THE INTELLIGENCE OF THE LAND: How Nature Teaches Us to Be Resilient Leaders
By conference convener, Stephanie Mines, Ph.D.
It is more than fifty years since Eileen and Peter Caddy together with Dorothy MacLean enjoyed the mythical giant vegetables they first grew at Findhorn. Yet, the abundance of their simple wisdom continues to be harvested. The soil they found where they pitched their caravan was barren, sandy and rocky and they knew little of gardening. However, growing their own food was a practical necessity, surviving as they were on Peter’s unemployment benefit of £8 per week. How were they to do it in sterile soil with little knowledge or experience? It was Dorothy who first received guidance from within about how to garden co-creatively with the ‘intelligence of Nature.’ Her awakening to direct communication with the unseen beings of the natural world, which she called ‘devas,’ not only resulted in many wonderful meals, it transformed Dorothy’s sense of herself. It awakened in her a capacity for resilient leadership in shaping, not only her own life’s purpose and the future of the Findhorn community, but perhaps the world.
We are grateful to Peter, Eileen and Dorothy (pictured below, left to right) for their legacy, but our deepest gratitude goes to the land itself, the diversity of plants, trees and all the elements that collaborated so that this triumvirate of mystics could remain where they were and ignite what would become the Findhorn Foundation and Community (FFC). In a keynote address many years later, Dorothy said, “Nature is a tremendous force that is reaching out to humanity.” She repeated the phrase “a tremendous force,” underscoring the word “tremendous,” and continued, “Nature does not just want to partner with us. Nature is holding a space of connection with us so that its natural force can flow into the world.” (Positive Energy Conference, Findhorn, 2008.)
The individual lives of Dorothy, Eileen, Peter and their children are woven into the fabric of the FFC story but the main character and the central voice of the story is that of the land. The FFC is an intended as well as an intentional community and it’s the intentionality of the place that has catalyzed the conference, Climate Change & Consciousness: Our Legacy for the Earth (CCC19). The overarching natural forces that hover expectantly on the Findhorn peninsula await the arrival of human beings to whom they can deliver their guidance. As Dorothy has said, they are “waiting in love for our love.” We live in an intelligent universe that repeatedly extends itself to us, to gain our attention and to awaken us to who we are truly meant to be. Whether one is a parent, healthcare professional or corporate executive, listening to Nature offers the inspiration to lead with power and spirit.
Assertions about the voice and teaching quality of the land, let alone the existence of devas, appear to defy reason. They stand in apparent sharp contrast to the unquestionable hard science that underpins CCC19. In order to be compelled by Nature as teacher, a visceral and embodied experience is necessary. CCC19 is being designed to make that possible for all participants. It has been said that the real cause of climate change is disconnection. Dorothy, Eileen and Peter received healing at Findhorn of their alienation from the natural world. Their experiences of Oneness were sensory and somatic. Nature as teacher transformed Eileen and Dorothy into prophets and seers via communion with the natural world. The location amplified and made irresistible the invitation that is waiting for everyone who wants to experience authentic empowerment.
The interface between science and mysticism is regarded by some as a wobbly position. Those who assert the existence of ‘unseen beings’ are often said to be not of ‘right mind.’ Nevertheless, there are strong parallels between genuine science and mysticism. Both are informed by Nature and require discipline and steadfast rigor. Increasingly, both are coming to the same conclusions about the environment. Ancient cultures and indigenous wisdom were built upon keen observation of the natural world combined with a profound inner focus. And although, remarkable prehistoric feats of engineering, such as Newgrange in Ireland, were achieved without the benefit of clinical investigation, peer reviewed journals or controlled experiment, it’s with the aid of modern science and technology that we’re paradoxically able to appreciate the perfection that arose from astute inner attention spurred by natural world prompting.
It is hubris to assume that human beings are the primary drivers of events, or that people are directed solely by their own inner process or personal history. Inspiration, guidance, or what Einstein referred to as “the imagination,” can spring from Nature and can be the stimulus for scientific discovery or equally, mystical experience. Eileen Caddy and Dorothy MacLean both intuited that each deva had particular work to do. Might it be that, similarly, we are each meant to fulfill a different aspect of humanity’s calling and the destiny of the Earth? Dorothy reported that the deva of the cypress tree revealed to her that plants were long ago given their different assignments. “We each have a portion of our work to do,” the deva told Dorothy. They knew their purpose and lived entirely for its fulfillment. The suggestion that the same is true for us is expressed through the loving compassion that the devas hold for humans. Their patience far outdistances ours. They know that scientists, corporate executives and visionaries must and will come together out of necessity to solve the riddles of our existential crisis as a global community.
Due to Findhorn’s experience and legacy of plant-human communication, Gaian consciousness is strongly amplified there. The discipline of following and listening to Nature that Eileen practiced day after day until the day she passed from her body, has encouraged the devas to be present for those humans who meet them there so that scientific investigation, creativity, imagination, technological innovation, organizing, networking, leadership and education can be fed by their cooperative, co-creative energies. “Just ask for help,” Dorothy said when queried about a troubling problem occurring in the natural world, such as the inexplicable widespread deaths of bees. Instead of encouraging others to rely on her guidance she directed them toward their own. And be open, Eileen said, “Spirit cannot flow if systems are crystallized and rigid….The more you reinforce your identity as the only moving factor in the world the more restricted your life becomes.” Being authentically available for Nature’s guidance will inevitably bring success in any endeavor. “The more you allow yourself to work with us [i.e. the devas],” Eileen was told via her inner guidance, “the more real we become in your life.”
This is why CCC19 will be held at the Findhorn Foundation in preference to anywhere else.
After three years of clear and dependable inner guidance Eileen Caddy wrote, “It was gradually beginning to dawn on me that there might be some underlying purpose behind all that we were being led to do at Findhorn and that we were carrying out some kind of mysterious pioneering adventure.” It is entirely possible that the pioneering to which Eileen refers goes beyond the creation of the Findhorn ‘center of light.’ Could it be that the Findhorn founders, through their humility, gratitude and simplicity, made it possible for the whole global family to hear what Nature is saying?
Eileen Caddy repeated over and over again, in a variety of ways, the importance of being still and listening. She recommended listening to silence, listening to plants, listening to birds, and listening to what is voiced within. It is likely challenging for business leaders, for instance, to see the power and potency in what appears to be simple statements uttered by plain looking women. “She is just like my mum,” one Findhorn community member said years ago. “How could she be hearing God?” Now however, the timing and severity of the crisis suggests that it is actually the voice of Nature that’s being channeled through from them in order to reach us.
I believe that Nature is the real keynote speaker at CCC19. We will assemble to listen to what the land and the natural world are telling us to do, so that we can authentically act out what Eileen called “the realization of the wholeness of One Life.” In 2008 Dorothy said, “We have reached a crisis point. We stand at the brink. We ignore the unseen at our own peril. What community will respond to this crisis? We can give birth to a new consciousness to offset the destructiveness of the planet. This plague of death can be met with our values and our love.”
These words are even truer today than they were when uttered by this sweet, humble and simple woman as she turned to the audience in the Universal Hall and asked each participant with her gaze what they would do with the wisdom she offered. The gentleness with which the question was put forth belies its searing implications. We must, all of us, from all walks of life, revisit that question, in that very same place, at the Climate Change & Consciousness conference. Our answers are needed with far greater urgency than ever before. I have no doubt that we will find them. But more pointedly, we must then act on them.
*All quotes from Dorothy MacLean and Eileen Caddy are taken from the Archives of the Findhorn Foundation. Thank you Keith Armstrong for your support.
THE NEW LINEAGE: How Climate Change is Creating a New Epigenetic Transmission
By conference convener, Stephanie Mines, Ph.D.
I was born into an immigrant household that insisted I honor my lineage by associating only with people who looked, behaved and believed as we did. I was repeatedly drilled in my responsibility to ‘my people.’ My job was to memorialize our history, maintain our practices and pass all this on to my own children when I became a parent. There was no possibility to marry outside of my faith; this was the only way, I was told, that ‘our people’ would survive. My teachers had direct knowledge of genocide, poverty, violence and deprivation, which buttressed fear of ‘the other’ and a perceived, ever-present threat of loss, starvation and tragedy. We lived in cramped quarters with other family members. Aunts, uncles and cousins were close by in our urban ghetto, intensifying the attitudes that became my foundation for meeting the world. Even when I moved out to be more independent, become educated and expand my awareness to form new ways of thinking, I carried these early teachings with me and adapted them to my new lifestyle.
That is, until full comprehension of climate change and what it means for the world dawned on me last year. This awakening has completely shifted my internalized definition of ‘my people.’ I had long since moved on from believing that it referred only to a certain group, but I had not yet replaced it with the notion of a ‘global family.’ This awakening to being a global citizen, a global parent and grandparent, and someone who is responsive to the events occurring everywhere on this planet was ignited by looming catastrophic climate change. Climate change has globalized my lineage and, in so doing, has altered my brain. I am infused with a new neurochemistry that hormonally displaces the rigidity of an older, entrenched paradigm of separation. Does this mean I have altered my DNA? I think the answer is yes.
Neuroendocrinologist Bruce McEwen has been one of my neuroscience heroes since I first began to inquire into how the human nervous system responds to trauma. McEwen still conducts cutting edge research demonstrating our endless capacity for resilience and neuroplasticity. As a holistic investigator I was tantalized by McEwen’s articulation of human responsiveness to stress. It illuminated what we can do to maximize creative buoyancy in all aspects of human function, including movement, expression, health, social engagement and creativity. He emphasizes the potency of education, outreach and access to resources to dramatically enhance our human capacity to meet challenge. We do this with brilliant innovation, which changes old patterns by writing a completely new blueprint of possibility. McEwen’s research helps me understand from a scientific standpoint how it is possible for me to change so profoundly. Family lineage informed me of the threat of having everything stolen from me. By contrast, the threat of omni-present climate change, is now evoking expansion, evolution, intelligence and a sense of belonging that has always eluded me. Stewardship is not only about saving the Earth’s resources, protecting its creatures and developing technologies for low-carbon energy generation. It also embraces inclusion and cooperation, collective problem solving and community sustainability, thus resourcing our children and our children’s children. This will alter the neurochemistry of brain development so that future generations will continually be more creative in rising to the challenges of civilization, culture and climate.
The concept of the evolutionary epigenome was developed collaboratively by geneticist Moshe Szyf and neurobiologist Michael Meaney. It somehow seems fitting that an Irishman and a Jew together proposed that one’s environment can serve not only to deepen molecular brain scars but also to obfuscate them. The human blueprint is not etched in stone; it is more like a sand painting. If mentoring and mirroring are encouraging, the brain can endlessly shift, rendering human evolution a tabula rasa.
During the Climate Change & Consciousness conference, we will collectively build the vibrational field that is our legacy for the Earth – a diverse, representative microcosm of the macrocosm that serves all humanity by combining hearts with intelligence to sustain human civilization. Thus we offer our children the chance to respond to the threat of climate change with joy and excitement; to grasp the opportunity to meet the greatest challenge humanity has known. Those of us raised in lineages of limitation that engraved the terror of imminent threat onto our cellular structure can offer future generations an entirely different option. If you are willing to allow your own personal story to morph into something entirely new and perhaps unknown, you can be a force for the emergence of a new lineage. The possibility for neuronal vibrancy is endless and indifferent to age. We are all instrumental in rewriting the script for civilization.
2019 is the perfect time for us to join for this purpose and Findhorn is the perfect place. Subsequent posts will explain why.
The organisers of CCC19 (Climate Change & Consciousness, the week-long conference at Findhorn in April, 2019) are filled with gratitude for the momentum the event is gathering. We are constantly being approached by preeminent climate change activists keen to be involved. Most recently, environmentalist author, philosopher and poet, Kathleen Dean Moore, has spontaneously and generously offered to perform at the conference and facilitate workshops. Kathleen will be joined by piano virtuoso Rachelle McCabe whose accompanimentt to Kathleen’s spoken word makes even more palpable her passionate expression of love for the Earth and all of Nature. If you come to CCC19 for their performance alone, you’ll not be disappointed; your spirit will be uplifted and you will be forever changed. Go to A CALL TO LIFE: Variations on a Theme of Extinction to experience the power and beauty of their collaboration. Here is a brief description of the piece, A CALL TO LIFE, provided by Kathleen:
“Words alone cannot express the moral urgency of action,” says Kathleen Dean Moore, “and so we turned to music.” In a unique creative collaboration, classical pianist Rachelle McCabe and Moore, a philosopher and writer, have created a music/spoken-word performance piece, A CALL TO LIFE. In the program, McCabe plays a breathtaking interpretation of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Variations on a Theme of Corelli.” Moore weaves words between the variations, creating a call to action to save the planet’s lives from the dual threats of climate change and ocean acidification. “We are using a formidable piece of music to address a formidable global crisis,” McCabe says. McCabe and Moore have performed for audiences all over the United States. “It is at once devastating and inspiring, despairing and hopeful,” wrote ocean conservationist Mark Hixon, who heard the performance in Hawaii. The synergy of words and music creates what one audience member called “as powerful a message as one could imagine.”
A longer blog post about the work of Moore and McCabe is available here.
A key tenet of the vision for the Climate Change & Consciousness conference is that the voice of youth be heard, loud and clear. That aspect of the vision is now being realised with Xiuhtezcatl Martinez joining the CCC19 programme. Xiuhtezcatl (pronounced Shoe-Tex-Caht) is the indigenous hip-hop artist who is taking on climate change with passion and power. He’s one of the 31 youth suing the US government for not safeguarding their future. Xiuhtezcatl is the Youth Director of Earth Guardians (www.earthguardians.org), a worldwide conservation organisation. His infectious spirit of artistry and daring “just do it” attitude resonates with every phase of the CCC19 programme’s tripartite structure: AWAKE, CELEBRATE, ACT. You can see it all in this video.
At the end of last year, Christiana Figueres, who will be one of the keynote speakers at Climate Change & Consciousness, visited the ethical bank, Triodos, to share some wisdom and inspiration on how to ‘be (a leader of) the change you want to see’. Tridodos happens to be the bank used by the Findhorn Foundation.
Christiana’s sage and quite radical advice boiled down to the following:
1. Develop a clear vision deeply rooted in morality and values.
2. Employ a breadth and diversity of decision-makers.
3. Connect the dots to achieve radical collaboration.
4. Build trust by “embracing the distrust and giving it space”.
5. Exercise stubborn optimism.
6. Call forth our inner wisdom into our decision making.
In relation to the progress of climate action, Figueres points out that the next 5 years are critical. ‘They will determine,’ she says, ‘the quality of life for people on planet earth for the next 300 years.’
To read in more detail go here.
By conference convener, Stephanie Mines, Ph.D.
“Climate change is multifactorial; it cannot be addressed by linear strategies alone.
The problem lies in our relationship with each other and the Earth.
Climate change is a symptom of these relationships.”
Karina Gonzalez, Student Leader at Fossil Free North Arizona University
CLIMATE CHANGE & CONSCIOUSNESS: OUR LEGACY FOR THE EARTH is not just a conference. It is where a model for a sustainable, dynamic and respectful society will be envisioned and enacted. I was guided to convene it for my children, grandchildren, all the children I know and even those I don’t know. Every child and young person I see on the street, in cafes or at the cinema, on hiking trails or in the supermarket, I view in the context of climate change. I wonder, ‘What kind of world will they inherit?’ ‘Do they know that the water, the food, the very air they breathe, is under threat?’ ‘How will they get the resources they need to survive in an environment that will soon and very suddenly become unfamiliar?’ And most importantly, ‘How do we form relationships and communities that will hold and support us during the turbulent times to come?’
CLIMATE CHANGE & CONSCIOUSNESS is where these concerns will be met. So the voices of young people must not only be heard there, they must in fact be the centerpiece, the reference point and the anchor for everything else. We intend to build spaces for youth to explore what they know and what they don’t know about climate change. I’m not speaking merely of data. I’m also speaking of the feelings, the undercurrent of emotions that are inevitable when life is radically altered, whether we are conscious of them or not. And I want to ensure that adults listen carefully to our youth.
I am committed to empowering youth leaders in a movement for deeper climate change consciousness. As Karina Gonzalez points out, climate change is about our relationships with each other and with the Earth. These leaders of tomorrow will step forward at this conference. It will be our joy and privilege to witness them rise up. This, I believe, is a key aspect of what, Charles Eisenstein calls the Most Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible.
You can help us manifest this vision by being a supportive sponsor for young people who want to attend but do not have the funds to do so. Become a vital contributor to the future of humanity by gifting them, and all of us, in this way. Please contact us if you wish to donate.