STORY — Celebrating 50 years on Iona: David Spangler

Words by David Spangler

It’s 50 years since the Foundation’s Sanctuary on the Isle of Iona was consecrated. To mark the anniversary, David Spangler – who took part in the original ceremony – shared these moving and important words for our time.

Iona sunrise over Mull
Man meditating in the Traigh Bhan Iona Sanctuary

‘There is Mystery here, deep and potent, a Presence that transcends any one place or time but which can be felt and experienced anywhere and anytime. The true sanctuary of this Presence is in the human heart and soul.’

A ceremony at Traigh Bhan, our retreat house on Iona, on 29 September 2022 marked 50 years since the house was given to the Foundation and the Sanctuary consecrated. A meditation of light linked the small group in the Sanctuary to others in Findhorn, London, the US and around the globe, honouring the gift of Traigh Bhan to us and to the world.

Craig Gibsone, who joined the network of light from the St Germain Sanctuary in Findhorn, and David Spangler, Findhorn Fellow and key member in the Community’s early days, were among those who were there at the original consecration of the Sanctuary in 1972.

David shared these memories of that day, as well as a blessing that was read out on Iona:

'It is as if at the heart of the world is a vast crystalline structure that resonates with the song of Gaia, and Iona is one of those places where that planetary crystal can be touched and felt and heard.'

I’ve never been a great one for remembering things that have happened in the past, especially 50 years in the past, but there are clear impressions that linger.

The first is the presence of Iona itself. To call it a sacred isle is no mere flight of fancy. What stood out for me was the peculiar transparency of the island to the deep forces of spirit. There is an elemental power there that seemed to me to go back to the earth’s own infancy.

It is as if at the heart of the world is a vast crystalline structure that resonates with the song of Gaia, and Iona is one of those places where that planetary crystal can be touched and felt and heard.

There was the presence of the Abbey down the road. It was no happenstance that led St. Columba to come here and found his monastery.

He knew, I’m sure, the Spirit that embraces this place and its connection to the Christ whom he served. It made this island and its abbey a cradle for the spread of Celtic Christianity in Scotland and much further as well. This historical resonance was certainly present for me 50 years ago.

Traigh Bhan on the island of Iona, with the beach and sea behind (Photo by Mark Richards - Aurora Imaging)

Then, as I recall, there was the presence and energy of Traigh Bhan itself and the Sanctuary that Jessica Ferrira herself created, all of which tapped into the forces I have mentioned. These provided a rich foundation on which a new consecration could be built, a new structure of subtle energies.

Finally, there was the presence of Findhorn itself. Those of us who performed the consecration in 1972 were deeply aware of the vision of the Findhorn community and Foundation; we were all dedicated to helping that vision live and thrive in the world as a beacon of new ways of being in partnership with the Earth and all its kingdoms of life, both subtle and physical.

We saw Findhorn as a new kind of spiritual center, one dedicated to the emergence of a new civilizational and spiritual impulse. For us that day, what we did at Traigh Bhan was to link the ancient spirit of that place as an ally with a new kind of planetary spirit for which Findhorn was a touchpoint. The angel of Findhorn was very much a participant in our hearts and minds that day.

Iona Celtic Cross Scotland

There is a written record of the ceremony we performed. But what I remember most vividly was the inner sight of a vast and loving angelic presence rising over the island itself and aligning its Light with the spirit of the Sanctuary.

This was not an angel or Deva overlighting Iona, though such beings were certainly present, but something akin to the spirit of the Cosmic Christ, a fountainhead of a Light of healing, restoration, creativity, and life.

Within this Being’s presence, I remember a sense of the merging of the various sanctuaries at Findhorn with this Sanctuary at Traigh Bhan, and their consecration to a planetary wholeness, a planetary service. It was a powerful experience, and I feel much was seeded that day.

What is important, though, is that – as befits a living sanctuary – this act was not confined to a particular moment on a particular day but is an ongoing sanctification that occurs each time a person enters the sanctuary, bringing the Light of his or her own being to share in partnership the joy and blessing of this place.

Those of us who were there that day set something into motion, but it was like the small pebble whose momentum, rolling down the mountainside, cascades into an ever-growing avalanche.

'The Light within the Traigh Bhan Sanctuary grows and spreads by blending with the Light and the lives of all who visit, both in body and in spirit.'

The Light within the Traigh Bhan Sanctuary grows and spreads by blending with the Light and the lives of all who visit, both in body and in spirit.

As members, former members, and friends of Findhorn have spread around the globe, so has the presence of this Light. And like all sanctuaries, it is a reminder of the Light we each carry all the time and an invitation to be that Light in loving partnership with our world.

Thank you for reminding me of this day 50 years ago, and blessings to all!

Our retreat house Traigh Bhan on the island of Iona by the sea

These were some of the words from David that were read before the meditation in Traigh Bhan’s Sanctuary:

Fifty years ago, this special room was re-dedicated as a center of Light building on the legacy of Jessica Ferreria’s vision of a planetary sanctuary in service to humanity and the world.

It was a testament to the potent spiritual traditions of Celtic Christianity that are part of Iona, and to the vision and promise embodied in the life and work of the Findhorn Foundation and Community.

This dedication, and the energies it invited, were a seed. For the past 50 years, that seed has been growing, thriving, flourishing, and radiating its blessings into the world.

The garden at our retreat house Traigh Bhan on the Isle of Iona with sea and clouds behind

It has done so through the Devic and Angelic forces that overlight this place. It has done so through all who have come here and shared their lives with it. It has done so through the evolving work of the Findhorn Foundation and all who have been part of the life there, even if for a day.

There is Mystery here, deep and potent, a Presence that transcends any one place or time but which can be felt and experienced anywhere and anytime. The true sanctuary of this Presence is in the human heart and soul.

As such its value is measureless, for anchored in the ordinary world, it can take us into our own Light while connecting us to the Light that unites and fills all creation. It reminds us of who we are and of who we can become as Lightbearers and blessings to the world.

May the special spirit of this Sanctuary continue to be a beacon of hope and Light for 50 more years and beyond.

The ceremony in the Sanctuary, from Hanna Morjan and Rosie Turnbull

In preparation for our marking of this important event in the Foundation’s history with Traigh Bahn, we had reread When I consider the Heavens, written by Lucy Bruce, who had set up the original Sanctuary with Jessica Ferreira at Traigh Bhan, as well as the Iona Report from 29 September 1972 when David Spangler reconsecrated the Sanctuary.

Michaelmas 2022 dawned bright on Iona with a beautiful sunrise, and a warm and sunny still day. Hanna led a lovely ritual in the garden bringing in the elements of Air, symbolised by bird feathers, Fire with candles, Water with sea water, rain water and seaweed, Earth with soil and plants from the garden. We danced The King of the Fairies which honours all these elements, and finished with a song.

Four of us gathered at 3pm. We all served in the Iona Group during our time in the Foundation (between us we spanned five decades) and are united in our love and care for Traigh Bhan, and to deepening our connection to Spirit through this Sanctuary.

We lit three tall candles symbolising the Triangle of Light:
GLASTONBURY, lit by Moya Pringle, who was in the Foundation in the 1970s, and then custodian of Chalice Well from 1980-1986. She lives and weaves on Iona.
IONA, lit by Dorothy Noble, who lived in the Foundation in the 1980s, then moved to Erraid, and now lives and works on Iona.
FINDHORN, lit by Hanna Morjan, part of the Foundation and Community for 30 years, and most recent member of the Iona Group.

A candle was lit for TRAIGH BHAN by Rosie Turnbull, who has been part of the Iona Group for more than 30 years, and who held the meditation.

We tuned into the Spiritual Lineage present in this land, all those who have gone before – the wise ones, St Columba, Celtic spirituality. We were aware that the Triangle of Light for Lucia and Jessica included Iona, Glastonbury and Devenish in Ireland. Both Moya and Rosie, with their Irish heritage, resonated with this connection.

We opened our hearts to the Angelic, Devic and Subtle realms.
We focused on the now, and the gratitude for the gift of this house to the Findhorn Foundation (comprising Cluny Hill, The Park, Traigh Bhan), to pursue its planetary service, anchoring the qualities of Light and Love, and the evolution of consciousness as the future unfolds.

And David Spangler’s writings were read out, as we moved into a space of silence and inner listening. We extended our time in the stillness as we were reluctant to leave.

Thank you to Craig Gibsone who held a parallel meditation in the St Germain Sanctuary and to those who attended.

Deep gratitude to all who linked in with us on the inner – Katherine and Roger Collis, David and Julie Spangler, Vivienne and Fritz Hull, and the many, many lovers of Traigh Bhan and Iona all over the world.

Blessings, love and gratitude,

Rosie Turnbull and Hanna Morjan

David Spangler

About David Spangler

David Spangler, is an author and lecturer who was a key figure in the early days of the Community. Believing that the time had come to ‘start growing people’ alongside the magical Findhorn gardens, David created the education and arts departments at the Foundation before leaving to return to the USA, where he co-founded the Lorian Association.


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