Co-creation with Nature

I wasn’t familiar with the concept of co-creation with nature when I arrived at Findhorn a few years ago. I wonder how many first time visitors are? It is one of the gifts of being here that each one of us opens to new possibilities, exploring our unique expression in the world.

In the early days of the community, growing vegetables was vital for Peter and Eileen Caddy and their friend Dorothy Maclean to survive on a very low income and feed a growing family. Their remarkable success in poor soil and cold climate drew attention to this remote area of Scotland, and over the years the focus evolved from growing vegetables to growing people.

Dorothy Maclean

Community co-founder Dorothy Maclean

However one of the founding principles, co-creation with nature, remains a cornerstone of community life. Is it still relevant in today’s world? Is co-creation just for gardeners and is it legend or legacy, myth or reality? These are the questions we asked ourselves at a recent co-workers meeting of the Findhorn Foundation.

Judy McAllister had the privilege of working closely with all three of our co-founders and this year she celebrates 35 years of living in the community. “This has given me an up close and personal experience of the history,” she said. It was Dorothy’s pioneering work of cooperation with the intelligence of the natural world that helped draw attention to Findhorn. Having worked alongside Dorothy for the last 12 years, Judy was able to articulate to us all what co-creation with nature really means and open the dialogue for a wider discussion.

“Co-creation with the intelligence of nature, is about a willingness to engage with this intelligence as an equal partner,” Judy explained. Dorothy communicated with the devic and angelic realms, while Robert Ogilvie Crombie (ROC) connected with aspects of the elemental realms. David Spangler refers to a second ecology – the subtle realms or subtle worlds – that is as diverse as the visible. “It’s important to include in our decision making the non-human physical constituents, trees and wildlife etc. This we do, although often in accordance with our own understanding of what is ‘best’ for them. Co-creation is also about remembering to engage with the non-physical, non-visible constituents that are integral to the web of life that makes up planet earth.”

ClunyGardenHelena2011Judy describes co-creation as cultivating a stance with that non-physical world. “Just as we need to spend time connecting with people to sustain our relationships with them, it is the same with the constituents of the second ecology: not only connecting when we want or need something.”

The founders believed in each other’s experience, and early members of the community agreed to behave ‘as if it was true’. “In doing so they created a field of intentionality, a congruence of thought that had a powerful result.” Do we live this way today? Judy encouraged everyone present for the meeting to create a guilt free space and to share what we really think as individuals, to come from a place that is real for each of us, rather than from what we think we ‘should’ believe…

We then took a break to walk quietly in nature, encouraged to disengage from the other human constituents. I’ve always loved to physically connect with the earth, to walk barefoot and feel the sand, grass or soil beneath my toes. I feel more disconnected on a concrete footpath or tarmac that creates a barrier to the earth beneath. I wandered through Cullerne Garden and marvelled at the rows of burgeoning tomato plants, each one lovingly guided with string to the overhead wire to support them as they grow and produce fruit.

SeedlingsReturning to the meeting in the Universal Hall, we were asked questions as a collective and invited to stand at opposite ends, representing agree, disagree or somewhere in the middle. Representatives from each of the three gardens, Ash from Cullerne, Astrid from Cluny and Inga from Park Garden, guided us through the afternoon with humour and love. With each question consensus was visibly clear. We as a community believe in co-creation.

My personal interpretation of co-creation with nature is friendship. In response to the statement, “If a guest asked me about co-creation I could share a story from my personal experience,” I immediately thought of the runner beans in the poly tunnel Crane I nurtured last year in Cullerne Garden. There is magic in nature, every seed simply knows what it’s growing into and contains the intelligence within to just go ahead.

However, as a gardener, I could nurture each plant, through feeding, watering, pruning, loving and then enjoy the abundance of the harvest offered. Is that an aspect of co-creation? Possibly so, if it’s about relationship between human and plant life. Judy spoke of respect and relationship, important elements to be combined with an awareness and appreciation of the subtle realms, even if I haven’t fully developed the ability to attune to each plant deva and listen to its input – which Dorothy believes we all can!

hands in soilOne person spoke about the world speeding up and yet nature staying the same. This is true in many ways and yet a hot topic in light of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. Humanity continues to destroy nature to meet the perceived needs of the modern world, nature is changing due to our human impact and it’s long overdue that we help reverse this devastating trend. Kajedo Wanderer, who has been a gardener in the community for over 30 years, spoke passionately, “We, as humans, are also nature and inseparable from it.”

“Even though in the early years of the community co-creation with nature was mainly embodied by conscious connection with the devic and angelic realms,” said Becky Joy, a next generation gardener in Cullerne, “I think that if rooted in a deep sense of love and respect, science and permaculture can also be legitimate frameworks for co-creation and they are ones in which I feel much more comfortable operating. There are many ways to co-create and I think it’s important that we embrace them all.”

ClunyGardenBee2011Kajedo agreed, “Ecology is the new religion. I say religion because it is recognising the truths that are inherent in every spiritual tradition, the oneness or interconnectedness of all life. In more and more ways science is meeting spirituality and vice versa and they are confirming each other’s insights.”

Co-creation is for everyone and the conversation continues. It is a living reality that is part of our legacy and more relevant than ever before. In the early days co-creation was an essential aspect of survival for our founders, in the 21st century it is essential on a global level, for the sustainability of the earth as a whole. Inner listening, another of our founding principles of connection with the divine or the uniting field of consciousness, is a first step and developing trust in our inner guidance to help co-creation become a natural aspect of daily life.

Christine Lines

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