“So what do you think Findhorn is really about? Why is it here?”
I turn towards the woman asking the question, and mumble through a few sentences before realizing that I didn’t really have an answer.
We are making sweet-pea flower bunches in Findhorn’s organic vegetable garden, Cullerne. Today is a harvest day and the rest of the staff, volunteers and guests are busy picking summer vegetables for the community kitchen, Phoenix shop and organic food box scheme.
I intend to be in Findhorn for one week. Now, five months later, I have taken on a seva (“service” ) position, and am a full-time gardener. I remember my first day, being dropped off at the foundation for my Experience Week – as if it was my first day at a new school. And all I wanted to do was cry.
Most people start off their journey at Findhorn on an experience week; a week long program used as an introduction to the community and its way of being. And so, with my nervousness, judgements, curiosity and newness, I was gently supported through a week of sharing, dancing, discovery games, meditation and working in the community’s kitchen.
By the end of the week I could have fit a hundred planets worth of love inside my heart. I was overflowing. And I spent hours fantasizing about and designing the property I’d build for myself, and the friends I’d fly out. After checking the prices, my double story cob house turned into the next best way of being there, booking myself onto the Living-in Community Guest programme.
The community is in the north of Scotland and was started by Eileen and Peter Caddy, and their work associate, Dorothy McLean. The abridged version of the story goes something like this: Eileen started receiving guidance from what she called her “still small voice within”. Peter was a man of action and readily put this guidance into practice. Dorothy connected with the nature spirits, and together, with no job and very little government support, they started growing world famous vegetables. 20kg cabbages and giant spinach. Eileen’s first little booklet (called God Spoke To Me) and the talk of enormous vegetables attracted people from all over the world, and from there, the community grew into what it is today.
And what a thriving community, with 150 people who are a part of the Foundation, and 450 people living in and around the wider community. Around 13000 guests per year, and almost 200 week long courses ranging from living-in community guest programmes, inner work, and eco-village design education training to non-violent communication, 5-rhythms dancing and astro-shamanism. Seminars include United Nations training programmes, Caroline Myss, Joanna Macey, and Nealle Donald Walsch…to name a few.
Findhorn is abundant with activities… all the time. From biodanza, chakra dance, Taize singing, journey workshops, trance dance, global change talks, meditations, story telling, study groups, festivals and celebrations – summer solstice and equinox, harvest festival and Samhain. So many things are possible, and people make them happen.
Their awareness of living sustainably has made them one of the leading eco-village education centres. Four windmills provide clean energy, as do numerous solar-panel systems. At the other end, by the caravan park, is what they call “the Living Machine” – a biological sewerage treatment plant. There are now 40 ecological buildings made from natural or recycled materials, and with the intention of being as energy efficient as possible. In the cul-de-sac near the forest stand three houses made from recycled whisky barrels. I am told that Findhorn’s next housing project will be built with a zero carbon emission policy.
So what exactly is Findhorn about? How does one begin to describe it? They call themselves a spiritual community, an education centre, and an eco-village. They talk about their willingness and commitment to listen; to oneself – ones inner guidance, to each other, and to the environment. They talk about work being love in action, and to love each moment, where you are, who you are with, and what you are doing.
The magic of Findhorn is the magic of being present. Of people coming together and saying yes. I experience this place as a mystery school. And in each moment I experience a chance to learn and grow. To observe myself. To see others as my mirror. To share. To connect deeply with other people. To listen. To be present. And to include. Findhorn is inclusive, not exclusive, and welcomes all belief systems.
Communities, I imagine, might experience many challenges with politics, conflict and differences in opinion, and findhorn is not without its faults. I did, however, see people in Findhorn with such a willingness to go beyond the ego, to look at ones own shadows and projections, and to own one’s experiences. To ask permission before offering reflections, criticism or advice. To listen deeply to the other and release blame.
Work departments have regular sharings, and each shift begins with a “tuning-in”, a round of names, jobs, and a short check-in – “how are we feeling today?” Through this I am able to connect more with people, judge less, and know if someone needs support or gentleness. People in Findhorn are encouraged to listen to their inner guidance, or intuition, through what they call the process of “attunement”. Nearly every significant decision is made in this way!
After this time in Findhorn (seven months in total), I feel changes in me. I experience so much more than is possible to put into words. I love more, fear less, risk more and care less what other people think. I am in complete awe of this infinite experience of life. This hugeness and human-ness. I feel a deeper love for the planet, and feel inspired to be a part of the change, to live my truth – and to live lightly on the earth.
Do I miss Findhorn? In some ways I feel like I carry her with me. A part of me feels the time I had there was the most beautiful dream that will never go away. I remember closing the garden in the evening by myself, running from tunnel to tunnel, and suddenly stopping and throwing my arms in the sky and feeling such an overwhelming rush of appreciation, and such a deep comfort and peace knowing that Findhorn exists.
Mama Findhorn, and all the beings seen and unseen that are a part of you… thank you.
The Findhorn Foundation is an international centre for holistic education, helping to unfold a new human consciousness and create a sustainable, positive future.
The Foundation was established in 1972 as an educational trust committed to teaching and demonstrating the essential truths inherent in all spiritual traditions. The pioneering work of its founders, Dorothy Maclean and Eileen and Peter Caddy, continues today in the Findhorn Foundation spiritual community and ecovillage, committed to the vision of a new culture that is inclusive and sustainable, and taking an active part within a widening network of like-minded organisations to create this change.