http://www.strippingthegurus.com/stgsam ... ndhorn.aspThis article/chapter is excerpted from Stripping the Gurus by Geoffrey D. Falk.
AND NATURE SPRITES
(FINDHORN COMMUNITY: PETER AND EILEEN CADDY) “The time has come,” the Caddys said
“To channel many thoughts:
Of Moray Firth—and trailer parks
Of tiny elves—and Scots—
Of why the cabbages grow large—
And whether Swedes are hot”
IN NOVEMBER OF 1962, Peter and Eileen Caddy settled with their three young sons and a friend, Dorothy Maclean, near the coast of the Moray Firth in northeast Scotland. There they lived, down the road from Aberdeen and Inverness, in a house trailer on a parcel of land destined to become the first seed of the Findhorn Community.
Prior to that, Peter, a former military officer, had followed his own guru-figure for five years—a woman who was also his second wife, Sheena. To join them as a disciple, Eileen had left her own husband and children. Soon after that departure, “stricken with guilt and remorse,” she began hearing voices, i.e., “guidance.” The believed source of those voices is obvious in the title of Eileen’s first book: God Spoke to Me.
Later presumed channelings by her included “transmissions from Saint-Germain [and] Sir Francis Bacon” (Hawken, 1976).
Peter and Eileen later split from Sheena and, by 1957, were managing a hotel in Forres, Scotland, which building was later to become part of the Findhorn community.
They were then transferred from there to another ailing hotel to resurrect it. And, having been suddenly terminated from that position, made their new home in the Findhorn Bay Caravan (i.e., Trailer) Park, adjacent to a garbage dump.
In accord with Eileen’s inner guidance, the pioneers established a small garden in the “sand and scrub” of the trailer park in 1965. [T]o the astonishment of experts, their results were phenomenal, producing plants whose variety and vigor could not be conventionally explained
That “unconventional” success was indeed soon revealed to be ostensibly due to the ability of community members, and Dorothy in particular, to “talk to the plants” and nature spirits/devas. Additional gardening advice came from an Edinburgh man who “had experiences of nature beings, which took the form of elves and fauns, and ... Pan himself” (Riddell, 1990).
The outcome of all that was the forty-pound cabbages for which the community first became famous.
By the mid-’70s, however, when Peter stopped working in the garden, many of the phenomenal aspects of the vegetation disappeared. The growth here was fantastic to demonstrate to Peter Caddy and to others that it was possible. Now we know it is possible to work with the Nature Kingdom, but we no longer have the need to produce a plant where it won’t normally grow
(in Hawken, 1976).
The contemporary American laying-on-of-hands healer Barbara Ann Brennan describes (1993) relevant aspects of her own later extended stay in the Findhorn Community: When I was there, I stood on a nature power point called Randolph’s Leap, a place near Findhorn where the Druids are supposed to have worshiped and communed with nature spirits. I asked to have access to the nature spirits.
[After] about a month ... I started seeing little nature spirits [or sprites] everywhere I went. They would follow me as I walked around the property. They were always a bit shy and would stay a few feet behind me, giggling.
Ancillary attempts, outside the main development of the community, were also made to contact UFOs and “space beings.”
In 1969, Findhorn attracted six hundred visitors ... all of them from our own planet.
David Spangler and his female partner arrived in the early 1970s to live at Findhorn for three years, as the last of the “founding figures” there, lecturing and giving channeled guidance. Their arrival brought the community population into double digits, growing to forty-five by the end of the year.
In those early days, until around 1972, Peter would stride around finding fault with everyone. There was nothing but endless work, from early in the morning until late at night.... Young freaks escaping burnt-out lives in London were verbally thrashed by Peter for the slightest deviation from the rigid order and structure of the community
In 1973, the sixty-ish Peter’s heart opened ... to a young, Swedish woman living in the community, with the ensuing reaction from Eileen having the effect of throwing Findhorn into a period of uncertainty. Though the potential extramarital relationship was never consummated, Peter and Eileen grew farther apart as the years passed. The former eventually left the community in 1979.
One female member of the populace described the mid-’70s in the Findhorn Community this way: The energy level was very high, and a lot of music came out of that time.... There was this universal energy of love, and all of a sudden it could hit you with somebody else’s partner. Because there was an openness towards anything that God sends in one’s direction, some people would then ... dive into these relationships, and would find themselves in a tangle with no clear way of handling the complications.
It was like an epidemic.... It really rocked the community
In spite of—or perhaps because of—such “love in the time of cabbages,” by 1980 over three hundred people had been drawn to the Findhorn Caravan Park.
Or the rocking “Findstock,” if you prefer.
Through all of that, Eileen’s guidance slowly disclosed the long-term plans for the community: I want you to see this center of light [i.e., Findhorn] as an ever-growing cell of light. It started as a family group; it is now a community; it will grow into a village, then a town and finally into a vast city of light
Nor was the scope of that undertaking lost on the early founders, or on those who have come since them: In one form or another there has been a deep awareness that what was being worked out [at Findhorn] was of supreme importance to the whole world.
This could of course be just an inflated ego on the part of those at Findhorn—or it could be a most daring and glorious act of faith, that God had a vast plan for mankind which, if known and followed, could lead to a new age, and that Findhorn was a key point in that plan
The Findhorn Community plays a significant part in a revolution that is gently changing the world.... This revolution does not “do” anything. It does not normally make headlines in any of the news media, but it creates the conditions in which [love, spirituality, cooperation and harmony] can flourish among human beings. Perhaps it is responsible for the rather extraordinary changes that, at the close of the ’80s, have laid the basis for the end of the Cold War and the transformation of Eastern Europe. But it has much more still to do (Riddell, 1990).
* * *
The present Findhorn community includes an independent Steiner (i.e., “Waldorf”) school, providing additional alternative education for the children there. Students are encouraged to learn at their own rate, in a close relationship to a teacher who continues with a class from one year to the next. By itself, that is undoubtedly a wonderful way to structure an educational program. The “Intimidation of the Waldorf Kind” article by Arno Frank (2000), however, raises serious concerns about those schools in general, as does the information presented at http://www.waldorfcritics.org
: Parents should be told that the science and history curriculum will be based on Steiner’s reading of the “akashic record,” according to which the “ancients” had clairvoyant powers which Anthroposophic initiation may help students attain some day. They should be told that loyal Steiner followers believe humans once lived on the lost continent of Atlantis.... They should be told that teachers study a medieval scheme in which race, blood, and the “four temperaments” will help them understand their students’ development
Steiner’s first Atlantean sub-race was named the Rmoahals. When a Rmoahals man pronounced a word, this word developed a power similar to that of the object it designated. Because of this, words at that time were curative; they could advance the growth of plants, tame the rage of animals, and perform other similar functions
Rudolf Steiner himself (1861 – 1925), in his Atlantis and Lemuria
(1963), expounded on the details of our imagined lost history, crediting the terrestrial atmosphere in the time of Atlantis as being much more dense at that time, than it is at present. The above-mentioned density of air is as certain for occult experience as any fact of today given by the senses can be.
Equally certain however is the fact, perhaps even more inexplicable for contemporary physics and chemistry, that at that time the water on the whole Earth was much thinner than today....
[I]n the Lemurian and even in the Atlantean period, stones and metals were much softer than later
(Steiner, 1959). We need not raise the question now as to whether such a condition of density is compatible with the opinion held by modern science, for science and logical thought can ... never say the final word as to what is possible
Having thus disposed of physics in his pursuit of a denser, thinner and softer metaphysics, Steiner (1963) continued: [T]he human body had been provided with an eye that now no longer exists, but we have a reminder of this erstwhile condition in the myth of the One-Eyed Cyclops.
Nor was that the only discrepancy to be found between our known world and the bodies of yore: The forms of [the first] animals would, in the present day, strike us as fabulous monsters, for their bodies (and this must be carefully kept in mind) were of the nature of air....
Another group of physical beings had bodies which consisted of air-ether, light-ether and water, and these were plant-like beings....
“If I could talk to the plantimals....” Or be one: [M]an lived as a plant being in the Sun itself
Steiner further claimed of Lemurian women:
Everything was animated for them and showed itself to them in soul powers and apparitions.... That which impelled them to their reaction were “inner voices,” or what plants, animals, stones, wind and clouds, the whispering of the trees, and so on, told them....
If with his consciousness man could raise himself into [the] supersensible world, he would be able to greet the “ant or bee spirit” there in full consciousness as his sister being. The seer can actually do this.
Rudolf himself was the head of the German branch of the Theosophical Society until being expelled from that in 1913 for “illegal” (according to the rules of the Society) activities. From that split, he founded his own Anthroposophical Society, beginning with fifty-five ex-members of the TS, from which the Waldorf phenomenon in general has grown.
Steiner had encountered Theosophy in the 1880s through the writings of Sinnett and Blavatsky, most of which he later rejected—with the exception of The Secret Doctrine, which he regarded as the most remarkable esoteric text (apart from his own) published in modern times....
The audiences for [Steiner’s theosophical lectures] were at first very small. Happily, Steiner showed no concern, claiming that the audience was swelled by invisible spiritual beings and the dead, eager for the occult knowledge they could not, apparently, acquire in the Other World
The Secret Doctrine
was Madame Blavatsky’s anti-Darwinian explanation of the origins of life on Earth, via a number (seven) of “root races” purportedly descended from spiritual beings from the moon. The book was presented as an explication of stanzas from the little-known Book of Dzyan—itself written in the unknown-to-any-linguist language of Senzar.
Steiner, meanwhile, taught the existence of a Lord of the Dark Face, an evil entity by the name of Ahriman—the spirit of materialism. That disruptive being, he felt, “had been making trouble in the world since 1879 when the Archangel Michael took over the divine guidance of mankind and began a cosmic process of enlightenment” (Washington, 1995).
Steiner (1947) further described the progressing student’s “ascent into the higher worlds” as involving a meeting with the “Guardian of the Threshold”: [T]he Guardian of the Threshold is an (astral) figure, revealing itself to the student’s awakened higher sight.... It is a lower magical process to make the Guardian of the Threshold physically visible also. That was attained by producing a cloud of fine substance, a kind of frankincense resulting from a particular mixture of a number of substances. The developed power of the magician is then able to mould the frankincense into shape, animating it with the still unredeemed karma of the individual....
What is here indicated in narrative form must not be understood in the sense of an allegory, but as an experience of the highest possible reality befalling the esoteric student.
On a more personal level, Rudolf averred: The clairvoyant ... can describe, for every mode of thought and for every law of nature, a form which expresses them. A revengeful thought, for example, assumes an arrow-like, pronged form, while a kindly thought is often formed like an opening flower, and so on. Clear-cut, significant thoughts are regular and symmetrical in form, while confused thoughts have wavy outlines.
And speaking of “wavy outlines”: Anthroposophical medicine seems to be based partly on magical theories of correspondence—for example cholera is a punishment for insufficient self-confidence and the pox for lack of affection. Today the Anthroposophists run clinics, a mental hospital, and a factory for medicines which has marketed a cancer cure
As to Steiner’s overall caliber of thought, then, Storr (1996) summarizes: His belief system is so eccentric, so unsupported by evidence, so manifestly bizarre, that rational skeptics are bound to consider it delusional....
[H]is so-called thinking, his supposed power of super-sensible perception, led to a vision of the world, the universe, and of cosmic history which is entirely unsupported by any evidence, which is at odds with practically everything which modern physics and astronomy have revealed, and which is more like science fiction than anything else.
In a somewhat gentler vein, Robert Carroll (2004d) concluded: There is no question that Steiner made contributions in many fields, but as a philosopher, scientist, and artist he rarely rises above mediocrity and is singularly unoriginal.
Ken Wilber (2000b), however, expressed his own, more positive evaluation of poor Rudolf, in this way: [Steiner] was an extraordinary pioneer ... and one of the most comprehensive psychological and philosophical visionaries of his time.
Indeed, Steiner’s credulous followers similarly believe him to have been “a genius in twelve fields” (McDermott, 1984).
To be fair, Rudolf’s grounded philosophizing, as presented in the first half of McDermott’s very selectively chosen (“veneer of academia,” etc.) Essential Steiner
, is much more coherent than are his farther flights of fancy. (McDermott himself was president of the California Institute of Integral Studies [www.ciis.edu] for many years. For the catty relationship between himself and the allegedly “evil, hated” kw, see Wilber [2001c].)
Still, even given that limited coherence, one cannot help but notice that Wilber, in Chart 4B of his (2000b) Integral Psychology,
presents a mapping of Steiner’s nine levels of reality to the “correlative basic structures” of psychology in his own Four-Quadrant “Theory of Everything.” (That same book is intended as a “textbook of transpersonal psychology.” Its mapped levels include astral bodies and the like.) Yet, the perception of auras, if real, would come via the same clairvoyant faculties and subtle bodies as would be used to read the akashic
records. Did Steiner then see auras clearly, but hallucinate his purported akashic
readings? Or was he equally imagining both? Either way, how does Wilber justify mapping Steiner’s levels of reality to his own theories, while ignoring the remainder of what Steiner devoutly claims to have experienced through the same purported means?
Regardless, Velikovsky would surely be proud. For, Wilber’s endorsement of Steiner means either that he has read so little of Rudolf’s work that he is unaware of the “farther reaches” of it ... or that he is aware of those fantasies-presented-as-fact, but still considers the man to be an insightful “visionary” and “extraordinary pioneer” in (clairvoyance-based) psychology and philosophy.
Given Wilber’s history with Da’s coronas and shabd yoga, those two options seem equally plausible. (Wilber has evidently hardly read into the latter yoga at all, yet still presents himself as an expert, fit to determine who the top yogis of that path are [see Lane, 1996].)
And note again how kw’s complimentary appraisal of Steiner is, as usual, offered as no mere opinion, but is rather given as if it were an indisputable fact—“Thus spake the Oracle of Boulder.” In reality, however, it is emphatically No Such Thing, especially with regard to Steiner’s philosophy.
If you’re going to be an oracle, it behooves you to get it right.
* * *
The continual buzz of activity throughout a community such as Findhorn could, of course, easily detract from one’s meditations. Not one to be thus distracted, Eileen Caddy sought guidance for herself as to where to find a small, quiet place, away from the crowded living conditions. [S]he asked within and the voice, in a joyous piece of guidance, replied: “Why don’t you go down to the public toilets? You will find perfect peace there.”
The little toilet block referred to has been preserved and is now a herbal apothecary and wholefood café
If such preservation seems to be excessively reverential, note that traditional Tibetan medicine goes even further, at times containing small amounts of lama (not llama) ... um.... [Seventeenth-century Austrian Jesuit cleric Johann] Grueber was particularly repulsed by the custom of the laity’s eating “curative pills” containing the Dalai Lama’s excrement
Or, in the vernacular: “holy shit.” A hundred years ago, rumors that the feces of the Dalai Lama—the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists—had beneficial properties prompted the UK’s Surgeon General to analyze them in the interests of science. They contained nothing remarkable, he concluded. Just as well: According to a spokesperson at the UK-based Tibet Foundation, “These days you can’t even buy the Dalai Lama’s used clothes, never mind his excrement”
And they call that progress! When the doctor [treating David Bohm—the Dalai Lama’s “physics teacher”—for “thick blood” in Switzerland] indicated that he would send to Dharamsala for medication, the Dalai Lama insisted that the treatment should begin immediately. He took Precious Tablets, wrapped in silk, from a pouch in his room and instructed Saral [Bohm’s wife] on how they should be prepared. Bohm found their taste revolting
“Nityananda the Poo,” however, would surely have approved—and perhaps even grabbed a mouthful.
Along those same lines, in later years Findhorn experienced a sewage backup, flooding the toilets and bathtubs of the Caddys’ former hotel in Cluny Hills, now owned and operated by the Findhorn Foundation as a community dwelling-place. Residents spent two weeks attempting to find the relevant sewage lines—including, in desperation, searching via the use of divining rods and pendulums. That ardent pursuit, however, failed to disclose the source of the obstruction. It became increasingly clear that the sewer blockage was a symbolic way of showing us something about our life.
A channeling was received. It told us we had become too concerned with outer forms, neglecting our spiritual connection. The sewage began to flood the garden. [Hence, “love in the time of cabbages and cholera.”] We organized a meeting and agreed that each member would make a personal commitment to their own spiritual development. In the afternoon we shared what we had individually decided. At 4 p.m., when the meeting ended, the sewers were unblocked. They had unblocked themselves!
Verily, “the Lord doth work in mysterious ways,” etc. As do His “avatars”: To see if he had become proud after becoming a big guru, Ramakrishna went to slum areas and washed the toilets with his hair
(Satchidananda, in [Mandelkorn, 1978]).
* * * As time went on, it became ever clearer to Eileen and Peter that they were ... the spearhead of a new age. They were pioneering a new way of living which would spread throughout the world and give new hope for the future. People would come from every land to learn this new way and then go back to live it out wherever they might be....
Gradually the greatness of the task they had undertaken became clearer to Peter and Eileen and those who were with them. Findhorn was nothing less than the growing tip of humanity
To keep one’s perspective in the midst of such pioneering, “growing tip of humanity” excitement, however, is no easy task ... as every other community which has ever harbored a similarly grandiose mission could testify.
W. Brugh Joy, author of Joy’s Way
, was then invited to give a talk at Findhorn in 1980, about what he “sensed was ahead for the community as a whole,” to a group of participants preparing to enter communal life there. Not surprisingly, the urge to address those unspoken issues proved too strong to resist: I talked about the consequences of feeling “special” and how doing battle against the “evils of the world” not only creates the “enemy,” but is actually a projection of the darker aspects of the community onto the world screen. Needless to say, the talk was not popular and I was fast falling into the “unwelcome guest” category....
Despite assertions by most partisans of the New Age that they are promoting such virtues as selfless service to the world, New Age beliefs in the specialness and innocence of the New Age are, in my opinion, regressive ... toward the infantile, if not the fetal. Such ideation tends to be self-centered
Some days later, the “community poet” responded, on-stage, after some skits and singing, to Joy’s earlier talk. In venomous poetry, powerful and afire with wrathful righteousness, he unleashed the dark feelings and destructive forces of the community. The objects of his rage were the Americans in general and myself in particular. We were portrayed in terms that would make fecal material seem sunny by comparison. His attack centered around money and power ... the dark side of any endeavor that wears the mask of great good and service. The only thing explicitly missing was sex, except he covered that by using the words “fuck” and “fucking” with an extraordinary frequency
And this was scarcely odd, because....
Of course, such an isolated outburst in no way invalidates the overall good done within and by the community. That is so particularly since the general response to Joy’s speech and the poet’s counter-attack, at least in public, seems to have been fairly mature. That is, unlike what we might have expected to see from some of the “Rude Boys” in this world, Joy was certainly not run off the property for his comments. Nor was he stripped naked or called a “bottom feeder” by the respected leaders of the community. By contrast, were such criticisms as Joy’s directed toward the divine guru-figure or holy ashram of the average disciple, the latter would more often than not consider them to be violently blasphemous.
In a way, though, one could still actually be surprised, overall, by that temperate response. For, considering the grandiose perspective from which the community was founded, coupled with Peter Caddy’s authoritarian control during the first decade of its existence, things could have turned out much worse. As it currently stands, however, Findhorn welcomes more than 14,000 guests each year for temporary work retreats or to one of several hundred adult classes taught year-round by New Age personages such as the “spiritual healer” Caroline Myss. It also exists as part of a global network of sustainable “Ecovillages.”
Apparently, then, not every foray into spiritually-based community living need end in disaster. Undoubtedly, though, such a diverse group of “believers” as exist in Findhorn would have far less potential for messing up a community than if they were all following the same “sage,” i.e., if they all shared and reinforced the same “madness” in each other. After all, a mixed group of people, even if they were each totally conforming to the tenets and expected behaviors of their respective paths, would still effectively create a diverse population of ideas and perspectives. A more heterogeneous group of people living together in a community I could not have imagined
And, as in agriculture, such a varied population is less likely to be devastatingly affected by any specific pathology than is a homogeneous one.
The Findhorn community, further, is a relatively “feel-good, New Age” one. It has thus never placed any primary emphasis on destroying the ego as a means to God-realization. Consequently, it has not sanctioned that easy outlet for sadistic behavior toward others, as if it were “for their own good” as a cover for simply exacting respect and obedience from them, to the degree which one finds in the typical ashram.
Probably of equal or greater importance, though, was the fading-out of the Caddys’ influence as the community grew. That was done, surprisingly, in response to Eileen’s own received “guidance,” in one of the most generous sharings of power that one will ever find in a community, whether spiritual or otherwise.
It will also have helped that Findhorn has never been a monastic environment. For, that freedom itself removes a large part of the potential for suppression, repression/projection, scandals and cover-ups.
There is also a relative absence of both penalties for leaving and of a not merely grandiose but spiritually “liberating” benefit to oneself for staying. That is, unlike most of the other communities we have met herein, Findhorn seems to have placed “saving the world”—via the growth of the community into a town, a village, and then a “vast city of light”—ahead of “saving oneself.” And one can walk away from the former when the going gets tough, much more easily than one could turn one’s back on the latter, for having far less of a personal stake in it. After all, throwing up one’s hands and allowing the world to go to hell in a handbasket is one thing; throwing away one’s “only chance for enlightenment in this lifetime,” through disobedience or abandonment of a spiritual path, is quite another.
All of the above “missing” elements in Findhorn are generally absolutely central to any “authentic, spiritually transformative” ashram, as a closed society where “really serious” disciples will remain for the rest of their lives. With stunning irony, then, it is very probably the lack of all of those things in Findhorn which have made it into an (according to present indications) “safe” environment. (But, see also Stephen Castro’s  Hypocrisy and Dissent Within the Findhorn Foundation
, for further information in that regard.)
The now relatively democratic management of the community—with feedback and real “checks and balances” to keep the rulers accountable to those they rule over—will also have greatly helped.
Of course, even there: We have also heard from people who had gone to the community in response to something they had read or heard, only to discover that its reality was not what they had expected. Most of these reports indicated a disappointment that, in the minds of these people, Findhorn was not living up to the beautiful ideals which it proclaimed....
[One] young man kept alternating between staying in London and living at Findhorn. Finally, despairing of his ability to adapt to Findhorn, he told us that emotionally it was a worse jungle than London
In any case, one cannot help but wonder what might have happened had the already geriatric Peter Caddy had his way with that Swedish girl three decades ago. Or, had he received explicit inner guidance himself—thus qualifying as a guru-figure on top of his existing authoritarian tendencies, and being in a position to inform others of “God’s will,” particularly as it may have related to the young blond lady. Indeed, in that scenario, there might now be nothing left to mark the spot where Findhorn once stood, nor even a community poet to commemorate the occasion in ribald verse.
Verse, that is, such as the following: There once was a Scotsman named Caddy
A well-nigh impassioned brute laddie
He spied a young Swede
Said, “She’s got what I need”
Now he’s nine months from being a daddy