Editor’s note: An excerpt from new edition of The Findhorn Garden Story: Co-Creation with Nature in the 21st Century (Findhorn Press, June 2008).
A few months after joining the Findhorn Community, I began working in the garden. I was eager to learn about the "Findhorn method" of gardening and to have experiences similar to those of Dorothy, Roc (Robert Ogilvie Crombie) and others. I found myself responsible for a vegetable garden of about one acre with no previous experience of growing vegetables, no access to the previous focalizer of the garden for consultation, and no clear model for how to work in the "Findhorn way."
I had to turn to the garden itself – to the plants, animals and the spirits there – to find what I needed in order to do my work. I started by spending a lot of time just looking at what was in the garden and seeing how things began to grow as spring commenced. At the same time, I sought to develop, through meditation, some kind of connection with the essence of the garden, with the nature spirits or devas.
My other starting point came from my experience with growing houseplants in my room in the previous few months. They were the first plants I had ever taken full responsibility for and I watched as they grew in beauty and vitality as I gave them daily care and attention. I found that the amount of love I gave them had a very real and visible effect on them. I started to apply this principle to the garden, and as time went by I developed a sense of attunement with the vegetables such that most of the time it was obvious to me what they needed.
I realized that, in my own way, I was learning the truth of the Deva messages, which emphasize the power of love in connecting with the spirit of Nature, and in nurturing the growth of plants.
The other major insight that I gained then was that by working in the garden, I became a part of it myself, and just as I was affecting the vegetables and other plants in the garden, so too was the garden affecting me on a daily basis, sometimes in unexpected ways. I was beginning to experience, in my own way – that everything is interconnected, and what happens to one part affects the whole.
With the deepened sensitivity to Nature I had developed from my time in the garden, I began to feel a great sense of loss and pain in parts of the Highlands. This, I knew, was due to the removal of 99 percent of the original Caledonian Forest by people over the centuries, and by the extirpation from Scotland of most of our large mammals, such as the wild boar, brown bear and the wolf. I had a growing sense that the forest, and the land itself, was calling out for help. I never heard an inner voice, or received a specific message, but the feeling I got, consistently, was that the trees were saying, "Come on Alan, you can see what has happened here. You know about the power of love when it is focused on Nature. We need your help to recover and grow again, to reclaim our lost territory and begin the healing of this wounded land."
Practical work began on a small scale in 1989, and the first major project was completed in 1990, when the Trees for Life project, as it was now known, funded the fencing of 125 acres of Forestry Commission land in Glen Affric for natural regeneration of the native pine forest there. Always it was the spiritual connection with the land and trees that moved the project forward, and some of the experiences we had (because by this time other community members and guests were volunteering to help, as well) were, to me, just as remarkable as those in the Findhorn garden in the 1960s. For example, in the first practical action of the project in the summer of 1989, several of us protected a number of Scots pine seedlings in Glen Cannich, just north of Glen Affric, by placing plastic tubes around them to keep them from being eaten by deer. Because it was the first work we’d done, I spent a while taking photographs of the first seedling being tubed, and three of us were there for about 20 minutes altogether.
About two months later I returned to see how the protected seedlings were doing, and as I checked that the first one was indeed safe and growing well inside the tube, I was astonished to notice, about three feet away from it, another pine seedling. As I looked at this one, I saw that it was healthy and almost 12 inches tall, and I wondered how the three of us, who had spent 20 minutes there two months previously, could have missed it then. A moment or two later I spotted another pine seedling, about four feet away on the other side of the tubed one, and again it was a similar height. I couldn’t believe that we hadn’t seen that one before either – both of them were quite visible and obvious, and certainly much larger than if they had just germinated in the intervening two months.
As I thought about it more and more, and attuned myself to the situation and the seedlings, I became certain that they hadn’t been there at the time of the tubing, yet here they were, healthy and looking like they were two years old or more. What then had happened? I have no rational explanation for it that would withstand the scrutiny of conventional science.
My knowing is that all the energy I, and others, had been putting into establishing the Trees for Life project over several years had its first physical expression through the tubing of that first pine seedling. All our love and care had gone into that initial act, and one result of that was the appearance of these other two seedlings nearby – they had been literally loved into life there. Just as human love directed and focused in the Findhorn garden has produced 40-pound cabbages in the 1960s, so too it seemed to me that our love now was producing seedling trees where there hadn’t been any before.
First published at the height of the garden’s fame, the new edition of The Findhorn Garden Story (Findhorn Press, June 2008, $24.95) contains inspired colored photographs, available for the first time, to illustrate the story and reveal its magic. The book provides a remarkable insight into the authors, Peter and Eileen Caddy and Dorothy Maclean, Robert Ogilvie Crombie, David Spangler, etc., and their absolute belief in the art of manifestation. The beautiful color photography goes hand-in-hand with their fascinating descriptions of their work in the garden and their co-creation of its miraculous produce with "nature" spirits. The book is also a look back at the beginnings of what is today a world-renowned spiritual and ecological center – the Findhorn Community – pioneering spiritual learning and ecological practices.