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by John Bonny

Play the song and enjoy our story.


My great grandfather Dominic Filardo immigrated from Italy and built a farm with some cattle, apple, peach and pear trees, a vegetable garden with red raspberries and concord grapes for wine, a main home, a barn and a few guest houses. He let travelers and people stay in these houses when they had nowhere to live. My great aunt Kate Filardo and my grandmother  Angel Anzilotti grew up on that farm. 

My grandmother eventually married my grandfather Paul Anzilotti and moved to Chicago and gave birth to 8 children. My mother being the oldest daughter with a younger sister along with 6 brothers. As an only child.. the farm during the summer was one of my few places to escape and place to connect. I would spend a few weeks during the summer at Dominic’s Farm with my 3 uncles, my 2 cousins Vicki and Tony cousins (brother and sister) and myself. We would explore. It felt free. We would play croquet, run around with the chickens, play in the barn, play board games in the shantie, and rummage around the cellar to see the canned fruits and vegetables and jellies my aunt Kate would jar for the winter months. I still remember the smell of that basement cellar. I can still smell the age of the wine barrels from their homemade wine. They never wasted anything. All food scraps went to the chickens and anything else was burned or recycled. It wouldn’t be until later in life when my uncles and cousins we were all adults that we would realize that not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5 but 6…. YES all 6 of us would end up being gay . What are the odds ? OH HEY UNIVERSE…THANK YOU!  Well we all had a place where we felt safe to be ourselves and to feel free. My grandmother was the definition of unconditional love. It felt safe to be around her. My fondest memories are with her. She was the gluten of the family. After I came home from studying theater in college… She would let me do her makeup and costumes on Halloween. She was fun and always up for a good time. She kept us all together. Her cooking was made with love and she brought us all together for all the holidays and birthdays. These were the highlights of my childhood. I was fortunate enough to be with her on the night she died in the hospital. It was a gift to see her light leave her body. The room actually lit up with a warm glow as her spirit left this physical plane. 


I originally went thru Phoenix Project #5 in Chicago when I was  26 years old… after suffering from low self- esteem, along with a major episode of depression, where I stayed  in 2 psychiatric hospitals for over a month to deal with my struggle with suicidal thoughts and distorted thinking. After leaving the psychiatric hospital… I was still depressed, medicated and didn’t know what my next step would be. I was very lost and scared. I just wanted to go live on my great grandfather’s farm in Wisconsin where it felt safe. I just needed to connect with nature and slow things down. Well that never happened. But The Phoenix Project and Jack presented me with an opportunity to create my way out of my depression and to create a rhythmic structure and a new life for myself. 


Cut to last  November about 27 years later…  Jack came to California and presented me the opportunity to become a Ritual Elder and an opportunity to go deeper and to drudge up all the unresolved to create and more fully realize and give birth to a dream of mine… to create a conscious farm. Three years ago I created this vision board which included all of the aspects of “the farm". It didn’t have a name at the time, but my vision board was a stream of consciousness and desires of what my farm would provide and what it would look and feel like. It needed to feel like home. Like family. It needed to be fun. It would have a BARN/event space where I could create conscious Burningman - like parties where people could express themselves with costume and dance. A place for people to feel SAFE... TO LET GO. A JOYFUL place for people to connect with nature, to connect with themselves and with others, to have fun while they transform their lives. A place  that would include experiences, courses and modalities of healing on the property for people to transform their lives. A safe place for people to play, dance and to have fun while RECOGNIZING and CELEBRATING  the value of who they are. RECOGNIZING OUR OWN VALUE. IT’S SO IMPORTANT. 


When I met Darcy Bellows during our Ritual Elder training , she also shared with me that she had a vision of creating a healing center based in Native American rituals and ceremonies and psychic mediumship. Darcy previously lived in Chicago. Mmmmm. Synchronicity was already occurring during the first week of our meeting. Jack designed this Phoenix Project’s overall umbrella/arc to allow Darcy and I as Ritual Elders to create experiences that would give Phoenix project members a taste of what the farm would be offering. We did this during our Death Mask Ritual weekend and Shadow Night. We rented an air bnb for the weekend retreat and experiences of LA FARMIGLIA were being born. I’m tapping into my Italian ancestors lives a (twist on the words FARM AND FAMIGLIA). As we shared our past and present losses and grief with one another we simultaneously worked on creating our way out and giving birth to our new self and future lives. My dreams early in the project were all about straying away from social gatherings or events and then finding myself walking on my path. Some were lonely. Some were marked with sacred markings. And there were times when I felt like I was in the presence of something greater than myself and that I was being guided. For me it was apparent that I needed to learn to stay on my own path and develop my voice more clearly. To ask for what I want and to speak my truth and to be of service to others. 


This project has been very emotionally challenging… more than I had anticipated. Revisiting past traumas, current losses and grief isn’t fun. There’s nothing fun about it. But we built in fun moments along the way to create that balance and to promote healing. I think it’s important to allow ourselves to FEEL GOOD even in those dark moments of lack, or sadness, loss or grief, or when we forget who we are. We shared our stories and our past, which allowed us to “let go” and move forward and to allow transformation to occur. I have a better understanding of how we enter sacred time and how important it is for people to have fun while going thru these growth/challenges and opportunities. Laughter, play, dance and creative expression are so important to transmute these old programs in our bodies. I have a greater understanding that we are all connected. As “we”  grow and expand our “higher self and consciousness”/ the universe expands. 


Darcy and I had asked for several signs from the universe and we both received them. (Thanks to the owls and deer).  The synchronistic moments and the universe has provided some amazing opportunities for us to continue feeding the energy of LA FARMIGLIA as it continues to evolve and grow. LA FARMIGLIA IS A TRIBUTE TO MY GRANDPARENTS.

  • We’ve secured the name, secured our social media outlets and are currently building our website. 

  • We are developing our network and continuing our search for practitioners, healers and artists and are recruiting a team of people who will “plug into” LA FARMIGLIA with their unique gifts and magical talents.

  • We are in the process of creating our business plan. 

  • While we search for the right land for LA FARMIGLIA we are going to be offering experiences to the public to keep the energy growing until we break ground. 

  • We are grateful that Darla has offered Laguna Wellness Center to us during our incubation period to grow. 


Where am I going from here?   In addition to keeping my rhythmic daily structure of exercise, writing and meditation , eating well and expressing myself creatively and remaining on my path … I’ll be taking a trip to Scotland to visit Findhorn Gardens to receive the spiritual messages that are waiting for me. 


I will be continuing to refine LA FARMIGLIA’ S experiential programs that we will offer to the public. Our first collaboration at Laguna Wellness Center will be at the end of May / early June. 

We are planning a “Psychic Wellness Faire”  and will be inviting practitioners ,healers , mediums and vendors to this event and we will keep you posted on the exact specifics. Please make sure you sign our mailing list so we can keep in touch with all of you. 

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