Through the books ‘The Ringing Cedars of Russia’, the wise, worldly words of the beautiful recluse Anastasia have resonated with people throughout the world. In particular the Kin’s Domain idea has inspired over 400 eco-villages in Russia and elsewhere. Michaelangelo Raiano created the Kin’s Domain UK website to begin bringing readers of the series together. In this interview we discuss how the Kin’s Domain idea inspires him and what his future plans may become.
How did you come across the idea of the Kin’s Domain?
During some online research, I came across the phrase ‘space of love’, and the concept intrigued me. Following the thread led me to the ‘Ringing Cedars’ website in America. I discovered that these books change peoples’ lives; inspiring some to quit their jobs and pursue a life of art and poetry, or to create their own ‘space of love’. I read the books and they really resonated with me, and happily my son felt the same. Most of my friends didn’t like them; it’s not for everyone. ‘Kin’s Domain’ means ‘family homestead’, or ‘family plot’, which also means the ‘space of love’. Each family or individual has 1 hectare of land (2.5 acres), which is a very comfortable size, to create a space that nourishes them. This can be done with no particular belief system or dogma, only by tuning into one’s own intuition. The plot becomes a blank canvas, on which to paint whatever you wish.
Communication with nature develops and grows from the process of creation. Anastasia recommends planning it and drawing it out, but this can only be a vague idea until you spend time on the land, to understand it properly. So when planning the orchard, or vegetable plot- the land will tell you where it all needs to go.
Why does this idea appeal to you?
If every family takes care of one hectare of land this has far-reaching results for the planet and for society. The modern system of agriculture is problematic, while it allows cheap food and lots of it; it cares more about profit lines than creating healthy food for healthy people. It destroys soils, depletes water and air quality, and destroys habitats: it is not natural or sustainable. By going back to the land, we can restore nature again, provide employment, create communities again, create healthy food for a more healthy nation- all by taking care of one hectare at a time. It’s this bigger vision that appeals to me- I can see it all happening.
How have you connected with other readers?
I realised there must be other readers inspired by the books, who like the vision of living in community on the land. I created a website to connect readers, and I have met many lovely people through that, and I made a Facebook page on which people can discuss ideas.
Getting a group together has challenges from the start, but most people I’ve met come from a heart place. The first big meet up came after several years of connecting on the website, and several of us realised the time had come to meet. 13 people met in Glastonbury in May 2018, we’ve had 3 more meet-ups since and the next one being planned. There is some momentum there, a good group forming, and seeing new faces each time is wonderful. It’s great to meet fellow readers on the same wavelength, who want to make something happen. We are at the early stages.
The first few meetings were about getting to know each other and sharing ideas. The last 2 we discussed more practicalities about getting land, and what exactly people are looking for. It’s a big process, with lots to look at and clarify. It will take time, and some people will go their own way, others will want to stick together and do something as a group, others come to meetings then join a community already started. The discussions clarify things for people.
Do you know people who have created a Kin’s Domain?
Two families I know, rather than waiting for a community to be created in the UK, bought their own pieces of land in Portugal (separately) and just began themselves. One family lost everything on the land in the fires that happened last year, luckily the house was saved and they started from scratch again: I am very inspired by that.
I visited a Kin’s Domain in Italy, in the Western Italian Alps, where an English family brought 3 hectares 15 years ago, when they wanted to create an eco-village. The land is in mountains near to houses that were abandoned as people got older and the younger generations left- that happens a lot in Mediterranean countries. Their vision was to encourage others to buy adjacent plots and create a village. Then they read about Anastasia and were inspired to create a Kin’s Domain. Now there is a German family there, and a Dutch family very interested in buying a plot. It is still a small community as it is hard to track down the owners of adjacent plots- they need to track down all the brothers and sisters who inherited land, and it’s a headache with the paperwork. It’s a lovely group of people but I struggled with the climate and the rough terrain covered in brambles. They have a short growing season too, and it rains as much as Ireland! I learnt a lot because I realised I have to consider these things while looking for a plot. But it suits them- they love it!
There is also a young man living near the Chew Valley, his grandfather owned the land once upon a time, and he managed to re-purchase it. He has been living on the land for 4 years growing a forest garden using permaculture principles. The locals love him; he’s sure to get planning permission for a house! He read the books, and didn’t think anyone else in this country had read them, so he was very happy to find me through the website and realise I am in the same area. When something inspires you and no one else is interested, it can feel very lonely! It’s good to connect with others.
I am planning on visiting a Kin’s Domain in Bulgaria soon, and perhaps some other places.
There are already eco-villages in existence, so what is it that is different and more special about Kin’s Domain idea compared to other ideas?
There are many great eco-villages out there, but with any group of people all living together, there are bound to be challenges with sharing the space peacefully and respectfully. With the Kin’s Domain idea, each family takes responsibility for one hectare, they all get their own personal space and freedom to do what they want with autonomy, and there are like-minded neighbours surrounding you. The community is there for celebrations, campfires under the stars and the rest of it, but you have your own space to look after.
Anastasia recommends putting your own self into your space of love, for example she describes sucking seeds to put you own DNA into the plant, so the plant grows FOR you. Nature responds to how you treat it; plants grow in a way that is beneficial for you. Your produce becomes your own pharmacy. Your plot is your own piece of the Motherland ''Mother Earth''. A lot of people in the world feel very lost and through this idea we get back a strong connection to the land, and pass that on to our children. Nature responds to the love you give, even to that one little corner of land. What you love, you take care of, and so it magnifies what you give, and comes back to you a thousand-fold. The whole family benefits.
How do Kin’s Domains build a strong community?
The family unit is the basis of society. When you look at modern society and the rates of family breakdown, you notice that farming is one of the professions with the lowest divorce rates. The whole family working together in their own environment, owning the land and animals, have a great benefit on the family unit. And farmers usually have a great community, who look after each other. The people who moved to Portugal were embraced by the local community; they bring them food and wine, and they love that people are coming back to that land. It’s not like in cities where people have arguments with neighbours and they all live on top of each other. Living with nature there is less stress, and the best of humanity comes out. There is a reason cities have the highest crime rates, ill health, and high divorce rates. The environment is stressful.
Let’s say everyone adopted Anastasia’s Kin’s Domain idea- surely there is not enough land for everyone?
The vision is that eventually a lot of people, or most people, go back to living on the land, and greening cities for those who want to stay living in them. There is enough land for every family in this country to have one hectare- that’s only current agricultural land*, not forest or mountain, or city. It’s just that the land has all been badly managed. We have enough land for a population increase; if it’s done properly.
People should be stewards of the land- a beautiful and important task. It is impossible to continue as we are going, and the bubble will burst soon. The sooner governments allow people to go back to land and start taking care of it, the sooner we avert climate catastrophe. So many people want this; it is the secret desire of many! It is inherent in us, just look at children playing outside; they quickly make their own little den, their home for themselves. It’s instinctive. There is enough land for everyone, and everyone can feed themselves on that land. Small scale family farms are more productive per hectare than large scale farming. It may take more labour, but that’s OK, as we want to create more employment.
Examples of this include the 19th Century Parisian market farmers, who had farms on one 16th of the land size of the city, surrounding the city. They were all small scale family farms of 1-2 acres. They produced enough fruit and veg for all the people in Paris, and they exported the surplus.
When America put sanctions on Cuba and all the energy, fertilisers etc stopped arriving; the people were going to starve. So they started growing food on every green space they could find, the whole country was involved, and it was so productive they could feed the whole population on healthy organic food (watch the documentary). It’s all about good management- forget profit margins, our planet is in need of care. Anastasia describes how people in the past took care of a little space each. If this is taken on board on bigger scale, together we can re-garden Earth.
Is this not going back in time? What about the luxuries we are so used to nowadays?
In this modern day of globalisation, we can eat anything from other countries, but now we have so much knowledge of technology. If every community built a mini Eden Project, we could grow anything! There is a guy growing oranges in Alaska using geo-thermal heat! They are apparently the tastiest oranges in North America! Forest gardening creates micro-climates and we can grow more diverse food. We only eat 200 varieties of edible plants; a very small range of food is presented to us in the supermarket. There are 30,000 edible plants available, and we need this varied diet for all micro-nutrients. So in fact growing your own can be more luxurious than globalisation!
To me, the Kin’s Domain ticks all the boxes- with this idea you are living where you work, growing healthy food, using less fossil fuels to transport food, restoring nature, restoring soil, reducing CO2 by planting trees, looking after bees! There is no technology that can do that the way nature can- nature has got it all! The Kin’s Domain idea has it all. We cannot take nature out of the equation any more.
The IPCC report recently says we have got a 12 year window to stop using fossil fuels, which is probably a conservative estimate. The damage we’ve set in motion will happen, but it will get far worse if we don’t stop. By building your own house, you can use whatever renewable energy you want, and use local products to build houses, such as straw-bale. We are not going backwards; most things we don’t have to give up- we can still have energy and technology and use the efficient things we’re used to. We can keep them and not trash the planet! Right now the biggest UK exports are beverages and meat- but we import meat from New Zealand! Fruit and veg are imported: we don’t have food security here.
The Kin’s Domain idea resonates with many people. There are 400 communities in Russia; those books inspired 1000s of people. The legislation in Russia has changed as a result of the books- they are now giving people hectare plots in certain regions. Imagine if we had that here! We must ask the question- who had the land in the first place? Land grabbing has been going on for hundreds of years. The land was for everybody once upon a time. It will come back to that; it’s time for a new plan for the nation. Our priorities must be food security and reducing carbon emissions.
What are your next steps?
I am open to doing something in the UK and helping a group begin here. I do keep one foot in Europe and see what’s going on there with regards to permaculture and eco-projects, and keep an eye on land prices. Every country needs to open up to this idea and every country needs to encourage this grassroots movement. I admire other organisations in the UK trying to change legislation and allow small-holdings. A lot is happening, I am very optimistic, the tide will turn. Anastasia’s vision is far-reaching and a good one!
Whatever groups are inspired to get back to the land are fantastic - permaculture groups, forest gardeners; the Kin’s Domain is another one of these ideas that inspires many. When others see it for themselves, they are inspired in return. Every country needs to move against big land-grabbing corporations. There is a movement away from England, and people who can’t do it in their own countries are going to other places to live on the land. Many are making it happen, and many more are feeling it intuitively. This direct connection with life is always there, and the Kin’s Domain idea, and other similar ideas, will inspire those who are not too overshadowed.
How has this idea affected you emotionally?
Anastasia describes her ancestors’ idea of a wedding (detailed in Book 8.2). It makes me cry, it’s so beautiful! The wedding rite IS creating the domain. The young couple spend months on the land perfecting their vision of the future domain. Before the wedding they visit their neighbours and friends and comment on the lovely things in their domains, and so the saplings or seeds of those complimented plants, or the offspring of admired animals, become wedding gifts. During the wedding celebration, the husband and wife to be describe exactly where they want to grow all the different plants and trees- directing the person holding that seed to the spot. Once every single guest is in the correct place, they plant the saplings or seeds they have brought with them. The whole domain is planted immediately. And then the community builds them the house! What an incredible start to give a young couple just starting out in life.
Everything in nature is simple. Humans complicate things! Everything functions with utmost simplicity and ease. It was never meant to be difficult, but natural and beautiful. We were never meant to be worrying about bills and things. If you plant a fruit tree it produces hundreds of fruits every year, and each fruit contains a seed- all those seeds are potential fruit trees. That’s how abundant Mother Nature is- it’s so easy! In this description of the ceremony, everyone has what they want and need. This wedding rite is magical- the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. The community is effortlessly giving a young couple a wonderful start in life. It is effortless for the guests too, and joyful! It sounds like a utopia, and it was!
Do you see this as the beginnings of creating a paradise on Earth?
It’s inevitable. Even Christians will tell you- the divine plan will work out in the end. In every ancient culture there are stories of a golden age that was once on Earth, and stories of how it will return again. The most important thing is that we have to start, we have to do what we can as individuals, as a group, as a grassroots community. Mother Earth needs us! This world has been taken over by greedy narcissists- but when we’ve chopped every tree down, then what?! They are not seeing it and do not think about their own children and grandchildren- it’s an illness.
There’s enough for everyone- it’s all been provided from the beginning. We can live peacefully with all our needs taken care of, and live a joyful life. Jesus says "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth". Ordinary people need to take over now and look after Earth – the people that deface Earth for profit can take their money and move to Mars- apparently it’s inhabitable!- everyone left behind will restore Earth to her pristine state!
* CIA Factbook says:
Total land in UK: 243,610 sq km
Agricultural land: 71.1%
= 172963.1 sq km
UK population: 65,105,246 United Kingdom (July 2018 est.)
so 172963.1 sq km / 65,105,246 (land divided by population)
= 0.002656669 sq km each
translated into acres: 0.65647720667699 of an acre (about a quarter of a hectare per person).
Again- this is PER PERSON - not per family, so between 4 people (a normal sized family) there is enough land for each family in the UK to have a Kin's Domain. This would call for a re-organisation of farmland of course and I cannot say how we'd do this- but just to know it is not impossible!
Worldwide the land to population ratio is even more- there is enough for one hectare per person.
Figures found: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/uk.html