Recapturing the Magic of Findhorn

Home is always
by another way
and you will know it
not by the light
that waits for you

but by the star
that blazes inside you
telling you
where you are
is holy
and you are welcome
here

Jan Richardson, artist, writer and ordained minister
(from her poem By Another Way)

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Shoshana Alexander and her son Elias outside the Universal Hall

Passion, patience and persistence finally paid off for American artist Shoshana Alexander when she fulfilled a dream and performed in the Universal Hall – just as co-founder Peter Caddy reassured her that she would 40 years earlier.

On 17 September she and her talented multi-instrumentalist son Elias Alexander captured the hearts of young and old alike as they presented a deeply moving performance entitled Into the Mystic – Answering the Call that Is Your Own. Both were responding to an inner call to present their unique marriage of poetry and music to the spiritual community that has so inspired them.

“Once I said yes to the call to offer this performance piece here with Elias, things unfolded in a way that felt beyond me, though it was of course with help and support of others,” she said. “It felt so natural and was such fun to be here.”

Four decades earlier she had been in the human chain passing bricks during the building of the Hall. At that time she was part of the Performing Arts group, but because everyone in the group had to have a ‘real’ job in the community, as a writer and editor she had also been put into the Publications department. When visionary activist Paul Hawken arrived in the community to write The Magic of Findhorn*, she became his reader, editor and community consultant.

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Flashback to the early days ... building the Hall in the 1970s

The book was a huge success and prompted many to make the pilgrimage to this fledgling community in the north of Scotland.

The next year the Findhorn Foundation received a contract from Paul’s New York publisher to do a book by the community. “When Peter asked me to take on creating that book and focalising the production team, it was an honour and clearly an ‘assignment’ – but it meant giving up Performing Arts, my soul’s love. There was no time to do both.”

She walked along Findhorn Bay every day for a fortnight, thinking and praying before finally surrendering to that call. Peter assured her that she could one day return to perform in the Hall, which was intended as a centre for performances created in the community to carry that vision and light into the world.

While she had to put her love of performing on hold, the decision later launched her career as an author and book consultant back home in the United States.

She recalls that in envisioning The Findhorn Garden**, she knew there had to be a chapter on Eileen and her own story. This quite surprised Peter. “Eileen! Why, she receives the guidance from God. That’s her role here. Why would there be a story about her?”

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Shoshana and Elias fulfilling a dream and performing in the Hall

“I went ahead and interviewed Eileen and shaped it into a first person story for the book. When I read it to her, on that front porch of their bungalow, she broke into tears. ‘No one has ever seen me as a person in all of this,’ she said. Eileen finally had a voice of her own.”

In recent weeks Shoshana participated in the European Peace Walk from Vienna in Austria to Trieste in Italy, commemorating a new era of peace in Europe, after the two world wars, the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and the expansion of the European Union. “Everyone along the way told us stories of being impacted by war in some way. And now here we were, walking freely through Iron Curtain borders, past defunct and rusting border posts. We were witnesses to war and peace.”

That pilgrimage, as a metaphor for the life journey, framed the evening in the Hall that showcased the sensitive and haunting music of Elias, who sang and played five different instruments, while his mother breathed her magic into the poetry of Rumi, Kabir, Hafiz, Rilke, Mirabai, James Dickey, Mary Oliver and others.

Five years earlier I’d been hugely impressed by Elias as a young bagpipe-playing participant in a month-long Applied Ecovillage Living course that was life-changing for so many of us.

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Elias accompanied his mother on five different instruments

Meeting him again I was touched by his maturity and how he is now using music as a catalyst to heal hurts, bridge divides and create a beautiful and more peaceful world.

Both mother and son were energised and exhilarated to be back.

She says: “It feels as if the energy of the early 1970s, that was like a vertical stream of power, is still here but is now manifesting horizontally, blossoming as this expanding environmental and embodied spirituality that begins to look like the vision Eileen knew would come to be.

“Following the call to create The Findhorn Garden book, which has sold hundreds of thousands of copies for the community, helped me fulfil a little service for the planet. Offering the poetry concert in the Hall with my son is now the completion of a major circle of transformation and a coming home ‘by another way’.”

Geoff Dalglish

* Find The Magic of Findhorn at amazon-co-uk

** Find The Findhorn Garden at amazon-co-uk

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