Is 'The Village of Lovers' a pro-polyamory film?
Plus, upcoming screenings & events this summer.
In a few days, I’m heading to Vancouver (my original hometown) to premiere The Village of Lovers at our biggest theatre yet - The Rio in East Van.
Last time I was there was for the sold-out premiere of my previous film Amplify Her, so it’s a special moment to return once again.
One question that tends to come up is whether my new film exploring the radical peace research of Tamera Healing Biotope in Portugal is “pro-polyamory.”
First, a definition:
“Polyamory is a form of ethical, or consensual, non-monogamy that involves having romantic or sexual relationships with multiple partners at the same time.”
The title of the film, which we arrived at after many years of variations (such as Healing Of Love, Love School and The Sacred Matrix), is The Village of Lovers.
This comes from an interview shot with Tamera co-founder Charly Rainier, who died in 2019. In the clip he describes the early days when co-founder Dieter Duhm came to him and said he wanted to build “This village… this village of lovers how we called it…”
He describes how a few dedicated friends (less than 10) rented a farmhouse in rural Germany and dove into the messy work of excavating what was required to deepen in trust. This required all societal conditioning to be examined and reimagined, particularly around love & sex & partnership.
Charly shares: “Everybody of us felt that when we try to make limitations around our love issue then it will not work, and we will truly live together.”
He goes on to describe how difficult this quickly became, with the rise of jealousy, fighting, and competition. “And so we needed to find tools to overcome our normal way of thinking and behaviour.”
Ultimately, one of the main tools developed to process these layers was the SD Forum.
“Forum is a social technology for practicing honesty in community and relationships. It enables us to become conscious of what happens within and among us, and creates solidarity through mutual empathy. It’s one way of transforming the collective trauma we hold as we realize that we all share the same longings, joys and difficulties. These are not just personal but global issues. De-identification and full transparency allows healing to take place, as to be seen is to be loved.”
I could continue to speak about Forum, which I experienced first-hand upon my arrival to the community in 2015, but for now, suffice it to say it enabled the residents of the project to process hot topics without destroying the social field - and in fact, regenerated trust.
It is from this trust field that Tamera has been able to develop their research through radically practicing what they call “love free of fear.”
Here’s a short clip I recorded on the ground during my first visit:
I’ll admit, back then I was wide eyed and buoyed by the experience of permission I felt within the project. Having been married, then divorced, and a few years exploring polyamory at this point - this was something entirely different.
It felt like visiting another planet.
In 2019, I wrote an essay “Home Is Wherever I’m With You (And Other Modern Calamities)" which detailed more of my learnings:
I would return to Tamera for three additional visits. Each time I deepened in their core frames of research into modelling a true culture of peace.
I learned their practice of “free love” means “love free of fear.” A commitment to creating a culture where lovers do not have to lie to each other about their inner world — their longings, their judgements, and their attractions to others. From this revealing of what is true for each person, then the form of every relationship can be what it actually wishes to be — whether monogamous, polyamorous, celibate, companionship, and every other variation.
I learned that “jealously does not belong to love.” Meaning: jealousy is better understood as a mix of other emotions, often from a comparison to others and fear of losing the lover/partner. Solidarity within the genders is necessary to connect with the same heart of “the other” and realize they share a kinship that can be strengthened through sharing lovers (if that is what is true), rather than a competition.
Now, it can be seductive to believe the liberation of eros is the goal itself, as is understandable for folks coming from a deeply repressed society - which is ironic considering the West considers itself sexually “free.”
I would come to recognize the West as adolescent at best and deeply toxic in how it handles the power of eros - in how it fails to teach children self-knowledge, how it commodifies this vital life force (selling sex in all forms), and how it restricts the flow of eros into narrow channels of expression.
Tamera has remained committed to this political dimension of freeing love rather than seeing it primarily as a goal of personal liberation.
Now, here’s where Tamera differs from how polyamory is practiced in the West.
As previously named, I practiced polyamory for 5 years. I made plenty of mistakes and learned much more.
This does not make me any kind of authority of the subject, but based on my paradigm-shifting time at Tamera, here are a few key challenges of polyamory in the West that were made abundantly clear to me:
Without a committed group of fellow practitioners, you are often left to process big energies and conflict alone.
Too often, this leaves many folks vulnerable to bad behaviours, abuse, etc without a wider container of support in which to be held accountable and supported. As Tamera showed, group technologies like Forum can diffuse big energies and bring light to behaviours that can support all parties to see their blind spots.
Home is often bound up with partnership. If the partnership ends, you lose your home.
Many couples live together and therefore, are burdened not just with navigating the layers of their love relationship but also the stability of home. I lived this story. When my marriage ended, I needed to make the choice to leave my home. At Tamera, because residents are supported with their own dwellings, home was not jeopardized simply because a love relationship shifted. This also goes for food and income.
Children are too often recipients of chaos.
When jealousy, attachment trauma, & conflicts are stirred in relationships - as is common in monogamy, but certainly in polyamory - too often the children are subjected to the consequence. This may even be indirect, as they can also suffer from distracted or distant parents. At Tamera, the parents are held in adult-processes with many alternate care-givers available at any time to support. As well, if a love relationship changes, a child’s own sense and reality of home is not at risk (as named above).
You need a vision beyond self-gratification.
Polyamory in the West is intricately woven with an individualistic worldview. In this model, the highest achievement is “ultimate self-fulfillment” and therefore, every other goal tends to be subsumed to this outcome.
At Tamera, they uphold a political dimension for their efforts, where “freeing love from fear” is regenerating the morphogenic field of trust in service to global healing. This allows the personal work to always be held from a holistic perspective in a wider context of mutual support.
And so, in short: “Is Tamera a pro-polyamory film?”
The question itself is unable to be answered within the confines of the yes/no binary.
It needs an entirely new frame in order to be approached, which is one of the main purposes of our film The Village of Lovers - to transmit a social field that goes beyond the intractable dilemmas in the dominant culture.
My co-filmmakers may have their own nuances to this conversation. For further listening, you may want to check out this 2019 podcast for Life Is A Festival, featuring Julia Maryanska and I: Can Free Love Save The World?
As for me, since 2017 I have been practicing a nuanced monogamy with my partner while we parent our young child (he’s almost 5). There is much I can and wish to say about this journey in my writings to come.
And if you’re suitably intrigued to see the film, considering joining my this Thursday June 22 at The Rio in Vancouver.
In mid-July, I’ll be heading a few hours north of Vancouver for Awaken July 13-17, which is an embodied exploration of eros & nature & community, inspired by the Love School’s at Tamera. There are a few tickets still available.
Thanks for reading.
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