Sprinkling love and light

Increasingly I try to listen to my intuition and heed those inner promptings, even if it means a radical change of plan and possibly a course of action that might prove immensely challenging and uncomfortable.

I’d longed to head home to family and friends, going so far as booking my ticket, when that small voice within became too loud to ignore, prompting me to lace up my shoes once more. I resolved to walk from Glastonbury to Iona GeoffPilgrimage157as part of the Findhorn community’s 50th Birthday celebrations.

Fondly imagining this would be easy, I didn’t reckon on the role Mother Nature would play: Britain was being lashed by ferocious storms and meteorologists reported the wettest English weather in more than a century. It definitely was not ideal to be a walking pilgrim and especially one whose limited budget necessitated lots of wild camping.

And yet I suspect we always get what we need, rather than want.

Having committed to the idea of linking the spiritual centres of Findhorn, Glastonbury and Iona with my footsteps, I filled a bottle with holy water at Chalice Well in Glastonbury and set off to the familiar clicking rhythm of my trekking poles.

Weeks later the water would be sprinkled as a prayer and a blessing.

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Gren, Joy and Carl on the Isle of Mull

I can thank my friend Katharina Brocke for planting the seed of an idea a couple of years earlier when she talked of footsteps of light, even suggesting that we make socks embroidered with messages like Love and Peace. I loved the imagery and tried to forget waterlogged socks and blisters as I squelched through the mud, head bowed in the rain.

A pilgrim accepts whatever is and tries to make each footstep a loving prayer of gratitude and celebration.

Whenever shadows of misery threatened to darken my world, Nature would put on a show, be it diamond droplets of water glinting in the light, the music of a stream cutting across my path or the songs of birds that refuse to have their enthusiasm dampened by perpetual rain. And there were people – irrepressible dog-walkers, narrowboat owners and local villagers – who uplifted and inspired me, filling me with hope for humanity.

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John Maclean at Iona Hostel

Days stretched into weeks and eventually it was with great excitement that I stepped onto the Isle of Mull, feeling a growing sense of coming home as I edged closer to the smaller islands of Erraid and Iona, where Findhorn enjoys a strong presence.

Knocking on the door of The Schoolhouse B&B at Pennyghael, midway across Mull, I was warmly greeted by Joy and Gren Roberts and their son Carl. “We were just talking about you and wondering where you were and how you were doing.” I’d spent my first pilgrim night with them 13 months earlier.

There was a definite spring in my step as I headed for Iona Hostel, which has been named Scotland’s best Eco hostel. I stayed here with my daughters Bonnie and Tammy before the start of my walk and was shown great kindness by farmer-proprieter John Maclean.

I’d paid a 50% deposit and when I tried to pay the rest, John insisted: “Put it towards your pilgrimage.”

My intention was simply to thank him for that kindness which set the tone for the next year, and to offer him a gift of my book Lost and Found. Instead he was adamant: “Be my guest tonight and I’ll buy the book.”

Niels Paulsen

Traigh Bhan custodian Niels Paulsen

After staying in around 50 hostels in France, Spain, England and Scotland during the past year, I realised that this was my favourite. It is light, bright and airy with uninterrupted views and a warmth which starts with the caring attitude of its owner.

Visiting the nearby Traigh Bhan retreat centre, which is an extension of the Findhorn Foundation community, I was welcomed to tea and scones by custodian Niels Paulsen and the retreatants.

Niels then performed a beautiful ceremony in which he placed some holy water alongside the candle and flower arrangement in the meditation room, leaving it to evaporate and infuse its surroundings.

Another ferry ride and circuitous walk saw me arrive at the lighthouse engineers’ cottages on neighbouring Erraid. The island is owned by a Dutch family and I’d been warned that today I’d find it deserted, instead delighting in the unexpected appearance of Erraid focaliser Roger Thorner.

“If you’d been half an hour earlier or later, there’d have been no-one here,” he mused. It was meant to be.

Roger Thorner (Erraid focaliser 2012)

Erraid community focaliser Roger Thorner

Dorothy Maclean

Dorothy Maclean outside the Park main sanctuary

Roger sprinkled Glastonbury water on the Wishing Stone, which I’d last visited with my daughters when I reconfirmed my intentions for the pilgrimage walk and hoped for a safe return. All my prayers had been answered.

At Findhorn I called on 92-year-old co-founder Dorothy Maclean and made her a present of my book, while she gave me a copy of her newly published Messages from God. The next day Dorothy delighted in pouring water into the flower arrangement in The Park Sanctuary and on some of the plants outside the community’s spiritual nucleus.

That left one important destination and I felt a familiar thrill arriving at the former Cluny Hill hotel that had been managed by Peter Caddy and his wife Eileen, forming an important part of the early Findhorn history. Today it is home to a number of staff and offers educational programmes and distinctive and characterful guest accommodation.

Recognising that we are all pilgrims walking our individual paths, Sanctuary focaliser Micaela Aminoff welcomed me and paid tribute to the journey of humanity and their planet during 2012.

Annette Kortsen, Micaela Aminoff, Astrid Kortsen

Annette, Micaela & Astrid

With Cluny focaliser Annette Kortsen, and her daughter Astrid, the Cluny Garden focaliser, we walked through the woods to what has long been regarded as a spiritual power point above the former hotel. It is on a ley-line that connects with other important centres through Britain and the world.

Micaela honoured the pioneering work of the founders and community, and said prayers for the best possible outcomes as Findhorn approaches its half century milestone on November 17.

It felt wonderful to re-connect with this loving and open-hearted community.

Geoff Dalglish

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