Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Findhorn Experience

Ahhh, how good it is to be alive!  I am recovering from a 24 hour flu that had me questioning my sanity in signing up for 10 month community pilgrimage and looking up symptoms for swine flu online... Waking up without a headache and fever feels good!  

We have been here in the North East of Scotland for two weeks now, and I am soaking up the atmosphere of the Findhorn Foundation Community.  We began with 'Experience Week', the entry program for any visitor interested in a closer look at the Findhorn Community.  It was quite an experience! It has been running for many years, we have met elders of the community that entered in this way decades ago.  Highly facilitated, this program brings individuals into a community within a group, introduces aspects of the Findhorn philosophy, and offers a taste treat of the tools and practices of the spiritual community of Findhorn.  In addition to sessions with elders introducing the multifaceted life at Findhorn we separated into work departments for service each day.  I got to work in the Cluny garden.  Cluny is the second home of Findhorn, a grand Victorian mansion that houses 35 or so community members in addition to guests participating in Experience week and other programs.  The garden is 'focalized' by Svere, a Norwegian man with a deep spiritual connection and love of gardening.  I was touched by his relationship with the earth, his approach is to tune into nature and find a way to aid in natural flows rather than impose his will upon a garden bed.  As a facilitator he offered much freedom to his workers, I felt like I had choice and freedom in my movements in the garden.

After our week at Cluny we moved to the Park, the center of the Findhorn Community.  As we go deeper into the workings of Findhorn, I find the system is diverse and complex.  There is a core community of the 'Findhorn Foundation', composed of people that work within Foundation, mostly on educational programs and the running of the facilities.  The eco-village is run sustainably, and so the Foundation encompasses projects such as the Living Machine, the biological waste water treatment system that effectively treats the waste of the 350 or so people living at the park.  In addition to the Foundation, which is not for profit, there are a variety of other businesses, both for and not for profit, that support the Findhorn Community.  One example is Trees for Life, a dynamic organization working to restore the Caledonian Forest of the highlands.   Another supporting organization is Earth Share, a large community supported agriculture farm in the area.

The Foundation began in a caravan park (a.k.a. trailer park) in 1962.  The founders (Peter and Eileen Caddy and Dorothy Maclean) had followed a spiritual life for many years, and settled here under guidance.  Dorothy was led to gardening on this sandy land, and found an intuitive connection to plant spirits that she called 'devas'.  Soon her garden flourished, and became famous for 40lb cabbages!  Her world renowned garden drew visitors, and the community began to grow.  It seems like the community has grown organically, with members bringing their own interests, practices and technologies.  

The physical community has grown too, from the original caravan to a large and diverse community encompassing dunes and newly forested land.  There is a variety of housing, from caravans to a variety of eco-buildings.  Early sustainable housing included recycled whisky barrel houses.  The charming cottages were first built in 1986 and are still standing strong.  We met some of the neighbors, and visiting their gardens saw permaculture living side by biodynamic gardens.  The 'field of dreams' is an eco-experiment... the developers were given a lot of freedom beyond some basic environmental and sustainable guidelines.  The result is a beautiful medley of architecture

We have met a lot of interest in our pilgrimage here.  Last Sunday we held the 'Sunday Slot' and spoke about our journey and intentions.  We held a youth council with the Youth Project teenagers, which included elder witnesses.  We shared videos from the Ojai Foundation, and have events planned next week including more council, information about Tamera and a new film about Auroville.

Today is a day of rest, and I am grateful for the opportunity to recuperate and work on my logistics for the upcoming independent study! 

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