STORY — Callum’s Experienceful Week

Words by Callum Bell

Callum Bell, a Findhorn Foundation Co-worker and Eco-village resident, shares his personal experience of transformation, friendships and discoveries brought to light by participating in Experience week partly funded by our […]

Experience week group photo
Two pigeons

Findhorn Foundation’s Experience Week (FX) is something I have wanted to do for a long time, but I reckoned it was way beyond my financial means. I had lived and worked in and around The Park Ecovillage for over a year, and people I knew there had only shining things to say about FX. This struck me. On most other possible matters, a massive variation of opinions would be heard in the community.

The positively transformative effect of FX was something everyone agreed on. Two angels helped me out. Janet Limb and Daniel Greenberg who work for the Findhorn Foundation, reached out to me personally, encouraging me to apply for FX through their new Education Support Fund. Paying only a fraction of what I would have because of my situation, my week in Cluny was possible after all! Plus, it was in January 2023, so what a way to start the new year.

A magically charged feeling in and around me began already the night before my first day. I woke at 3am with a new fictional story surging through me. Despite knowing a big day was ahead, I respected the transmission and spent a few hours jotting it all down. Google was revealing uncanny synchronicities and connections between the true facts that the story was loosely based on. The title emerged as Messenger Pigeon ’33. The story was inspired by a new friend’s visual artwork.

Monday, first day of FX, I took a suitcase of dirty laundry with me on the daily FF morning bus leaving from the Ecovillage. This is because I’d fallen behind, and I knew there were washers and dryers with bargain prices at Cluny. Seen as how FX is known as a safe space for personal sharing and processing, perhaps this act was symbolic.

The wonderful pair that is RJ and Susie welcomed me in the doorway. RJ, who worked in the office next to mine, plays the most heartrending acoustic guitar as he greets visitors to Cluny. One performance during the week brought me tears. Then I was ‘in it’ (in a good way) as soon as I sat in the lounge. Other participants had come all the way from Chicago, Argentina, Australia, Germany, Austria, Spain, Belgium, and even the illustrious Glasgow (where I’m fae). The conversations blossomed instantly into existential and spiritual matters. These people I’d just met felt strangely familiar yet, as if I’d known them forever. We had all come to FX with similarities in our intentions and dispositions. We were all away with the fairies, and I loved every minute of it.

Cluny Dining hall

The first noteworthy synchronicity came when I was assigned room number 33 for the week. The story from the night before was still swirling in my mind, so I happily took it as a sign. But then, inside the room itself, a framed illustration of two pigeons on the wall! Plus, a dove sticker on the window (much of my fascination with pigeons comes from the fact that ‘Callum’ means ‘dove’). This felt like a real blessing from the Universe for this particular story. Fingers crossed you’ll see it published one day in the form of an illustrated book.

A second astonishing synchronicity was when we discovered that three of us participating shared the same birthday (June 26th). As well as me, there was Sarah the other Glaswegian, and Yasmin Boland whose Sunday Times best-selling astrology work I’ve been following online since then. The moon was in Cancer, and here were these three Cancerians, perfect alignment! Later on it transpired that three Cluny volunteers had a separate shared birthday, with exactly 24 years between the middle one and the other two. Findhorn magic never fails to amuse/amaze me.

It is a struggle to contain the fullness and splendour of my FX in this space, so I’ll offer snapshots in the hope that a bigger picture forms:

  • Mornings started with Taize songs from around the world, and a group meditation.
  • The freshest, most delicious vegetarian three meals a deal – the
    love that the food is cooked with is tangible.
  • Heated debates about what the stars are telling us.
  • At sunrise, wandering up a spiral hill that has an extended viewpoint of fields and hills – with Devon who quickly became a trusted friend.
  • Dancing to 80’s choons while helping the Garden Guardian Karen clean up in the kitchen.
  • The group angel of Enthusiasm and my personal angel of Intention who have guided me helpfully since.
  • Hanna and Ash leading the group with lightness, humour, honesty, wisdom and lots and lots of dancing.
  • A huddle and song to keep us warm while waiting near Findhorn River, from which emerged our permanent group-identity: ‘the Penguins’.
  • An inspiring architect Zoe (also a dancer) sharing with us an impromptu presentation on why we should aim not merely for sustainable communities, but regenerative ones.
  • Belting out ‘All You Need is Love’ with Cesar and Agus.
  • Dorothy’s ‘Three Access Points to the Divine’ meditation which led to one of the most profound conversations I’ve ever had, with Ingrid.
  • Judy McAllister’s globally-conscious planetary transformation session with a spaciousness meditation that had me feel ‘the-space-in-between-the-notes’ so-to-speak, inside and outside of my body.
  • Harmonic Temple singing in the sanctuary with the wider Findhorn community.
  • A birthday cake and card brought out for Hanna, despite it turning out that it was nowhere near her birthday (we all sang and celebrated anyway).
  • Other great moments with VJ, Carly, Ruth, Noe and Ursula who I want to mention.
  • Callum Bell

    Some of my fellow penguins who visited from abroad stayed for an extra week, during which time we had more pleasant teas and walks. We keep the ‘Enthusiastic Penguin’s’ WhatsApp chat active.

    My life has changed massively since Experience Week. It was a big beautiful doorway at the start of my year. It gave me a chance to process & move past some painful things that were dragging me down. The other penguins there offered me unbelievable perspective and encouragement. Many changes since then have been far from easy, but through everything I feel a deep faith that I’m heading in a fulfilling direction. I’m finally basing my life decisions around dreams of mine that I was afraid of before, namely writing films and books. I found courage in Findhorn.

    It’s a long road ahead, but this mystical week in January 2023 and the people I spent it with give me strength whenever I reminisce. Thank you, FF. x

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