Part Three – Finding Fun @ Findhorn


(L – R, our group – Pamela, Greg, Niels, Ilsmarie (Focalisers), Julz, Margreta, Beat, Juli, Regina, Corinne, John, Robert, Franciska)
After our daily, early morning forest walk, Julz and I met our group for morning breakfast and then we all went to the Ballroom for our first morning session – games. Ok, as adults we rarely get the chance to play games, however, here at Findhorn it is a way to bring our group closer together. Without giving too much away, we basically played a host of games that required no props, just us and our sense of humour, and some free flowing dancing. We now have some great ideas to create “ice breakers” within groups and needless to say, we all came away hugging even more than we started with (and believe me, we were already a huge hugging group). So much FUN was had by all, we made some fun memories and laughed lots too.

We broke for our lunch, always a good, healthy salad with beans etc, then off to our respective “LOVE IN ACTION” service teams. On our return, we met again for supper and after a hearty “tatter”, (baked spuds with fillings) we re-grouped and had another special community guest, Stewart, who allowed us to ask any question about the Findhorn Foundation – how it was set up and how it manages itself as a non for profit etc. It is also the headquarters of the Global Ecovillage Network and has strong links to the United Nations – click here for more background.

The next day we bussed back to the Park, to partake in some gardening activities. Thinking we may learn some organic gardening tips, only to discover we were pretty handy weeders, so we all got down on our knees and pulled out weeds amongst the flower gardens. We went inside to learn about seeding plants, only to discover how to clean seedling pots out, or how to paint stones. Ah well, I suppose you have to start at the beginning to understand – and here we all were, singing, laughing and being loud doing the most menial of tasks. This was truly “LOVE IN ACTION”.

We were all given the evening off, so after supper, Robert, Margreta, Julz and I set up a game of old fashioned Monopoly in the lounge for some more FUN. Needless to say the capitalistic bankers world was upon us, and being the ‘rich overlord’ took us as far away from Findhorn as possible – for one night only (others went to join in the Sacred Dance celebrations).

The Cluny College “chilling” area 

The main foyer within Cluny College


(This is the circle within the Nature Sanctuary @ the Park)

We had the morning off to explore the Park and surrounding areas, which a small group of us, Juli R, Franceska, Julz and I, walked around the ecovillage and out to Findhorn Bay, which has a beach coated in flat tumbled stones, (needless to say three boxes of these are on their way back to Brisbane, Australia) and to explore Findhorn Village. We met some amazing Scottish people who sat with us sharing cake and coffee and chatting like long lost friends. 

Flower bed at Findhorn Village

Findhorn Bay 

(Sign within the Findhorn Foundation Park )

We returned to Cluny College to finish off our week with another wise community member sharing more deeper insights into ourselves and life in general. It is a spiritual community that does not push any particular doctrine or philosophy and allows you to explore whatever that means for you. Did I mention their library? Ok, wow, and I never did have enough time to explore.

We also went, as a group, to a beautiful forest with a rapid waterfall and the bush land that was lush and moss covered. We were asked to go off into the forest by ourselves for two hours, and listen to the trees, water, birds, or meditate.


So I found a quiet secluded space beside the running river and listened. Do you know how hard that is to do? Well, it was for me.😜 (not so hard for Julz)

About an hour in I spotted Robert, the youngest and quietest member of the group, and he came over and sat with me on a moss covered log. It was an amazing experience to sit with him, chatting for the next hour. Robert is 18 and is a similar personality to my brother, Clint, who is no longer here.

We returned back to Cluny College on our final night, sharing thoughts about our experience week. We concluded with some more Sacred Dance and we had our farewell dinner to say our goodbyes.

It was an interesting week for everyone in our group. Having never experienced, or ever been involved in a week long activity like this, we had all built a special bond with each member of our group. Great friendships have been formed.

In short summary, we are very pleased we have done Experience Week at Findhorn Foundation. It is certainly an eye-opener for us to view, close up, community based living and a working ecovillage that is successful in its longevity.

At the heart of Findhorn Foundation is a solid “non for profit” educational institutional model that invites you back as many times as you can afford. To be an active community member takes many visits and completion of the programmes before you “qualify” to live there. It creates a new reality of “what is possible” in creating your own community and Findhorn definitely leads the way in this, globally. Many of our group had an uneasy sense of returning back to their “normal world” and the challenge of going back to it.

We are better for the experience and the great relationships we have formed with our group.

For more on the Global ecovillage network – click here.


On the Saturday morning, after breakfast, Corinne (the other Australian) and her friend Christine, drove Julz and I back into Inverness, Scotland, to pick up our hire car.

All ready for our road trip, we point the car in the direction of Isle of Skye, in the Highlands of Scotland, and started winding our way across to the stunning Isle of Skye town of Portree. After wandering the streets for an hour we zoom off to find our Air BnB host home in Torrrin. We turn off the main highway at Broadford and end up on a single vehicle track. Sheep are wondering aimlessly in front of us and the hills are surrounding us with lush, green grass. I am driving and actually get us lost. Julz is not happy when I have to call our host, hang on, no service.

This part is not going so well and Julz is “not happy, Jan”. 🤔 😳

To be continued….


(Main Street  Inverness, Scotland – they love unicorns. “If you can’t be yourself, then be a Unicorn”)

Isle of Skye – turning off from Broadford to Torrins


Portree – Isle of Skye, Scotland.

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Part Two – Finding ourselves at Findhorn 

(Pic courtesy of Juli Russell)

If you want some further background on the Findhorn Foundation – click here.

The interesting part of visiting Findhorn Foundation is that it is in two parts. Where we stay is known as the Cluny College, Forres (it is based at Cluny Hill) not Findhorn, which is 20 mins away by car. Cluny can house up to 100 short term visitors. This is where we ate together, three times a day. We all have our own bedrooms, however, Julz and I are the only couple attending, so the rest are sharing in rooms of three.

The second part is “the Park” (Findhorn), which is where it all started in 1962, and continues to thrive today, with a living, working, Eco village, Garden and Universal Hall, for over 400 residents living in a range of various, unique eco style homes. Some of the earliest homes were caravans, (a few remain) and then later some have been converted from old “Whisky barrels” into Eco homes with many new houses being added.


The nearest village to the Findhorn Park, is Findhorn Villlage and the stunning Findhorn Bay. (with awesome shaped large flat stones) A small fleet of mini buses transfer people between the two spaces, and the week we are guests, they are also celebrating forty years of Sacred Dance, (for the week) with over 100+ guests participating in Sacred dance at the Universal Hall, every single day. As well there are people returning doing further “courses” beyond “Experience Week” (more about that later in future blog).

After a nice, healthy small breakfast, on day two, we assemble in the College Ballroom, together with the room full of Brazilians (approx 20) and our group (11). We all proceed to learn a host of cultural dances from a range of cultures and nations. It turns out to be so much fun for one and all – music, art and dance is a universal language. We have an early brunch, as we start our afternoon sessions early at 12.15pm.

The afternoon session is all about Angel cards. This class takes place in the Sanctuary room. The chairs/cushions are in a circle around a large bowl with fresh flowers and a candle. This room, we are advised, is available 24 hours a day, for personal mediation, or for daily morning group meditations or morning Taize singing.

We pull a card each and someone selects a card for our group. VISION is the group card chosen and mine is SYNTHESIS. Julz selects BIRTH.

That helps set the tone for the week and off we all go on the Findhorn bus to get a guided tour of the Park. We are met by a long term Findhorn community member, IAN COOK. We follow Ian around and get an insight into “the PARK”, it’s history and deeper insights into the Eco housing, community and the Universal Hall. We barely scratch the surface, however, it gives us a better “feel” of its reason for existing. We then proceed to a purpose built space, almost a hobbits room, called “Natures Sanctuary”. This part of our programme is called, INNER SHARING. We meet another wise older Findhorn community lady, Auriel. This was a highlight as she imparted a lovely story of a challenge she had encountered with her own daughter. She shared, listened and added words of wisdom to the members of our group. She had to be in her mid ’80’s and had lived on and off in Findhorn for forty years. She had studied a lot of Rudolf Steiner, a philosopher, polymath, whom I have deep respect for (ever heard of Steiner schools?)


That night we came back to enjoy another healthy dinner together. Eating in a group is fun, as we all move around to different people to get more insight about each other. At 7.30, after dinner, (they call it supper) we meet our group again to “attune” to our service departments. What this means is that, over the next few days, we all get to work in an area that benefits the whole community. It is three hours a day (over four of our days) in either Garden, Dining room, Kitchen or Home care. When we arrived we all had to do at least one night volunteering cleaning up after supper. This is known as K.P. – or Kitchen Party. Everyone volunteers, including all community members, focalisers and newbies. It is all part of what is known as “Love In Action” (a word used by Alice A Bailey in her books that Eileen Caddy – co- founders studied). LOVE IN ACTION is simply a work “in service”.


Coloured cards were placed on the floor, with the objective that you stood on the card that drew you. From this process we all end up in a particular service department. Julz gets the College dining room and I get House care at the Park with Juli R, which ended up being the “hooverer” plus cleaning the plates and cutlery “putter away-er” and for Juli R, the table cleaner. We each then meet our new team who we spend time with. My Focalisers are two eccentric gentle-men, Rory and Joseph. (I say “eccentric” in the nicest way, they were like really funny comedians). They have been living in the community for 35 years and 15 years. We have three others on our team, Brunt, Tia and Lee. They were all doing another course, which was called, Being In Community (BIC) and they had all done an Experience Week at some stage, as had Rory and Joseph many years before.

We finished our first day of “Love In Action” and returned with Julie R (from Florida/Austria) and Corinne, who worked in the Park kitchen, and the Gardeners, John, Robert and Pamela, on our little bus back to Cluny Hill College for supper.

To finish the night off we came together for a “recap” of our day, an ‘attunement’ and check in with each other. Another special guest from the community then joined us, who shared, with passionate enthusiasm information about nature of the trees and plants. He bought many rocks and wood with lichen, which we all viewed to see the wonder under the microscope. As above, so below.

We learnt how the microcosms within the forests are as important as the large trees themselves and how it is, and we, are all connected.

Priceless.

Part one – The British Isles Adventure

Part one – The British Isles Adventure

Part one – THE BRITISH ISLES ADVENTURE (part of a four month, round the world adventure).

The time arrived for us to board our Qantas flight from Brisbane, Australia, to London, UK, on Tuesday 12th of July. We prepared, mentally, for the 30 hour trip, via Singapore, then changing to Finnair, through Helsinki, Finland and on to Heathrow. The movie marathon was fun, however, now I can’t remember a single movie, except a wonderful documentary on Finland’s huge Bilberry (Blueberry) industry. Note to self – the Bilberry juice is to die for.

Julz and I arrived into Heathrow and with our four (4) – yes, that’s correct, four backpacks, we hoist onto the “tube” and head for our Air BnB hosts home in South Ealing. Paul is our host and he is so trustworthy. He is at work, however, leaves the key for us to shower and relax, before heading out to visit the local districts shops.
Julz uncovers some new clothes (eeeek!) and then we uncover Marks & Spencer’s food hall. This must have been invented for weary travelers, like us. We stocked up on fruit and veggies, along with some healthy dinner to cook at Pauls home. We are very happy.

Awake early (off by 5.30am) to catch two trains to the Luton airport for our flight to Inverness, Scotland, which left around 9.30am. Good thing we caught the train, as the car traffic was a car park for many miles (or so it looked).

 

We arrived in Inverness and looked around the city. A very historic city, lovely old architecture of stone buildings and homes. We waited for a bus to take us to Forres, spoke for ages to a local Scottish lady, willing to impart her knowledge on every topic you could imagine. Is it possible she spoke more than me? An hour after the bus was meant to leave (it breaks down regularly we were told), we departed on a healthy bus to the beautiful town of Forres. We dropped off our backpacks and met our new Air BnB host, Nicole, who proceeded to give us a guided tour of her amazing backyard garden. We decided to head off the next day to walk around Forres and see the local sites. These included seeing an ancient carved stone, Sueno’s Stone, a 6.5 metre high (21 ft) Picto-Scottish/Celtic created in the 9th Century. Just up the road from that stone is a plaque in memory of the Witches Stone. Read the plaque image below.

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The rain had set in for the day, so we decided to continue our walk with rain jackets on. The flowers in the gardens are striking. All through Inverness and Forres, the coloured flowers look extraordinary at this time of year (possibly all year long). After retiring back to Nicole’s home, after a huge day exploring, we crashed and slept for a good 12 hours straight.

Refreshed and ready to get to, our main reason for bring in Forres in the first place, Findhorn Foundation College –

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Experience Week.
We had only heard about Findhorn from our friend, Peter Watson, who had shared some of their background at a regular “meet up” group in Brisbane. We were talking about Eco Villages and other successful ways people have discovered how to grow food, but also how to grow people in community. We researched the “back story” and it felt right to go and see firsthand this 50+years community and what makes it tick, first hand. So here we are, rocking up in a taxi, all four backpacks between us, at The old hotel, now college, ready to experience, “EXPERIENCE WEEK”.

We walked into the foyer and no-one greeted us. We looked at each other and Julz approached the reception desk, however, saw the chap behind his alcove. People were bustling around and no one seemed to notice us, even though we were packed to the eyeballs. It was only awkward for a few minutes (thoughts about “why are we here again”?, shooting a glance between Julz and my eyes).

All that changed when the chap behind reception, shot up and showed us a space to relieve us of our backpacks. He then pointed for us to go upstairs to registration and meet our “Focalisers” (a new, funky name for “Facilitators”). We meet Niels, who now lives at Findhorn, he takes us on a whirlwind tour of the four floors of the Findhorn College and shows us our bedroom, where we stay for the next seven nights. We settle in and visit the huge lounging area, where we start to meet a few newbies also attending “EXPERIENCE WEEK” with us. There is also a large contingency of Portugese speaking, Brazilians, who are also doing their own “Experience Week”. There is quite a buzz in the place as many newbies are getting aquatinted, unofficially, with each other. Lunch is buffet style Vegetarian, which makes us very happy, all week long.
We finally meet all of our ten members of our group, plus the two Focalisers. We are advised that another person will join us on Sunday, making the group 11.

image.jpeg

We sit in a circle and start by introducing ourselves, with a short story of how we all came to hear about Findhorn Foundation. As we went around the group, it started to dawn on us how quite global our group was. In our group, we meet Robert, from Scotland, John from New Zealand, Beat from Switzerland, Pam from Houston, Texas, Juli from Austria/Florida, Franceska from Switzerland, Corinne from Byron Bay, Australia, Margreta from Switzerland and Julz and I. Joining us on Sunday is Regina from Brazil. Our Focalisers are Niels from Denmark and Ilsamarie from Germany.
And so our experience began.