Findhorn community elder, Frances Ripley, draws us playfully and reverently into her incredible journey through art with the visible and invisible world of the nature kingdom in her new book, Visions Unseen.
Long-term community member, Brian Nobbs, wrote the foreward which we reprint below by kind permission.
I was honoured and delighted to be asked to provide the foreword to this book. It documents Frances Ripley’s experiences and insights into a world rarely discovered by casual observation. Although people living in rural cultures have never completely lost touch with the presence around them of intelligent beings integral to the landscape and to its flora and fauna, most of us are challenged by the idea of nature spirits or “the world of faery”. It is directly contradicted by the scientific materialism which permeates our culture and which tells us that we are wrong to believe in anything that cannot be quantified, probed and measured in a laboratory.
So when mystics and seers report encounters with invisible beings, can they be taken seriously? How can we discriminate between pathological hallucinations, and those impressions which truly convey information from hidden depths of reality?
Esoteric tradition does indeed speak of vibrational rates which enable different states of matter to interpenetrate. This is not utterly different from the multidimensional theories of superstring theory which suggest that whole universes interpenetrate and coexist alongside each other in inconceivably small spaces.
Frances tells us that in certain states of consciousness she becomes aware of various beings who are part of the life of the natural world and who enable her to create images of themselves; thus making themselves visible to her and also to us. Her story of how this artistic gift developed is fascinating. For me it is especially so since we have parallel gifts, and it is wonderful to see how different yet similar our experiences are.
Her gift developed spontaneously, well before she heard about Findhorn and its founding principle of working in conscious cooperation with the intelligences of nature. A few months before she first came to Findhorn in 1973, I left the community to enter a nearby Benedictine monastery, ostensibly to escape the by then worrying level of perception into this world that had developed for me. So her drawings did not in any way imitate or reflect any influence from the ones I had done during 1971: a set of symbolic drawings inspired by the Devas.
Clearly, both she and I were directly prompted by the ever more urgent pressure of these Intelligences of Nature to provide images which, along with statements from Dorothy Maclean’s meditations and the tales of experiences of Pan and the elementals from R. Ogilvie Crombie (aka ROC), might make them more accessible to Findhorn residents and visitors.
I did not meet Frances until some time in the 1980s when I also saw her drawings for the first time. Recognition was instantaneous. Her images came from the same reality that had reached out to me in 1971. Despite using quite different techniques, our images have a clear family likeness.
We also discovered that we both had been endorsed personally by Ogilvie, who said to each of us that we had drawn what he saw. To all who knew him personally, Ogilvie’s warm friendship is a remembered joy. His endorsement continues to be a shared honour and privilege.
More than thirty years on, the true significance of this kind of breakthrough is much clearer. Frances is one more witness to a reality which urgently requires our attention. The damage suffered by the environment has become close to irreversible as far as human effort is concerned. The only real hope for healing it lies in embracing a new reality which encourages and welcomes experiences of nature consciousness, whether of Gaia, as representing the totality of life on the planet and all the systems and forces which sustain it, or of individualised godlike nature beings, through whom we can imagine and with whom we can co-create solutions to climate breakdown.
I hope the images Frances was inspired to provide will make this easier to imagine.
May her story be an inspiration to all who read it.
To order Visions Unseen visit the Phoenix Shop online.