Coming Home to Findhorn

A common experience that reverberates through Findhorn’s history is that people often have an inexplicable urge to visit a remote community that is invariably followed by an overwhelming sense of coming home. As the Findhorn Foundation community celebrates its half century at The Park in the build-up to our 50th birthday on November 17, 2012, early residents remember the powerful magnetism of this place that many had known precious little about until their often unintended arrival.

Mari Hollander, Mary Inglis, Liza Hollingshead, Michael Shaw, Henrietta Rose, Roger Doudna

Long-time Findhorn residents (from left) Mari Hollander, Mary Inglis, Liza Hollingshead, Michael Shaw, Henrietta Rose, Roger Doudna

Liza Hollingshead recalls leaving South Africa as an idealistic young 24-year-old with a plan to travel the world and find a guru in India “because that’s what you did.” Instead her arrival at the Findhorn Bay Caravan Park in 1974 was pivotal and life-changing. “I stepped through the gate and this was the most happening place on the planet. There was no reason to go anywhere else, so I didn’t. I found myself participating in the first-ever Findhorn Experience Week.”

That was in June 1974 and since then Experience Week has been the most popular entry point to life at Findhorn. The mid-Seventies was a time when the fledgling community’s collaboration with the overlighting intelligence of nature was becoming a magnet for seekers around the world, particularly in the wake of The Magic of Findhorn, a book by Paul Hawken which sparked the interest of Americans, while a 1973 BBC TV documentary presented by Magnus Magnusson, who was a household figure in Britain, did much to raise awareness and enhance credibility closer to home.

Henrietta Rose came to Findhorn reluctantly in 1972, having little desire to swap her six-bedroom home and comfortable London life for a basic caravan in a remote dunescape. Her husband Nick was keen to live in Findhorn and her reaction was: “No, no, no! I decided to give it six months and not to judge anything and at the end of six months I was completely sold on the place.”

Easing the transition was the presence of their good friends Michael and Caroline Shaw who played a huge role in community life. Michael came from a world of major construction projects and paid tribute to Peter Caddy’s boundless energy and willingness to empower others.

“He was the most extraordinary manager of people with an amazing ability to inspire and to be everywhere at one time. As a person he was very uncritical and very forgiving. And he was famous for not having a Plan B, believing if you have an alternative you are likely to get that instead.”

Roger Doudna, a young American philosopher, was ‘blown away’ by what he encountered in the pioneering community. “Findhorn had a gift to give to the world and there was a sense of us being welded into a single being in an incredible experience of wholeness. We shared that gift in the first two conferences here – Groups and Transpersonal Growth and The World Crisis and the Wholeness of Life, both in 1976, and have been doing so ever since.”

Roger Doudna

Roger Doudna outside his whisky barrel house, the first to be built in Findhorn

It is with some amusement that Mary Inglis recalls a male-dominated environment when the role of women and families had still to be acknowledged and integrated. “There were some very strong women who didn’t want to become too combative although they stood their ground.”

A high point for Liza was collaborating with Eileen Caddy on her autobiography Flight into Freedom which was later updated as Flight into Freedom and Beyond. “Eileen channelled God’s voice and I channelled Eileen’s.

“She was really committed to growing and learning and changing but it was a tough time for her when the decision came to stop giving guidance to the community so that they could go within themselves. She didn’t have another identity other than as a channel for God’s voice. She felt cast aside and irrelevant for a while.”

Although she passed away at the end of 2006, her inspiration continues to touch thousands of lives with undiminished demand for her books and many being inspired by her daily guidance.

These are the highlights of the fourth in a series of talks, Foundations of Findhorn, leading up to our 50th birthday.

Geoff Dalglish

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