Findhorn Foundation » Findhorn Foundation spiritual community, education centre, ecovillage Fri, 19 Dec 2014 16:33:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Buried Alive! Tue, 09 Dec 2014 10:30:35 +0000 read more...)]]>

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

Nelson Mandela

In a great gift to myself during holiday time away from the Findhorn Foundation community, I signed up for a vision quest with two major objectives: to reconfirm my vows to Mother Earth and to confront my demons, facing my darkest fears.

Why, I wondered, had I recently suffered some severe asthma attacks, one of which scared me enough to visit a local Scottish hospital where I was put on a ventilator machine to assist my shallow, laboured breathing.

Rather than medicating the symptoms, I decided I needed to explore the underlying causes for my breathing challenges and a claustrophobia that had always made it uncomfortable to be in any confined space – even my snug-fitting sleeping bag!

Fish Hoek Beach

Fish Hoek Beach

I expected to examine these secret fears during the four days and nights of solo time in the wilderness that are at the heart of most modern 11-day vision quests. Instead, in what seemed like a flash of inspiration to me, it was suggested that before our departure from Cape Town for the mountains, I bury myself in the sand on the neighbouring Fish Hoek beach adjoining the home of facilitators Judy Bekker and Valerie Morris.

Other questers were invited to engage in individual tasks ranging from finding the fun again by playing games on the beach, creating an artwork from driftwood, shells or even litter, or perhaps climbing a tree in the local park to gain a different perspective on life.

Instead of a bit of childlike playfulness, my assignment triggered considerable anxiety and the clear realisation that I couldn't do this alone. I invited Simone Dale, a charismatic 34-year-old facilitator-in-training and leadership development coach, to help bury me and then hopefully assist in exhuming me from the Earth.

Digging my grave

Digging my grave

I felt rising panic as she packed the sand tightly around me, compressing it firmly enough to totally restrict movement of my limbs, while still allowing me space to take shallow breaths. Only my head projected from the sand and it was buffeted by a fresh wind that sent sand flying, clogging my ears and nostrils and getting into my mouth. Calling on my meditative experiences, I invited calm and the help of Mother Earth and the natural world to provide insights and possible solutions.

Simone was also reassuring: "I'll be nearby, if you need me." I'd shown her how my asthma pump worked and closed my eyes, handing over to a trust and faith that had deepened during my time at Findhorn.

Gradually a great peace spread over me, like a comforting blanket, and four significant childhood memories flooded my awareness.

My first asthma attacks had coincided with my time at nursery school in Durban when I was punished for being too talkative, the teacher taping my mouth over each morning and forcing me to sit still and watch while the other children played. It was cruel and excruciating.

geoffselfiewebThen there were three potentially life-threatening incidents in water. In one, my delight at grabbing at an octopus in the shallows turned to fear when it wrapped tentacles tightly around my arm and retreated deeper into a rocky lair. Moments after calling out to my Dad that I'd caught an octopus, I realised to my horror that the reverse was true and I couldn't prise myself free.

Perhaps more scary was the time I stepped onto a slick, muddy surface, not realising that a river flowed beneath it. I immediately sank and was sucked relentlessly towards and through a pipe that channelled the flow beneath a road bridge. Powerless to resist, I found myself being suctioned through a dark world devoid of any airspace.

But more was to come. On another occasion I was in the surf and was pulled relentlessly down and out to sea by a treacherous current. I kicked and clawed desperately for the surface, but to no avail, until a great peace began to overtake me. The transition from panic to peace was a totally beautiful otherworldly experience. I was drowning but why had I imagined this would be something terrifying?

Once again my Dad the Hero came to the rescue and strong hands lifted me from the ocean, coughing and spluttering while lamenting my departure from that magnificent place of love and peace. I'd liked it there!

With Simone and ready to be set free

With Simone and ready to be set free

Fast-forward to Cape Town a few days ago and I became aware that I was indeed one with the Earth and all life, feeling calm and connected while noticing a pulsing and a series of contractions through my body. It reminded me of a loving massage and I decided the slow, steady rhythm was the heartbeat of Mother Earth herself. What a blessing!

All fears around my predicament had evaporated and I decided that if ever I was in a place of terror and confinement again, or perhaps facing the ultimate transition from this life to the next, I had only to remember that near-drowning experience and the wonderful peace that had enveloped me then.

Nature had worked her magic – I felt refreshingly light and bright as a smile tugged at my lips and I cheerfully called out to Simone: "I'm done! Can you please help me out of here."


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Rewilding Scotland and Welcoming Predators Mon, 10 Nov 2014 11:37:38 +0000 read more...)]]>

What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another

Mahatma Gandhi

A rewilded Scotland — from restored forests to the return of predators such as the lynx and wolf — is the vision of acclaimed writer George Monbiot and award-winning conservationist Alan Watson Featherstone of Trees for Life.

Their shared dream was presented recently at the University of Edinburgh as part of a Rewilding the World event, which echoes the theme of WILD10, the 10th World Wilderness Congress held in Spain last year.


The wolf is the most demonised of creatures but has a vital role to play

With enthusiasm for the large-scale restoration of damaged natural ecosystems spreading quickly in the UK, the event highlighted the significant benefits that this could bring to Scotland, together with a discussion on its global and ethical implications.

George Monbiot said: "Rewilding offers us a big chance to reverse destruction of the natural world. Letting trees return to bare and barren uplands, allowing the seabed to recover from trawling, and bringing back missing species would help hundreds of species that might otherwise struggle to survive — while rekindling wonder and enchantment that often seems missing in modern-day Britain."

Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life's Executive Director, said: "Rewilding offers an exciting vision of hope, through the positive and practical work of renewing and revitalising ecosystems. In the Highlands we have the opportunity to reverse environmental degradation and create a spectacular, world-class wilderness region — offering a lifeline to wildlife including beavers, capercaillie, wood ants and pine martens, and restoring natural forests and wild spaces for our children and grandchildren to enjoy."

The latest thinking on rewilding — including recent and remarkable scientific discoveries — has been captured in George Monbiot's acclaimed book, Feral, that lays out a positive environmental approach in which Nature is allowed to find its own way.

Peter Cairns' remarkable photograph captures the majesty of the sea eagle

Peter Cairns’ remarkable photograph captures the majesty of the sea eagle

Today few areas of the world are truly wild and Scotland is no exception. Long-term deforestation and overgrazing by too many deer and sheep has left the land depleted and barren, with much wildlife in retreat or missing altogether. The Caledonian Forest — Scotland's equivalent of a rainforest — is now one of the UK's most endangered habitats, with many of its rare species in danger of extinction.

Yet action across Scotland in recent years has offered signs of what could be achieved by restoring natural processes and protecting wilderness areas, and by reducing human interference in ecosystems.

In the Highlands considerable efforts to restore and expand native forests have led to the establishment of a new generation of trees — and their associated plants, insects and other wildlife — at many sites. High-profile successes include the re-establishment of healthy populations of birds of prey such as the sea eagle, osprey and red kite, and the trial reintroduction of European beavers at Knapdale in Argyll.

Rewilding is seeing the return of the beaver to Britain Photograph Laurie Campbell

Rewilding is seeing the return of the beaver to Britain Photograph Laurie Campbell

George Monbiot and Alan Watson Featherstone argue that far more needs to be done and outline how a more ambitious approach could bring wide-ranging benefits to wildlife and people, while putting Scotland on the map as a wildlife tourism global hotspot.

Scotland is also ideally placed to be a world leader in an international drive to slow, halt and reverse global forest loss. In a major announcement at the UN Climate Summit in September, world leaders, companies and campaigners pledged in the New York Declaration of Forests to restore 150 million hectares of degraded landscapes and forests by 2020 and end deforestation by 2030.

Future rewilding could involve the reinstatement of missing species, including apex predators such as the Eurasian lynx and even the wolf, both of which play a crucial top-down regulatory role in ecosystems.

While the reintroduction of predators is often proposed as a means of reducing excessive numbers of red deer in the Highlands, its main impact would likely be in disturbing deer populations, causing these animals to move more frequently so that their grazing is less concentrated in specific areas.

The lynx — already reintroduced to areas of Europe such as the Alps and Jura mountains — offers little threat to sheep, with no record of the animals ever attacking humans. It is a specialist predator of roe deer, a species which has multiplied in Britain in recent years and which holds back the natural regeneration of trees through intensive browsing.

The reintroduction of the lynx would help bring ecosystems into balance Photograph Peter Cairns

The reintroduction of the lynx would help bring ecosystems into balance Photograph Peter Cairns

While there would be many benefits resulting from reintroduction of the wolf, realistically this is a longer-term project because of its fierce reputation and the social and economic issues it poses. The reality is that it is a shy, intelligent and elusive creature that avoids contact with humans.

Leading volunteering conservation charity Trees for Life is restoring Scotland's ancient Caledonian Forest, and has pledged to establish one million more trees by planting and natural regeneration by 2018. To mark its 25th anniversary this year, it is offering expanded opportunities for volunteers to support its work and gain conservation experience.

George Monbiot — well known author and columnist for The Guardian who has praised the pioneering rewilding role of Trees for Life – is currently setting up an organisation to catalyse the rewilding of land and sea across Britain.

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Wild! Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:50:52 +0000 read more...)]]>

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver, poet

Wild … it is arguably my favourite word and it is both a delicious state of being and an enticing place.

GeoffPilgrimage297I love the way it rolls off the tongue, almost like a caress … or reverberates when I shout it, echoing off the walls of canyons or competing with the roar of the surf. It is a word and concept I thought about a lot as I walked thousands of kilometres with messages about treading more lightly and lovingly upon the Earth.

According to my dictionary, wild can mean uncultivated, uninhabited, inhospitable; primitive or not civilised; lacking discipline or restraint; or it can imply a state of excitement and enthusiasm. It draws me, like a moth to a flame, and friends joke that I’m in danger of going completely feral and heading into the wild, perhaps never to return to so-called civilisation. What a happy thought!

The word also increasingly finds itself in the titles of books, movies and organisations that inspire me. Into the Wild is a book and film that haunts me as it retraces the steps of Christopher McCandless, an idealistic young man who went in search of himself, braving the Alaskan wilderness on his own and eventually dying an excruciatingly painful death. But not before living his dream and being gifted with many valuable insights.

“If you want something in life, reach out and grab it,” he recommended. And he certainly did that, displaying a curiosity and fearlessness I admire.

Oscar Wilde famously declared: “Any map without Utopia on it isn’t worth looking at.” I guess Christopher McCandless had found his Utopia, although he might have figured a way out of his predicament and survived had he not thrown his maps away.

GeoffPilgrimage296Two years ago I had a similarly strong urge to walk into my own wild, something that I did on California’s Lost Coast when I defied repeated warnings about the danger of bears, mountain lions, rattlesnakes and even murderous cannabis farmers. Instead I enjoyed the loving embrace of wildness and wilderness, finding peace and solace away from humans. I celebrated aloneness without experiencing loneliness.

Last year was another wild feast as I walked as an ambassador for WILD10, the 10th World Wilderness Congress, my 124-day, 1,500 mile pilgrimage serving as both a marketing tool and a spiritual quest. Sometimes I felt that I was a wolf – hunted, persecuted, demonised and revered by some – as I attempted to follow in their tracks, marvelling at their resilience and resourcefulness. Against all odds, they’re staging a remarkable comeback in parts of Europe. As farmers and rural villagers migrate to the cities, wildlife is returning to make the world a wilder place again.

While I’ve sometimes struggled to find a balance between nature connection and connecting to the virtual world, in my wanderings I’ve come to appreciate that there is space enough for both. I need technology to spread messages about the magnificence of Pachamama, our Earth Mother and source of all sustenance. After walking for a year without books, because of their punishing weight, I invested in a Kindle and now carry a library of treasured electronic books, among them Shadow Mountain: A Memoir of Wolves, a Woman and the Wild, by Renee Askins. She famously helped reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone National Park.

“Something mysterious happens when we look into the eyes of an animal, whether it be a panther or a poodle,” she writes. “We see something familiar looking back. Ourselves? Yes, but we also see an ‘other’. We see something that is in us and yet without us, something we recognise and yet is unfamiliar, something we fear but for which we long. We see the wild.”

GeoffPilgrimage295At a time when our relationship with nature is sadly diminished, we still turn to animals as a conduit to healing, she says. “And through our animals – those of our childhood, those in our homes, and those in the wild – we can begin to find our way back to being whole.”

This week I escaped into the pages of Wild, an autobiographical story of courage and redemption, as 26-year-old Cheryl Strayed walks the gruelling Pacific Crest Trail along the mountain spine of California and Oregon, ultimately meeting herself along the way. I identified with every painful step and recognised the kinship we develop with our backpack – even a punishingly overweight one nicknamed Monster.

Wild is due for release at the end of the year as a movie starring Reese Witherspoon (refreshingly sans makeup) and promises to be a hit if it is half as entertaining as the book.

After months of being based in one place, much of it parked in front of a computer screen, my longing for wildness is again stirring strongly, even though I begin every morning with a generous helping of nature on my solo sunrise walks through the nearby woods to the beach. My bare footprints are invariably the first in the freshly washed sand; my soul washed clean by the walk.

We all need wilderness and wildness in our lives, especially as so many of us are suffering what author Richard Louv has termed Nature Deficit Disorder. He wrote Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle, another favourite on my Kindle that has deepened my understanding of the healing powers of nature.

Soon I’ll again be in the wild, camping with close friends among the legendary black-maned lions of the Kalahari within the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park that straddles a remote corner of South Africa and Botswana.

GeoffPilgrimage298It promises to be a pilgrimage into the wilderness of my own soul and a place where I can again look deep into the eyes of one of Africa’s most feared and admired predators, perhaps waking with a hammering heart to a roar outside my tent.

And to make the wild feast complete, I plan to follow up with an 11-day Vision Quest that will include solo wild time without food or formal shelter, where I can reconfirm my vows to the Earth and all its beings.

From a very young age I believed it was my role to serve the natural world, although I no longer arrogantly believe that it is my duty to save it, sharing the inspiring sentiments of South African author, poet, psychiatrist and wilderness guide Ian McCallum, who I finally met last year during the World Wilderness Congress in Spain.

He insists: “We have to stop speaking about the Earth being in need of healing. The Earth does not need healing. We do. Our task is to rediscover ourselves in nature. It is an individual choice. And how or where do we begin? We begin exactly where we are right now, when we look at the world as a mirror, when we discover that our sense of freedom and authenticity is linked to the well-being and authenticity of others – and that includes the animals, the trees and the land.”

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Recapturing the Magic of Findhorn Mon, 13 Oct 2014 09:16:33 +0000 read more...)]]>

Home is always
by another way
and you will know it
not by the light
that waits for you

but by the star
that blazes inside you
telling you
where you are
is holy
and you are welcome

Jan Richardson, artist, writer and ordained minister
(from her poem By Another Way)


Shoshana Alexander and her son Elias outside the Universal Hall

Passion, patience and persistence finally paid off for American artist Shoshana Alexander when she fulfilled a dream and performed in the Universal Hall – just as co-founder Peter Caddy reassured her that she would 40 years earlier.

On 17 September she and her talented multi-instrumentalist son Elias Alexander captured the hearts of young and old alike as they presented a deeply moving performance entitled Into the Mystic – Answering the Call that Is Your Own. Both were responding to an inner call to present their unique marriage of poetry and music to the spiritual community that has so inspired them.

“Once I said yes to the call to offer this performance piece here with Elias, things unfolded in a way that felt beyond me, though it was of course with help and support of others,” she said. “It felt so natural and was such fun to be here.”

Four decades earlier she had been in the human chain passing bricks during the building of the Hall. At that time she was part of the Performing Arts group, but because everyone in the group had to have a ‘real’ job in the community, as a writer and editor she had also been put into the Publications department. When visionary activist Paul Hawken arrived in the community to write The Magic of Findhorn*, she became his reader, editor and community consultant.


Flashback to the early days ... building the Hall in the 1970s

The book was a huge success and prompted many to make the pilgrimage to this fledgling community in the north of Scotland.

The next year the Findhorn Foundation received a contract from Paul’s New York publisher to do a book by the community. “When Peter asked me to take on creating that book and focalising the production team, it was an honour and clearly an ‘assignment’ – but it meant giving up Performing Arts, my soul’s love. There was no time to do both.”

She walked along Findhorn Bay every day for a fortnight, thinking and praying before finally surrendering to that call. Peter assured her that she could one day return to perform in the Hall, which was intended as a centre for performances created in the community to carry that vision and light into the world.

While she had to put her love of performing on hold, the decision later launched her career as an author and book consultant back home in the United States.

She recalls that in envisioning The Findhorn Garden**, she knew there had to be a chapter on Eileen and her own story. This quite surprised Peter. “Eileen! Why, she receives the guidance from God. That’s her role here. Why would there be a story about her?”


Shoshana and Elias fulfilling a dream and performing in the Hall

“I went ahead and interviewed Eileen and shaped it into a first person story for the book. When I read it to her, on that front porch of their bungalow, she broke into tears. ‘No one has ever seen me as a person in all of this,’ she said. Eileen finally had a voice of her own.”

In recent weeks Shoshana participated in the European Peace Walk from Vienna in Austria to Trieste in Italy, commemorating a new era of peace in Europe, after the two world wars, the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and the expansion of the European Union. “Everyone along the way told us stories of being impacted by war in some way. And now here we were, walking freely through Iron Curtain borders, past defunct and rusting border posts. We were witnesses to war and peace.”

That pilgrimage, as a metaphor for the life journey, framed the evening in the Hall that showcased the sensitive and haunting music of Elias, who sang and played five different instruments, while his mother breathed her magic into the poetry of Rumi, Kabir, Hafiz, Rilke, Mirabai, James Dickey, Mary Oliver and others.

Five years earlier I’d been hugely impressed by Elias as a young bagpipe-playing participant in a month-long Applied Ecovillage Living course that was life-changing for so many of us.


Elias accompanied his mother on five different instruments

Meeting him again I was touched by his maturity and how he is now using music as a catalyst to heal hurts, bridge divides and create a beautiful and more peaceful world.

Both mother and son were energised and exhilarated to be back.

She says: “It feels as if the energy of the early 1970s, that was like a vertical stream of power, is still here but is now manifesting horizontally, blossoming as this expanding environmental and embodied spirituality that begins to look like the vision Eileen knew would come to be.

“Following the call to create The Findhorn Garden book, which has sold hundreds of thousands of copies for the community, helped me fulfil a little service for the planet. Offering the poetry concert in the Hall with my son is now the completion of a major circle of transformation and a coming home ‘by another way’.”

Geoff Dalglish

* Find The Magic of Findhorn at amazon-co-uk

** Find The Findhorn Garden at amazon-co-uk

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A New Story is happening… Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:41:03 +0000 read more...)]]> Two years in the making … two years of preparation … two years to turn an idea into a reality!

Two years ago, during our 50th birthday year, some of the Findhorn Fellows who were here celebrating with us birthed the idea of what has become the New Story Summit. Since then a small dedicated team formed it into an event of worldwide proportions, with 335 participants from all continents responding to the call to gather at Findhorn to tell a new story for humanity.

Not so much an event, however, but more the first step of a movement. Stories unfold, and this story may well continue to unfold long after the summit itself has past. Want to know more? You can read more about it here, and sign up to participate in our live streaming (which is also recorded for later on-demand viewing) here.


We are all moving. Findhorn Fellow and long-term peace and environment activist Satish Kumar spoke of this during a talk he gave to the Community on Sunday afternoon. Satish, who as a young man famously walked from India to the nuclear capitals of Moscow, Paris, London and Washington on a pilgrimage of peace, sees the new story for humanity through the eyes of a pilgrim. We may call it part of a new story but in fact pilgrimage is timeless, and Satish reminded us to maintain the heart of a pilgrim – free of burdens and expectations and instead filled with trust – as we move into the new story for humanity.

This message resonated very strongly with film maker and Findhorn supporter Markus Werner, who recognises that he is on his own pilgrimage. A few years ago Markus made a film about the Findhorn Foundation, Follow The Rainbow To Findhorn, and in the spirit of the whole New Story Summit gift economy, he is willing to make it available not for sale, but as a gift during the summit. Click here for more information or to order your copy.

Where will your rainbow lead you?

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Inspired by Nature Mon, 22 Sep 2014 15:49:57 +0000 read more...)]]>

The truth is, natural organisms have managed to do everything we want to do without guzzling fossil fuels, polluting the planet or mortgaging the future

Janine Benyus, biomimicry author

A Moray-based water restoration and treatment company is harnessing the genius and timeless wisdom of nature to bring new life to rivers, lakes and canals while enhancing biodiversity and revitalising wildlife habitats.

Before and after photographs provide dramatic evidence of what Biomatrix Water is achieving around the world with a combination of cutting-edge technology and the miraculous healing powers of nature. Degraded, polluted or sterile waterscapes are transformed into havens of beauty and vibrancy — and in a surprisingly short space of time.

Galen Fulford (far right) in The Living Machine with the team from Springfield Properties

Galen Fulford (far right) in The Living Machine with the team from Springfield Properties

"The processes of the systems we use are based on co-creation with nature — a founding principle of the Findhorn Foundation community", according to managing partner Galen Fulford.

The award-winning Findhorn and Forres-based company, which has been involved since the early 1990s in the design and development of a pioneering ecological wastewater treatment system in The Park known as The Living Machine, is now exporting its vision and technology worldwide, while drawing strongly on local experience and expertise.

At a time when water security is becoming a global concern, the company is offering solutions and systems that are designed and engineered to be sustainable and cost effective.

"In a world of seemingly infinite urbanisation and expanding intensive agriculture, we believe that the future of development is to design and engineer systems and infrastructure to be sustainable and resilient.

The scene of extreme pollution that confronted Biomatrix Water in the Philippines

The scene of extreme pollution that confronted Biomatrix Water in the Philippines

And how it looked after Floating Ecosystems were used in co-operation with the healing powers of nature

And how it looked after Floating Ecosystems were used in co-operation with the healing powers of nature

"Current standard approaches to centralised urban wastewater treatment are highly energy intensive, and all over the world we see water quality and habitat being compromised due to insensitively designed hard-edged urban waterways.

"Biomatrix believes in the power of nature. Our products prove that with the wise use of durable modern materials, and some innovative design engineering based on biomimicry processes, there are effective, sustainable and even lower-cost alternatives to these outdated approaches to water management."

Specialties include the creation of Floating Ecosystems, comprising islands or edges to waterways that serve as platforms where nature can weave its magic and bring systems into balance by tackling pollution, algae and the breakdown of sewage.

Examples include stark concrete-walled canals in places as diverse as central London and Manila in the Philippines that have been transformed into appealing river-like waterways supporting a diversity of birds, insects and aquatic life.

"Our Floating Ecosystems provide rich riparian habitat for lakes, canals and rivers," he says. "They facilitate the natural processes and ecology of the river to rebalance itself, leaving waterways revitalised and flourishing."

Lisa Shaw takes a water sample for on-the-spot analysis

Lisa Shaw takes a water sample for on-the-spot analysis

Galen sees the latest approach to waterway restoration and ecological wastewater treatment as an important new story for humanity, with projects already designed or installed in the UK, USA, Philippines, India and China. The team are currently working with the United Nations, the Highlands and Islands Enterprise branch of the Scottish Government, Scottish Water, SEPA, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, and Springfield Properties, a leading Scottish development company, on the delivery of future projects.

The Helix Flow Reactor is a contemporary wastewater treatment system inspired by the technology of The Living Machine and halves the embodied energy and carbon footprint of conventional water treatment works.

"Biomatrix has established itself as a business where the two worlds of technical engineering and ecological approaches converge. It is this potent integration of innovative ecologically-centred thinking and practical implementation that we believe is the new story for global water management.

"For a new story to emerge we need to work with the existing structures, introducing them to a new vision for water management, in order to affect deeper systemic change to infrastructures in the long-term."

Swans at Brayford Pool

Swans at Brayford Pool

He describes Biomatrix Water as a Findhorn wider community company that is working throughout the world to provide products and services to meet the growing demand for innovative ecological solutions to global water challenges. "But just because we are doing business internationally doesn’t mean that we’ve forgotten our roots! After all, the processes of the systems we use are based on the Findhorn Foundation community's founding principle of co-creating with nature."

Some key members of the team live in eco homes within the Findhorn Ecovillage and are also involved in teaching modules of the annual Findhorn College Design for Sustainability programme.

"We feel that the work we are doing from our base here in Findhorn and Forres not only raises the profile and awareness of ecological and sustainable approaches and solutions in Moray, but that this also ripples through Scotland and out into the rest of the world."

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Reconnecting with Nature and the History of Co-creation Mon, 15 Sep 2014 11:03:06 +0000 read more...)]]>

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better

Albert Einstein, physicist

The legacy of sole surviving co-founder Dorothy Maclean, who famously connected with the overlighting intelligence of nature to co-create our renowned Original Garden, is finding fresh expression within the community.

Dorothy Maclean with Lesley Downie (left) and Susanne Andrés (behind)

Dorothy Maclean with Lesley Downie (left) and Susanne Andrés (behind)

In recent months Lesley Downie has led a group of community members in tapping into that divine source of wisdom to find empathetic ways of co-habiting with wildlife and especially a small local population of deer.

"This spring I had a strong impulse to plant and grow wild flowers from seed for the deer, bees and butterflies," she says. "I had no clear plan, just to follow the guidance that came. By August there were 1,000 plants and somehow with volunteers and group projects most of them are now planted."

The deer have been feasting on vegetable gardens within The Park and have also raised fears among some community members about the threat of Lyme Disease, which is carried by ticks that attach themselves to warm-blooded animals, including humans.

Instead of fencing the deer out of The Park, Lesley is promoting the idea of rewilding areas to welcome wild nature into our midst, to create deer-friendly perimeters to our gardens and meadow areas where alternate sources of food are planted to entice the animals away from vegetable gardens.

Roe Deer In Scotland

Roe Deer In Scotland

"Each one of us needs to make our own heart connection with the deer in relation to the land we tend, and to let them know where it is okay for them to eat and what is specifically for humans."

Areas are being rewilded to cater for the deer, bees and butterflies. An added benefit is that some of the edible wild plants may boost the immunity of the deer to ticks and other parasites.

"I see rewilding and co-creation as essential parts of a regenerative new story for the community and for the Earth," she says. "At the core of this new story is respect for the wellbeing of all life.

"As individuals, this means listening to our own body wisdom and finding a healthy balance between rest, play, work and deeply connecting to nature. For humanity it means stepping back from the need to control and dominate, becoming responsible stewards for the Earth, and restoring habitats through the natural balance of native species.

Rewilding and co-creation are about living from the heart, letting love for nature lead, and trusting the great Universal Intelligence, the mystery of the vast cosmic story.

Lesley admits to a lifelong love affair with the natural world and says: "As a baby lying outside in my pram I bonded with nature more than with my mother. As a child I tried to rescue drowning insects, wanted to learn about flowers and trees, and kept a zoo of mini-beasts in my bedroom. Later this led me into studying botany and zoology, marrying a zoologist and taking part in expeditions to study tropical frogs, arctic terns and puffins."

The pioneering work of Rupert Sheldrake on telepathic awareness in animals was pivotal to her growing spiritual understandings and her own inner knowing received further affirmations when she read The Secret Life of Your Cells by Cleve Backster and Messages from Water by Masaru Emoto.

"My nature connection deepened through gardening, foraging, communicating with my house plants and caring for rescued hedgehogs and other creatures. Then I came to the Findhorn Foundation for the first time in 2004 …"

Areas are being rewilded to cater for the deer, bees and butterflies

Areas are being rewilded to cater for the deer, bees and butterflies

She was profoundly moved by Dorothy's history of co-creation and says: "It was one reason I kept coming back. I found her work inspiring and affirming. I worked mostly in the gardens, and held responsibility for the Original Garden for four years, where I practised with Dorothy's tools of co-creation, spiritual attunement, appreciation, heart connection and deep listening."

Another inspiration has been time spent with South African animal whisperer Anna Breytenbach, whose documentary film The Animal Communicator was previewed in the Universal Hall, and has since gone viral with an excerpt about a black leopard enjoying around 1.8 million viewings. She'll be back in April next year with American master tracker Jon Young, to co-present a workshop on intuitive tracking and interspecies communications — watch our website for details as bookings will open soon.

Examining the question of fences, Anna says: "The deer want no fences whatsoever. They want to feel welcome. They want — and deserve — the area's bounty to be shared with them. And the community owes it to co-founders Peter, Eileen, Dorothy and God to live by their founding principles."

Singing a song in the Original Garden in support of the deer

Singing a song in the Original Garden in support of the deer

Remembering how it all started, Dorothy recalls: "One day I was doing a meditation when God told me I had a job to attune to nature. I chose a vegetable we were growing — the garden pea – and I tried to attune to its essence more specifically."

She received an immediate response and began an enduring communication.

"I think in that very first message it was what nature is still trying to tell us humans — that we are all great beings of light and we can work with them, attune with all life."

She realised that the intelligent energy she was attuning to was not from one pea plant. "It was the soul level of all peas on Earth — the soul of the pea kingdom — and that as such it was a planetary being. I was communicating with an intelligence that was aware all over the Earth at one and the same time."

Today Dorothy is in her 95th year and remains a great source of inspiration to all who come in contact with her and her amazing legacy. "The secret is to love and to love more," she says.

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Making sure the Earth is our Business Tue, 02 Sep 2014 15:12:53 +0000 read more...)]]> Excitement is mounting with New Story Summit: Inspiring Pathways for Our Planetary Future looming large on the horizon of so many people seeking positive and far-reaching change.

The Findhorn Foundation event is being hosted at The Park between 27 September and 3 October and although it is fully booked with a long waiting list, the New Story Hub website is a fledgling resource centre that offers other ways to participate. Individuals can also participate in the event online through our web streaming service.

Satish Kumar

Satish Kumar

Among those participating is Satish Kumar, a former monk and long-time peace and environment activist, who says: “The old story was sort of a fragmentation. The new story is the story of wholeness and relatedness; we are all connected … our personal wellbeing is dependent on the wellbeing of other people and nature. Taking care of nature, taking care of the soul and taking care of the people – soil, soul, society – is a continuum.”

He adds: “When we are in nature we are nourished and when we are kind to other people we are happy – this is the new story.”

To be surrounded by like-minds who speak from the heart, creates a space for the realm of potential to open up.

The theme of living in harmony with the Earth resonates strongly with
Polly Higgins, a British barrister and award-winning author of Eradicating Ecocide and Earth is our Business, who insists: “The New Story Summit is a different kind of conversation – it’s emergent, from a place of trust and care. To be surrounded by like-minds who speak from the heart, creates a space for the realm of potential to open up.

“Like a soup, we get to choose the most delicious of ingredients and flavours to cook up a magnificent New Story of our times.”

Polly Higgins

Polly Higgins

She is a voice for the Earth and advocates a law of Ecocide, and has defined it as the extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been or will be severely diminished.

“To ensure ecological justice is to ensure that ecosystems remain intact and functioning,” she explains. “When ecosystems malfunction we have system breakdown and ecocide which in turn leads to resource depletion, and then to conflict and ultimately war.

“Our human right to life is placed at risk when damage, destruction or loss of ecosystems occurs. Moreover the Earth’s right to life is placed in jeopardy. It may be that the risk to life is not immediately apparent, in so far as people are not exhibiting injury or pain, however the injury to the inhabitants of a given territory can manifest later or in territories elsewhere.

“Thus, a belching powerplant may cause injury to as yet unborn children… Ecocide can be a crime against the right to life of not only current beings, but also unknown and future generations. Morally we have no choice if we are to uphold the right to life – of both human and non-human beings – for future generations.

The Law of Ecocide provides a framework for intervention to stop dangerous industrial activity that causes significant harm, to disrupt ‘business as usual’, to act as a bridge to the green economy and to put in place a legal duty of care.

Along with the objective to end ecocide by 2020, she says: “I’ve set myself a goal – to dare to be great. For me that means 100% in service to something greater than the self. I believe we all have the capacity for greatness within us – all that is required is to set the intent. The challenges that daring to be great brings are the challenges that empower us to step up and speak out.

“Just imagine the world we will be in when many of us dare to be great.”

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Facing up to Death and Dying Wed, 13 Aug 2014 12:41:07 +0000 read more...)]]>

For me death is a graduation … I've told my children that when I die, to release balloons in the sky to celebrate that I graduated.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, author of On Death and Dying.

The invitation to 'pay now, die later' caused considerable amusement within the Findhorn Ecovillage community achieving the twin goals of creating awareness for the concept of Earth-friendly green burials and encouraging people to consciously consider how they wish to depart this life.


Kinship with nature and all life is a theme of the Earth-friendly burials

Traditionally many in the Western world fearfully avoid the topic of death, perhaps resonating with the quip by comedian Woody Allen: "I am not afraid of death, I just don't want to be there when it happens."

But with the refreshingly light-hearted 'Die Later' leaflet circulated by funeral coordinator and interfaith minister Will Russell, several long-serving Findhorn community members have now chosen the local Wilkies Wood Green Burial site as the final resting place for their mortal remains, saving their family from having to make difficult or painful choices after their passing.

Wilkies Wood is managed by the Findhorn Hinterland Group, a local community group involved in conservation and educational work on the Findhorn peninsula that includes transforming a section of a 30-acre plantation adjoining the Ecovillage into a tranquil and welcoming woodlands space for people and wildlife. In contrast with the scene of devastation a decade ago when many trees toppled during a severe storm, it has become a peaceful place that is progressively being replanted with indigenous pine and broadleaf trees.

Eco Coffin

Recycling extends to a simple coffin sourced from packing boxes for solar panels

Already more than a dozen much-loved locals have been consigned to the Earth in simple and moving ceremonies, their remains transported by a horse-drawn cart or guided by a procession of pallbearers. Only cloth shrouds or biodegradable coffins fashioned from recycled wood have been used, and there are no headstones or plaques to identify each lair, although their positions are faithfully recorded on a site map.

And, with the planting of an indigenous tree over or alongside every second or third grave in time there'll be a healthy forest as a haven for wildlife and a fitting memorial for the departed.

"Green burials are a way of returning to nature without any visible signs, leaving a lighter footprint after we're gone," Will explains, emphasising that it can be a simple and beautiful ceremony in which many in the community can play a role from making and adorning the coffin to singing songs, playing music or simply joining in the honouring of a loved one's farewell.

Eileen Caddy

Jonathan Caddy (kneeling) and his son Jason (with spade) plant an oak tree in memory of Eileen Caddy

He paid tribute to the role of Jonathan Caddy, son of community co-founders Peter and Eileen Caddy, as the driving force behind the creation of what is one of only two green burial sites in the Moray region of Scotland.

The death of his mother Eileen in 2006 spotlighted the need for a more caring and Earth-friendly way for local community members to exit the material world, he said.

Jonathan recalls: "Mum had wanted a green burial and a celebration in the Universal Hall that was joyous and colourful, but was later convinced that a cremation was better. So instead of being wheeled from her Cornerstone home in The Park to where everybody in the community could be involved, we had to go to Inverness and it was a bit disjointed."

His dream of a nearby green burial ground was finally manifested and consecrated the following year and is evolving into a nature reserve that will be enjoyed by future generations.


The final journey from the Ripley’s community home to the green burial ground

"It is part of the community coming of age and caring for the full cycle from birth to death, and everything in between. It is also a local resource and not just for the Findhorn Foundation," he says, adding that costs were pegged at a level identical to that offered by the local authorities. "This makes it an income generator to allow good custodianship of the land on the peninsula with the space making people more aware of the fellow creatures that live on the land with us."

Although Eileen Caddy would have preferred a green burial her wish not to have a traditional grave memorialising her was honoured — instead a tree was planted, and her ashes sprinkled, not far from where Peter Caddy has an older and more established tree as a discreet tribute — he died some years earlier in Germany in 1994.

Jonathan and his partner Alison Hunter have chosen lairs in the green site, and he says

For me it is about being consciously part of things and helping create a space for people to enjoy in the future.

His friend John Willoner has attended a number of green burials and he and his partner Sylvia Black have booked a double lair. "I like the beauty and simplicity of the whole process. We come from the Earth and in a green burial we are returned to it."

Nature Spirit

Frances Ripley’s famous nature spirit artworks adorn the simple coffin

Recently I attended my first local service for popular community member Frances Ripley, who was renowned for her superb illustrations of nature spirits.

The theme of Earth-friendly recycling extended to the simple wooden coffin built from packing boxes used for transporting solar panels, and was then carried on a trolley guided by close friends and family.

Standing at the graveside I was touched by the music and stories of appreciation, recognising that this is a dignified, practical and meaningful way to complete the cycle of life on a planet populated by 7.2-billion people, many of whom are buried in unsustainable and often ugly land-hungry cemeteries that become neglected and fall into disrepair. Better by far to create spaces that nurture the living within the loving embrace of nature.

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Creating New Stories for Findhorn Thu, 07 Aug 2014 14:01:05 +0000 read more...)]]>

To be a person is to have a story to tell. – Isak Dinesen, author

Two major overlapping events happening in the heart of Moray in September will focus a spotlight on arts, culture, creativity and the emergence of an inspiring new story for humanity.

Songstress and harpist Iona Leigh is a local favourite

Songstress and harpist Iona Leigh is a local favourite

The Findhorn Bay Arts Festival between 24 and 28 September will be a five-day local celebration showcasing artists of national and international renown — and as part of Homecoming Scotland 2014 the festival will bring the story of Macbeth home to the province of Moray through a series of talks, tours and performances exploring both the life of the real King of Scotland and Shakespeare's dark and tortured character.

Macbeth the Remix is a unique one-hour modern interpretation of the classic Shakespearean tale of ambition and treachery, set against the backdrop of Brodie Castle. It'll deploy stunning video projections, fire sculptures, live action and music to dramatic effect, while benefitting from an enthusiastic community involvement ranging from pipers to martial artists. It'll be staged on three successive nights at Brodie between Friday 26 September and Sunday 28 September.

Sunset over Findhorn Bay through the lens of Ian Cameron

Sunset over Findhorn Bay through the lens of Ian Cameron

Festival director Kresanna Aigner says that Scotland's newest arts festival aims to attract a wide audience from the local environs and further afield, bringing home many renowned artists whose lives and careers have been touched by Moray, and in particular the Findhorn Bay area.

"It's a festival with people and place at its heart, drawing inspiration from and celebrating the many traditions that still shape the lives of our coastal communities."

Shifting to a more outward focus, New Story Summit: Inspiring Pathways for our Planetary Future, is a global gathering hosted by the Findhorn Foundation between 27 September and 3 October that aspires to weave together threads of possibility to create an inspiring new story for us all.

Within weeks of it being announced the Summit gathering was fully subscribed with more than 300 people — among them young visionary thinkers and indigenous elders — committing to be in the Moray area for this historic global gathering, while others around the world will be able to participate via Findhorn Live webstreaming or by joining a Summit Hub.

As well as the shared geographical links between the two events, Kresanna welcomes the chance to,

explore the incredible synchronicity and shared vision: one that imagines a new story globally and one that is imagining a new story locally.

Richard Olivier will explore the theme of courageous leadership

Richard Olivier will explore the theme of courageous leadership

New Story Summit co-focaliser Richard Olivier says: “As an organiser of the New Story Summit and long time contributor to Findhorn arts-based learning events, it is truly exciting to see the local arts scene really take off with this festival. I am delighted to be contributing to it as well, offering an evening on lessons in ethical leadership inspired by Shakespeare’s Macbeth. We hope this will form part of a fascinating debate about truth and fiction (contrasting it with the historical King Macbeth) and whose stories get heard in the world.”

Co-focaliser Yvonne Cuneo adds: "It is wonderfully synchronicitous that the Findhorn Bay Arts Festival, which celebrates local community culture and the natural beauty of the bay area, overlaps with New Story Summit. The summit will also celebrate the interconnectedness between people and nature and seek to harness the best of human potential to explore how we might combine ancient wisdom and new paradigms to create a coherent and inspiring new story for humanity."

Eddie Reader will perform in the Universal Hall

Eddie Reader will perform in the Universal Hall

The festival presents a number of events in and around The Park, popular venues including the Universal Hall, Blue Angel Café, Moray Art Centre and some of the artists' studios.
Bodysurf Scotland presents two exciting new dance movement productions in the Hall on Thursday 25 September, and a night later it is the turn of Eddie Reader, one of Scotland's finest and most enduring singer-songwriters, to perform songs in the Hall from her newly released solo album Vagabond.

Yvonne Cuneo and Kresanna Aigner at the Universal Hall

Yvonne Cuneo and Kresanna Aigner at the Universal Hall

On Saturday 27 September the Blue Angel Café will come alive after 10pm with the high-voltage sounds of a free live music session where participation is invited.

Kresanna says: “I look forward to continuing to develop links between the New Story Summit team and the Festival and hope we open up some new stories.”

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