Findhorn Foundation: A Bright Light in a Dark World

The Findhorn Foundation had its genesis on windswept, nearly barren coastal land in the Scottish village of Findhorn.

| September/October 1981

In the early 1960's a strange and wonderful thing occurred close to the sand dunes of Scotland's northeastern coast: a married couple and their friend established a commune that was to become the Findhorn Foundation. And, surprisingly, it all began with an incident that most folks would have seen as just another of life's hard knocks.

As managers of the 150-bed Cluny Hill Hotel, Peter and Eileen Caddy and their friend Dorothy Maclean had—over a period of five years—brought the grand old establishment up to the rare and coveted four-star rating. All three were long-time students of various spiritual disciplines, and they had come to apply their esoteric knowledge by letting Eileen's "inner voice of guidance" direct them in all of their business decisions own to the tiniest details. But despite the method's obvious success, the directors of the hotel weren't comfortable with their managers' faith in a "higher authority," and in 1961 the trio lost their jobs.

May We Have Your Attention

Eileen's "still, small voice" then advised them to move eight kilometers away to a caravan park near the small fishing village of Findhorn. There—in a modest green trailer, close to the beach and next to a rubbish dump—they were advised, through Eileen, to start a garden to provide themselves and the three young Caddy children with as much homegrown food as possible. This was no easy chore, because the area's tin-can-cluttered earth was composed of sand and gravel that supported little other than hardy native gorse bushes. Worse yet, the salt-laden North Sea winds—which often blow bitterly even in midsummer—shriveled most plants' leaves. Nevertheless, Peter (whose role it was to implement his wife's messages) started to scrounge around for organic matter to work into the soil.

Then, as Dorothy tells it, one Sunday morning in May 1963—while she was meditating in the trailer park's tiny, struggling vegetable patch—she made contact with the nature spirit of the common garden pea, who told her that its task was to bring the plant to fruition, and that it regretted the fact that humans were so often uncertain about their goals and motives. Soon Ms. Maclean began conversing with other such life forces (she calls them devas, a Sanskrit word meaning "shining ones"), each of whom was in charge of a specific plant species. The devas offered to cooperate in the garden's development.

What happened next drew worldwide attention. Suddenly, a multitude of radiantly beautiful vegetables and flowers (even some tropical species) began to grow and flourish, free from disease and pests. In 1969 Professor R. Lindsay Robb —consultant to the Soil Association of Great Britain and to the United Nations —visited the project and reported: "The vigor, health, and bloom of the plants in this garden in midwinter, on land which is almost barren powdery sand, cannot be explained by the moderate dressing of compost. Nor indeed, by the application of any known cultural methods of organic husbandry. There are other factors, and they are vital ones."

Even more astonishing than their health and variety was the size of the plants. In fact, the garden's much publicized 40-pound cabbages became almost a symbol for the small community of like-minded people who were attracted to this unlikely spot, and who set out to make "the day-to-day hard work of real life a mystical experience."

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