time machine, a claim first made in 1997
Have remained silent for 16 years but will elaborate in a new documentary·
Other claims include the ability to get plants to play music
5 June 2014
Gnomo Orzo is a man with a plan. A member of Italy's reclusive Damanhur community, Mr Orzo is helping pioneer one of the group's most controversial technologies: time travel.
'We go in the past very, very long ago, very, very far away, because if you go very close to your present, you change a lot of events in your present,' he explains of his inter-dimensional travels. 'This is very dangerous for your present.'
This is not the first time the Damanhurians have claimed to have cracked the secret of time travel - they first did so in 1997 but, thanks to the controversy that ensued, have remained silent ever since.
Now the reclusive group, which is based in a series of small communities in Piedmont in Italy, has agreed to reveal more about their much-disputed technology in a new documentary.
'It’s like a machine but it’s not only machine, it’s not only physical.. there are energies inside,' adds Mr Orzo of his time machine.
'You have only a present, so in the past, you have the body, while here, all that is left behind is mass.'
But time travel isn't the only unusual (and as yet unproven) technology that the Damanhurians have to offer.
Founded in 1975 by Oberto Airaudi, the Federation of Damanhur, as it's officially known, combines neo-pagan beliefs with a passion for nature - both of which inform their activities.
Beneath the Damanhurians' countryside complex is a network of rock-cut temples, built by hand in the 70s, and completely unknown to the Italian government until 1992.
'They are dedicated to the planet and the biodiversity,' explains Formica, a member of the Damahurians' Piedmont community.
The most famous of the temples, which sit 72m below the ground, is the blue temple, which was built by had using picks and shovels and contains a mystical blue sphere.
'This blue sphere we use to take inspiration,' adds Formica. 'But mainly for finding the answers that we think we have inside ourselves.'
The religious aspect of Damanhur life combined with lurid claims about time travel and the community's insistence that new members take the name of a plant or animal when they join has led to accusations that instead of a community, the Damanhur leaders are running a cult.
Formica, who has lived in the community for more than three decades, is less than impressed.
'No absolutely not,' she exclaims.
'You know a cult is a very closed place but here are a lot of people coming and going - we have many visitors.
'Damanhur was born to bring together the dreams of many people. To create something new. Something never imagined before.'
Despite her protests, there's no denying that some elements of Damanhur life verge on the bizarre, not least their penchant for playing music with plants.
One of the Damanhur's many fields of experimental research, the plant-based jam sessions, take place in treehouses and use detectors to channel the plant's 'music'.
'This is the music of the plants,' says Macaco, a friend of Formica who chose to be named after the Macau monkey.
'They are incredible.' Explaining how the Damanhurs play the music of the plants, she says:
'There is one detector on the leaf and there’s another detector which is close to the roots.
It measures the electric conductivity of the plant.'
This digital data is then fed into a converter which assigns notes to each plant's electrical impulses which than then be played out loud.
'So it’s the human being that gives the sound to the plant,' adds Macaco, 'but it’s the plant that chooses the notes.
'They like certain kinds of music and they don’t like other kinds of music so much.
If they don't like something, they will stop playing.'
Formica, Macaco and Gnomo Orzo appear on Outsiders with Darren McMullen, Friday night at 10pm on National Geographic
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