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The story of the Findhorn Foundation

Eileen Caddy, Peter Caddy, Dorothy Maclean and Caddy boys

An unintentional community

Peter and Eileen Caddy and Dorothy Maclean unintentionally founded the Findhorn community in 1962. When they first came to north-east Scotland in 1957 to manage the Cluny Hill Hotel in Forres, they had all been on a disciplined spiritual path for many years. Eileen received guidance from an inner source she called ‘the still, small voice within’ and Peter ran the hotel in line with this guidance and his own intuition.

In this unorthodox way Cluny Hill swiftly became a successful four-star hotel.

However, after several years and a stint in the Trossachs, the hotel company terminated their employment. With nowhere to go and little money, Peter, Eileen, Dorothy and the three young Caddy boys moved to a caravan park in the nearby coastal village of Findhorn.

Feeding six people on unemployment benefits was difficult, so Peter decided to grow vegetables. The land in the caravan park was sandy and dry but he persevered.

In her meditation, Dorothy discovered she was able to intuitively contact the overlighting intelligence of plants – which she called angels, and then devas – who gave her instructions on how to make the most of their fledgling garden.

She and Peter translated this guidance into action, with amazing results. In the barren sandy soil of the Findhorn Bay Caravan Park they grew huge plants, herbs and flowers, most famously the now-legendary 40-pound cabbages. Word spread, horticultural experts came and were stunned, and this garden at Findhorn became famous.

The Original Caravan at Findhorn Bay Holiday Park in 1962 with (left to right) Dorothy Maclean, Eileen Caddy and Peter Caddy sitting on a bench.

A community is born

Other people came to join the Caddys and Dorothy in their work and soon the original group of six grew into a small community, committed to their spiritual path and to expanding the garden in harmony with nature.

The community published a slim volume of Eileen’s guidance entitled God Spoke To Me, in 1967, and word of this determined and spiritually oriented community spread still further.

Significant friends and supporters of the community in these early days included English New Age pioneer Sir George Trevelyan, Scottish esotericist R Ogilvie Crombie (known as ROC) and Richard St Barbe Baker, ‘the man of the trees’.

In the late 60s Peter and community members, in accordance with Eileen’s guidance, built the Park Sanctuary and the Community Centre, buildings where the community met to meditate together and to eat. Sadly these buildings were destroyed in two fires on 12 April 2021.

Cluny Hill viewed from the side road
Cluny Hill, a former Victorian hotel, now the site for Findhorn Experience Week.

Becoming a centre of spiritual learning

In 1970 a young American spiritual teacher named David Spangler arrived in the community. With his partner, Myrtle Glines, he helped to define and organise the spiritual curriculum, and a programme of learning was established at The Park.

In 1972 the community was formally registered as a Scottish Charity called the Findhorn Foundation. In the 1970s and 80s it grew to approximately 300 members.

In an interesting turn, the Foundation purchased Cluny Hill Hotel in 1975 (which had declined after the Caddy’s departure) as a centre for workshops and and accommodation. In 1983 it purchased the caravan park in Findhorn.

Dorothy Maclean wearing a purple dress with the flowers outside in the 1970s, connecting with nature

Our founders now

Peter Caddy left the community in 1979 to work internationally. He came back to visit Findhorn regularly until his death in a car accident in Germany in 1994.

Eileen Caddy lived a long and inspiring life in the community and died peacefully at home in 2006.

Dorothy Maclean, having lived in North America for a number of years and being actively involved in leading workshops around the world, later returned to live in the Findhorn Foundation community.  She passed peacefully on 12 March 2020, three months after her 100th birthday.

The first whisky barrel house to be built in the Findhorn Community on Pineridge in The Park, the beginning of the ecovillage

The Park Ecovillage

At the end of the 1980s, the Ecovillage Project at Findhorn began, contributing significantly to the development of the ecovillage movement worldwide.

An ecovillage, defined as being ecologically, economically, culturally and spiritually sustainable, was a logical development of the community’s work with spirit and nature.

There is now a great variety of eco buildings, including homes made of recycled whisky barrels, three wind turbines that supply 100% of the energy for The Park averaged over the year, and a pioneering biological sewage treatment plant, The Living Machine, which was the first in Europe.

Houses on East Whins as part of the Findhorn Ecovillage

United Nations Habitat Best Practice

In 1995 the Findhorn community and the evolving informal ecovillage network organised a conference at Findhorn: Ecovillages and Sustainable Communities for the 21st Century. From this initiative the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) was established, with the Foundation becoming one of its founding members.

The Findhorn Ecovillage is a constantly evolving model used as a teaching resource by a number of universities and school groups. The Findhorn Foundation College was established to provide a vehicle for academic programmes and to host students and study groups from the local area and around the world.

The Findhorn Ecovillage was designated UN-Habitat Best Practice as a model for holistic and sustainable living in 1998, which was reaffirmed in 2018. It won Charity of the Year in the UK People Environment Achievement Awards in 2017.

 

Read more about the Findhorn Foundation

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