On Sex and Freedom pt. 1 – Interview to Benjamin Nolot

I decided to open up about something I have reflected upon for many years.
What is freedom? What does it mean to be a free woman? And why is freedom so intertwined with sex? Moreover, does claiming to be free means having sex with a different guy every week?

Few weeks back I was talking on the phone with someone and he was telling me about how sex is very important and he needs to have it… I on the contrary said I didn’t have it for quite a while now and was just fine. He replied: oh come on! You’re a free woman, just go get someone for a night! – I calmly told him that being free spirit didn’t mean wanting or needing to have sex, moreover I feel gross about the idea of welcoming a complete stranger in my bed (and inside of me). He didn’t understand me and tried to convince me about how great it is to connect with someone new. AH HA, “connect”. Do we connect? Really?

Last year I happened to take a diving course in Italy and I overheard multiple times teenage girls in the changing room going rants about guys and hook ups. I bit my tongue every time not to intervene and comfort the girl who was venting out to her girlfriends about some guy smoothly getting in bed with her only to ignore her after having gotten what he wanted and making sure all school new. I would’ve loved to tell her that those things happen even to grown ups… and that made me think:
A. Why are girls and women not prepared to manipulation and mind games?
B. If not only teenage guys do it, but men well into adulthood still shamelessly play (and are proud of that?)… is it part of some sort of male gene? Or they just don’t grow up?

There is a wonderful film showing exactly this dynamic: LIBERATED, The New Sexual Revolution. Although in Europe we don’t have Spring Break, I think it’s anyway relatable at all levels and in many countries. For those who are not familiar with American Spring Break: basically every year students get a one-week vacation in Spring and usually spend that time with friends at a beach location drinking, partying and having lots and lots of sex. Sounds like Ibiza during summer time in Europe lol
On the surface women may have gained the so expected independence and equal rights. Like men we too are entitled to having occasional and random sexual encounters. However, if we dig deeper I am worried we have mistaken our freedom for something else. I have had one night stands, but I can only think of one time when I didn’t feel used. Most times than not our beautiful and sacred bodies are mistaken for receptacles of guys’ extra fluids.

Benjamin Nolot

I decided to interview Benjamin Nolot the writer and director of the film. Also founder of the organisation Exodus Cry – whose aim is to abolish sex trafficking and the commercial sex industry.

You say in the beginning of the film Liberated, “nothing quite prepares us for the struggle for identity and intimacy in today’s world”. How do you describe identity and intimacy?

<< The media and image based culture we live in communicate very powerful and visceral stories about what it means to be a man, a woman, and a sexual being. These stories are incredibly influential in shaping our identity and relationships. I don’t think there is enough being done to help prepare young people for the toxic and indoctrinating stories of the culture. The result is that most of us go through an identity crisis during our adolescence and I think it robs us of an authentic quality of self possession. >>

To be accepted and well liked women think they have to be hardly dressed and showcase sexiness at all times. We live – still – in a world where role models are such as Kim Kardashian who became famous for her sex tape! Likewise Paris Hilton who came before her. Powerful women are viewed as powerful in relation to how much sex drive they have and how many men they can attract (and ultimately fuck?). Living in a pornified world where sex doesn’t mean anything, I feel we are only too proud to admit ourselves that it does mean something… Perhaps by acting as “I don’t care” we feel stronger and believe we can walk away unhurt.
Do you think the people you interviewed, who claim “our generation gave up on love” / “we don’t believe in love” / “love was invented”, actually believe in these statements? And if so, why do you think this is?

<< Absolutely. I think there are two things: 
1) The false expectations of love setup by media. 
2) Their lived experiences at a young age.
One thing that was shocking to me is to discover how jaded people have become at such a young age. I think the widespread proliferation of pornography as primary sexual educator in most kids lives, and the subsequent hookup culture it fuels, create a feeling for people that relationships don’t matter anymore. >>

Basically, in a hookup culture what happens is that I have to shut down emotionally in order to have sex with you and see you just as an object there for for my pleasure. Casual encounters are the norm.
But in a culture where sex doesn’t mean anything…. who is the winner?

<< Ironically, no one. What we found is that even the people participating in hookup culture felt that it was diminishing their humanity and leaving them empty. It’s a zero sum game. When you take meaning out of sex, you end up with nihilistic relationships. It’s like Gioconda Belli said, “We have had a sexual revolution, but the sexual revolution only has made sex more pervasive. It hasn’t granted the level of reverence and respect that it should have.” >>

What is masculinity to you? And what validates it?

<< This is such a huge question and would be impossible to answer in a couple sentences, but there are a couple core ideas to mention. What constitutes a healthy masculinity is the same thing that constitutes a healthy humanity: love and empathy.
Love reverences the gift of our common humanity. It says, “You are more valuable than just the body you possess.” Love honors the whole person and desires good for them, even at ones own expense. Love is not guided by consumptive compulsions but by respect and dignity. It is the highest way of being in the world—one in which both we, and those around us, are better off. It is the only place of true joy, freedom, and safety. 
Compassion empathetically connects us to others. We see the truth about their condition and we don’t minimize it, run from it, or give platitudes to it. We feel it along with them. Through compassion we share in the vulnerability, powerlessness, and pain of others. Our solidarity forges a path for hope and healing to emerge. The compassionate ones are beacons of light amidst a dark and hostile planet. Compassion is not merely something we do; it is someone we become. It enables us to truly see, truly feel, and truly act. To be compassionate is to live out the highest essence of our nature. It is to be authentic and fully alive. 
To be a “real man” is to embrace love and empathy as a primary way of being in the world. >>

Now, looking at the movie and how easy it is nowadays to get laid… to get girls. How can a man be seen as an example when anyone can do it? I mean, when there is nothing to be proud about if just any guy can get x number of girls to sleep with him? …. I mean, there is nothing “cool” nor special nor “difficult” anymore. Shouldn’t it be seen more “manly” to be able to commit and keep one girl? 
What I mean is: if men like a challenge and if there is no more challenge supposedly… where is the manhood going?

<< I agree with you, but the media-based indoctrination of the “modern man” has taught them that the more women you can sleep with, the more “manly” you are. So in that respect, I think it is going to take a lot of work and intentional effort to changing these mindsets, steering men towards values of love and empathy as a better and more fulfilling way of being in the world. >>

Do you think over sexualised media is stealing childhood? If so how and how can that be changed?
<< Absolutely. I think that hyper-sexualized media sends young girls the message that the most important thing about them is their sex appeal. This form of female mind control programming conditions them into building their identity almost exclusively around their outward appearance. This shallow construction of an identity comes with a “visibility” shelf life, ultimately paving the way for major identity struggles as they get older and their looks and hence “visibility” diminishes.

I think this can be changed by changing the story we tell about women. We must embrace a story that celebrates the full scope of what it means to be a woman. Women are intellectual, emotional, spiritual, creative, athletic, familial, political, caring, compassionate, relational, and strong. Women are searching for deeper meaning and purpose. They have history, memories, and unique experiences. They long to have an impact in the world. Simply put, women are not merely “eye candy” for the gratuitous appetites of men. >>

And yet men feel entitled to women’s bodies. Why? In Italy for example, when a man murders his girlfriend or wife because she decides to end the relationship… he gets excused for having been too in love. This is clear evidence of a culture where possession and control are mistaken for love. How is this also related to the normalisation or criminal behaviour

<< We live in a culture and a world in general that sexualises power, hierarchy, and invulnerability. Many males eroticize women’s submission, compliance, and subservience. Women are often viewed as the property of men. Women are trained to be sexy, to be mothers, to serve, to clean up after men and children and wealthier people, to tolerate subjugation and ill-treatment, to be generous to those who mistreat them, to endure for their children when they have children. Highly intelligent women are seen by many men as threatening and are often denigrated. Insecure men prefer less intelligent female partners so that they can feel superior and secure.

Social psychology experiments have shown consistently disturbing results about human social behavior. That is, when human beings are placed in a position of power over other human beings who are defined in some measure by their inferiority or vulnerability or abject dependency, the human beings in power (usually males) become increasingly demanding, insensitive, cruel, domineering, exploitative, and aggressive. In some studies with healthy college students, experiments had to be curtailed in the middle of the project because the higher power subjects were getting increasingly corrupt and aggressively out of control in the misuse of their position of power. >>
We are indeed taught on magazines and on tv what is hot, what is desirable, what we should like, what is acceptable. So I doubt that changing the media will do any good as it will just replace the current objects of desire with a new one. What is your take on this?
<< The problem with the stories being told in media today is their single narrative. So I don’t think its about replacing what is desirable, i think it is about broadening out the story. For example, Cosmopolitan Magazine has a very consistent image of women that they put on the cover of their magazine that really only celebrates one aspect of who women are. I would like to see women on the cover of their magazine celebrated for a much more prolific range of accomplishments than just looking good. We must celebrate women in athletics, politics, the arts, academia, business, etc…Only then will young women learn that they don’t have to conform to a particular image, but rather can pursue their own path—and be recognised and respected for it. >>
After watching Liberated, I also watched “Hot girls wanted” and then I noticed how Netflix has A LOT of titles of tv series and movies about porn and the porn industry. I wonder if it’s normalising it that way. I find myself a little bit confused. On one side I feel there should be freedom of expression, on the other side I feel there is missing education and knowledge… profound knowledge on what sex means and is.What are your thoughts about it?
<< I agree that there is a lack of meaningful resources and dialogue about the inherent value and meaning of sex. I think what our society is lacking right now is a basic sexual ethic. In my view, empathy and mutuality are the most important parts of building a sexual ethic for society. Unfortunately, in the absence of that, so many people are being ripped off and sexually defrauded. >>
What is freedom?
<< I think freedom is simply the privilege and the courage to live what is true. >>

 

 

 

 

Plant Trees! – They say… but which ones?

Everywhere around the world people at large are planting trees. India planted 66 million trees in 12 hours in the region of Madhya Pradesh on July 2nd. Yacouba Sawadogo in Africa began planting trees in 1980 to save North Burkina Faso from desertification. In Niger farmers are turning to Gao trees, considered magical and extremely useful to growing crops (unlike other trees), moreover its fallen branches give wood for fire and its pods feed the animals. Italy’s current most ambitious project is called ForestaMi, which aims at planting 3 Million trees (one for each person who lives in Milan) by 2030. 
Among the multiple reforestation campaigns I am observing around the world, one has caught my attention (also the news are not covering it too much, perhaps it’s one of those things that has the potential to bring immense change): The Great Green Wall in Africa. As a matter of fact The Guardian wrote a piece over 8 years ago. All began as a conversation started by Richard St. Barbe Baker – professional forester and pioneer in environmental activism – back in 1952. He suggested a bold solution to the problem of desertification: plant a barrier of trees wide 50 km that cuts in two Africa, from coast to coast. In 2002, during the World Day to Combat Desertification & Drought, the ex Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo launched The Great Green Wall project. Five years later, in 2007 the African Union officially approves the grandiose project. What is it? In brief, it’s a wall of trees covering Africa from side to side in the region of Sahel, right below the Sahara desert, extending for 8000 km and 15 km wide. The symbol of such extraordinary project is more than just combat desertification. It’s a wall symbol of life and unity. It has the potential to decrease, if not stop, wars between African tribes/States. People come together for a bigger cause. It will give shelter to animals, feed people, and show the world that Africa can be united beyond profit. However in 2012 the project changed its vision to adapt more to the countries’ morphology, as planting solely trees was going to be unrealistic: The wall is no longer seen as a narrow band of trees along the southern edge of the Sahara. The vision is now to surround the Sahara with a wide belt of vegetation – trees and bushes greening and protecting an agricultural landscape. The new vision engages all the countries surrounding it, including Algeria and others in North Africa, not just the 11 original sub-Saharan countries of the Sahel – The Conversation
It’s not an easy task! It needs a lot of effort and especially cooperation and flexibility: The sub-Saharan countries are not all the same and the techniques (and plants/trees) must be adapted accordingly. Though lets not despair! 🙂

Why are trees important?
Trees eat CO2. … CO2 is carbon dioxide, a colourless gas we find naturally in Earth’s atmosphere. It’s produced by all aerobic organisms when they metabolise carbohydrates and lipids to produce energy by respiration – hence we humans too. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the primary carbon source for life on Earth and its concentration in Earth’s pre-industrial atmosphere since late in the earliest part of Earth history has been regulated by photosynthetic organisms (plants, algae and cyanobacteria) and geological phenomena. The “problem” with CO2 is that it absorbs and emits infrared radiation at wavelengths of 4.26 µm and 14.99 µm and consequently is a greenhouse gas that plays a significant role in influencing Earth’s surface temperature through the greenhouse effect. The increase of CO2 in the atmosphere has been attributed to human activity, particularly deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels. This increase and other long-lived greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere has produced the current episode of global warming. Between 30% and 40% of the CO2 released by humans into the atmosphere dissolves into the oceans, wherein it forms carbonic acid and effects changes in the oceanic pH balance (causing among other things coral bleaching, and also threatens the future food chains linked with the oceans). – You can deepen your basic understanding of the carbon cycle on wikipedia 😉
Last but not least, Alejandro Jodorowsky proposes a psychomagic act to heal the planet: plant a tree on the 7th of September.
I asked Giorgio Vacchiano, researcher in forest management and planning at the State University of Milan, if planting trees helps:
Planting trees to sequester carbon works IF those trees survive and grow well after being planted, IF they are replaced with others at the end of their cycle, and IF their plant does not affect other important services such as food production or flora habitat or fauna. T
hose trees will absorb carbon as they grow, so over time their usefulness will increase (if they are maintained and not eliminated, not even by fires or insect attacks). Forests have a different time than ours … but starting now is better than nothing.”

On Tropical and Boreal Forests
Most tropical rainforest plants are considered to be evergreens, replacing their leaves gradually throughout the year as the leaves age and fall, whereas species growing in seasonally arid climates may be either evergreen or deciduous. Most warm temperate climate plants are also evergreen. In cool temperate climates, fewer plants are evergreen, with a predominance of conifers, as few evergreen broadleaf plants can tolerate severe cold below about −26 °C. E
vergreens don’t photosynthesise all year round. In cold areas, winter temperatures are too low and photosynthesis takes place minimally or not at all. In the Mediterranean areas, the evergreens close the stomata (the “hatches” of the leaves) during the summer to avoid losing water by evaporation, so even here photosynthesis stops.
Boreal coniferous forests are the second most important carbon reservoir after the tropical ones. FYI, two thirds of the Boreal forests are located in Siberia.
What makes these forests so important it’s the fact that they are the ones that contain more biomass, therefore more tissues capable of storing carbon.

The Family of 5 Primary Forests (National Geographic2015)

 

So today we hear excessively about needing to plant new forests (as if it were that easy… few people are aware of the fact that forests need management) since we see them as carbon tanks. Because humanity emits more CO2 into the atmosphere than plants and oceans can accumulate, forests are ecosystems that can potentially help reduce the impact by storing carbon in its biomass. However they can also emit more CO2 than their storing capacity, hence why management and planning is needed. 

And the question is, any tree is good or some are better than others?

My Conclusions

If you want to plant a tree make a research about the area that you live in and choose an evergreen possibly. If you have enough land to plant more trees, I would advice you contact a forest management expert in your area or at a University. In Italy I would like to indicate Mosaico Verde, based in Rome they operate in the entire country even for just a quick consultancy. Something I really like about the job they do is the fact that if, for example, you live in a city and don’t have a garden nor yard whereto plant a tree don’t despair! 😀 Mosaico Verde has multiple projects you can support by simply buying a tree: you choose the area and also the tree that is good for that specific area.

To plant a tree (or trees) to clean your conscience is not ideal as the tree won’t be enough to clean the air you pollute by your lifestyle.

Take care as much as you can of the local forests: we are so used to looking at the Amazon and giving money to protect the Amazon while forgetting about our home and our country.
I asked Mr. Vacchiano about the present situation of European forests, “There is a forest expansion of 800’000 hectares every year – of which 50-70’000 ha in Italy – mainly spontaneous on abandoned fields and pastures. Means good news for carbon sequestration and hydrogeological instability, even if all that glitters is not gold – in some places, it also means an increase of fire hazard. At the same time, the very few virgin forests remaining in Europe are actually getting smaller and smaller, especially in Romania and Ukraine, due to illegal cuts to obtain valuable wood and, in part, energy biomass. At last, climate change risks stressing forests (especially in Italy) with more frequent droughts, storms and fires. I would say this is the biggest problem, which we must learn to face.”
Europe’s virgin forests are fundamental treasures of biodiversity and unique places able to make us understand how nature works without human intervention. 

Plant trees for the sake of planting them and as a gift to Mother Earth. And remember the best tree to plant is the one that grows better in your area. 

900 wild bisons live in Bialowieza (© Tomasz Kaminski)

Sources:
Scienza in rete
SciTechDaily
Waldwissen
Internazionale
National Geographic

Fortnight – lingerie and swim for ALL women

Short interview to Christina Remenyi, founder of Canadian brand Fortnight Lingerie.

What made you start a lingerie and swimwear line? 

Lingerie came first and swimwear felt like a natural progression. It was really driven by a frustration with the market at the time, that was dominated by big box brands who only offered a very narrow range of sizes and uninspiring vision of femininity.  I was disappointed that a throwaway mentality was being applied to garments that are so intricate, personal and deeply personal.  I wanted to create a line that was inclusive in sizing and in style, that women could relate to. I wanted to create a line that embraced the body (not hiding it with padding). Spreading the word about how to find the perfect fit and how much that can improve our moods, self esteem and overall comfort and health was and continues to be very important to me.

You are a woman designer, designing for women. How do you see fashion being a male domain where it’s mostly men designing for women?

History has definitely seen male domination in the corporate world. It’s a sad fact – and when it comes to fashion, some are very gifted at creating pieces that make women feel beautiful. But with more and more women at the front of fashion houses, there’s something unique and exciting about moving away from a male gaze and into something more distinctly feminine and fresh. It is a more attuned perspective on what we as women want – who we want to be and how we want to feel.

What do you see a male designer usually lacks when making clothes for women?

Speaking to lingerie specifically, I think men lack the ability to understand how a woman wants to feel under their clothes. I think they tend to use sex appeal as the main design vision, whereas women design with a unique sensibility for ‘beauty’, functionality and luxury. What’s beautiful to a woman is complex, layered, thoughtful. I think when it comes to undergarments, it takes a woman to understand that and create something that speaks to us.

What makes a garment sustainable? Can you tell me about the production of Fortnight… where is the material sourced, who makes it, where etc..

To me a garment is sustainable when it is made ethically, thoughtfully, with quality, good fit and endurance in mind. A garment is sustainable when it employs people in safe conditions with fair wages. When it’s materials, consumption and factory are chosen carefully. When it’s designed to be worn again and again until threadbare. 

We’ve built our own production facility in Toronto, Canada.  Because lingerie is such a detailed complex layer of clothing to make, we found it was best to manufacture in a setting where we could keep an eye on every stitch and detail.  Even 1mm in a garment so small and body contouring can make a big difference in fit/feel.  We Employ women who are seriously passionate about the craft of lingerie making. Quality, endurance and functionality at the forefront of our designs.  

Our fabrics are sourced from ethical mills all over the world from Europe to North America to Asia. We’ve always been very fortunate to work with companies who want to do what they can to help a smaller business.

Advertising… I noticed you made a choice by portraying different women in your lingerie and swimwear, I’d say more close to every woman. Why that choice?

To be honest, it began to happen very organically. Because we make a wide variety of sizes, I always wanted to find ways to show the range. But when I started in Toronto in 2010, models at agency were all very similar proportions.  So we started shooting friends, women we were inspired by and it continued to take off from there.

What is beauty to you? Where do you look for it?

I think beauty is an ease, a confidence, accepting yourself and others, loving and being there for yourself and others. 

*******************************************************
I had the beautiful opportunity to shoot their 2019 swim collection in the beautiful nature of Puglia with photographer and friend Lily Cummings.
Lately I began paying attention to photography and advertising through women’s eyes. There is a lot less sexuality involved and while before I was feeling a little lost (I can count on one hand the number of female photographers and brands owned by women that I have worked for in my almost 20 years of career) this time I felt at ease. Shooting for women is so different, there is less perfection involved – perfection in the way we think of perfection today: of a body without marks nor cellulite, of a photo entirely polished where your skin doesn’t look like skin anymore, of a woman stripped off of her natural curves that remind us of the beauty abundance and grace of Nature. And so I love today to move towards this new fashion wave of female designers using a great variety of women as an inspiration to make clothes and lingerie and swimwear. Christina’s brand (which you can find on instagram and here) is coherent and really makes women, whether in their twenties or pregnant or moms or business women or athletes or artists or cleaning ladies, feel themselves and right and beautiful.

Healing Art: Interview with Gabriele Nunziante

Life is really funny! Gabriele and I grew up in the same town in Italy (Giaveno) and although we knew each other (cuz I mean you can’t not know someone when you live in a small town) our paths never crossed until last summer, by chance. We were, I believe, on somewhat parallel paths never to cross if it wasn’t for events in our lives that brought us on the same wave length: on this wave length we could meet, talk, share our discoveries. 

It happened that I was looking for a Rose Quarz and one evening I got invited for dinner by my brother, lazily I accepted and decided to go by foot. Right before reaching my brother’s apartment I spot a stand with crystals. There, not only I find the Rose Quarz but I discover Gabriele! I think we both were surprised to speak so naturally as if we were old friends but had never really spoken to each other until that moment. He showed me the Fire Jewellery he makes with clay. And this was the beginning of a friendship…
After months, we met again and again because I was looking for more crystals and more Fire Jewellery so every time I would go visit him at home we would end up talking about the current situation of our Planet, symbolism, Sacred Geometry and also how being on different paths we got to pretty much the same destination: inner peace and unconditional love.

Thank you Gabri for accepting this interview. Lets begin with the Destination, I am reading your book “Il Tempo Dell’Amore” (The Time Of Love – only available in Italian on Amazon) about your journey walking the Santiago Way. It reminded me of when I walked it alone, like you. One thing I realised is that Santiago – The Destination can be reached by multiple ways and by multiple means (by foot, bike, car, horse etc)… so does inner peace and unconditional love. What are your thoughts on this?

From a certain point point of view yes, but the Camino de Santiago is a good “way” to take back your time. It’s easier than any other way because there everything is organised and all you need to focus on is the walking. In my opinion the only way, the only mean you can use to do the Camino de Santiago is by foot: there is no more time to play the tourist. Look at the Society today, there is no more time. So the Camino de Santiago is a fast way to wake and shake you up, it gives you an emotional shockwave which is needed in order to meet yourself again. This is the fast way for You to meet You. How does this happen? By walking, step by step. Walking becomes a sort of mantra, tic tic tic…. you go back to hearing the sound of your steps, something that doesn’t happen anymore in your daily life because we are constantly suspended between past and future and we forget to stay in the present. Walking brings you back to the present. Moreover, the pain and everything you feel it’s part of the present too. It’s in the present that magic happens. It’s in the present that change is possible. Everyone changes during the Camino. Everyone.

Why is it so important to meet yourself?

Because it’s the only possible encounter. There is no God to seek, no philosophy more important than to meet yourself. Because the only change possible is only when you meet yourself. It’s inside yourself that you find all the information you need to live well now, today. “Know thyself and you’ll know God”, it’s been been said since ancient times but then it became obfuscated. As a matter of fact, in the Gnostic Bible we find Jesus who preaches the personal/inner quest. He doesn’t tell you “you must follow me, do what I tell you to do”, no He incites you to go find yourself because you are made in the image of God.

What happened after walking Santiago? Where did it take you next? What was the other journey that affected you?

My Camino physically finished in Finisterre, but it began for real once I got back home. What happened to me was that I had eaten too much space!! Of course when you come back it feels going back living in a box, how can you go back in a box when you ate so much space? There is no freedom in this box and you end up living a life programmed by someone else. For what? Everyone lives this life… for what though? To buy things and pay for things: the human being became the consumer. It’s ok, we do it because it’s scarier to find out something new than to stay where you are even if you are unhappy. I understand but we need to have more courage and this is the right time… if you still haven’t walked the first step you are already too late!
I never went back to the life I was living before. There was no “another trip”, I began to travel. I burned all bridges with the past, which means I closed my bank accounts, I gave my car to my mom, I shut down everything that was keeping me dependent on the system. I put myself in the condition to be just me totally naked alone with myself, I only had a couple thousands euros and the hang (which needs a lot of space to be played). It took me a couple months to get out of the system and after that I decided to only follow my instincts 24/7 without any sort of compromise. If I end up living in the street looking for food in the trash bins that’s my responsibility – and it did happen btw. After a couple months I left by foot for the Canary Islands to a Rainbow Healing Gathering with my hang in front and my backpack on my shoulders, by chance I met a girl in Liguria who was also going there by car and we went together. I just followed the Direction. I lived in a cave in front of the beach for three months but I wasn’t alone. Do you know what it means to sleep under the stars with the sound of the waves for three months? It means you completely reprogram your mind! When we needed money we would go to the city to play music for the people and used that money to buy some fruits and rice and go back to the beach to just LIVE THE TIME.
When I got back to Italy I heard of an echo village in Tuscany and went there for a bit.
I live my time, I live the time and it’s not easy of course. You must need massive adaptation skills, it happened to me to not even have one euro for a coffee after a lot of time spent in service for people for free…. but it’s the first time that I feel being the master of my time. I started to follow my heart. I discovered to have a heart that thinks and who has a vision of its own, hence I began to mould my reality according to that vision. Now it’s been 5 years that I’m “on the way”, I lived in Israel, I traveled across Europe and have friends everywhere. Today I found an equilibrium and I found a way of living through my art.

How did you come up with Fire Jewellery? And can you explain its power?

Everything began after I lived 5 months in Israel where I met a woman and where I had flashbacks of past lives so the people I met were actually people I had already known. This is the first place where I found myself recognised by the people, which never happened not in my family nor in Italy. There the people looked me in the eyes and hugged me like a brother or like a son. It was very healing to be accepted. I turned 33 in Israel and met Yaela. One night, when we were in Italy in my home… I had some clay and she had a flower of life stencil. She began making some balls and stamping the flower of life on top, in a couple hours we had 400 of these. We looked around and had crystals with us so we just began breaking down the crystals and positioning them on the the flower of life: we immediately felt an energy shift in the room but still didn’t know what we were doing, also the clay was still raw and I had never cooked it. We realised these could be turned into necklaces but again: how to cook clay? The following day we were walking in Turin, I see a stand with ceramic utensils and a poster on which it was written the procedure of how to build an oven in the ground to cook clay – I MEAN!!! This is an ancient techniques and after a couple trials we made it! On top of this, days later I walk into a bookstore and find a book on crystal grids by Judy Hall in which she explains the powerful relationship between geometry and crystals: together they form a “field”, they amply your intention. If the geometry with which you created is perfect, you obtain the result.
In this case, the power of the fire jewellery lays in the fact that it was a pure canalisation between two energies: the masculine and the feminine, fire and water, which is what me and Yaela represent together like Alchemic elements. So you have these two humans who worked in synergy with the four elements: the clay, the water which moulds the clay, the air that dries them and the fire that locks them. The four combined create the fifth element: space. I’m still discovering what they do because the potential is immense. You can use them as a necklace or you can use them for crystal healing.

Fire Jewellery is linked to Sacred Geometry. Can you explain what is it and what is your work with the grids? What is the power of the grids mixed with colours and crystals? 

It’s important to understand the science behind the Sacred Geometry. Some people don’t need to go through the logic but for the rest there is physics and science that explain this work. Basically, when I take two elements that have the same informations these two resonate, which means that the informations exchange in a harmonious way: this creates an energy field. Everything is geometry. The universe was created according to a geometry. The laws of physics are hidden behind the symbols. Crystals are pure geometry, if we look inside them we see a net that we recognise as the platonic solids.
So now I created this field but you must understand that everything starts from our brain. Everything starts from us, WE are the biggest power. It’s US who make this reality. So I created an energy field which I needed to amplify my intention. Currently I am using these crystal grids for balancing because by working with the flower of life I will automatically create harmonious geometries which will bring balance. I can see if you have and where unbalance within you physically. I can also build a grid to get what I still don’t have, for example I want to develop certain qualities but I don’t know how so I build a perfect grid with those qualities and it becomes very efficient. When you see it physically the two parts of the brain start to communicate, logic and intuition.

Find Gabriele here

Gabriel and its hang

There could be a never ending talk between him and I. There are many things he can do for you to help with healing and balancing. I personally have two Fire Jewellery necklaces, the latter one it was custom made for me because I also work with crystals and I know intuitively what I need. Since we met there has been an exchange of information and it’s beautiful to watch him grow and develop his art beyond limits (or beyond that which we perceive as limits). If you are interested please go find him on his facebook (link above the last image) where you can see more photos of what he does. Currently he painted 3 unique (and I mean UNIQUE) paintings about which you can ask directly to him 🙂 I hope somehow you get our message beyond the words here written…
T.

Aquaculture: Interview with Silvio Greco

We must begin with saying that when we speak of aquaculture we indirectly speak of 4 types of fish: salmon, sea bass, sea bream, and the turbot.

I was interested in writing about aquaculture since The Guardian posted a video with a long article unveiling the horrific world of fish-farms, which reminded me of intensive animal farming. A month passed from that article and the irony is I haven’t read anything about it ever since, like a “shock wave”… it came, it stung, it left. This time though I think it didn’t leave a trace in people’s minds and hearts because it’s yet another problem we must face in a world of problems. Also, why would we ever be touched by how fish if treated… it’s just “fish”. Right? No. Fish and the way fish is being farmed is part of the current inhumane farming system which then falls upon us. Please read this interview and allow yourselves to be touched even by this in order to move into a more conscious direction and a more human one.
Silvio Greco is a world renowned marine biologist and currently research manager of the International Zoological Station Anton Dohrn. We speak about Italy and the overall situation of aquaculture.

What is the situation in Italy regarding aquaculture?
Currently in Italy we breed two species: the sea bass and the sea bream. In the Mediterranean, Italy is a leader in the production of mussels and clams. We don’t do much oysters though. As far as sweet water fish is concerned we have the trout and a bit of tench fish (or doctor fish).

As far as I know, aquaculture is not regulated. There are some guidelines but there is no law, why?
It’s correct to say that the UN has some guidelines on aquaculture but there is not international regulation so every nation decides for itself.
Generally zoology norms cover aquaculture because we are talking about animal breeding/farming. Our national aquaculture has an extensive control system but the real problem of aquaculture is related to its sustainability: or rather the unsustainability of it. We are breeding carnivorous species, so for example for 1kg of farmed fish we need to provide 4-5kg of wild fish (under the form of fish meal). When humans started to domesticate and breed animals it was important that these animals were not predators, instead had to have certain characteristics such as living in herds etc. Imagine if they were to breed tigers, they would’ve had to have another farm raising sheep just to feed the tigers. Imagine the costs energy wise.
Well with aquaculture that is exactly what we are doing: we bread fish that in the wild are predators. The system is showing some problems of course.

Besides the sufferance inflicted to the fish, what are the negative aspects of consuming farmed fish?
There is a problem on which we still reflect very little and it’s the animal wellbeing. It may be strange but we started to acknowledge the animal wellbeing only in 1992 in England. And still over 20 years later we have intensive factory farming! Gandhi said that the greatness of a nation can be viewed by the way they treat its animals, so…
It’s even worse when we talk about fish because if we are starting now to recognise mammals somehow, fish is not remotely considered. We think of fish like animals to which we can do anything.

We should go toward a world where we are a piece of this huge ecosystem that is the Planet. Hence we must care of how we treat other animals and other creatures.

Is it possible to have a sustainable aquaculture?
Having said previously that we breed carnivorous fish, to me there is no sustainable aquaculture. The only sustainable aquaculture is that of mussels because they don’t consume energy, I mean they live off of what they find in the water. It is currently being developed a non-carnivorous fish farming (i.e. the tilapia) which could be a valid protein alternative.

I understand fish farming is not sustainable, but is there a certification of sorts that certifies that a certain fish has not been fed chemicals? Is there anything equivalent to the “organic” certification we use to label land farming?
Again there are guidelines on fish meal and the non-use of chemicals because chemicals are a big part of aquaculture. For example, ocean fish farms need to protect the nets by spraying them with a certain chemical that may become part of the food chain.

What is your opinion on algae farming? There is a new spirulina farm in Puglia I know of…
Nothing new to be honest. Spirulina was already farmed in Ancient Egypt for its outstanding protein quantity. Moreover it’s sustainable to farm.

What is the main reason for fish-farming? 
Fish farms exist so that we could have the availability of fish protein all year-round. Later it became a profitable industry.

“The Fish” book

We are currently facing a global pollution emergency. How much does the aquaculture practice rage on it?
Of course it weights on the problem of environmental pollution. Especially in the areas where there are large implants, such as in the Norwegian Fiords or in Chile, there is a huge impact on the environment. First of all coastal marine environment is impacted due to the animal waste, the fish meal and the medicinals that end up on the seabed. As a matter of fact in Norway they had to move the farms in further away because the great quantity of fish and their waste was burning the seabed.
Furthermore there is a biodiversity problem because, say for example, in Chile the salmon which escapes the cage becomes a fierce predator and destroys much of the environment and local ecosystem. In fact, salmon is not even a native fish of Chile! Every year it’s calculated that something like hundred thousand salmons escape the farms in Chile, you can imagine how that impacts on the coastal marine biodiversity.

Does it happen in every fish farm that fish is given pesticides mixed with fishmeal?
That is not correct. There were a few cases brought to light about poor quality fish meal. In this fishmeal it was found chicken flour which was contaminated with dioxin. Of course in a system like the EU, with a rigorous control body, things like these are hard to happen…still not impossible but difficult that the organism are fed with dioxin. In other parts of the world where controls are different this is possible.

We know that the farming industry had used growth hormones to grow faster and bigger (fatter)animals. Does this happen in fish farming too?
It’s valid the answer to the question above. Of course farmed fish is fed with great quantity of protein. In rigorous control systems it’s unlike that growth-promoters are used. But if you think of South East Asia where pangasius is bread, there can be a possibility that fishmeal is enriched.

My last question is a personal one because after reading your answers, listening to your conferences and also reading your books… I realise you are someone who has seen a lot, heard a lot and who has done a lot of research. Now, where do you find hope? In a sea full of s*** where is it possible to swim? How can we clean it up?
It’s possible to “clean up” of course because the sea is the receptor of the land activity. About plastic for example, it’s ridiculous to think it’s enough to suck some water to clean it because the floating plastic is only 3% of the total… the rest 97% is laying on the seabed. We can surely take advantage of the trawler fishing, which is very damaging but because it works on the sea floor it collects also a lot of plastic. It would be enough to convince all trawler-fishing fishermen to unload on the coast the plastics they collect during the day. The Mediterranean would benefit so much in a couple years from this work. We could eliminate 40-50% of the plastic on the sea floor.
You see, the ecosystem can do without our species. What I mean is that Earth doesn’t have a problem, she will keep on living, she is resilient. Today the question is about humanity because the system the way it’s created cannot endure these mechanisms. And aquaculture is part of those activities that enhance the CO2 levels.

Trawler fishing

Links you might find interesting:
FAO 
Silvio Greco on jellyfish as food
Interview to Cinzia Scaffidi
On fish-farms in Asia
National Geographic 
World Wildlife Org on shrimp industry
Time 2007 article

Enjoy! 🙂

Italian Shamanism: an introduction

I’m sure very few of you have heard about Italian Shamanism. I too until 2 years ago believed the Shamans only existed in the Amazon, in Mexico or in Siberia. That’s because they are the ones who’ve been widely studied, recorded and written about.

I have to admit that I rarely speak about these things publicly. Still I sort of fear being taken for a crazy woman, a witch, someone living in the clouds. The word Shamanism evokes images of woods, darkness, a circle around the fire, Ayahuasca, antique chants, wild dances, and … a man. Yes, the Shaman is a man in our collective imagination. The Shaman speaks very little, drinks very little and is probably vegan. He is viewed as the holy man. And everyone who arrives at his feet bows.

No wonder then when I met Michela, the last Italian Shaman of a long family tradition of Shamans, I was confused. She was so…….. real! She was concrete! She lives in the present! She lives a normal life! Dresses like a normal woman! Drinks beer! Smokes cigarettes! She has a normal house (until you walk in ahahahahaha)! Has a husband and two children. She simply lives in the world. She doesn’t seek a refuge in the spirit world up there somewhere (see my hands waving above my head).

We have come to believe today that spirituality has nothing to do with the material world (the world of matter). If you notice, the society is now visibly divided between the spiritual people – who dress up carelessly with loose clothes, don’t wear make up, don’t do their hair, are vegan, do yoga, meditate, speak only about spirit and energy, send love&peace to everyone, refuse emotions such as anger – and the material people – who dress up nicely, wear make up, do their hair, eat whatever especially meat, smoke, drink alcohol, care about their appearance, work in areas considered evil, are attached to the world. You get the point and I’m sure you are now wondering where do you stand? “Oh no but I don’t meditate so I can’t be spiritual, but I am vegan then maybe…” Yes I feel your confusion 🙂 The world likes to divide and label. Though don’t worry, welcome home wonderful human being! 🙂

I want to tell you a bit about myself as I feel that because of the way I look and the job that I do… I should be considered the last person on Earth to be spiritual ahahahahahahaha In fact I always laugh at people’s astonishment when they meet me in person, because …. who they meet is a person 😉
Soo I was brought up in Minsk by my grandparents and I spent all my time between climbing trees and sitting in the kitchen with my grandma. I was naturally in contact with nature. When I moved to live in Italy with my parents, luckily we lived in a town surrounded by forests, mountains and streams… I would spend my time reading books on witchcraft and playing at the stream nearby. The books on witchcraft were books that spoke to me about a deep contact with nature and elements. But especially about creating a deep contact with myself, with my body. They taught me about emotions and how to live with them and use them. OUR BODIES are important! It’s through our bodies that we experience the world. We are biology.
Those who have been called witches were simply women who had a deep contact with themselves and the world (a world that is a plant world since there are more plant species than any other living being). I don’t meditate, I contemplate. I am not vegan, I eat what I feel eating. I drink beer and wine. I am touched by everything, I am moved by the beauty of a flower just like by the rain on my skin or the gentle touch of someone who cares about me. I am attached to this world, to everything that is part of it. And yes I model and I act, I do all that consciously and have fun in changing skin. I enjoy to have my hair done and watch my face change with makeup, I love beautiful clothes and God I LOVE being photographed! I am real.
In the years I had abandoned everything concerning the world of magic and witchcraft – because seriously, I had noone to share all that with and I tried for so long to blend in, to adapt, to live like most people live… but it wasn’t going to last forever, I got called from the inside when it was time to go home – I read almost everything that’s been written on spirituality, on energy, on meditation and so on. Why? To find that something that I once had, but mostly to escape reality when it became unbearable. The funny thing is that the more I escaped reality the more unbearable it became. So go ahead and meditate more and more, do more yoga, eat more “pure foods”, think of energy, let go of your past, live in a bubble of love&peace and blah blah blah. Who hasn’t done that? Welcome to the New Age.

At the right moment arrived Michela (Michela Chiarelli). Thinking about it now, we met right before the most difficult period of my life… to start anew. Meeting her, and through her other magnificent women, gave me lots of hope and courage to be me. To stop fearing of being too much or too little. To stop hiding and instead stand up straight and tall. I got back to my nature, which is complex and deep. Automatically I stopped running away from reality and became very concrete, I may appear to live in the clouds only to someone who’s unable to see.
Italian Shamanism is vast and complex. It’s the antique story of the eternal feminine transmitted orally from mother to daughter. Michela’s job is to help get in touch with yourself so that you become the leader of your life; so that you get back the power with which you were born; so that you become you!
It’s not a weekend course, it’s not that you become a Moon Priestess in a week… It’s really about a way of living. It’s rediscovering the cycles of life-death-life and live in accordance. Nothing is static in nature, and everything is in equilibrium… there is equilibrium only in being present. To live today. To live breathing the air fully! To live with the fire always on inside! To live adapting ourselves to the events (when these cannot be changed)! To live with our feet touching the ground! … This is Italian Shamanism, learn to be an active participant in the beautiful dance that life is.

Meet Nadav Malin

Nadav and I have been friends for 10 years now: we shared a house the first year at the University of Gastronomic Sciences, a number of gastronomic travels (a memorable one was to Bordeaux), a passion for food (he has always cooked divinely and I always loved eating) and wine (ah the evenings spent drinking and tasting and uhm drinking), a passion for research (which enriches us and our work and hence the people around us). After graduation we went separate ways and haven’t been in touch for about 5 years. Then 2 years ago we met again at this special event in Turin which is Terra Madre, we hugged and started there where we left it. In these 2 years we kept in touch like we could, I followed his work on social media (his Instagram is @chef_nadav_malin) and we managed to skype a couple times: the problem is always time, he and I are busy and travelling and living in different countries. Lucky for us, every two years we meet in Turin at Terra Madre which awakens sweet memories.

Nadav and I – Terra Madre 2018
“Tasting” beer at Terra Madre 2016

In these 10 years we’ve known each other we both grew: together first, then separately. Now, it’s as if every time we meet again it’s only to exchange our acquired wisdom, to give one another something we could need for yet another time of separation.
Nadav is one of those restless old souls who find inspiration from art, nature and people. He can translate his experience into cooked food, like an painter does with a paintbrush. And he never stops until he gets to the roots. I remember during our second or third year he had to go on a stage in Japan (for those who don’t know, our university organised every year 5 “gastronomic trips” we called stages to either national or international destinations, while he was in the group going to Japan I was in the group going to Canada), he organised himself to go a month earlier to live with a Japanese family and work in their farm to learn more deeply about the Japanese culture. He returned knowing how to cook real sushi and other Japanese food which we don’t know about in the West, and told me “everything you know about Japanese food is wrong”. This is just a drop of what he did. I can say he is one of the most passionate and curious men I know. If you ever get a chance to travel to Israel and want to get the real gastronomic experience… do contact Nadav.
Here is a little interview – and on my facebook you can see the video interview which unfortunately is only in Italian (he speaks fluent Italian, Hebrew, English and Spanish 👌🏻).

Nadav is part of the Chefs 4 Peace Alliance, which started something like 15 years ago in Positano at an event where many chefs from different parts of the world and different religions came together to cook. They noticed how despite cultural differences, these chefs could be together in a kitchen and work in harmony. After that event they founded the Alliance. It’s important to understand that these chefs (and all chefs in general) don’t “bring” peace, but through the process of making food – which is what nourishes both body and soul – they give life… And where there is life and a will to live, there there is peace.

How did you get involved with Chefs 4 Peace?
My mother is one of the founders. She is the chef and the owner of Luiza Catering in Jerusalem. I grew up in that environment, but I joined the Alliance when I got back in 2012.

Where did you train as a chef?
I’m an autodidact.

After the University of Gastronomic Sciences, where did you continue your studies?
I made my master in San Sebastian at the Basque Culinary Institute in “Innovation and Restaurant Management”.

When you finally returned home, what was different?
When I returned everything was more or less the same except for the fact that we had a new structure for our kitchen in the village of Abu Gosh. I came back with much knowledge and experience and a well trained palate. I think some professors from Unisg like Gabriella Morini (Food Chemistry), Andrea Pieroni (Ethnobotany) and Nicola Perullo (Food Aesthetics) have implemented in me a new way of thought about food and cooking.

Which cities inspired you gastronomically and why?
Definitely Paris, San Sebastian, Kanazawa and Positano. Paris changed my life twice, gastronomically. The first time it was a trip before finding what and where was this University of Gastronomic Sciences, it’s when I understood I love gastronomy as it is. The second time to Paris two years ago, I started my project between food and art. In San Sebastian I discovered modern cuisine and the craziness for the perfection of food. Kanazawa is in Japan and I spent an entire week there by myself before the arrival of tourists, it was eyeopening to discover how Japanese cuisine developed independently from the rest of the world. About Positano I don’t think there’s much to explain, it was a place of discovery of Italian cuisine: good ingredients and very simple. I remember the owner of the hotel once came up to me and asked “why are you cooking all these spices and with all these ingredients? Look at our pizza, it’s just dough, mozzarella, tomato, basil and olive oil.” This is just the holy combination.

You can find here Nadav’s essay on food 🌱