The latest in the series of Foundations of Findhorn evenings organised by long-term community member Liza Hollingshead focused on the Game of Transformation that originated here 36 years ago, aspects of which are now woven into daily life in the community through the Angel® Cards and Blessing cards.
Joy Drake and Kathy Tyler, the founders of the Game who are now based in the USA, joined us via Skype along with Mary Inglis, Judy McAllister and Liza who have all been involved since the beginning. Many guides of both the original Game and the box version were in the audience to hear how it all began…
Joy spoke of her hope as a young woman in the 60s, “I wanted to heal humanity single-handedly.” This led her first to medical school and then training to become a teacher, working in a reform school with young offenders. During this time she was exposed to different spiritual traditions, including Eastern Religions, Transcendental Meditation and Theosophy. “At the age of 26 I became ill,” she said, “and this marked the beginning of my conscious path to spiritual awareness.”
In 1971 Joy visited the Findhorn community for the first time with her husband Jon Drake and stayed for a few days. She remembers Peter Caddy saying to Jon, “Will you come back again?” Three months later she returned to Findhorn, knowing it was home, and stayed 14 years.
Mary shared about her life in South Africa in the 60s before she came to Findhorn and her interest in working with the whole person spiritually, psychologically, personally and socially. She learnt co-counselling and Gestalt therapy and then heard about Findhorn through her mother. “This sounded like a place dealing with all these things, a living situation,” she said. “A community that was relatively insulated but at the centre was the notion of planetary service.”
By the mid 1970s Cluny Hill had become part of the community and in the spring of 1976 hosted a conference on transpersonal psychology. Jim Fadiman, from the Transpersonal Center in San Francisco, spoke about a Buddhist training tool – a Tibetan game that helped to develop consciousness. Mary was sitting next to Joy who at the end of the talk said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a game along these lines for the west rather than the east?”
The Game didn’t arrived in a box neatly packaged by God. It took a decade of personal growth before it manifested.
This was one of the many seeds of influence for the development of the Game over the next decade. “The Game was an attempt to put into form the approach to life here,” said Mary. “It is an incarnational tool game and one of the things closest to the impulse of Findhorn.”
Kathy Tyler, a meditation teacher and certified healer, arrived in the summer of 1978 after discovering the book The Magic of Findhorn, and initially didn’t like the place at all, “It was remote and cold,” she said, “even in summer!” However her house in the USA sold much quicker than expected and she found herself back at Findhorn for the autumn orientation programme, staying seven years. In her first game Kathy was the Angel of Play, she then began to dialogue with Joy and the others already involved about what was originally called Joy’s Game. “It was an emotional tool, a way to connect with feelings,” she said, “to feel into spiritual teachings and connect to the emotionality of life.”
“I came here because I was curious,” Judy McAllister recalled. “I’d been working in a large hospital school for the mentally and physically handicapped in Canada and studying psychology. I was living on a large homestead, caring for the land and had a love for gardening and trees.” She read The Secret Life of Plants and then at an airport bookshop on her way to backpack around Europe, Judy noticed the book The Magic of Findhorn. “When I first arrived here I felt I had found home, however my husband didn’t like it so we left. However he soon changed his mind and we came back in January of 78.”
Judy encountered Joy’s Game soon after she arrived, playing initially as one of Joy’s test players, and fell in love with the tool. “Twenty-five players and four guides played a prototype of the Planetary Game during The Art of Synthesis workshop in June 1978. This was the first public game. In October the first weeklong Game workshop took place and I joined as a participant. I knew it was something I had to get involved with, even though I had no training as a counsellor or therapist. Since then the Game has been a primary teacher and friend.”
“The Game didn’t arrived in a box neatly packaged by God,” said Joy. “It took a decade of personal growth before it manifested.” In the 60s Joy had been influenced by the teachings of Alice Bailey and the idea of ‘soul infusion’. “This grabbed me, I was completely fascinated. I learnt about the seven rays and wondered what is a soul infused personality?”
As Joy spoke via Skype to the audience in the Hall her passion for the Game was electric. “My inner life began to hum,” she said. “You want to know about this?” her inner voice asked. “Here let us help you…” At the time the climate of the community was very different. “The value of the mind – body – spirit connection, guided meditation, the psychosynthesis model and releasing trapped emotions were all radical ideas. My personal transformation process was used as a public offering committed to the alchemical process I’m still involved in.”
Joy loved working on the Game. She would listen and observe community life and write it all down. She described herself as, “Willing and innocent. It just moved me and grew. The whispers of poetry grew louder and inspiration flowed through me.” Many of the cards came out of the personal lives of the guides and people in the community, and the angel qualities were chosen for the dynamic they created in the game.
When Paul Solomon visited the community and heard about the Game he asked Joy, “Do you know what you’ve done?” He recognised the Game as a tool of initiation, with great power, love and light. Paul invited Joy to teach in the USA and said, “You’ll need at least 12 boards!” Until this time Peter Caddy had hardly noticed Joy, “In core group I remember crying a lot,” she said. However soon after Paul’s comment Peter asked her, “Is there anything I can do? Let me know what support you need.”
From this time on the Game continued to be played regularly, often with several games happening simultaneously at Cluny, with the guides intuitively discovering their own answers, working in pairs as a safety net, and sharing with each other as the guidelines for play developed. “Being a guide is a practice of embodiment of the principles of this place,” Judy said. “You don’t need to be an expert, you just need to be willing to risk following your inner connection with the divine.”
Joy’s attachment to birthing the Game slowly reduced as the conscious emergence of the game deva took over the soul infusion process. Interest grew and Joy initially thought it couldn’t be put in a box, however The Transformation Game® for up to four players was developed and in 1987, the year it was launched, 5,000 box games were sold. A training to facilitate the box version developed the following year, based on a manual with advanced rules, and today there are over 1,000 facilitators offering the game in more than 40 countries.
In June 2012, during the 50th birthday year of the Foundation, the next Planetary Game will be held in the Universal Hall. This is a unique opportunity for us all to explore our role in the global game of transformation in a safe and sacred space and engage with the emerging impulse of this era. Together we can explore our inter-connectedness with each other and the earth, and discover new ways to respond to these challenging times that are filled with great potential for creating a more sustainable future.