The Findhorn Foundation: Myth and Reality





l to r: Peter Caddy, Eileen Caddy, Dorothy Maclean, David Spangler

 

 


CONTENTS  KEY

  1.     The  Rosicrucian  Peter  Caddy
  2.     Sheena  Govan
  3.     Findhorn  Bay  Caravan  Park
  4.     David  Spangler  plus  Limitless  Love  and  Truth
  5.     Peter  Caddy  Exits  and  Eileen  as  Community  Figurehead
  6.     Esalen  Influence  and  the  Grof  Phase
  7.     The  1990s  and  Economic  Problems
  8.     The  Real  Situation  of  Eileen  Caddy
  9.     Conflict   Resolution  a  Farce
  10.     Peter  Caddy  Endorses  a  Dissident  Book
  11.     Pierre  Weil,  NGO  Status,  and  Peace  Anomaly
  12.     Crises  of  Holotropic  Breathwork
  13.     Toeing  the  Party  Line  of  Suppression 
  14.     Unconditional  Love  and  the Testimony  of  Howard  Whiteson
  15.     Perfect  Peace  in  Question 
  16.     The  Analysis  of  John  Greenaway 
  17.     Sir  Michael  Joughin  as  Sceptical  Observer
  18.     Ecovillage Thrust  and  the  Heavy  Debt  of  Sustainability
  19.     Commercial  Workshops  and  the  Affluent  Lifestyle
  20.     Ecobiz
  21.     Vatican  of  the  New  Age
  22.     Dissident  Stephen  Castro
  23.     Theologian  John  Drane  in  Contention
  24.     Ecological  Anomalies
  25.     Criticism  from  Chris  Coates
  26.     Consultancy  Workshops
  27.     Dangers  inherent  in  Extremist  Affiliations
  28.     Bill  Metcalf  and  the  Internet  Stigma
  29.     Findhorn  Press  and  the  Angel  of  Findhorn
  30.     Elite  Celebrities  of  the  Foundation
  31.     Creative  Chaos
  32.     Suspending  Judgment  can  be a  Hazard
  33.     Local  Actors  and  Legal  Complexities
  34.     UNESCO  Problem
  35.     The  Business  Park  Workshop  Programme
  36.     The Troll  Factor
  37.     Bibliography  

 

PART  ONE: THE  EARLY YEARS, CONCEPTUAL INFLUENCES, "MAGIC OF FINDHORN" PROMOTIONALISM,  AND  ANOMALIES

The Times online obituary for Eileen Caddy (1917–2006) described the subject as an “unconventional spiritualist” who helped to found the “Vatican of the New Age,” a nickname conferred upon the Findhorn Foundation (existing in Moray, north Scotland). The nickname may be significant in a manner not intended by the glorifiers. Some strong repressive measures, associated with religious orthodoxy, adhere to the unofficial history of the Findhorn Foundation.

Beginning in 1962, the Findhorn Foundation was originally a caravan site in the dunes alongside the Moray Firth. It became known as the Findhorn Community, not to be confused with the village of Findhorn nearby, whose inhabitants came to resent the conflation of identities. Three and a half decades later, the Findhorn Foundation gained the status of an NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation, associated with the United Nations). A basic problem is that the history of these developments has not been comprehensively charted, despite various popular treatments of the subject by partisan writers like Carol Riddell and Alex Walker. The Times online version settles for some beaten track details along with one or two phrases that are perhaps slightly cynical.

The other major co-founder was Eileen Caddy’s second husband Peter, who was appointed manager of the Cluny Hill Hotel at Forres prior to the more famous caravan site phase at nearby Findhorn. Peter Caddy “turned to Eileen for guidance that seemed sometimes absurdly banal: for example, her inner voice advised him to charge £10 extra for an extra bathroom and to give the Duke of Bedford the best room” (Times online obituary).

Critical analysts are not obliged to credit the partisan statement that “for five years God, one might say, via Eileen’s [inner] voice and Peter’s administration, became a hotel manager” (Carol Riddell, The Findhorn Community: Creating a Human Identity for the 21st Century, 1991, p. 73). The theme of God as a hotel manager is one of many superfluities found in the enthusiast reports promoted by Findhorn Press, the Foundation publishing arm. Riddell joined the Foundation in 1983, and her book subscribes to the notions and jargon of the canonical format.

1.  The  Rosicrucian  Peter  Caddy

Peter Caddy (1917–1994) was born into a middle class Methodist family in Middlesex, and attended public school. He was introduced to Spiritualism during boyhood, his father being a sufferer from rheumatoid arthritis and attending the weekly séances of Lucille Rutterby in the hope of a cure. Rutterby was a Spiritualist medium and “healer” who claimed to transmit messages from a spirit guide named Silver Deer. The dominant craze amongst Spiritualists at that time was “North American Indian” spirit guides, who always spoke in English.

In his late teens, and after obtaining an apprenticeship with a catering firm, Peter contacted an organisation which exerted a strong influence upon him. This grouping he believed was “a fellowship of the original Christian Rosenkreutz Rosicrucians.” That belief amounts to a popular occultist misconception. The original group of “Rosicrucians” were Lutheran radicals associated with the pastor Johann Valentin Andreae, and are discussed in recent scholarly literature. Those religious radicals were not as the subsequent occultist grapevine chose to depict them some three centuries later (Shepherd, Some Philosophical Critiques and Appraisals, 2004, pp. 218–19).

An enthusiast report states that Peter Caddy came “under the tutelage of one Dr. Sullivan” (P. Hawken, The Magic of Findhorn, 1975, p. 52). This entity was the amateur actor and playwright George A. Sullivan (1890–1942), who used the pen names of Alexander Matthews and Aureolis. Sullivan left the Theosophical Society along with Mabel Besant-Scott (the daughter of Annie Besant), who failed to succeed her mother as leader in the status stakes. During the early 1920s, Sullivan created the Rosicrucian Order Crotona Fellowship, which lasted for some thirty years. This was a relatively small grouping, in which Sullivan published pamphlets arising from his correspondence course. The Fellowship indulged in extravagant Rosicrucian lore already popular within the Theosophical Society, and also employed quasi-Masonic rituals (Sullivan being closely associated with a co-Masonry order founded in the 1890s). About 1935 Sullivan moved to Christchurch (Dorset), and in 1938 he tried to gain more subscribers for his eccentric project by opening a private theatre, teaching his form of Theosophy via drama. He finally staged “vaudeville and musical comedy in a last desperate attempt to attract audiences” (R. Hutton, The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft, 1999, p. 213).

Sullivan had adopted the status title of “Supreme Magus,” and the young Peter Caddy came to regard him as a “being of vast knowledge,” gaining entry to the London-based branch of the Fellowship and travelling regularly to Christchurch to attend the “Rosicrucian” gatherings. Caddy’s autobiography relates his belief that Sullivan possessed an esoteric cipher manual of Sir Francis Bacon, which was handed down the generations by “Rosicrucian” masters (S. J. Sutcliffe, Children of the New Age, 2003, pp. 42–3).

The misleading ideas about Bacon in these circles doubtless serve to explain references to that British philosopher in “channelling” lore attendant upon the early 1970s lectures of David Spangler at Findhorn (cf. Alex Walker, ed., The Kingdom Within, 1994, pp. 406ff.). One report strongly indicates that in his later years, Caddy believed himself to be the successor to Sullivan as “Rosicrucian Master” (R. Akhurst, My Life and the Findhorn Community, 1992, p. 34; S. J. Castro, Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation, 1996, p. 30).

During the Second World War, Peter Caddy served as a catering officer in the RAF. Afterwards, while stationed in Iraq, he met Eileen Combe (later Caddy), whose first husband was also a RAF officer. Eileen had become familiar with Moral Rearmament, an evangelical Christian movement associated with Frank Buchman. Her first husband was an exponent of the doctrines involved, and she participated in the “guidance” sessions. “Her husband became obsessed by Moral Rearmament and imposed its disciplines on her, which she found increasingly restrictive” (Times online).

Her husband attempted to convert Peter Caddy, but the latter appears to have been more interested in Eileen. “Their relationship remained platonic until 1953” (ibid.), after she returned to England. Eileen then proposed a divorce, and was banished from the family home (and her five children) by her husband, who was still in Iraq. Peter’s second wife Sheena Govan now “ostensibly welcomed her into the marital home in London” (ibid.), although the situation did not prove easy. The Rosicrucian adept Peter Caddy had created a volatile situation of ménage à trois.

2.  Sheena  Govan

Sheena gained a reputation for being authoritarian and irascible. Her flat in Pimlico was the venue for a small early 1950s circle entertaining “esoteric” influences that were surfacing in middle class sectors. The jargon of Sheena’s group included usage of the confusing phrase “new age” that was chiefly associated with Alice Bailey (1880–1949), whose Arcane School elevated the elusive Tibetan Djwal Khul in a rather Theosophical manner. Bailey’s book Discipleship in the New Age (1944) is a glamorous portrayal of the anticipated Aquarian transition, and dates the beginning of “new age groups” to 1931 (Sutcliffe, Children of the New Age, p. 51). These phenomena are more commonly associated with the 1960s emergence of diffuse popular beliefs and organisations, which have too frequently failed to impress observers that any solution to problems is being provided.

The Caddy tangent from Theosophy found a more tangible mouthpiece than the invisible Djwal Khul. Eileen Caddy first heard the desired “inner voice” in 1953 at a church in Glastonbury. “Be still … and know that I am God.” (P. Hawken, The Magic of Findhorn, 1975, p.71.) She later referred to the voice as “an instrument from the God within us all.” She was strongly influenced in this commitment by a rather contradictory situation, in which she effectively competed for the full attention of Peter Caddy prior to their marriage. Eileen became the disciple of Sheena Govan, the second wife of Peter whom she (Eileen) actually replaced in matrimony.

Sheena claimed inner messages and stressed the “Christ within.” In her London apartment, Sheena held groups and taught that “the true teacher was within each one of us” (S. J. Sutcliffe, op. cit., p. 59). The reliability of such teachings has been questioned, as they have frequently instilled a sense of rather complacent accomplishment in those disposed to believe that they have become true teachers. The situation under discussion is made more problematic by Eileen’s statement in her autobiography that she obeyed Sheena through fear and the desire to please Peter. Indeed, Eileen even states that she hated Sheena (Caddy, Flight into Freedom, 1988, p. 34).

 



Peter  and  Eileen  Caddy

 

Sheena Govan passed out of favour by 1957, when the newly married Eileen and Peter Caddy moved to Scotland, ending up at Cluny Hill Hotel that same year. Sheena quickly vanishes in the Riddell version of events. What actually happened? Sheena had married Peter in 1948, but he had transferred his affections to Eileen. In 1957 information about Sheena and Peter Caddy leaked out in a newspaper, and this proved an excuse to jettison contact with her. “In the space of a few months Sheena had been transposed from guru of the Chelsea Embankment to Celtic witch” (Sutcliffe, op. cit., p. 63).

The segregation continued when, in the early 1960s, Sheena went to live at a village close to the new Findhorn Community. She did visit the nascent community, but the Caddy attitude towards her is reported to have been curt. Peter wrote that she had failed in her mission, and so contact with her had terminated. Eileen’s autobiography is similarly dismissive of the intruder, and includes the “inner voice” sanction of: “My beloved child, the past is past and finished.” Sheena died from a cerebral haemorrhage in 1967, poor and neglected, while living in a rented house in Kirkcudbrightshire (ibid., p. 64). While God became a hotel manager at Cluny Hill, elsewhere the witch died in ignominy.  Eileen became closely associated with the new age theme of unconditional love.

Meanwhile, at Cluny Hill Hotel, Eileen continued to give “guidance,” and Peter became preoccupied with the prospect of UFOs, emphasising visits to the local beach “in case spacecraft might land there” (ibid., p. 66). The Caddy background was middle class, a factor which does not exclude superstition, as is attested in other instances. Eileen had been born in Alexandria, Egypt, where her father (a director of Barclays Bank) had a luxury home set in a large garden suited to British colonial outdoor parties.

Eileen had learned from Sheena a schedule of daily meditation and writing “in order to pick out ‘God’s voice’ among the many different conversations she heard in her head” (ibid., p. 68). There are some strong critics of this practice, which has affinities with the Faith Mission and Moral Rearmament. Sheena had been affiliated to the former in her childhood (ibid., pp. 56–7), while Eileen had participated in Moral Rearmament “guidance” sessions which she later acknowledged as formative influences. There are many other meditation formats quite different to that of Sheena and Eileen, and which do not resort to evoking any inner voice.

3.  Findhorn  Bay  Caravan  Park

In November 1962, the Caddys moved with their three children to the caravan site near Findhorn, after their exit from Cluny Hill Hotel. They lived on National Assistance and child allowance. Eileen was introspective and does not appear to have been very strong; even a brief trip into Forres made her feel “weak and shaken” (ibid., p. 78). The more energetic Peter worked on a vegetable garden, a project in which he was influenced by the assertions of Dorothy Maclean, a Canadian colleague who was the third co-founder of the ensuing community. Maclean claimed to communicate with “devas and nature spirits,” and as a consequence Peter believed that he gained the aid of a “deva” or angelic being in his horticultural endeavour.

However, gardening was not a sufficient outlet for the drive of Peter Caddy. In 1965 he was busy travelling about to various “spiritual centres” in Britain, and in this way he encountered Sir George Trevelyan (1906–1996), whom Caddy called “the father of the new age in Britain” (ibid., p. 80). Trevelyan controversially inserted alternative spirituality into his teaching courses at Attingham Park (and upon his retirement in 1971 he founded the Wrekin Trust, subsequently to be associated with the organisation known as the Scientific and Medical Network, concerning which caveats have also been sounded). Trevelyan was influenced by writers like Rudolf Steiner and Alice Bailey, and later wrote A Vision of the Aquarian Age (1977), a work which found critics.

More influential was Marilyn Ferguson’s The Aquarian Conspiracy (1982), which brought the alternative term “Aquarian” into a more popular ambience. An academic assessment states that the term “rang of the 1960s, not the 1980s; entertainers in the 1960s from the Beatles to the cast of the rock musical Hair had celebrated the coming of the ‘Age of Aquarius.’ ” See Carl A. Raschke, “New Age Spirituality” (203–21) in P. H. Van Ness, ed., Spirituality and the Secular Quest (1996), p. 214. The question as to which new age exponents and gurus are entertainers is still very relevant, and yet the subject is still too often mystified.

Peter Caddy was definitely a new age enthusiast, and when in 1965 he attended a meeting at Attingham Park, he rubbed shoulders with Trevelyan and various “new age group leaders” (Sutcliffe, op. cit., p. 82). Caddy made the most of that occasion, and via his subsequent liaisons, he placed the Findhorn caravan site on the map for a wave of enthusiastic visitors in the late 1960s. Trevelyan himself made a visit in 1968, and is reported to have been enthusiastic about Caddy’s garden. That subject became a rather extravagant one, and it is clear that Caddy encouraged the topic. However, Trevelyan is said to have disliked the phrase “new age,” in which case there were differences with Caddy.

In 1971 appeared Eileen Caddy’s God Spoke to Me, the title attesting an emerging belief about her. The “divine guidance” had been commemorated in Findhorn News, the early organ of the Findhorn Community and edited by Peter. Eileen’s guidance was here constantly used as support for the contents. Her autobiography identifies the deific “Me” in her messages as “your own inner God” (ibid., p. 80). Yet it was her husband who conducted the daily organisation of the nascent community (Castro, Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation, p. 2). Peter’s industrious liaisons with the growing “new age” sector ensured that his isolation and poverty terminated. In 1969, the formerly obscure caravan park is said to have received more than 600 visitors. An appeal to build a bungalow for the Caddys quickly raised £3,500 (Times online), quite a lot of money in those days. Trustees were appointed for a charitable trust.

An enthusiastic commemoration appeared in The Magic of Findhorn (1975), written by the American journalist Paul Hawken. This book has been described as the first commercial publication about the new community, and one which was markedly glorifying. An academic commentator has described this work as promoting “a miraculous image reminiscent of the ‘signs and wonders’ theology of conservative evangelical Christians” (Sutcliffe, op. cit., p. 79). A rubbish dump (Peter Caddy’s horticultural plot) was depicted as becoming a Garden of Eden, and new age fantasies were prolific thereafter.

The crops included a reputed forty-two pound cabbage, and roses were said to bloom in the snow. The sandy soil of the Moray Firth is rather inhospitable, but Caddy removed the sand. The reputed miracle, attributed to deva benevolence of the Maclean lore, is undercut by the data that Peter Caddy used ample compost (plus dung and seaweed) in his small plot, and that Durham Agricultural College grew a seventy pound cabbage in 1988 with the aid of generous manures (Castro, op. cit., p. 4).

4.  David  Spangler  plus  Limitless  Love  and  Truth

In 1970, the new age influx of visitors included the young American David Spangler, then in his twenties, who returned the following year to settle in. His three years of residence imparted a new direction in terms of American trends and idioms associated with the Human Potential Movement. One of Spangler’s associates introduced “counselling” into the community, the harbinger of alternative therapy. Yet the craze known as “channelling” was at first the major preoccupation of new wave Community members.

Soon after his first arrival, Spangler began to claim an ability to “channel” Limitless Love and Truth, thus rivalling Eileen’s inner voice. The channelling craze was popular and very commercial in America. The text known as A Course in Miracles achieved a following that staggered the critics, and this became one of the influential books at the Findhorn Foundation. Spangler’s version of the craze also opened the way for a subsequent fad of channelling Sathya Sai Baba, who was one of the guru influences at work in this same organisation from the 1980s onward.

Spangler’s exotic phrase Limitless Love and Truth (LLT) incorporated an influential theme associated with the Spiritualist Liebe Pugh (1888–1966).  Peter Caddy enthused about this psychic and her network known as the “Universal Link.”  Elsewhere, Pugh was considered credulous even by Psychic News (Sutcliffe, Children of the New Age, p. 87), due to her habit of deferring to so many “spiritual” trends. The Universal Link arose through visions claimed by Pugh and the businessman Richard Graves.

Graves elaborated upon his rather sensational experiences with a popular devotional painting of angels. A brilliant orange light emanated from this picture, and so on. The light was so strong that Graves received a burn. A Christ-like figure is said to have materialised, whom Graves called “the Master” and whom Pugh called “Limitless Love.” Pugh even made a relief sculpture of this enigmatic figure in modelling clay. Psychic messages from “Limitless Love” were viewed as “prophecies of a new spiritual dispensation in which faculties of illumination and discernment would develop in the population at large, creating a ‘universal link’ in spiritual consciousness” (ibid., p. 88).  It may be deduced that such beliefs contributed to a blockage in public discernment.

Peter Caddy wanted Pugh and her associates to join the Findhorn Community. Yet his motives are a little suspect in that a wealthy benefactor was in the offing. Pugh died before there was any possibility of her moving to Findhorn. However, Caddy apparently gained her mailing list in a feat of new age strategy. “As a result, the Universal Link was effectively absorbed into Findhorn” (ibid., p. 89). David Spangler evidently did not wish to be left out of the honours believed to be in process, though several years later he did very briefly refer to the tendency for a cult to develop around Pugh (ibid.). The main point to grasp is that the Findhorn Community entrenched itself, not through abstruse universal processes, but via mailing lists and the canny Caddy strategy of liaison demonstrated at Attingham Park. Plus the continual promotionalism which cultivated the attention of a totally uncritical new age audience.

The LLT channelling of David Spangler identified the Findhorn Community as “one of several world centres in an emerging planetary network of ‘world servers’ – the term stems from the Arcane School’s ‘New Group of World Servers’ ” (J. P. Greenaway, In the Shadow of the New Age: Decoding the Findhorn Foundation, 2003, p. 50). Critics refer to this as Alice Bailey optimism and Spangler lore. In 1973, Spangler returned to California to found another alternative community. The membership of the one he left behind is said to have quickly exceeded 200 (ibid.). In Spangler’s wake came other servers or opportunists like William Bloom, who tilled the field of new age commerce in the 80s and 90s while exhibiting academic credentials (see my Letter to BBC Radio). Group consciousness, the “money game,” and other lucrative roles such as trademark therapy, were advertised via the universal link between far-flung foci of new age capitalism.

Eileen Caddy tended to retreat from the new dominance of Spangler, whose contributions began to fill Findhorn News in 1971. In 1972, Eileen pronounced that she was to stop sharing her guidance with the community (Riddell, op. cit., pp. 80–1). Peter was evidently taken aback by this development, and continued to rely upon “guidance” in the form of psychic messages from itinerant “clairvoyants” (Castro, op. cit., p. 3). Peter’s psychology was not self-reliant; he continually needed reassurances. His estrangement from Eileen has been traced to the withdrawal of “guidance.”

In 1970, there were only about twenty members of the Findhorn Community. Yet this increased to over a hundred some two years later, a development attributed to the popularity of David Spangler with the younger recruits. In 1972, the community became officially known as the Findhorn Foundation. The simple caravan site developed into “The Park” with the aid of donations, loans, and charity status. Several books of Spangler were published during the 1970s by Findhorn Press. The influence of Sir George Trevelyan may be considered marginal by comparison with the overseas factor. In later years Trevelyan sent a letter of protest to One Earth (the Foundation magazine) about the snub of Steiner expressed by a supporter of Rajneesh. Trevelyan himself was considered an extremist in more sober quarters than the Wrekin Trust, whose policy was elsewhere considered to be reckless via undiscriminating tactics reminiscent of Esalen and the Findhorn Foundation.

5.  Peter  Caddy  Exits  and  Eileen  as  Community  Figurehead

Peter Caddy exited from the Findhorn Foundation in 1979. This event caused a shock, and many others left in his wake, leaving a very substantial hole in the community ranks. Eileen hoped that he would return, but this did not occur (save on brief visits). Some say that Peter Caddy left in pursuit of a fourth wife, Eileen now being a less enticing prospect. Riddell’s commentary states that Peter “left the community in 1979 to develop himself by means of a new series of relationships; he remarried in 1982” (Riddell, op. cit., p. 84). The partisan version manages to dignify the exit with a due sense of significance. Eileen is presented as the heroine, conquering her shyness “to become a lecturer and spiritual guide, unafraid before mass audiences of thousands” (ibid., p. 84).

Eileen did not become a therapist, but the nature of her vocation is a subject for dispute elsewhere. She was afraid of incurring the displeasure of new managerial entities within the Findhorn Foundation, and her intermittent lectures served to buttress the commercial community which she did not appropriately tutor. Just as she retreated from Spangler, she also retreated from his successors, many of whom were far less inspiring.

Critics are sceptical of Carol Riddell’s rather glowing report above-cited, one reason being that Eileen is known to have been subject to an acute mood of retirement from the community until 1989, when she stated in a published article that she was no longer hiding after a recent event in which she was initially terrified of exposure before the community (Castro, op. cit., p. 54). Eileen’s passivity and general abstraction from the community was a notable feature of the 1980s and after. The fact that she chose to endorse the commercial “Game of Transformation” in her sense of changed role is no particular reason to credit her discernment in saying “what I feel about the spiritual side of things” (ibid.). The Game of Transformation is a lucrative board game that has offended sensitivities in other camps.

Eileen’s “inner voice” had become closely associated with the official Findhorn Foundation doctrine of “attunement,” which extends to the practice in which participants seek their own inner guidance. The practice of “attunement” so frequently led to the facile assumption of spirituality being achieved. Spirituality was a coveted accomplishment in the Foundation cause of “planetary transformation.” Eileen Caddy became the mascot for what the managerial bodies described as “spiritual education.” A strong component of that drawback were numerous leaders of commercial “workshops” who taught the most facile and misleading concepts in too many instances.

During the 1970s, Cluny Hill Hotel was purchased by the community, and became a college of alternative therapy. American influences are impossible to ignore, and the roles of “focaliser” and “facilitator” are an indication of ultimate origin. Other local properties were also acquired by the Findhorn Foundation, including Newbold House which “adopted donation financing and is independent” (Riddell, op. cit., p. 85). The caravan park itself was acquired, and “The Park” became the subject of “global village” lore. Ecology was often mentioned, though rather loosely; the concept of sustainability became a favoured motto in the late 1990s.

Both Maclean and Spangler had departed from the community in the early 1970s, and so Eileen Caddy was the only remaining co-founder during the 80s and 90s (Spangler sometimes being counted as the fourth co-founder). David Spangler became noted for warning against drugs, but his “channelling” vogue facilitated confusions in which intellectual talents were zero-rated. The Cluny Hill College of alternative therapy supposedly represented intuition, and the relevance of critical faculties was denied. Learning skills were severely handicapped by the planetary transformation in which commercial therapy and pop-mysticism were considered holistic panaceas. This situation was effectively endorsed by the commercial programme brochures which exalted the ubiquitous “Guidance” slogan of Eileen Caddy that commences: “Be at perfect peace; all is working out according to My plan.” Critics wince at the implication of destined events operative at the Foundation, which is thus sanctioned by the divine plan inherent in the presumed “Guidance.”

The influence of David Spangler was celebrated in this community, and yet he left for other prospects after only three years. The average length of residence for many inmates during the early 1970s is said to have been about six months (Riddell, op. cit., p. 80). The urge to acquire properties caused a predictable financial plight and aroused controversies. Economic problems were already surfacing in the late 1970s, to the tune of more than £400,000 (ibid., p. 85). In 1983 the caravan park was purchased, and at that period was completed the ambitious project known as the Universal Hall, which “contributed greatly, however, to a very large debt, and the collective energy of the community for construction was exhausted” (ibid., p. 82). This impressive building proved expensive to maintain, while many community members were living in dilapidated caravans.

During the 1980s the membership was smaller, and inmates are said to have stayed longer. “Some independent businesses started to form” (ibid., p. 89). Financial crisis was still looming in the late 1980s. Yet Riddell (writing at the end of the 80s) was optimistic about the future. “In 1988, Foundation members were involved in a long period of collective and individual attunement to create a new spiritual Core Group; this process represents the most determined attempt yet to move towards a spiritual democracy” (ibid., p. 90). Was utopia just around the corner? Why did the new management team of the 1990s privatise the existing communal assets? Why were dissidents afflicted and outlawed? Why did the new executive leadership contrive higher incomes in a debt-ridden community?

Eileen Caddy remained a community figurehead for the rest of her life, and she continued to live at The Park (the old caravan park). Yet she did not lead the Findhorn Foundation; her low profile after Peter's exit tends to confirm her earlier reliance upon his organisational activities. However, such matters have been subject to much confusion. The operative principles at work in the Foundation were frequently obscured by partisan exegesis. The “spiritual democracy” was a fantasy. Dissident reports serve to clarify what actually occurred behind the façade of divine guidance, spiritual education, and planetary transformation.

6.  Esalen  Influence  and  the  Grof  Phase

The community income did not come from gardening, but from “workshops” and related courses of purported spiritual education. Plus donations, which were strongly encouraged. Many American alternative trends were hosted at The Park and Cluny Hill College, and these fads resembled aspects of the Esalen Institute very closely. New age celebrities like Caroline Myss and Arnold Mindell were favoured speakers, along with more native entities like Peter Russell and William Bloom. The high charges were evidently aimed at an affluent international clientele broadly comprising the “new age” consumers. This trend culminated in the hosting of Stanislav Grof by Craig Gibsone, who was director of the Findhorn Foundation in the late 1980s and early 1990s.


l to r: Stanislav  Grof, Craig  Gibsone

Until 1987, Grof was a superstar of the Esalen Institute in California, which supplied so many new age influences and assumptions. His subsequent career as a Professor of Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies has confused some assessors. That role did not reduce his entrepreneurial status in alternative therapy. This neo-Jungian businessman had launched Grof Transpersonal Training Inc. Grof continued his lucrative trademark therapy known as Holotropic Breathwork, which is audacious in the claims attaching.

Stanislav Grof is indelibly associated with Esalen, where therapy was big business, and where spiritual transformation was one of the lucrative phrases employed in the consumer ideology. Very suspiciously, criticism was frowned upon as being judgmental, a taboo drawback supposedly indicating Neanderthal characteristics. The Findhorn Foundation assimilated a great deal of the Esalen attitude, and Gibsone was the ideal vehicle of uncritical sponsorship for Grof commerce. Gibsone became a workshop practitioner of Holotropic Breathwork, meaning hyperventilation.

The Grof phase (1989–93) at Findhorn met with setbacks, and the Foundation simply deleted the details from their records, a characteristic of their strategy. Holotropic Breathwork gained internal resistance, although Gibsone acquired many supporters. Dissident reports were shunned as being judgmental, and confusions about Grof’s “therapy” continued at the Foundation for years after, despite official intervention from the Scottish Charities Office. See further my Letters to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.

7.  The  1990s  and  Economic  Problems

Peter Caddy remained a voluntary exile from the Findhorn Foundation. He died in 1994 in a car crash in Germany. That was after his fifth marriage, Eileen having been his third wife. For his version of events, see P. Caddy, In Perfect Timing: Memoirs of a Man for the New Millennium (1996). Caddy’s high estimation of his role is not universally agreed upon.

Eileen’s autobiography Flight into Freedom (1988) was awarded canonical status. Eileen became celebrated on British television, though in a rather abridged manner, and many outsiders received the impression that she was the basic guiding factor in the community she had helped to create. In actual fact, a fair number of other individuals, far less well known, were the operative conductors of management decision and public relations. One of these was strongly associated with Sathya Sai Baba, while another became a convert to Grof doctrines and temporarily succeeded in imposing Grof’s Holotropic Breathwork upon the partially unwilling community.

 



l to r: Dorothy Maclean, Eileen Caddy; Kate Thomas at Findhorn, 1988

 

The Times online obituary (for Eileen) does not attempt to give an in-depth assessment of this phenomenon, and probably lacked many of the available details. Instead, a very skeletal description of the 1990s phase is proffered. The obituary observes that the Findhorn Foundation was threatened by bankruptcy, and that “it was also investigated by the watchdog Scottish Charities Office.” That is correct, but no further details are given, and so the blank is extensive, to say the least. Yet “the community responded by creating a management structure and a multitude of outreach programmes.” This is very far indeed from being the comprehensive truth.

The Times obituary was clearly attempting to follow the orthodox version preferred by Foundation spokesmen, who have been assessed by critics as media manipulators. One discrepancy is that the management structure exacerbated the substantial economic debt which arose; this problem was concealed from view for a surprising number of years, until 2001 in actual fact.  Prior to that date, one management team had been obliged to resign in failure, the internal contradictions of their policy being too much even for the Foundation staff to accept. The internal problems were further covered up to general view by the new management team, who ensured that the community emerged unscathed from controversy by emphasising their NGO status acquired in 1997 and suppressing details of the economic malady. NGO status does not necessarily decode to perfection, especially if that status is acquired in circumstances of evasion concerning basic details.

The Times obituary asserts that Eileen Caddy joined the management committee after worrying that the Findhorn Foundation was becoming too commercial. This does not tally with dissident and critical reports, which utilise more detailed data (and some of which can be found on this website). In reality, Eileen assisted the commercial trend and remained a puppet of the management teams. In 1994 she expressed the endorsement that “when all of us can think in millions of pounds, we will draw millions of pounds to us” (Shepherd, Letter of Complaint to David Lorimer, 2005, booklet version, p. 16, and citing Castro, Hypocrisy and Dissent, p. 190). This statement was not a private disclosure, but was inserted into an influential circular letter to the community. That letter was both a public and “open community” circular seeking donations after the death of Peter Caddy in February 1994.

The demise of the co-founder was treated as an opportunity for a major fundraising operation by the Foundation director Judy (Buhler-)McAllister. The Forres Gazette reported that the circular was being sent out to eleven thousand “regular customers” of Foundation courses (and workshops). Those clients were located in America, Europe, and Britain. A copy of Peter Caddy’s obituary was enclosed along with a donation form. Plus the persuasive letter from Eileen Caddy addressed to “My dear family,” and which included her eccentric (and inaccurate) interpretation of the word Findhorn as meaning the “Horn of  Plenty.” The explicit nature of that letter as a goad to donations was unmistakable, and the reference to millions of pounds sterling clearly denoted the objective (Castro, Hypocrisy and Dissent, pp. 189–90).

8.  The  Real  Situation  of  Eileen  Caddy

In her "My dear family" letter, Eileen refrained from mentioning significant matters which she had disclosed in private. Her confidante had been Kate Thomas, a relative newcomer to the Foundation who had chosen to live in Forres. Eileen had invited Thomas to her new home at The Park, and seemed in desperate need of discussing internal matters relating to her organisation. She prefaced a major disclosure by swearing Thomas to strict confidence, stressing that the information she gave could be damaging to the community reputation. It was obvious that she dared not talk to various other women, who were orthodox supporters believing in the spiritual nature of the community role.

Eileen disclosed to Kate Thomas that the managerial figures of the Foundation had ceased to take her advice. Further, the persons concerned were themselves worried that their diverging attitude towards her would become known. They had been influenced by Peter Caddy’s departure and critical attitude towards herself. On this point, Eileen lamented that Peter had told her by telephone that he no longer believed in any of her guidance. She had also received a dismissive letter from Peter reiterating this outlook, and one which made clear that he now considered she had been deluded from the start. Eileen was very upset by that recent letter, which was never made public knowledge.

Eileen repeatedly invited Kate Thomas to her home at The Park, and also commenced a telephone contact with this new friend. Eileen was very troubled by such factors as Craig Gibsone (the Australian director of the Foundation) being immune to her advice and complaints. It was noticeable that Gibsone, a long term inmate of the community, had sought ideological support in Tantric Buddhism, which he often mentioned. His conversion to Holotropic Breathwork accentuated the fact of his acute tangent from the Caddy guidance.

There was no effective leadership within the Foundation, influential staff tending to do what they wanted, and with some frictions developing. Eileen felt that things had got out of control.  Kate insisted that Eileen should alter her tactics and stand firm against the problems, which would otherwise get worse.  Eileen knew that this was good advice, but proved incapable of following it.  She continually demonstrated that she could not stand up to assertive personalities, especially certain men within Foundation ranks who were known to be difficult.

Two of these overbearing officials became aggressive towards Thomas, and there was nobody to stop them. Eileen was terrified of saying a word against Eric Franciscus and Loren Stewart. She simply kept quiet and stayed well in the background. She did not even want to know about the events concerning them. This grim situation involved the persecution of a younger friend of Thomas, who had joined the community but who became the victim of authority complexes. These and other problems caused Kate Thomas to compose a chapter in her autobiography describing flaws in Findhorn Foundation events. That chapter included critical references to Eileen’s teaching, which had set the tone for some basic attitudes in the community, and which tended to mesh with simplistic therapy emphases derived from elsewhere.

After the publication of The Destiny Challenge in May 1992, Eileen remained in contact with Kate Thomas. Surprisingly, she did not read the Thomas book, though she became acquainted with the basic contents of chapter 14.  It was confirmed that Eileen was not a studious type, reading only the short and popular “new age” works favoured within the Foundation. She wanted to be friends with Thomas providing that she was not expected to stand out against the problem entities. She did not want to forfeit in any way her new home at The Park, and she frequently spoke of her children rather than anything else. Thomas despaired of getting a due response from her.

Eileen had demonstrated her evasive tendency to the full in an episode which was briefly recorded by Thomas (and which is an understatement). The female victim of staff hostility made a desperate visit to Eileen’s new home, asking the occupant why she “had done nothing at any step to correct this situation” (The Destiny Challenge, p. 975). Eileen listened to the anguished report of her visitor, but gave no explanation. The visitor was told “that if she was unhappy, she should leave” (ibid., p. 976).

9.  Conflict  Resolution  a  Farce

The visitor left Eileen's home in despair, and was “in a state bordering on collapse” (ibid.) when she afterwards telephoned Kate Thomas. The latter immediately contacted a retired medical practitioner (in Forres) who promptly went by car to the distressed woman. The state of this woman was such that the doctor took the sufferer back to her (the doctor’s) own home. The sufferer soon afterwards relinquished membership of the Foundation.

That episode occurred in 1991. As the present writer was a personal acquaintance of the medical practitioner mentioned, I can here fill in some details. Dr. Sylvia Darke (d. 1999) was a retired English G.P. who had settled in Scotland after a distinguished career; she had been connected with the Ministry of Health, and acted as a consultant to the World Health Organisation. In her later years she took a liberal attitude to some of the more restrained “new age” ideas, but firmly drew the line with regard to the Findhorn Foundation. She lived in Forres, but refused to join the Foundation, regarding that organisation with considerable scepticism. She made a few visits as an observer, and was very suspicious of the casual attitudes and therapy jargon that were prevalent.  Her opinion of Eileen Caddy was very low, and plummeted to zero when she rescued the unfortunate woman abovementioned from a very stressed predicament. The medic concluded that the sufferer had been victimised in an unmonitored situation of grave implications.


l to r: Judy McAllister, Sylvia Darke

The sufferer quickly recovered under Dr. Darke’s supervision, but had to leave the Foundation in the interests of her health. Dr. Darke’s assessment of the Foundation remained very critical thereafter, an outlook converging with that of other medics in Forres. She wrote some complaining letters to the local newspaper about subsequent events, and in 1994 made a special visit to the Foundation director Judy Buhler-McAllister (later known as Judy McAllister). Dr. Darke intended to discuss pressing discrepancies in the Foundation policy currently being enforced by the director. Yet the Canadian director refused to see the senior British medic, and the latter had to wait outside in her car before driving away. Judy McAllister refused permission for the senior medic to enter the building in which her managerial office was located at The Park (Shepherd, Pointed Observations, 2005, p. 215).

Judy McAllister was also censorious in relation to Kate Thomas, whom she suppressed for years, refusing pleas for a fair hearing, which was never granted. This situation included dead end telephone conversations of the victim with the unyielding Judy McAllister, whose despotic sense of power refused a meeting with Thomas, and also prohibited any other concessions to such a close neighbour. Incidentally, I chanced to overhear one of these conversations on an interior extension line at my mother's home in Forres. McAllister expressed a continual put-down, purportedly representing spiritual education, no criticism of which was tolerated.

This situation was rendered even more discrepant when McAllister took a prominent role in "conflict resolution workshops," which were commercially successful but totally unconvincing to informed parties. Judy McAllister has also been prominent in the Game of Transformation (the Transformation Game), which is a board game elevated to very dubious status. Like conflict resolution, this is simply a game, though played as a moneyspinner. McAllister is currently a facilitator (trainer) in the Game, in a course for which the charge is £1850, a speciality advertised by the Findhorn Foundation College (formerly Cluny Hill College).

In 1994, Eileen Caddy betrayed her conscience by siding totally with the management (and the director Judy McAllister) against Kate Thomas, apparently under strong persuasion. See Part Two below. Despite this lamentable example, Kate never divulged the matters which Eileen had disclosed in confidence. In the late 1990s, Thomas had further contact with the co-founder, though of a more incidental nature than formerly. Eileen did not refer to the past, and for the most part expressed only mundane interests. She never wished to discuss the management, whom she had chosen to support despite her dislike of many policies they furthered. Eileen once visited the home of Thomas, which she knew well, this having formerly been a Foundation support venue, and one where Eileen had a small room upstairs reserved for her use.

Kate Thomas passed on details from Eileen to only three people – myself, Stephen Castro, and Dr. Darke. This was in strict confidence, which all observed. Stephen Castro refrained from mentioning the upsetting details about Peter Caddy in his book Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation (1996), though he had good cause to do so. Thomas did not want the details to be disclosed while Eileen was still alive. In view of current attitudes of the Findhorn Foundation, such as their internet stigma of Castro and Thomas (see Part Four below), the relevant details have been supplied here in the interests of historical reporting.

Dr. Darke was one of those local residents who felt strongly about the promotion of Holotropic Breathwork by Craig Gibsone and his associates. Reports about unpleasant aftermath symptoms of this presumed therapy became widespread in Forres. Yet an international promotion campaign by Grof and his supporters misled many subscribers. It was more often women who were the sufferers in this direction, though some males also encountered serious problems, including nervous breakdown. 

Eventually Dr. Darke wrote a strong letter of complaint to the Scottish Charities Office, serving to complement communications from other objectors to that Office (the SCO failed to act in relation to additional matters of which they were apprised). The Breathwork was only one of the more obvious drawbacks within the indulgent community lacking any effective leader. Other therapies also caused problems and confusions, while “spiritual counselling” was a popular trend which saw many doubtful experts giving advice on what to do. “Letting go” was one of the panaceas that accompanied “Be here Now.”

The sceptical Dr. Darke became concerned about what Eric Franciscus was doing, having had to monitor his victim abovementioned in 1991. She was extremely perturbed that Franciscus was the official in charge of “Education” at Cluny Hill College (subsequently renamed Findhorn Foundation College). He was not a Breathwork practitioner, but considered an expert on therapy and counselling. Those activities were largely what was meant by the word “Education.” Franciscus and his wife also conducted regular and commercial “spiritual pilgrimages” to India. Eric became strongly associated with the “miracle guru” of Puttaparthi. He and his wife subsequently became members of the management team that benefited from the acquisition of NGO status which baffled locals.

Dr. Darke expressed the conclusion that a principled standpoint, such as that demonstrated by Kate Thomas, opposing the follies promoted by Foundation officials, was crucially necessary for public health. This medic's view of Breathwork (hyperventilation) was scathing; she learned much about local victims. The workshop theme of "conflict resolution" was a farce. Further, in her assessment, the Transformation Game amounted to a diversionary commercial pastime sold by persons who jettisoned scruple. She reiterated that:

"When a medical doctor requests an interview, on grounds of known abuses, and is not permitted even a moment, then you know that the situation is seriously wrong."

10.  Peter  Caddy  Endorses  a  Dissident  Book

It is perhaps an irony that Peter Caddy can also be numbered amongst the supporters of Kate Thomas. Less than a year before his death, in March 1993 Peter sent Thomas a letter which stated: “Many of your expressed concerns about the so-called New Age movement and particularly the Foundation, will, I trust, receive the attention they deserve” (Castro, op. cit., p. 189). This was his cordial response to The Destiny Challenge (1992), which contains a lengthy chapter on the Foundation. Perhaps his conversion to Hinduism had made Peter Caddy more critical of his earlier role and Eileen’s guidance. Be that as it may, a co-founder of the Findhorn Foundation endorsed the heretical book that was suppressed by the management. This gesture was in strong contrast to Eileen’s fear of authority, which caused her to side with the suppression and deny her former friend and confidante any democratic hearing.

11.   Pierre  Weil,  NGO  Status,  and  Peace  Anomaly

The Times obituary for Eileen represents a surface layer in reporting the Caddy events. This commemoration informs that Eileen told an interviewer in 1999 that she regarded herself as the “spiritual anchor” of the management committee (or team). The management teams of the 1990s were content to depict Eileen as their spiritual figurehead, a theme which had become part of their mythology. Yet this is not sufficient to explain how they gained NGO status associated with the UN Department of Public Information.


Pierre Weil

Close analysts have concluded that NGO status was secured via the Foundation patron Pierre Weil (1924-2008), in a procedure that remained obscure. Dr. Weil spent most of his time in Brazil at the Holistic University he founded. This alternative university at Brasilia emphasised peace. Yet in relation to new age conceptualism, that institution has been accused of employing a vague and uncritical approach. Weil was an author and "workshop" innovator.

Dr. Weil was committed to the ideal of world peace, but completely overlooked the discrepant factor of suppressed close neighbours in Forres. One of these suffered manic discrimination on the occasion of a Weil "living in peace" workshop dating to May 1993, and occurring at Cluny Hill College. Kate Thomas (Jean Shepherd) lived very close to Cluny Hill College, and in a house formerly used by the Foundation. As her son, I lived in the same house for seven years and have vivid memories of the period. Weil also ignored the medical warnings about Holotropic Breathwork, an activity which he endorsed in Brazil, to the gratification of practitioner Craig Gibsone. See also section 36 below.

A UNESCO advisory of 2002 had the title of Conflict Resolution and "The Art of Living in Peace." This deferred to Weil's peace method "that takes account of all a person's psychological, emotional and physical characteristics, so that learning about peace can be internalised." Unfortunately, this diagnosis had been proven wrong at the Findhorn Foundation, where negative emotion was permitted to achieve an act of suppression. This occurrence is the more lamentable in view of the acute tendency to suppress all such details of dissident events. The episode was recorded in a book ignored by the Foundation, whose sense of history is extremely deficient. Cf. Castro, Hypocrisy and Dissent at the Findhorn Foundation, 1996, p. 110. Further, UNESCO failed to reply to a citizen complaint in relation to such events. See section 34 below and Letter to UNESCO.

 

PART  TWO:  DISSIDENT  KATE  THOMAS AND  EILEEN  CADDY

Kate Thomas (b. 1928) was both the confidante and critic of Eileen Caddy, gaining an intimate knowledge of the latter’s psychology. She was likewise British, and a nearby resident of Forres who conversed with Eileen on many occasions until 1993 (and sometimes in the latter’s home at The Park by invitation). Thomas demonstrated a scruple that was acknowledged and admired even by one of the opposing practitioners of Holotropic Breathwork. Caddy wavered between a feeling of kinship with Thomas and a feeling of fear about upsetting the management. The fear complex proved victorious.

Thomas discovered that Eileen Caddy was socially amenable, but very evasive on points of community wellbeing. Caddy admitted to Thomas that she did not agree with various trends promoted by the management. She also gave lame excuses for her inertia in failing to confront management tactics. Eileen Caddy divulged that she had formerly complained, but the management had ignored her. Caddy’s policy had become one of taking the line of least resistance, which meant no resistance at all. That was how the 1980s closed and the 1990s commenced.

 



Kate  Thomas, Cambridge 1978

 

The discussions between Caddy and Thomas were very unsatisfactory, the former becoming apprehensive at being drawn into possible frictions. Caddy demonstrated a singular failing in relation to Stanislav Grof’s controversial Holotropic Breathwork, a trademark therapy which worried many people in the community (to such an extent that a number of them departed from the scene in a perturbed state of mind).

12.   Crises  of  Holotropic  Breathwork

Eileen Caddy’s nominal protégé Craig Gibsone was the principal instigator of Holotropic Breathwork workshops, and she had contracted a habit of never interfering with this man, who was resistant to correction.

One of the younger recruits at the time of Spangler’s sojourn, Gibsone had since strongly entrenched his claim to community salience. Caddy herself did not agree with the doctrines of Grof, and was not a therapist. Yet Gibsone was totally uncritical about Grof theory and commercial practice, himself becoming a workshop star in that context.

A recorded interchange between Thomas and Caddy in 1990 was about Holotropic Breathwork. It transpired that Caddy agreed with the concern of Thomas about the Grof “therapy.” Yet Eileen’s attitude was pronouncedly evasive. Thomas referred to the recently observed drawbacks in Holotropic Breathwork sessions at the Foundation, and commented that some participants “could become seriously deranged, or even die.” The response alarmed her. “Perhaps that is what must happen to make them pay heed,” said Eileen, who divulged that Gibsone had opposed her own critical reflection upon the Breathwork. Eileen had then docilely retreated from the issue.

Yet as a consequence of talking with Kate Thomas, Eileen said that she would approach the guest American facilitator (a pupil of Grof) who was in charge of Holotropic Breathwork proceedings (being a tutor of the recently converted Gibsone). Eileen later told Kate Thomas that this facilitator and Gibsone had agreed to provide a support group for those who might need “spiritual emergency” treatment.  Emergencies were recognised to occur, but were interpreted in a Grofian “spiritual” manner very different from medical assessments (all considered to be outdated by Grof and his supporters).

Thomas was still alarmed, because Caddy would make no public statement, and remained anonymous in her objection. Other Foundation people expressed disbelief when Thomas told them that Eileen had made some intervention, as they had no idea that Eileen was opposed to the Breathwork (The Destiny Challenge, 1992, pp. 935–6). Such people merely assumed that Thomas was exaggerating. This grave failure of Eileen Caddy to register a complaint in public was disastrous for the train of events.

Gibsone retained full play in his ambitions to be a practitioner of the controversial therapy, and subsequent support groups transpired to be a necessity for distraught women, some with revived memories of sexual abuse. The problems were covered up, as usual. Gibsone proceeded in his plan to make the Foundation a worldwide training centre for Holotropic Breathwork, and over three years elapsed before official intervention stopped the tide of casualties. While some Breathwork participants became euphoric, others suffered greatly, and sometimes with damage. The details were cast into oblivion by the Findhorn Foundation hierarchy.

13.  Toeing  the  Party  Line  of  Suppression

In a comment about  Eileen Caddy’s teaching, Thomas distilled: “Eileen teaches that one is already a Christ-filled being and that affirmations of this condition are all that is necessary for interior development. One should ‘love oneself’ with all one’s faults and accept oneself just as one is. Self-examination is not a requirement, and the correction of flaws is never mentioned” (ibid., pp. 912–13.). That describes so much of what occurred in the indulgent community known as the Findhorn Foundation.

A friend of Thomas was Stephen Castro, who produced a significant account of discrepancies within the Findhorn Foundation. He also encountered Eileen and was very sceptical of her belief system, although he did not openly express this.  In a letter to the present writer dated April 1st, 2007, Castro stated:

“The ‘inner voice’ heard by ‘Elixir’ (Eileen Caddy) in the formative early years really was believed to be God.… When Craig Gibsone put her name forward on a community bulletin board indicating she was going to be among the participants in the original programme for Holotropic Breathwork (thus endorsing the programme), she quickly asked for her name to be removed after learning what he had done. Her ‘inner voice’ said it was not for her. The ‘inner voice’ being of course a convenient screen to hide behind so that one need never have to stand up and be counted by speaking from the first person, i.e., oneself.”

Eileen Caddy toed the party line. She required a goad from Kate Thomas even to express a secretive complaint that produced a support group for Holotropic Breathwork. Her reputed “inner voice” of the 1960s now amounted to a bystander endorsement of dubious policies from which she herself felt largely estranged. Such realistic details were foreign to management propaganda, which was careful to suppress The Destiny Challenge (by Thomas) in a memorable manner. The detailed report of Castro in Hypocrisy and Dissent was likewise eschewed. The unwelcome reporting continued in my own Pointed Observations (2005, Part Five). These sources have all been suppressed and ignored by the Foundation management strategy, a fate also befalling critical accounts by other writers (e.g., J. P. Greenaway, In the Shadow of the New Age, 2003; C. Coates, 21st Century Theosophy, 2005).

A recent account by Kate Thomas includes an update on the Caddy problem, which was further aggravated by the Findhorn Foundation College (the new commercial version of the therapy venue Cluny Hill College, and promoting the drawback known as Holistic Learning, which has encompassed the myth of “conflict resolution” and the Transformation Game). See Thomas, SMN Events 2000–2004, chapters 1 and 5.

In the spring of 1992 appeared the book by Kate Thomas entitled The Destiny Challenge. In the lengthy chapter fourteen, she describes her contact with the Findhorn Foundation from 1988 onwards, and how she objected to Grof’s commercial Holotropic Breathwork and other drawbacks. Craig Gibsone effectively screened her out of any chance of a democratic hearing, and was backed up by two ruthless Foundation personnel who victimised her for daring to criticise internal policies. These two men ensured that her membership was severely restricted and annulled. These two Findhorn Foundation oppressors were a German and an American respectively, the former being more relentless and also gravely victimising a female friend of Thomas who had joined the Foundation.

When the Foundation staff acquired a copy of the Thomas book, they reacted to the content of chapter 14 by attempting to impose a legal interdict. One of them publicly denied in a local newspaper that Thomas had ever been a member of the Findhorn Foundation. That was a big mistake of Alex Walker, and the resultant press exposure of Foundation problems electrified a local audience, to such an extent that photocopies of chapter 14 were passed to interested parties such as medical doctors.

Kate Thomas proved willing to reconciliate, and initiated this move. Yet once again, the proud and vindictive staff of the Findhorn Foundation asserted their primacy. There could be no reconciliation for them, the commercial promoters of conflict resolution (often appearing in the American rendition of conflict facilitation, studiously employed by the Foundation promotionalists to gain a wider audience). They proved many times over what their orientation basically amounted to. Some of them met their Waterloo when the management team crashed at the time of gaining NGO status, but others crept past that fiasco to gain glorification as inheritors of the UN mantle.

While the ill-fated management team was scheming how to siphon off funds for the new salary increases initiated by Gibsone, a very revealing event occurred in 1994 which revolved around Eileen Caddy. The management team was the actual instigator of the tactic involved. The docile Caddy was here the condoning witness to the management policy of total suppression of Thomas in the wake of her commendable gesture of reconciliation. Kate Thomas was the only one who forgave, while the other participants harboured animosity and vengeful pride. The management had already blocked her former membership of the Foundation, and now also ruthlesssly excluded Thomas from Open Community membership, so that she could have no say in community events or conduct any defence of her own acutely misrepresented position. She was stifled while being slandered. See further Kate Thomas and the Findhorn Foundation (2009).

This grave situation deeply shocked some onlookers (including myself), who recognised that the Findhorn Foundation were reversing their declared priorities in such trite lip service themes as unconditional love. Democracy was and is a myth in new age planetary transformation. The Vatican of the New Age (i.e., the Findhorn Foundation) may be compared with a medieval prototype (or archetype) of elite exclusionism.

14.  Unconditional  Love  and  the Testimony  of  Howard  Whiteson

Howard Whiteson intervened on behalf of Kate Thomas, but could not elicit a grain of sympathetic response from Eileen Caddy about the dissident situation. His encounters with prominent Foundation officials further served to totally alienate him (Castro, Hypocrisy and Dissent, pp. 138ff.). This was one of the episodes in Castro's book which the management were subsequently very keen to suppress.

 

Howard Whiteson had hoped to join the Foundation, but the setback caused him to leave the vicinity in revulsion. He never returned, and remained averse to the Findhorn Foundation. The “inner voice” of Foundation “attunement” decoded to authoritarian abuse of basic rights of representation and issues relating to communal wellbeing. Whiteson moved back in despair to England, and without actually meaning to do so, he also lost contact with Thomas. Many years later, in 2006, he resumed contact with Thomas (via correspondence) and contributed an account of his former contact with Eileen Caddy. This is reproduced here:

 

“When I returned to the Findhorn Foundation in 1994 for a second visit, I was shocked to learn that Kate Thomas had been expelled from membership, and in an arbitrary and undemocratic manner. I had first met Kate in Cambridge during the 1980s, and found her to be a woman of remarkable probity, honesty, and insight. I found various Foundation people busy denouncing Kate, but none of them actually seemed to know what she was reputed to have done wrong.

"Despite much rumour-mongering by the Foundation staff, the fact was that Kate’s case had never been heard in an open forum. Of course, such a platform would have allowed her an opportunity to defend herself, as well as to publicly reveal the nature of the treatment she had received at the hands of Findhorn Foundation figureheads, who had much vested interests in ensuring her continued silence. During my stay, I made every effort to gain Kate a due hearing, but my letters, phone calls, and personal discussions with members and trustees only ever met with a wall of indifference verging on callousness, and at times, downright hostility.

“Such stonewalling tactics are characteristic of cults, another being the pervasive use of jargon. The latter tendency was rife amongst Foundation members, many of whom referred to themselves as ‘Christ-filled.’ The connotations of this phrase remained difficult for me to fathom. Some members referred to ‘finding the God within,’ a particularly abstract concept. When questioned, one member told me he was ‘divinely ordinary,’ that although everything he did was ordinary, he imbued it with divinity. I found this stance hypocritical, given the attitude shown towards Kate. But who originated the quixotic terminology? In her autobiography, Foundation co-founder Eileen Caddy referred to herself as ‘a beautiful Christ-filled being’ (Caddy, Flight Into Freedom, London: Element Books, 1988, p. 207). Had this and other self-aggrandizing affirmations convinced Foundation members that Caddy was in receipt of cosmic ‘guidance’ which ensured that the Foundation would pursue a correct course of spiritual development?

"The truth was rather more mundane. On one occasion, Caddy ‘had no guidance to write down. Although I felt a hypocrite, I pretended to hear something then wrote down the first thing that came into my head.’ Despite this inauspicious tactic, Caddy’s guidance went on to inform her: ‘You are Mary, the mother of Jesus the Christ’ (ibid., p. 118). Being ‘Christ-filled’ took on new significance.

“Perhaps in the role of ‘divine mother,’ Caddy asserted: ‘Gromyko from Russia and George Shultz of the United States were meeting to discuss a possible halt to the arms race, so I visualised the Christ within those two world representatives. I saw them transformed, their faces filled with joy and happiness and I saw them taking this change of consciousness back to their respective countries. In my mind the destructive energies changed to positive, constructive ones, and a wonderful healing joy of the earth took place, filling it with light, love and joy’ (ibid., p. 223). The Greenham Common women, who held permanent vigil outside Britain’s nuclear arms HQ, would have been dismayed to learn that years of political protest had not led to nuclear disarmament. Instead, ‘Christ-filled’ Caddy had purified the planet with her loving, joy-filled mind.

“Another clue to Caddy’s psychology lay in a catchphrase she frequently employed, and which Foundation members just as frequently repeated: that in all their actions they were practising ‘unconditional love.’ No one I met within the Foundation precincts ever questioned whether love could actually be unconditional. More objective New Age analysts, however, were not so easily persuaded: ‘to want to give or receive unconditional love is to place a condition on love – namely, that it have no conditions. This is not just a play on words. Abstractions by their very nature leave out the living context, and when dealing with emotions, this is particularly treacherous. If the abstraction omits or denigrates important aspects of the living situation, strange and often harmful consequences and distortions result.’ (Kramer, J. and Alstad, D., The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power, California: Frog Ltd., 1993, p. 265.)

“Harmful indeed were the unconditional distortions Kate Thomas received in a living context of persecution. Despite such glaring anomalies, which were carefully kept from the tender ears of newcomers, the promise of unconditional love greatly influenced visitors. They willingly forked out large sums of money to hug each other, open up, and narrate intimate life events (often traumatic or abusive) during frequent and lengthy group ‘sharings.’ As I saw it, the resultant tide of intense emotionality short-circuited their ability to reason. This may have contributed to the difficulty I had conducting any form of coherent discourse with New Age adherents. In fact, many participants seemed to have undergone the conversion syndrome known as ‘snapping,’ after which they became followers who routinely fell in with the party line. (See Conway, F., and Siegelman, J., Snapping: America’s Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change, Philadelphia and New York: J. B. Lippincott, 1978.)

“If Caddy was a planetary healer, then one might imagine her as some sort of divinely-inspired saint. When I met her, she cut a singularly uninspiring figure. I requested a moment of her time, to which her immediate response was to bark a brusque, ‘No.’ A little later, I gained a brief hearing, whereupon she announced that in Kate’s case, democratic processes were unnecessary, as the organisation was being watched over by God. Furthermore, Caddy opined, Kate had been expelled for the horrendous sin of ‘writing a book.’

“Perhaps the crux here is that a woman who fantasised herself as Mary was not so much ‘Christ-filled’ as ‘ego-filled.’ Instead of divine behaviour, ‘Christ-filled’ members exhibited demonic misbehaviour towards Kate Thomas. I will never forget the rage which manifested from such Foundation stalwarts as Charles Peterson (focaliser of Cluny), or Loren Stewart (member of Management Group). Once their hugging, smiling, and sotto voce affirmations ceased, something altogether more malevolent emerged. It was Kate’s misfortune to be at the receiving end of their aggression. Sadly, collective New Age acrimony was still in evidence as recently as 2001, when Kate was seventy-two years old (Shepherd, Pointed Observations, pp. 180–3). Participation in too many Findhorn Foundation workshops, it seemed, resulted in a form of unconditional hatred.

“In the end, the tragedy remained that Kate was prevented from contributing effectively towards Foundation life. Eileen Caddy and the community of ‘unconditional love’ remained the unrelenting barrier until Eileen’s recent death in 2006.”

 

Eileen Caddy was now a screen against relevant criticism, her position effectively condoning the motivations underlying the attempted legal interdict on The Destiny Challenge. The Foundation solicitor was unable to give the Foundation staff any license; people could not be stopped from criticising what was potentially hazardous or events which seemed unfair.

15.  Perfect  Peace  in  Question

Publication of The Destiny Challenge had not prevented Caddy from being in contact with Thomas during 1992–3. She actually agreed with some of the complaints made by Thomas in chapter 14, though being averse to any criticism of herself. Eileen’s conversation with Whiteson was clearly influenced by the management, and reflected several of their idioms – such as Thomas being a “nuisance,” and that she wanted to “take over the Foundation” (Castro, Hypocrisy and Dissent, p. 151). A variant of this distortion, though not used by Eileen, was that Thomas wanted to “save” the Foundation, an accusation which gravely misrepresented objections to the traumas and dysfunctions caused by Holotropic Breathwork.

The justifiable complaint made by Kate Thomas against Holotropic Breathwork had been suppressed, despite that complaint having been totally vindicated by medical scruple and SCO recommendation. The SCO (Scottish Charities Office) had recommended (to the Foundation) against the commercial Grof therapy the previous year (1993), after the report submitted by the Forensic Medicine Unit at Edinburgh University. Yet Eileen Caddy chose to ignore such factors, her fear of management displeasure being a major psychological complex in her case. She allowed the management to decisively eliminate the major objector to Holotropic Breathwork, while spokesmen like Alex Walker were attempting to justify the role of Grof therapy in Foundation precincts.

The Breathwork continued to be practised privately at the Foundation in defiance of the official recommendation and medical warning, and was afterwards spread with even greater defiance in England by such new age activists as William Bloom, who had become a prominent “workshop” celebrity at the Findhorn Foundation (see my Letter to BBC Radio).

Thomas had also warned in her chapter 14 against such controversial matters as neoReichian therapy, and the influence of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and Aleister Crowley – the books and accessories of both these new age icons were sold without scruple in the Foundation bookshop. Yet Eileen Caddy turned a blind eye to the inappropriate commercial policy. Apparently all that mattered to her was for “Eileen’s Guidance” to be continually emphasised in Foundation literature.  Visitors were familiar with her “inner voice” statement:

“Be at perfect peace; all is working out according to My plan.”

The Rajneeshi terrorism in Oregon, occurring in the 1980s, was justified by the guidance plan; nobody in the Foundation bothered to chart the divisions between socially beneficial and socially harmful behaviour. The divine plan of Caddy Guidance did not envisage criticism of anomalies and drawbacks. The management and Eileen Caddy represented the Door to Heaven, while critics represented the Door to Hell.

 

PART  THREE:  COMMERCIAL  EXPANSION  AND  MISMANAGEMENT  

The door to commercial superficiality was opened by this organisation, notorious in some quarters for the Transformation Game, which has figured extensively in their promotional brochures for many years. The Online Store of the Findhorn Foundation has sold “Angel Cards” (price £6.95) in the context of a new age supermarket invitation to sample, e.g., books, cards and calendars, and “Tools for Transformation.” The ad appeared in the Courses and Workshops brochure, noted for the high prices charged in the workshop calendar. In this ad, transformation explicitly covers the Transformation Game and Oracle and Card Sets (See Findhorn Foundation Courses and Workshops May-October 2004, p. 34).

The Transformation Game is a novelty selling for extortionate prices in so-called workshops, while oracular accessories were another regular distraction in this exploitive milieu. The pitch is even more obnoxious when sanctioned by the divine plan of Caddy Guidance. Yet UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research) blindly decided to boost the Foundation profile as a CIFAL centre.

Commerce in the Game, and other disputed sales output, makes the deva lore of the early Findhorn garden seem like a reasonable exercise in fantasy horticulture. The drawback commerce was furthered by the 1990s phase of known mismanagement, which concealed a debt of £800,000 that was finally recognised to require strong measures of curtailment. The wrong measures were adopted when the debt was declared in 2001. Various extreme strategies were pursued to kill the overdraft. The "new" Findhorn Foundation College was described as an independent company. “Totally independent” enterprises were stressed, such as Duneland Ltd and EcoVillage Ltd.  Ecobiz had arrived. The overdraft involved the mortgage of four Foundation properties. Cluny Hill College (the old name for Findhorn College) had already been involved in a large overdraft, but the failure of therapy to float ecology was covered up in the erstwhile manner.

The lore of Holistic Education was now celebrated, an error accompanying the 1990s feat of privatising community assets. Old Age capitalism was still the basic drive in the Findhorn Foundation, as demonstrated further by Craig Gibsone’s commercial workshop version of ecology that was deployed to seduce UNITAR, whose standards of scrutiny are lax. CIFAL status decodes to relief from overdraft and the problems posed by independent enterprises which are all part of the same ongoing deficiency. Holistic Education is one of the biggest mystifiers invented in the post-1960s new age of retarded values (see further Shepherd, Pointed Observations, 2005, pp. 189ff.)

Some accountants caught up with the discrepancy evidenced in Findhorn Foundation activities of the pre-NGO phase, in which a large sum of money apparently became suspiciously absorbed (ibid., pp. 383ff. note 175). The fact that the Financial Services Authority intervened in the ecobiz banking operations at Findhorn is further cause for reflection about the propriety of holistic capitalism. The “magic of Findhorn” has cast a spell which it is necessary to break in the due perception of what has been occurring, and what might be likely to happen as a consequence.

16. The  Analysis  of  John  Greenaway

One of the reports outlining problems in this community is John Greenaway’s In the Shadow of the New Age: Decoding the Findhorn Foundation (2003). The data on economic and related matters is significant; Greenaway was the first writer to exhume details of the Foundation response to debt. The ICSA quarterly Cultic Studies Review (Vol. 2 no. 3, 2003) published a review by Frank MacHovec (Ph.D) which was both critical and validating: “The author’s search for truth is clear, his observations are objective despite some factual errors, and his judgment sound, making it a useful model for others and a detailed account of Findhorn’s history and program” (the errors do not relate to Greenaway’s solid data on the Foundation, but to certain of his excursions into more tenuous subjects).

Greenaway joined the Findhorn Foundation, but withdrew in 1992. He traces a strong commercial instinct during the 1980s, one which blended with the assimilation from California of innumerable “techniques” and presumed therapeutic panaceas associated with the decaying Human Potential Movement. He writes that the “spirit of the early Findhorn Community was now dead and buried under increasing managerialism and commercialism.… The Findhorn Foundation had come of age – as a full blooded commercial operation of the Californian kind” (In the Shadow of the New Age, p. 52).

Greenaway cites the academic work by Professor Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Leiden, 1996) entitled New Age Religion and Western Culture. This source commented on David Spangler’s book Revelation: The Birth of a New Age (1972), defining the latter as “one of the foundational texts of the New Age movement” (Greenaway, op. cit., p. 53, citing Hanegraaff, p. 39). Yet according to Steven J. Sutcliffe, “Hanegraaff’s model of ‘New Age religion’ remains curiously decontextualised” (Children of the New Age, p. 24), though the concession is made that Hanegraaff “provides a rich digest of the popular religious imagination in post-1960s Anglo-American culture” (ibid.).  Hanegraaff treated themes found in over a hundred books located in leading new age bookstores.

While some academics argue laboriously about what should comprise the definition of “new age,” the actual events involved too frequently suffer from obscurantism. Sutcliffe enlarged upon the early years of the Caddys, but made no reference to the dissidents at Findhorn, clearly influenced by partisan biases, himself preferring to describe “Experience Week,” which is commercial bait for the uncritical.

Spangler’s Revelation was so favourable to diffuse conceptualism that the Findhorn Foundation published it at their new press (Findhorn Press). This disconcerting book comprises “channelled” messages from Limitless Love and Truth, and is not the stuff to advocate for hard core ecological projects possessing scientific credibility. Revelation fitted perfectly into the Foundation repertory of the 1970s and long after.

The Foundation spokesman Alex Walker described Spangler’s channelled work as “the philosophical basis for what is evolving in the Foundation” (The Kingdom Within, 1994, p. 58). Walker’s manifesto contained many typical Findhorn Foundation themes which arouse strong query elsewhere. He added the new rhetorical device about the “perennial philosophy” being at work in the community, the proof for which is still precisely nil. There was also the sickening refrain of unconditional love, likewise totally disproven by managerial attitudes. Walker became an Ecovillage superstar and CIFAL performer.

Greenaway reported that Spangler’s Revelation “is regularly introduced to neophytes on Foundation induction courses where a critical response is not encouraged” (Greenaway, op. cit., p. 53). He provides detail about one induction course (or “Experience Week”) where the Spangler text was read and “workshop” participants were invited to give their comments. The polite replies such as “Very meaningful” were counterbalanced by the unusually blunt rejoinder from a Dutch woman that “I’ve never heard such a load of turgid twaddle.”

This pointed response prompted others present on that occasion to become more sober, the drawback conceivably being that “the induction week had reduced the critical level of most participants to that of a bunch of sheep” (ibid.). The “workshop facilitator” made no attempt to probe the situation; any criticism was unwelcome in the nonjudgmental milieu (a factor assisting the cashflow in process). The damage done to popular education has been extensive, and continued without break under the new aegis of UNITAR, who slumbered in Geneva while more donations were appropriated under the auspices of “attunement” and workshop distractions.

When Peter Caddy made return visits in the early 1990s, he expressed dismay at the increasing commercialism of his former community, warning that a departure was occurring from the original values and ideals. David Spangler is also reported to have expressed a similar warning during the same decade. Yet the new elite did not pay heed (ibid., p. 110).

17.  Sir  Michael  Joughin  as  Sceptical  Observer

Local press coverage increased in 1992 when a Foundation document leaked to a newspaper. This internal memorandum “outlined financially ambitious plans for a £5 million share flotation, to create a public limited company (Findhorn Business Partners plc) with the aim of expanding the Findhorn Foundation and its commercial operations” (Castro, Hypocrisy and Dissent, p. 9). One of the plans mentioned in this document was that of acquiring additional land in Findhorn, for which purpose the sum of £1.4 million was in prospect (ibid.). The obvious intention of expansion caused shock and anger amongst local inhabitants. It was known that Foundation projects had sustained economic losses the previous year, a factor which made the new plans seem even more suspect and provocative.

In August 1992, the local pressure caused the Foundation to host a public meeting at the Park. The local tide of opinion was so strongly against the new age expansionism that the Foundation desisted from further reference to the unpopular agenda, save to explain this away. The Scottish locals remained wary however, and their leading spokesman became Sir Michael Joughin (d. 1996), the company chairman of Hydro-Electric who lived very close to The Park.

That same month of August 1992, Sir Michael felt obliged to send a letter of complaint to the new director of the Foundation, namely Judy (Buhler-)McAllister, stating the grievances of the native Scottish village named Findhorn. He expressed the local view that the Foundation did not act as a spiritual retreat but as a commercial organisation employing “all the techniques of modern tourist marketing.” He pointed out the contradiction involved in the clumsy Foundation denials of their recent expansion plan (which envisaged a five year schedule), even though “your whole ideology is based upon expanding to the ‘whole planet’ let alone to Findhorn.”

Sir Michael was worried about the local area becoming a new age colony via the evasionist tactics which had recently been demonstrated. He further stated: “If you are to regain contact with your neighbours, then the Foundation must contract dramatically back into its ‘spiritual roots’ and give up its commercial and expansionist New Age ambitions” (Greenaway, In the Shadow of the New Age, pp. 87–9). This letter was sent to a local newspaper, which reported his various comments. Later, Sir Michael added a postscript for the Sunday Mail report in November 1992, saying that the Foundation had “gone from a benign community who believed in fairies in the garden to a commercial organisation feeding upon trusting people” (ibid., p. 89).

Sir Michael reacted strongly to a BBC television programme about the Findhorn Foundation, which he considered to be very misleading for audiences unfamiliar with basic events. That 1992 coverage entailed the further complexity that Kate Thomas was also scheduled for an accompanying slot in relation to the Holotropic Breathwork issue. Thomas was officially offered this slot by BBC officials (upon her request). Yet a BBC technician who visited her home, on the day of filming, was strongly influenced by Foundation staff; he told her rather insultingly that “it is just your view against theirs,” implying that she must be wrong in her complaint. She then refused to proceed with the filming, objecting to such obvious bias about a subject that was so imperfectly known to the public.

The BBC management were subsequently informed of this event (by the present writer), but the matter was glossed over as though it had never happened. Sir Michael Joughin afterwards ensured that the BBC were acquainted in detail with the poor economic performance of the Findhorn Foundation. The BBC were obliged to declare this matter in a television news bulletin of 1993. Only a man as eminent as Sir Michael could have prevailed upon the media in the face of insidious propaganda spread by the Foundation.

Wishing to hear more about Holotropic Breathwork and other events, Sir Michael invited Kate Thomas to his home, and was very sympathetic to her position. He mentioned to her his plan of all-out resistance to the Foundation, but also indicated his fears of a reprisal, having sensed their hostility because of his objections. He indicated his fear that extremists might damage his property. Such fears did in fact curtail the extent of Sir Michael’s tactics. However, his underlying opposition remained well known locally.

For the last few years of his life, Sir Michael Joughin worried constantly about his new age neighbours. What concerned him most of all was their tendency to cover up, to act as though all was well and nothing suspect was in the offing. He emphasised their known economic losses, their inability to keep afloat in the world as it really was and not as they wanted it to be. His viewpoint was confirmed by such details as those surfacing on a BBC television news report in 1993, which relayed that recent Foundation accounts recorded “a meagre profit of £471 on a turnover of £1 million” (Castro, op. cit., p. 10).

Also in 1993, the Scottish Daily Express referred to the disturbing experience of Eva Haden, an inmate of the Foundation caravan park who had been experiencing stress rather than any therapeutic benefit. In an interview, she said of the Foundation that “their claim to be a spiritual community is a complete con; the place is run by a dictatorship; anyone who steps out of line or questions their rule is subjected to a concerted campaign of harassment and terror” (ibid., p. 77). The lore of nature spirits and the Findhorn Angel was insufficient to dispel strong doubts about what was occurring.

Sir Michael was very concerned that the Foundation could host a controversial therapy like Holotropic Breathwork. He noted the censorship which the Foundation elite imposed upon dissidents like Kate Thomas. He did not trust the Foundation promotionalism, and minutely analysed their visible activities, which he regarded as ill-conceived. The “planetary village” lore often sounded like a riddle, being sustained by an assertion of Eileen Caddy (in the late 1960s) about the Findhorn Community becoming a “City of Light.” This was one pretext for the contested expansionism.

Critics watched apprehensively. There were signs that the Findhorn Foundation pursued a doubtful policy shrouded by internal schemes and camouflage tactics. One reason suggested for the continued suppression of Kate Thomas was the fear of management elite that she might divulge what was occurring behind the scenes, especially as they desired NGO status more than anything else. Local residents were puzzled as to precisely how this organisation achieved NGO status in 1997. The Foundation patron in Brazil, Pierre Weil, is the most obvious answer (section 11 above). Weil resisted the warnings of Edinburgh University about Holotropic Breathwork, himself being influenced by Craig Gibsone.

18.  EcoVillage  Thrust  and  the  Heavy  Debt  of  Sustainability

Meanwhile, after Sir Michael Joughin’s death in 1996, the Foundation staff became more bold in their tactics. It became evident that the tendency to commercial expansion was as strong as ever. The activity known as EcoVillage Ltd commenced, and the related project of Duneland Ltd acquired an extensive tract of land adjacent to The Park.

There was a disconcerting element in the public relations talk. The Ecovillage plan was rather deceptively submitted to Moray Council in 1997 as a separate unit to the Foundation (Greenaway, op. cit., pp. 108ff.). Yet this new project was afterwards revealed by the leading spokesman to cover The Park and some adjoining areas, including the desirable six acres known as The Field of Dreams. This project boosted the new NGO status of the Foundation. Plots in the Ecovillage were offered for sale to private buyers, these being affiliates of the Findhorn Foundation who wished to participate in the ecohousing industry that commenced. The theme of “eco-houses” was elaborately invested with “planetary village” significance. The expensive status dwellings were being constructed by the mid-1990s.

An accompanying, and unadvertised trend, was that of Foundation affiliates purchasing homes in the nearby Scottish village of Findhorn, a matter which caused much local resentment during the 1990s. The new age colonisation was viewed as an invasion. The presiding Foundation management were not popular. This body has been described as “an unelected administrative caste appointed by trustees” (ibid., p. 117). There were originally twelve trustees, this number being subsequently reduced to nine.

Meanwhile, Judy McAllister (a Canadian) was relentless in her persecution of the dissident Kate Thomas, and influenced the mandate of the management elite. In 1994, Stephen Castro (an ex-member of the Foundation) petitioned the trustees for a democratic internal enquiry into a pressing issue, but this request was dismissed without any adequate reason (Castro, Hypocrisy and Dissent, pp. 230–2). The trustees included McAllister, who was still the Foundation director at that time. The sense of dictatorial authority demonstrated by this leader was such that McAllister refused to see a local medical doctor (a retired GP) who was concerned at the treatment administered to two British dissidents (Shepherd, Pointed Observations, p. 215). See section 9 above.

According to Greenaway’s analysis, Findhorn Foundation managers were appointed by the trustees in a situation only nominally democratic. The trustees are here described as an oligarchy. “In practice long serving managers and senior community affiliates, plus those in favour with them from time to time, seem to hold the real power” (In the Shadow of the New Age, p. 138). Amongst privileges attending the elite group of trustees is the factor that “certain trustees have links with satellite concerns, such as Newbold House in Forres, which in a technical legal sense is independently owned” (ibid.). The independence of satellites is misleading, because the diverse components have acted in concert with regard to the clientbase and many features of ideology.

Local watchdogs kept track of Foundation accounting, which became more complex. Foundation accounts for the financial year ending Jan. 1999 showed that (relative to the previous year) staff costs increased by approximately £88,000. Not long after, newspaper reports in Sept. 2000 disclosed internal problems of the ailing community, informing that the Findhorn Foundation was nearly £600,000 in the red, and that things were getting worse. Even the manager of the Phoenix general store (at The Park) had recently complained about declining numbers of visitors and a deep malaise. The strong pound and the exchange rate, plus the high cost of workshops and courses, were conspiring to deter overseas supporters. Yet further, maintenance costs for the Foundation properties were a disability. The extensive Cluny Hill College (a Victorian building with scores of bedrooms) was valued at only £100,000 despite many free labour contributions over the years from guests (ibid., pp. 139–40).

Drawbacks were not mentioned in the Foundation propaganda. The ecological theme of “sustainability” was fashionable, and this became glibly utilised in Craig Gibsone’s ecology workshops, which also stressed the glowing theme of “community,” presented in such a way as to imply a solution for all problems. Although the lavish debt of £800,000 was officially declared by the hierarchy in 2001, the propaganda continued, becoming ever more deceptive. Critics scrutinised the high prices charged by the elite. A Foundation annual programme starting in 1999 cost between £1500 to £3000 according to “a sliding scale by attunement” (food and accommodation were included). In 2002, this same annual event had increased in price to “between £4000 and £2500,” a short term inflation providing one of many indicators that sustainability is a myth in these sectors (ibid., p. 138).

The acquisition of NGO status had not secured relief from basic problems. UNITAR patronage was sought as the endorsement for sustainability. In 2004, the promotionalism stated that “the task of the Findhorn Foundation over the last forty years has been to qualify and adapt the most inspired ideas of the world to meet the exigencies of the times” (Findhorn Foundation Courses and Workshops May–October 2004, p. 35). This rather exaggerated claim to prerogative was not enhanced by the feat of bracketing together such workshop themes as “Ecovillage Education” and “Ageless Wisdom for your Daily Life” (ibid.). Ecology is here equivalent to the teaching of Alice Bailey and her Arcane School, be it noted. The relativism is not impressive to climate scientists.

Ecovillage Education became a favoured motto of the PR team, and the “Culture of Peace” slogan, borrowed from the United Nations, scrupulously ignored reference to the dissident books elsewhere gaining attention. The Caddy factor was incorporated into “weekly Guidance from Eileen emails,” a feature of the Findhorn Foundation internet front (ibid., p. 34). The same enticing brochure stated the crux of the situation in that “we need also to seek voluntary donations to help us continue to offer the level of services we provide within the community” (ibid., p. 35).

19.  Commercial  Workshops  and  the  Affluent  Lifestyle

The commercial programme for 2002 had involved “a median price for one week workshops of around £350–£400 (Greenaway, In the Shadow of the New Age, p. 143). Although remaining static for some years, these prices were high by comparison with religious equivalents in, e.g., Buddhist establishments. Tithing and bursaries were given, but in this respect “the annual amounts are very small” (ibid.). Foundation programmes were aimed at American and German affluence. The local Scottish population viewed these charges as exorbitant, and the reputation of the “sustainable community” amongst local villagers and townspeople was often very low (though bakers and other tradesmen were content to reap some benefits).  A calculating assembly like Moray Council, having strong interests in tourism, would eventually succumb to the suspect magic of Findhorn Foundation alternatives, being interested in ecobiz and not ecology.

A “Conflict and Transformation” conference in May 2002 cost £600 (ibid., p. 147). Dissidents were carefully screened out of the representations, thus typically leaving no trace of disquieting and unresolved conflict. It is a fact that Kate Thomas had twice been snubbed the previous year in her gestures of reconciliation, becoming ill on her neglected visit to Findhorn in April 2001 (Shepherd, Pointed Observations, pp. 180ff.), and again being consigned to oblivion by God’s mouthpiece Eileen Caddy later that same year via an inglorious episode in the history of the Scientific and Medical Network (see Thomas, SMN Events 2000–2004, chapter five). What was actually transformed by the Findhorn Foundation? The Moray Council balance sheet of anticipated revenues in tourism.

Close analysis of data could well disclose that Peter Caddy did not transform anything much outside his gardening plot and the caravan site which became The Park. In 1974, News of the World reported his statement: “God has told us this is the age of abundance and we must live in affluence and luxury” (In the Shadow of the New Age, p. 147). Nearly thirty years later, in 2002, the Foundation situation was that “affluence and luxury are for the hierarchs and the ‘mid Atlantic’ brigade of workshop leaders; many (Foundation) workers live close to penury, and the Foundation is nearly broke and frantically chasing grant aid” (ibid.). Peter Caddy at least did some gardening, but too many of his successors lived an artificial lifestyle more in affinity with the Manhattan jet set than anything sustainable in the ecological sense.

Peter acquired five wives in the lifestyle of abundance, and eventually became a subscriber to Hindu religion. At least gurus are tangible entities, whereas the mystery Tibetan Djwal Khul was “channelled” out of thin air by the versatile Alice Bailey. Yet gurus have spelled danger in some instances. From the late 1980s, the vogue for Sathya Sai Baba at the Foundation created more channelling fantasies. An official of Cluny Hill College was very partial to this trend. In the early 1990s, Eric Franciscus mounted an expensive expedition for subscribers to Auroville and Puttaparthi (the ashram of Sathya Sai Baba). After slandering and threatening two dissident women who had dared to protest at wrongs, Franciscus revelled in the glorified tourism of Eastern wisdom, which cost £2,500 per head for his travelling companions to secure (Thomas, The Destiny Challenge, p. 983).

The persons who actually benefit from Foundation propaganda about “spiritual transformation” are implied as being the managerial elite and “the new international upper middle class sub-group who ‘focalise’ its workshops” (Greenaway, op. cit., pp. 151–2). These bodies constitute an extension of the Human Potential Movement and the lore of self-realisation and personality enhancement. Critics observe that the personality often seems to get worse under such influences. Activities such as “channelling” are also preserved via commercial “workshops,” which entail the complete absence of due assessment by the affluent participants.

20.  Ecobiz

During the 1990s and after, the Findhorn Foundation failed to achieve UK university status for course “modules,” to use the preferred jargon. The therapy centre of the Moray Firth did not convince all spectators that presumed prowess was indisputable. What would be the next move of the claimants to ageless wisdom? When the substantial debt was declared in 2001, the eco-prefix became a standard feature of identity tags.  Ecobiz had become the road to salvation, all else having failed.

“By the start of 2002, the Foundation was poised for a massive eco-cum-tourist led expansion under an impressive (to the untrained eye at least) array of eco fronts” (In the Shadow of the New Age, p. 344). The underlying purpose discernible was the pursuit of grant aid, including “Lottery money and venture capital” (ibid.). Now appeared the “independent” projects such as Ekobay Ltd and Ekopia Ltd, supplementing the existing enterprises of EcoVillage Ltd and Duneland Ltd (ibid., pp. 344–5). The ecovillage lore appealed to the UN, who did not investigate complexities and undertones, or at least not in Moray. Ekopia emerged as “a vehicle for putting new money into other Foundation-linked enterprises” (ibid., p. 349), and one criticism has been that this activity is “essentially an in-house project, not the community buy-out which its publicity has proclaimed” (ibid., p. 350).

The most well known feature of the Findhorn Foundation eco-drive is the “eco-house” trend, strongly associated with the “Field of Dreams” adjacent to The Park. During the 1990s, the eco-houses became a status symbol for the new executive staff and affluent affiliates who could afford the investments. There is a reliable detail about how a shocked caravan resident of no status was removed to make way for one of the new staff assets (Castro, Hypocrisy and Dissent, p. 105). These elite constructions became controversial for the high price asked when one of them came up for sale in 2002, a very substantial profit being anticipated. See further About the Findhorn Foundation and UN, Appendix One.

21.  Vatican  of  the  New  Age

The Findhorn Foundation College (a new name for Cluny Hill College) was observed to duplicate the spirit of deceptive promotionalism and new age jargon. A sample workshop ad for “Holistic Learning” (cost £435 for a week) gives an idea of what this activity involves: “Working with core beliefs, conflict facilitation, dance, bodywork, art, group games, intuition and more” (Findhorn Foundation Courses and Workshops May–October 2005, p. 26). This College has claimed skill in conflict resolution (or facilitation), and may be considered ineffective in view of the recorded indifference demonstrated towards dissidents who were willing to communicate. The College Principal, Dr. Malcolm Hollick, “wishes to resurrect the old ‘University of Light’ vision of Peter Caddy, which is taken up periodically by Foundation spokespeople” (In the Shadow of the New Age, p.333). The vision has also been attributed to David Spangler (Riddell, The Findhorn Community, p. 80).

This auspice is also associated with the more well known “City of Light” theme expressed by Eileen Caddy, whose purported guidance referred to a village eventually growing into a “City of Light.” The Foundation impulse for property acquisition has been traced to this reference of the co-founder (ibid., p. 85), which served to justify the expansionism causing debt.

In 2001, the Findhorn Foundation College failed in the elementary option of resolving the issue of dissidents. Dr. Hollick instead deferred to the feeble response of Eileen Caddy, who once again sent Kate Thomas into oblivion, a development aided by the economic interests of the Scientific and Medical Network, another alternative body (see Thomas, SMN Events 2000–2004, chapter five). Critical observers have reached the inescapable conclusion that the “City of Light” decodes to the “Vatican of the New Age” as a vehicle for the suppression of dissidents. There are two extending considerations which can be expressed as follows:

(a) Eileen Caddy’s “guidance” was the genesis of the “planetary village” lore, which will not suffice to pass the necessary qualification of ecology being a science as distinct from the new age entrepreneurialism of ecobiz.

(b) When Eileen Caddy again sided with the management suppression of Kate Thomas, she did not raise a flicker of protest at the simultaneous inclusion of Margot Anand in a Foundation conference that is now notorious. This conference occurred in October 2001, and celebrated the disciple of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh whose speciality was incitement to orgasm, attended by a form of crude magic associated with mundane desires. The remoteness of the commercial opportunism from viable tuition is very marked, and one reason why the Findhorn Foundation has not been taken seriously in establishment sectors immune to revenues of tourism. See further my Letter to BBC Radio.

 

PART  FOUR:  THE  “MAGIC  OF  FINDHORN”  AS  CAMOUFLAGE  FOR  DRAWBACKS  SUCH  AS WORKSHOP  CHARGES  AND  STIGMA  OF  DISSIDENTS

22.  Dissident  Stephen  Castro

 

Stephen  Castro

 

In 2007, the civil servant Stephen J. Castro (author of Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation) summed up his impressions in retrospect:

“The more I think and read about the early influences from which the Findhorn Foundation arose, i.e., Moral Rearmament, the ‘Christ-within’ teaching of Sheena Govan, the Universal Link (and ‘Limitless Love’), Eileen Caddy’s ‘God spoke to me,’ Spiritualism, Theosophy, purported Rosicrucianism, channelled UFO messages, and Devas, the crazier it all becomes. Can any rational person really take any of the above seriously? Sociologists write about these matters in their detached and scholarly manner, yet dare not highlight the salient fact that what is actually happening is surely a form of social pathology whereby delusory beliefs and sanctimonious rhetoric contribute to the camouflage of ‘spirituality’.…

"The Findhorn Foundation was not the first community to arise based on ‘divine messages’ or charismatic leaders; historically many such communities have arisen, and during the 19th century there were a number of these communities in America. Even in Britain various agrarian communes based on self-sufficiency and crafts developed in response (or rather, reaction) to industrialisation, and thus predated current ecological concerns. So the Findhorn Foundation has a precedent, but can no longer be viewed as a commune, spiritual or otherwise; that ideal died by the late 80s. It is now just an ‘eco’ housing development-cum-business park-cum-therapy workshop enterprise-cum-holiday resort.” (From a letter to the present writer dated 08/04/2007.)

23.  Theologian  John  Drane  in  Contention


John  Drane


A bold article by author John Greenaway criticises Divinity Professor John Drane, who has favoured the commercial phrase “new spirituality” in his endorsement of the Findhorn Foundation. Greenaway observes that:

“Drane talks up the Findhorn Foundation via reference to some of its writers and contributors, including David Spangler, Carol Riddell, and Janice Dolley. Misleadingly, Drane avoids specific mention of several leading book critiques of the Findhorn Foundation published through the 1990s to date. He also avoids mention of Margaret Thaler Singer’s authoritative work Cults in Our Midst: The Continuing Fight against their Hidden Menace (2003), a book which includes considerable coverage of a number of New Age groupings. Drane does, however, refer to an earlier exposé of the New Age, under the title The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow by Constance Humbey (1983). This latter work is prone to attract ridicule, as it is fundamentalist in tone, i.e., charged with a hint of paranoia .… Thus, by means of a one-sided presentation of relevant writings, Drane subtly perpetuates the myth that critiques of the New Age, or of specific groups such as the Findhorn Foundation, are ‘fundamentalist,’ i.e., a bit dotty, or at least ‘cautious, conservative people who dislike change and innovation of any kind’ (p. 95, Do Christians know how to be Spiritual?). In other words, Drane is playing politics, rather than being scholarly.” (Greenaway, “The Newageisation of the Church,” FAIR News, Issue 1, 2007, 16–18, p. 16.)

The book under dispute is Prof. Drane’s Do Christians know how to be Spiritual? The Rise of New Spirituality and the Mission of the Church (2005). Non-Christian critics like myself regard such books as an exercise in the neglect of sources, a failing which is currently very fashionable. The tunnel vision of Prof. Drane converges with the lacunae in Prof. Barker’s organisation INFORM concerning new religious movements. There is an increasing illiteracy in “soft edge” academe influenced by new age academics and entrepreneurs. Like UNITAR in Geneva, those contingents are socially irresponsible.

24.  Ecological  Anomalies

The ecological aspect of the Findhorn Foundation was unconvincing to informed critics throughout the 1990s. The late Sir Michael Joughin lived on their doorstep, and was in notable opposition to the contradictions and deficiencies. Everyone knew about the Foundation wind turbine which generated some of the electricity needs, but this was not enough to offset the myriad of drawbacks in the overall programme. There was much talk of a “global village,” but the therapy drive came first, it was quite clear. The favoured “workshops” are some of the worst forms of exploitation occurring in recent decades; honest crafts work is far preferable, but usurped by pretensions of pseudo-mysticism.

Craig Gibsone’s notorious project of Holotropic Breathwork failed in the early 1990s, and in subsequent years that new age celebrity inaugurated commercial workshops in ecology, an improvisation which has not escaped criticism (see About the Findhorn Foundation and UN). The innovation involved an overture to UNITAR; Gibsone evidently recognised that the Foundation could not succeed in their one-legged ecological project unless the UN became a more active patron.

Yet the Foundation credentials for this honour are very much in doubt, and depended upon the typical cover-up ploys of that community for credibility with myopic UN officials overseas. Gibsone was one of those adept at excising history and achieving donations in addition to listed prices. In the process of escaping from the mystified debt (so tangibly declared in 2001), a therapy-orientated community, practising subjective “attunement,” became elected by UNITAR to CIFAL status in ecology.

What can we expect from entrepreneurial ecology? A complaint appeared in a Scottish newspaper about the development plans at Findhorn of Duneland Ltd, nominally independent but very closely related to the Findhorn Foundation. This company proposed the development of an area of 120 acres of shingle and gorse into community woodland – “with, no doubt, its associated landscaping, car parks, picnic and play areas, all-ability paths, toilets etc.”

The correspondent queried the theory involved in sustainable communities, a persistent (and facile) theme of the Findhorn Foundation piloted by Gibsone. “This tranquil and beautiful area has always been available for walking and quiet recreation (the lichen bloom are wonderful at the moment), so how about the option of just leaving it alone?” The correspondent from Edinburgh had perceived the difference between a commercial project and genuine ecological concerns. “Are the developers prepared to commission and publicise a survey of the bio-diversity which will be lost if these plans for drastic change to a large open area go ahead?” The correspondent soberly proposed a Shinglelands Preservation Trust in the face of predators. See Frances Knight, “Woodland plan has alarm bells ringing,” Letters to the Editor, Forres Gazette, Jan. 18th 2006, p. 7.

Soon after, the greedy Moray Council conspired with the Findhorn Foundation to gain CIFAL status. What became known as CIFAL Findhorn was led by the chief executive May East, the wife of Craig Gibsone. CIFAL Findhorn was said to be “promoting the exchange of best practices between UN agencies, local authorities, public and private sectors, and academic institutions” (“Moray’s model village,” The Northern Scot, 23rd March, 2007). 

May East hosted a delegation of 21 officials from Vietnam who were interested in “the social and economic development of less advantaged rural areas” (ibid.). The major attraction was the Foundation’s “wind park,” meaning the four wind turbines by then acquired, and which became the focus for an elaborate presentation. May East was invited to visit Vietnam “to explore how the integrated model could be implemented” (ibid.). Critics reacted strongly to this news, as Vietnamese officials were not aware of the full background to “the integrated model,” which has to date achieved ideological suppression, mismanagement, substantial debt, and extreme evasionism. Some critics say that the Findhorn Foundation could easily become known as CIFAL INC., and would build eco-skyscrapers if they were able to do so in places like the adjacent shinglelands.

25.  Criticism  from  Chris  Coates

The Green councillor Chris Coates (of Lancaster) made a critical assessment of the Findhorn Foundation which appeared on the internet. He found unconvincing components in Foundation promotionalism, which delivers an exorbitant scale of charges, e.g., for the much advertised induction procedure known as Experience Week. Coates observes that published criticisms of the Foundation from diverse sources have been ignored by the Foundation, who prefer an immaculate profile. He compares the influential “attunement” process rather unfavourably with the earlier Quaker version, in which the capricious effect of the personal ego was recognised as a danger.

Moreover, Coates pointedly compares the Foundation with the early 20th century Californian community of theosophical utopians called Point Loma. The latter community also talked about “the God within” and followed the inner guidance of a woman (Katherine Tingley) who eventually seemed to become peripheral to events; Point Loma became feted as a spiritually inspired centre of light, but encountered economic problems. Point Loma closed down in 1942, after 45 years of life. See Coates, "21st Century Theosophy" (2005), at www.diggersanddreamers.org.uk/Articles/200501.htm. One requires to add the update here that Point Loma was not resurrected by UNITAR.

26.  Consultancy  Workshops

The Findhorn Foundation was given a new lease of life by the CIFAL network of the UN. The issue of obscured problems is a grave one, and needing to be more widely recognised, especially in view of related trends now sharing in the glorification bestowed. For instance, the Foundation has encouraged “consultants” in the entrepreneurial process of high charges made to corporate organisations. This is one of the most fashionable areas of license in “new spirituality.” At the time of gaining CIFAL status, Foundation promotionalism advertised a three day "consultancy" workshop at £450.

A favoured and overworked theme in Foundation consultancy workshops was “conflict facilitation and transformation.” Facilitation is American language for resolution, the stylism employed in earlier years for this ineffective activity. Critics point out the total failure of the commercial enterprise to recognise, let alone deal with, the known published cases of maligned dissidents like Jill Rathbone, who was victimised by the Findhorn Foundation management for being a friend of the suppressed Kate Thomas. Yet the Foundation “Consultancy Service” regularly advertised in the commercial brochures, stating that “the Foundation is uniquely placed to assist organisations in finding new ways to accomplish their goals and increase their effectiveness” (e.g., Findhorn Foundation Courses and Workshops May–October 2005, p. 29).

The Foundation has certainly learned a great deal about capitalism and cover-up promotionalism, and some aspects of the business world at large might be considered a suitable affinity with the full scope of their example. One of the "conflict resolution" consultants (Judy McAllister) refused audience to a senior medical doctor who was concerned about the effects of conflict in the lives of dissidents (section 9 above).

27.  Dangers  inherent  in  Extremist  Affiliations

The Findhorn Foundation became associated with a strongly alleged case of child abuse in 1991, inseparable from the presence of neoReichian therapy on their premises (Shepherd, Pointed Observations, pp. 172, 175, 182; Thomas, The Destiny Challenge, p. 957). The management long ago offset any possibilities of confirming the allegation, which was treated as judgmentalist.


Aleister  Crowley

Other published grievances include the Findhorn Foundation promotion (via their bookshop) of the confused drug addict and arch-occultist Aleister Crowley (1875–1947), whose psychology will for long be a subject for discussion by clinical and psychiatric experts. There is evidence that Crowley could envisage diabolical acts of magical ritual such as rape, murder, and dismemberment. One of the basic issues is that of how far he actually went in his extremisms. Quite far enough, even at minimal quota, if the investigator is not evasive about, e.g., wife torture and the attempt to send a female victim mad via a form of hypnotic suggestion (Pointed Observations, p. 136). It is no wonder that Crowley is unpopular with the more discerning women. See also my First Letter to Tony Blair, Extension; Some Philosophical Critiques and Appraisals (2004), pp. 18ff.

A major early biographer of Crowley emphasised the degeneracy and flawed psyche of the subject, but other commentators have glorified the bisexual practitioner of sexual magic. Crowley preached a new age of “paganism,” here meaning an obsessive and unrestrained sexual magic. He presented himself as an occult adept; there are other definitions of his pretension. Many undiscerning portraits of Crowley exist in contemporary literature, contributed by journalists, popular writers, and new age academics. Crowley is a role model for illegal drug use, occult fantasy, and extreme behaviour.

People misled by commercial literature can be in danger of assimilating extremist trends. Cult activity is multi-faceted, and at its worst in the preoccupation with magic. One grim episode discussed is that of a helpless small boy “poisoned by a substance which paralysed him so that he could be dismembered, it is alleged, while he was conscious.” The headless and limbless body of this unfortunate boy was found floating in the Thames, his fate having been determined by “people of no conscience whose faith includes a belief in witchcraft” (Audrey Chaytor, editorial, FAIR News, Issue 1, 2007, p. 3).

28.  Bill  Metcalf  and  the  Internet  Stigma

In 2002, the Findhorn Foundation resorted to an internet stigma to deny the validity of the book by Stephen Castro, which in contrast to Findhorn Press budget paperbacks, is annotated and indexed. The stigma took the form of a derogatory item, entitled “Not a Book Review,” by Bill Metcalf, a salient Foundation supporter who misrepresented both Kate Thomas and Stephen Castro. The slur clearly reflected biases of the Findhorn Foundation management. Castro supplied a response on the same website, having to point out that he had indeed been an associate member of the Foundation for one year, contrary to the implied denial (see Pointed Observations, pp. 168ff.).

Metcalf’s item persisted for years on the internet, and afforded proof to careful investigators that the Findhorn Foundation are chronically unreliable in their presentation and tactics. Thomas is here depicted as an erring local trying to join the Foundation and to save it. In reality she had been a member, and the circumstances of her complaints and communications are not mentioned by Metcalf, who was effectively illiterate in this subject.

Metcalf’s slur can also be read as implying (via the term ex-housemate) that Thomas and Castro were cohabiting in a local house. I can here testify to the inaccuracy of the bias expressed. The hostile report totally omits any reference to myself, who does not exist on the Foundation map of preference. One can here pun a variant of the Cartesian axiom. “I exist, therefore I am.” In actual fact, it was me who lived with my mother in a local house, which was of sufficient size (over ten bedrooms) to grant rented accommodation to Castro. The Findhorn Foundation have a long way to go before they can be considered even remotely objective in their presentation of data.

The purpose of Metcalf's unfounded attack was to declare that Castro’s book was not worthy of review. Consignment to oblivion is the due penalty for any criticism of the spiritual education exemplars. That is perhaps one reason why UNITAR was deceived by the supposedly immaculate record of the evasive community.

The Metcalf libel dismissed the autobiography of Thomas with the accusation that The Destiny Challenge contained “about 10 pages attacking Findhorn Foundation in a most vitriolic manner.” The tone is not vitriolic, and there are actually ninety pages in chapter 14. The original of Metcalf’s misleading item appeared in Diggers and Dreamers magazine, and this states “about 100 pages attacking Findhorn Foundation.” Still incorrect, but in an attempt to be fair,  I referred to this original instead of the more inaccurate statement found in the internet version (Pointed Observations, p. 210).

Dr. Bill Metcalf of Australia is associated with Griffith University and the promotion of communes or "intentional communities"; he is the author of The Findhorn Book of Community Living (2004), and has been described on the internet as a Fellow of the Findhorn Foundation. Cf. Castro, Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation (1996). See section 22 above.

29.  Findhorn  Press  and  the  Angel  of  Findhorn

The same year that the Foundation management instigated the internet promotion of the Metcalf stigma, their in-house press published a book. The paperback cover blurb stated alluringly: “For those of you who haven’t yet visited the community, this book may be the one that finally tempts you to make the journey. At the very least it will transport you to a space deep inside yourself where you may just connect with magic.” This book of prospective induction surely merits investigation here.  It has no index, no annotations, and a rather thin bibliography. Such books are evidently deemed so superior to dissident and critical works that the differences are worth remarking upon.

The bibliography consists almost entirely of Findhorn Press titles, noticeably the works of Eileen Caddy such as Divinely Ordinary, Divinely Human (1999). Partisan epics like Alex Walker’s The Kingdom Within are also listed, plus Spangler’s A Pilgrim in Aquarius (1996), proving a certain ongoing influence. Yet even the partisan annalist Carol Riddell does not feature in the meagre ballast. Instead, there are Eileen’s audio tapes such as Loving Unconditionally, a particularly objectionable theme elsewhere. There are also related Findhorn Press cassettes such as Dorothy Maclean’s Communications with the Deva Kingdom.

The book now under discussion is entitled In Search of the Magic of Findhorn (2002). The female author K. B. lived in the Foundation from 1975 to 1998, and then departed overseas, returning a few years later in January 2002 for the visit described. She is strongly associated with Findhorn Press. The title might indicate that the magic has to be searched for, rather than being instantly obvious. A few lines in the introduction indicate a demagicalisation, via the statement of the author that she lost her sense of deep connection with the community (during the 1990s), and that she was “not particularly interested in many of the new things happening” (page 11). Yet this admission is contradicted by the evident plea for recognition of the magic as rediscovered in her subsequent visit from France. That visit was instigated by her husband, who is stated to be the publisher (page 241), meaning Findhorn Press.

Immediately after the introduction appears a cartoon of the Angel of Findhorn, accompanied by the statement that: “the movement of the hands denotes the quality of transformation, the movement of the feet shows the will to step down and to manifest” (page 12). The tutelary angel is regarded with deep scepticism elsewhere, getting the community into debt and presiding over mismanagement and other grave manifestations of untransformed attitude and behaviour, including internet stigma. On the very next page, readers are told that shortly after the three co-founders moved to the Findhorn Bay caravan park in 1962, Dorothy Maclean “perceived the embryonic presence of ‘The Angel of Findhorn,’ which she was originally only able to contact through the Deva known as the Landscape Angel” (page 13). The Angel lore has continued to exercise a mesmeric effect.

We are further informed how “the Landscape Angel overlit the entire geographical area and was focussed on the land itself, the soil and its nutrients; it also became an ‘envoy’ for other Angelic contacts; in 1963, Dorothy was told that the Angel of Findhorn was ‘still nebulous but growing phenomenally fast’ ” (page 13). Dorothy is said to have had a direct communication from the Angel, although rather mysteriously, the community were part of the Angel’s body. This theme has encouraged the accusation of being unduly mystifying, especially as there is no proof of transformation in any spiritual sense. The neo-hippy commune of the 1970s favoured Maclean lore. That is definite.

A ten page chapter on “the history and legends of the Findhorn Community” (pages 19–28) is a tangible acknowledgement  that  legends do exist in this sector. The glowing account given of the Caddys and Maclean lore is very much in the spirit of Hawken’s journalistic offering over 25 years before. Some statements are in the realm of hagiology. “The first Findhorn Garden – in the magical summer of 1963 – flourished under the care of Devas and Humans – with Peter, Eileen and Dorothy representing the trinity of Light, Love and Wisdom respectively” (page 24). This is too much for critical analysts, who want to know why the legendary history stops so abruptly with the purchase of Cluny Hill College in 1975 (page 28).  However, we do learn that the BBC arrived on the scene with a television crew in 1969, which was a major incentive for visits by the famed 600 guests of that year.

The Trinity and their deva garden are accompanied by the celebrated sojourn of David Spangler in the early 1970s. History ends there, which means that later management events escape scrutiny. “When David arrived at Findhorn that August (of 1970), he instantly attuned to a strong presence known as Limitless Love and Truth or the All Knowing One. Through David, Limitless Love and Truth gave extraordinary and very practical teachings for the community” (page 27). It could never have been just David himself, of course. Omniscience has to be invoked for such an important community. Yet further, “the Findhorn Community grew to become the true Centre of Light that had been envisioned by Eileen” (page 27). The word Centre has here been substituted for City, the Angel not yet having become urban. We are led to believe that the magic overflows in this radiant centre. The sanitised touch may not be realistic.

Some sceptical readers have winced at the “Conversation with God” (pages 158–161), in which a partisan assumes such a conversation to be occurring in a sanctuary at The Park. The questioner asks: “Is there a Magic of Findhorn?” God answers: “Yes” (page 160). What can any critic say in the face of such impeccable credentials? The conversation ends with the questioner saying: “Thank you, I enjoyed our little chat.” God replies: “You’re welcome, come back any time” (page 161). The fluency is almost stunning, or perhaps too casual. The little chat God is perhaps trying to catch up with his big brother, the mercenary Findhorn Angel who continually appropriated properties, lands, donations, and other assets in the omitted history usurped by legend and convenience.

Most of  the book under discussion describes interchanges with more tangible entities within the Findhorn Foundation. Diverse members of the community are interviewed, and their viewpoints sampled. The phraseology varies. There is a casual reference to “an enormous debt, which the bank would like reduced” (page 99). This detail emerges fleetingly in an encounter with the Finance Director of the Foundation, who states authoritatively that: “The magic of Findhorn is that we have an opportunity to help demonstrate and experiment with integrating spirit and humanity. It’s no longer about the monastic, separate, hippie commune; it’s about how we can work with mainstream business, mainstream people” (page 103).

The narrator K. B. duly interposes that “ ‘monastic’ has never been a word that could describe this community.” There is therefore a discrepancy in the magical terminology. Is there a similar error in relation to mainstream business and the integration of spirit? The evasive Angel has invented all kinds of ruses to satisfy current requirements of expansion and debt solution.

30.  Elite  Celebrities  of  the  Foundation

In Search of the Magic of Findhorn also profiles the reputed “philosopher” of  the Findhorn Foundation. Roger Doudna is an American famed for his (whisky) Barrel House. He reputedly gained an academic degree in the distant past. He joined the community in the mid-1970s, and was then one of the few members who owned a television (page 94). He is reputed to be a fast talker. K. B. found him communicative, but comments that “it’s tough trying to pin Roger down to give a complete answer to my questions” (page 95).

Some of her questions were very relevant. She asked Doudna what were the values lived by. Two of his answers were “practising the presence of God” and “the classical spiritual aspiration” (page 96). Another Doudna axiom is: “the spiritual dimension is not only spoken about but is an integral part of life and offers a significantly greater quality of life and connection between people” (page 95). He was eager to watch a football match on his television, and the interview ended accordingly. Football is sane and healthy by comparison with extremist therapies like Holotropic Breathwork, but the spiritual dimension is nevertheless elusive.

A dissident who stressed the necessity for distinguishing between therapy and spiritual aspiration was once berated by Doudna. He told Kate Thomas with some annoyance that she must never relay what the Foundation had done to her, meaning that their activities must be kept quiet and not disclosed. This was a facesaver for hierarchical suppression of a severe and memorable kind. Doudna did not initiate that suppression, and Thomas at first found him one of the more friendly people in the Foundation. Yet he subsequently sided with the management, and to such an extent that he actively placed another dissident British woman in the hot seat of community disapproval in 1998.  Jill Rathbone (a friend of Thomas) was so stressed by this event that she gave up trying to conciliate with the elite “aspirants” whom she regarded as ogres (see further my First Letter to OSCR, point 12).

As might be expected, the magic extends very much to Eileen Caddy, who is glorified by the statement: “Eileen has had to be strong, tenacious, and outgoing” (page 171). Only a few months before, Eileen had again very weakly submitted to internal managerial biases, closing down completely on the Kate Thomas case re-presented to her by Dr. Hollick of the new Findhorn Foundation College (SMN Events 2000–2004, chapter 5).

Alex Walker is one of the Foundation celebrities who does not seem to talk in terms of “magic,” though he does support the claim to spirituality. He also extols the nearby Steiner School as a significant part of community life (In Search of the Magic of Findhorn, page 168).  The interview omits to mention that the Moray Steiner School was involved in a lawsuit contracted in the mid-1990s. The Steiner School lost, being in strong disapproval with the Scottish legal authorities, who had gained a close insight into the nature of events. That legal case involved Jill Rathbone, who was the victim of Foundation biases influencing the Steiner School (Castro, Hypocrisy and Dissent, pp. 154ff.).

Rathbone’s supposed crime was to be the friend and moral supporter of the suppressed Kate Thomas. The real history of the bully boy Findhorn Angel, and his legal complications, is eschewed by the magical camouflage. Another of the female victims was twice scourged by two very disturbing bully boys (not Walker) in high official positions. I am unable to give the name of this very badly treated victim for reasons of special security. However, the case is recorded elsewhere in three published works alien to the Findhorn magic (Shepherd, Pointed Observations, pp. 183ff.; Thomas, The Destiny Challenge, pp. 966ff.; Castro, Hypocrisy and Dissent, pp. 57ff.).

One of the Foundation celebrities who does use the term “magic” is Robin Alfred, whom K. B. describes as a recent addition to the Board of Trustees. He joined the community in 1995, and became a well known member of the management team, even becoming “co-focaliser” (co-leader) of the community (In Search of the Magic of Findhorn, page 175). Robin Alfred is also well known as a member of the Foundation Consultancy Service, which professed much skill in the bestselling conflict resolution. His influence upon this community cannot therefore be underestimated from the late 1990s onwards. Alfred's management team eventually had to declare the uncontrollable debt in 2001.

The interview with Robin Alfred profiles his induction via Experience Week, in which he felt that he loved everybody, and so he wanted to keep giving and receiving unconditional love (page 176). When he returned to London, he “started to do different things, like Tai Chi, co-counselling, and generally opening up.” The tendency to give counselling in these circles is fairly pronounced. He resigned from his job as a social worker after a traumatic visit to India under Foundation auspices. “I had to ask myself if I was willing to be who I really am” (page 177).

The statement is also made about the Foundation that “there are less and less layers here between us and true reality” (page 178). Robin Alfred conducted Consultancy Service workshops which charged £450 for three days of attention to the desired business sectors. Critics say that there are less and less layers between the Foundation and crass entrepreneurialism.

Conflict resolution in the non-business sector has long been a joke, and obviously does not pay, the aim of some management ploys having been to silence complaints in the name of unconditional love, which means the deception involved in suppression. Alfred says that he and his colleagues take the “magic” of Findhorn out to visit businesses via the consultant role, or rather the “workshop” adaptation of that. The “shadow side of community” is very briefly referred to in a few lines (page 178), but might fill books if Findhorn Press were more thorough in their presentations.

31.  Creative  Chaos

The increased entrepreneurial instinct is accompanied by a sore lack of due educational criteria. The commercial induction known as Experience Week initiates many subscribers into defective mental patterns. One man who stayed for two weeks wrote to K. B.: “I have been noticing a rich and unfolding realm of synchronicity around my Experience Week Angel of Communication. My study of Tarot has taken off … I am coming in contact with a lot of ‘threes’ at this time … I was talking to someone the other day and I realized that Eileen Caddy, Peter Caddy, and Dorothy Maclean were a trinity” (page 236).

Who knows, he might even get an audience with the little chat God. However, the visitor is still sane enough to express a brief criticism of “some organisational aspects in the Foundation and the programme it runs” (page 236). He also complains at the lack of “comprehensive information.” Yet sadly, he accepted an explanation designed to keep doubts in check.

The Findhorn Foundation environment was described to the same trinitarian in terms of “Creative Chaos” (page 236). This means that anything can happen, and that everything is therefore OK, just as it is. So just attune to the little chat God, the co-founder Trinity, the sustainable community, or whatever. Please be artistic and not scientific, is the basic Chaos message. Ecology is an art form in such circles. The word artistic is often used in this community, which dislikes science, at least on average it would seem. By art we should understand something like Picasso or Andy Warhol rather than Da Vinci or Rembrandt. The full flavour of the contemporary is in something chaotic, or perhaps catastrophic, like the misleading Findhorn Angel who may be seriously ill.

One conclusion of critical spectators is that the Findhorn Foundation has not grown out of the adolescent (or infantile) mentality associated with Hawken’s The Magic of Findhorn. The community did not mature, but instead became a cliché vehicle of the mercenary and evasive Angel. The first eco-houses were built in the early 1990s (soon after the wind turbine appeared), but quickly became status symbols for yuppy staff and affluent affiliates. The glib lore of sustainability is a successor to the deva mythology, perpetually glossing the debt-donation-grant aid baseline ignored by UNITAR, who prefer a bureaucratic fantasy. The fashion tag of “holistic” is bankrupt of any real meaning save fun and games workshops for the affluent indulgents who subscribe to them. Spiritual education decodes to “creative chaos,” which is perhaps worse than the global ecological deficit.

32.  Suspending  Judgment  can  be  a  Hazard

The present writer once lived for nearly a year in Findhorn village, and for many more years thereafter in Forres (during the 1990s). I did not join the Findhorn Foundation on principle, being strongly averse to their ideology and practices. Yet I did hear a great deal about them, a link which I could not escape due to the participation of my mother (Kate Thomas) in their activities. After arriving at a negative conclusion about the Foundation in The Resurrection of Philosophy (1989, p. 88), I agreed with my mother to suspend further judgment about that community, and did not attempt to dissuade her from becoming an associate member in 1989.

Yet after only a few months, it became obvious that the Foundation was worse than I had thought, indeed far worse on a number of counts. I heard in detail about staff activities and management decisions, and also much about the role of Eileen Caddy. I studied Foundation literature, which was very disconcerting. Their commercial books were full of potted new age formulae of the kind that would not normally be considered citable in universities. Their internal newspaper Rainbow Bridge was stupefyingly low in intellectual content, and was dubbed new age graffiti by critical assessors.

Their magazine One Earth was more readable, and some subscribers seemed quite sincere, though confused by doctrines which preoccupied them.  I preferred the earlier issues dating back to the early 1980s, when I had first been acquainted with that media. The content seemed to deteriorate by the 1990s. The intellectual poverty of many Foundation writings was such that David Spangler’s feted anti-drug emphasis stood out like a milestone. However, the commercial brochures of the Foundation were even more offputting, and revealed the crux of the new age problem: Anything goes if you can charge money for it, and if you can get clients to pay for it.

I found details in local oral circulation about unhappy visitors who left the Foundation quickly, or who became disillusioned and then departed. Such people generally retreated quietly, and were simply forgotten about by the community consensus. The casual and rather preening atmosphere invited criticism, which I extended once more in Minds and Sociocultures Vol. One (1995, pp. 919–944). The Foundation would use any pretext to glorify their role, including the theme of perennial philosophy, which was just a joke in their direction. Their therapy college had no analytical or study back-up, and I doubt whether some of their subscribers could have distinguished Buddhism from Hinduism. The partisans were trained to be non-critical, which was regarded as a virtue of holistic relevance. Much of what was said amounted to mere catchphrase.

The "new age" sector has generally assumed that critics are either rabid fundamentalists or clod-hopping materialists unsuited to the delicate holistic terrain. In my case, such convenient yardsticks do not apply. I am not a Christian and nor do I belong to any other religion. Yet I do not subscribe to materialist science, which is very misleading at laboratory level, where it is presumed to be almighty. See Animal Ethics, Animal Rights.

33.  Local  Actors  and  Legal  Complexities

CIFAL is the abbreviation for a French phrase employed by the UN in their global network of ecology centres. It is the French acronym for International Training Centres for Local Actors. The phrase has met with criticism for a lack of scientific dimensions, a theatrical performance being instead implied. To British critics, the term CIFAL now signifies ecobiz, exploitive alternative therapy, misleading commercial mysticism, and repression of relevant data covering many drawbacks consigned to oblivion.

The Findhorn Foundation publicity gives no idea of critical reactions. Eileen Caddy obituaries in the Scottish press were eulogistic in nature. The Foundation was stated to be the “largest alternative spiritual community” in the UK and a “major education centre” (“Findhorn Foundation founder is mourned by community,” Forres Gazette, 20th December, 2006).

Eileen Caddy was awarded an MBE in 2004 by local Air Vice-Marshal George Chesworth, who was the Lord Lieutenant of Moray and a Foundation supporter. The award was made for her “services to spiritual inquiry” (Editorial, The Northern Scot, 22nd December, 2006). No mention occurs in such accounts of events expunged from Foundation records. 

CIFAL Findhorn is associated with wind turbines, stated to make this community independent in respect of electricity consumption. Yet in many other respects, the Findhorn Foundation is not sustainable in the ecological sense. The general trend was evidenced in reports of the new Moray Arts Centre constructed at The Park. This enterprise was described as a company, and received extensive donations and grant aid from various sources including Moray Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Robertson Trust, and the Foyle Foundation. The total funding for this project, reported by the press, eventually stood at nearly £1 million, all raised by charitable donation.

The proliferating companies and fundings that comprise Findhorn Foundation projects are viewed very sceptically by some observers, who point out that many compromising events are routinely forgotten by the enthusiasts, including the large debt declared in 2001. Further, the tendency to glorify commercial workshops, occurring on the same territory as other projects, is another reason to query the worship of CIFAL auspices.

Careful readers noticed in 2007 that Findhorn Wind Park Ltd was a separate enterprise to CIFAL Findhorn Company Ltd, a small print description for the “sustainable energy revolution” so lavishly promoted in the Ecovillage, which critics call a business park. Diversity in enterprise does not prove that the business park is a model for spiritual education and planetary transformation. The Findhorn Foundation and the Ecovillage share the same address: The Park, Findhorn.

Elsewhere, views about wind turbines have been strongly divided. In England, some argue that vast numbers of these machines would be necessary for urban and rural needs, that they disfigure the landscape, that they kill birds and bats, and that they do little to prevent carbon dioxide emissions. Yet the turbine issue is a relatively minor consideration. The Scottish Executive chose to patronise CIFAL Findhorn, ignoring protests about discrepancies in the prior history of the Findhorn Foundation, not to mention eccentricities of the workshop calendar.

As usual with this organisation, diversifying names can cause confusion. CIFAL Findhorn is now more ambitiously known as CIFAL Scotland, though still being based at the Findhorn Ecovillage, with an extension at the Enterprise Park in nearby Forres (whose address is Horizon Scotland). Different business solutions are apparently involved. CIFAL seminars have been conducted at the Ecovillage, where Grof lore enthusiast Craig Gibsone is still one of the leaders. Gibsone is described in the Ecovillage team promotion as a "father integrating ancient wisdom with contemporary spiritual ecology" (accessed February 2013). The website for CIFAL Scotland gives no idea of the underlying trends and relevant backlog of data. The Ecovillage shares the same territory as the Findhorn Foundation, but has conveyed the misleading impression of different organisational spheres.

Some critics (like myself) are not against ecology, but instead contest the close juxtaposition with "spiritual education," claims to wisdom, and continuing suppression of all critique by Local Actors.

The factor of suppression has assisted a strong degree of deficient reporting in some official channels, including Moray Council and the Scottish Executive. However, there has evidently been some concern on the part of Scottish government officials about Findhorn Foundation events. This factor emerged in Scottish law court proceedings of 2012, when the Secretary of State for the Home Department featured in the response to a Foundation petition. For instance, "counsel likened the [Foundation] course [Gardening at the Park] to a Tom Sawyerish scenario where volunteers have to pay for the privilege of digging someone else's garden." A basic issue of the proceedings is worded as:

"The Findhorn Foundation is reliant to a material extent on income earned from the provision of alternative lifestyle courses to non-EU nationals."

A strong defensive tendency was in evidence. The petitioners favoured a document of 2002 urging the Foundation economic impact, a subject in contention elsewhere. See Deceptive Priority of Economics. The Foundation were described in court as a charity promoting such virtues as conflict resolution, a theme which informed parties reject as misleading. Lord Stewart supported the petition plea for reduction of the opposing decision.

This matter remains controversial, and especially so in view of an earlier legal complaint addressed to the Findhorn Foundation. In 2009, the management denied details of former membership relating to a dissident, despite those details being well known and confirmed in published and online sources. See Denial of Membership in Foundation Ruse with Solicitor. In a related document comprising part of the legal complaint, I had cause to state:

"The Findhorn Foundation management are clearly attempting to influence my mother's solicitor against her, supplying false and misleading information.... The case against the Findhorn Foundation is now that much stronger."

Close analysts (including lawyers) have concluded that the Findhorn Foundation is totally unreliable, and that the extent of their cover-up procedure is criminal.

34. UNESCO  Problem

The total failure of UNITAR to provide due response to complaints about CIFAL investiture is lamentable. Other matters converge with his problem. I now wish to withdraw my earlier enthusiastic support for UNESCO in my first published work, where a culminating footnote indicated my esteem for the possibilities in that direction (Psychology in Science, 1983, p. 191 note 293).

Over some years, the United Nations departmentalism made no response to various complaints, enquiries, and information transmissions. Their enclosed system defying PR has not impressed observers (see my CIFAL Findhorn and Second Letter to Tony Blair).


Winifred  Ewing  MSP

In 2002, Dr. Winifred Ewing MSP contacted the UN Department of Public Information (in New York), requesting details about the UN affiliation of the Findhorn Foundation which had conferred NGO status. This was an issue of some concern in Scottish political circles. Dr. Ewing was unable to obtain even a formal acknowledgment from the DPI offices. The matter was impregnable. A similar disdain for communication was evidenced by UNITAR in subsequent years.

The UN deals with political and institutional events. In their elevated bureaucratic orbit, the international citizenry amount to an amorphous social vacuum supposedly benefiting from the VIP activity. In relation to the Findhorn Foundation, attempts to communicate with UNESCO were unsuccessful until a British Member of Parliament, namely Robert Walter, resolved to penetrate the deadlock in 2008. This benevolent member of the Conservative Party opted to support Kate Thomas (Jean Shepherd), who had sent a substantial letter to UNESCO that had been ignored. Even Robert Walter could only elicit a brief email from the UNESCO offices on the Continent. That communication was memorably negative concerning the beneficiaries of UNITAR. Affiliations with the Findhorn Foundation were here denied. The email read: "Effectively, the Findhorn Foundation is not affiliated with UNESCO's NGO and IGO system. I regret therefore, that we will not be able to respond to Mrs. Shepherd's enquiry."

This communication was not satisfactory. A due sense of UN responsibility was not in evidence. Three UN organisations had now proved evasive. See Dissident. An obvious problem existed, in that UNESCO recommendations were implied by some former Findhorn Foundation advertising, and also the UNESCO website. In earlier years, the Foundation had advertised their patron Pierre Weil (section 11 above) as "UNESCO's Advisor on Education for Peace." Weil's "Living in Peace" workshop, held at the Foundation in 1993, enjoyed the nominal auspices of UNESCO, but is notorious for the open discrimination against close neighbour Kate Thomas. These and other matters prompted my remarks to Robert Walter after his receipt of the UNESCO response:

"It is obvious that UNESCO wish to steer clear of the Findhorn Foundation problem, and their explicit disavowal of a connection implies that the Foundation should not be able to claim the auspices of UNESCO, as they have been known to do in the past. However, for the terse UNESCO response to yourself to make any lasting sense, that bureaucracy will have to omit glorifying references to the Findhorn Foundation from their website. Observers believe that the overall response of UNESCO has been deficient, and one meriting a separate investigation" (The UNESCO Problem, 2008).

35. The  Business  Park  Workshop  Programme

The Park (Findhorn), alias the Ecovillage, has continued to promote controversial workshop activities. The Findhorn Foundation College in Forres is the accompanying venue for courses and therapy lore, including the Transformation Game, selling for £1850 in "facilitator training." The College is a separate business, and emphasises Holistic Education, which includes healing. Six modules of "Co-Creative Healing" (scheduled for 2013-14) cost £3195-£4295. Less ambitious is "Gaia Education Design for Sustainability," selling for up to £2395 (four weeks) and £2795 (five weeks).

Moving back to 2009, the workshop business was typically expensive. The Findhorn Foundation supported their sales drive by affirming their identity as "an NGO Associated with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations." Their affiliation with Sustainable Development was also made clear in the May-December workshop brochure (p. 29). They also declared themselves to be "a unique spiritual community" (ibid., p. 2). What do these promotions amount to?

The favoured price bracket for seven day workshop programmes was £395-£595, but nine days of "Spiritual practice" moved up to £725. Gardening was almost reasonable by comparison at £165. Dancing was rather more expensive at £495-£735 for five days of "Vital Moves - Heartbeat." The "Astroshamanic Journey into Space and Time" likewise peaked at £735 for seven days. Four weeks of Esalen Massage Training peaked at £2950. In contrast, two days of Transformation Game Solo training cost £275. Seven days of "The Gay Pioneer" sold for £535-£825, and this event continued to "consider the radical possibility that being gay is a spiritual calling" (Findhorn Foundation Workshops and Events May-December 2009, p. 27).

The holotropic breathwork superstar Craig Gibsone was the co-promoter in seven days of "A Meditative LandArt Experience," which peaked at £825 for affluent clients. The ad says: "Get your jacket and your shoes, we're going outside to meet the power of nature" (ibid., p. 18). You can still walk up the Munro mountains free of charge, but in the new age that alternative might become expensive. Of course, CIFAL associations can seem to justify all charges far more than in the pre-2006 phase. So we are expected to easily accept the eco-profundity of "Positive Energy 2: Building Bioregional Resilience," which is further described as "a week of further inspiration, discovery and transformation" (ibid., p 15). The topics of "peak oil and climate change" were here accompanied by "an inner journey of exploration." Incidentally, the charge for seven days was £575-£855. With so many inspired and transformed explorers about, it is a contradiction that the ongoing discrepancies are not addressed more frequently.

The workshop calendar is diversely profitable. No less an advocate of self-esteem than Caroline Myss was promoted as teaching "Beyond Reason." The charge was £395-£595 for three days. The ad emphasises healing in this instance. Myss "views healing from the mystical point of view" (ibid., p. 16). The word mystical is viewed by critics as a meaningless one in the contemporary world. There is an argument, for instance, that real mysticism occurs outside the limelight and workshop profit system, and is abnegatory, not self-affirming. These ideas are heretical in the new age of ecobiz and NGO brochures.


l to r: Andrew Cohen, Ken Wilber

Myss was dwarfed by two of the most prominent names in American counterculture, who gained a bigger ad. The charge for two and a half days was £475. The most famous name only featured one evening via phone link. This entity was Ken Wilber, associated with "integral spirituality" and "I am Big MInd." He shared the bill with Andrew Cohen, the controversial neo-Advaita guru whose ex-followers have expressed strong disillusionment. Wilber has also lost a number of fans (Rise and Fall of Wilber). The title of the workshop event was "Co-creating an Awakened Culture." According to the critics of Wilber and Cohen, the projected new culture has exhibited too much error for there to be any realistic acceptance of the proclaimed awakening. See also David Lorimer, Findhorn Foundation.

36. The Troll Factor

The troll mentality is currently a major issue in terms of a social affliction. Very briefly, a troll can be defined as a pseudonymous web entity who creates a misleading portrayal of a victim. Trolls think they can escape any comeback by using a false name. They are often vindictive, and all sorts of troll tricks have been investigated. One category of troll is closely associated with "cults," a word denoting questionable religious sects and alternative organisations of a suspect nature. Wikipedia harbours too many trolls in the extensive pseudonymous editorship. Statements found on Wikipedia can be libellous. One Wikipedia troll was SSS108, whose real name is known, and whose User page was deleted by Jimmy Wales; a sectarian affiliation was here involved, meaning the Sathya Sai Baba movement.

The Findhorn Foundation is also known for associated troll activity. Equalizer (SSS108) employed a Foundation misrepresentation of Kate Thomas (Jean Shepherd); he produced a blog elevating the Foundation, and also misdescribed me as a "Findhorn Foundation Radical" and "New Age Promoter." I duly explained that I was never an affiliate of the Findhorn Foundation, as is quite well known. I am a longstanding critic of the New Age. The misunderstandings caused by trolls are legion, and to the extent that no pseudonymous web identity can be trusted. Some trolls are cyberstalkers, which can mean criminal activity.

Trolls associated with the Findhorn Foundation have been active in online "book reviews." In 2011, a troll calling himself Philotes posted a misleading "review" on Amazon, patently transparent as a Foundation-related attack on my mother (Jean Shepherd, alias Kate Thomas via a second marital name). The troll credibly stated "I live in the neighbourhood of the Findhorn Foundation," but went on to say:

"I had friends closely involved with the [Findhorn Foundation] community so I read this book out of curiosity. I found it to be mostly a self-gratification exercise by the author and amusingly revealing about her progress through other groups who, to her displeasure, didn't accept her as their leader either - it wasn't just the Findhorn Foundation that found her a disruptive influence. I know her to have caused emotional pain to at least one elderly visitor to the community during her brief stay."

This writer was evidently influenced by one version of slander traceable to Foundation staff. His comments do not match in any way the content of the book he purportedly reviews, and also contain serious errors of misrepresentation. Thomas is well known to have spent ten years as a close neighbour of the Foundation, but this fact becomes a "brief stay" in troll deceit. I myself was present in Findhorn and Forres for nine years out of those ten, and so I do have some knowledge of the attendant events. The notion that my relative wanted to be accepted as the leader is sheer invention, and this applies to the story about "other groups" also. Furthermore, she was not a disruptive influence, but a critic of Holotropic Breathwork (HB), which caused severe disruption in the lives of some ill-advised clients of that extremist exercise, which sold for £415 in workshops on Foundation premises.

Thomas was subsequently suppressed by the Foundation management, who would not tolerate any criticism even while commercially promoting the consultancy myths about "conflict resolution." Thomas was proved correct in her assessment of HB by a medical warning from Edinburgh University in 1993. This counter was furthered by the Scottish Charities Office with a due recommendation against the Grof therapy.

The Foundation staff were not honest enough to acknowledge these details, and instead contrived the diabolical story that Thomas was a disruptive critic who had caused trouble in the paradise of spiritual education and healing (i.e., the Findhorn Foundation). She had merely been indulging in an ego trip, some of them said, while miscreants like Craig Gibsone (a manic workshop practitioner of HB) were presented as exemplars and "focalisers" of the new age. Gibsone (and others) continued to practice HB, which he defiantly transmitted to Brazil via the gullible Pierre Weil; Gibsone refused to acknowledge medical warnings and Charity Office recommendation. The troll Philotes even titles his bogus review as "Ego trip," a further confirmation of origin.

The staff member Eric Franciscus started the hate campaign in 1991 at Cluny Hill College (now Findhorn Foundation College), despite the fact that Thomas was his very close neighbour, and he had not bothered to converse with her. Franciscus was very influential amongst the Foundation staff, whose animosity was concealed by the "peace" jargon associated with Pierre Weil's abortive "living in peace" workshop in 1993, which outlawed Thomas, who was a paying participant. The underlying hate campaign and defamation continued throughout the 1990s, camouflaged by the hideous doctrine of "unconditional love." This problem continued into the following decade via such channels as Janice Dolley, the Foundation trustee closely associated with Findhorn College. Even a rational complaint about the Grof lore of LSD was censored by the "spiritual community" elite, here in liaison with the so-called Scientific and Medical Network, who chose to endorse the new age drug promoters.

The case of Thomas became known to medical doctors and lawyers, who were sympathetic. She "became ill as a consequence of Foundation hostility, and was advised by friends and a relative to go back south." Quote from Necessity for Police Escort. I was the relative in this instance, and am very familiar with events of that period. The invalid was seventy years old, and the victim of emotional pain caused by constantly accusing Foundation staff and their supporters. The Foundation too rarely assimilate facts, which are unwelcome in their fantasy world; instead they contrive stories to perpetuate their supposedly superior NGO perspective. They have abused charity status on too many occasions, and have for long been guilty of defamation. After numerous provocations, Thomas resorted to a legal complaint in 2008. British lawyers were then amazed at the shoddy and inaccurate responses of the Foundation management to legal notifications, including a major form of evasion considered despicable. See section 33 above.

Critics do not accept the Findhorn Foundation claim to be an ecological ideal and a centre of spiritual education. Transformation has not occurred, only in the economic sense. The extortionate workshop fees currently include £1850 for "facilitation training" in the so-called Transformation Game, a novelty causing extensive confusion. CIFAL activities occur at the Foundation business park which conducts questionable "workshops," and this fact is no obligation to regard ecobiz as being superior to rival forms of ecology. Other citizens also study ecology, and prefer climate scientists as a guideline. See Climate Change Complexities.

CIFAL Findhorn (or CIFAL Scotland) is based at the Ecovillage, and is reputed to be economically successful. The dividends do not convert objectors to the "spiritual community" mandate for workshops and therapy lore. Ecology is now widely subject to commercial interests in many countries. CIFAL centres do not represent the last word in ecology education, not even if the Transformation Game were to be sold in a £10,000 workshop extravagance.

Kevin  R. D. Shepherd

June  2007 (modified February 2013)

 

LINKS

findhorn.org

ecovillagefindhorn.com

Findhorn  Foundation  Commercial  Mysticism

Criticism  of  the  New  Age  and  Findhorn  Foundation

Findhorn  Foundation: Problems

Kate Thomas  and  the  Findhorn  Foundation

Letter  to  Robert  Walter  MP

Findhorn  Foundation

Findhorn  Foundation  Discrepancies

 

Bibliography

 

Akhurst, Raymond, My Life and the Findhorn Community (Falmouth: Honey Press, 1992).

Bogliolo, Karin, and Newfeld, Carly, In Search of the Magic of Findhorn (Findhorn: Findhorn Press, 2002).

Caddy, Eileen, God Spoke to Me (Findhorn: Findhorn Press, 1971, repr. 1992).

Opening Doors Within (Findhorn: Findhorn Press, 1987).

Flight Into Freedom (Shaftesbury, Dorset: Element, 1988).

Divinely Ordinary, Divinely Human (Findhorn: Findhorn Press, 1999).

Caddy, Peter, In Perfect Timing: Memoirs of a Man for the New Millennium (Findhorn: Findhorn Press, 1996).

Castro, Stephen J., Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation (Forres: New Media Books, 1996).

Drane, John, Do Christians Know How to be Spiritual? (London: DLT, 2005).

Ferguson, Marilyn, The Aquarian Conspiracy (St. Albans, Herts: Granada, 1982).

Greenaway, John P., In the Shadow of the New Age: Decoding the Findhorn Foundation (London: Finderne Publishing, 2003).

Hanegraaff, Wouter J., New Age Religion and Western Culture (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1996).

Hawken, Paul, The Magic of Findhorn (1975, repr. London: Fontana, 1990).

Hutton, R., The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft (Oxford University Press, 1999).

Metcalf, Bill, The Findhorn Book of Community Living (Findhorn: Findhorn Press, 2004).

Riddell, Carol, The Findhorn Community: Creating a Human Identity for the 21st Century (Findhorn: Findhorn Press, 1991).

Shepherd, Kevin R. D., Psychology in Science: Towards a Universal Science of Human Progress (Cambridge: Anthropographia, 1983).

Minds and Sociocultures Vol. One (Cambridge: Philosophical Press, 1995).

Some Philosophical Critiques and Appraisals (Dorchester, Dorset: Citizen Initiative, 2004).

Pointed Observations (Dorchester, Dorset: Citizen Initiative, 2005).

Spangler, David, Revelation: The Birth of a New Age (Findhorn: Findhorn Press, 1972).

A Pilgrim in Aquarius (Findhorn: Findhorn Press, 1996).

Spangler, David and Thompson, W. I., Reimagination of the World: A Critique of the New Age, Science, and Popular Culture (Santa Fe, New Mexico: Bear & Co., 1991).

Sutcliffe, Steven J., Children of the New Age (London: Routledge, 2003).

Thomas, Kate, The Destiny Challenge (Forres: New Frequency Press, 1992).

Trevelyan, George, A Vision of the Aquarian Age (London: Coventure, 1977).

Summons to a High Crusade (Findhorn: Findhorn Press, 1986).

Van Ness, Peter H., ed., Spirituality and the Secular Quest (London: SCM Press Ltd, 1996).

Walker, Alex, ed., The Kingdom Within: A Guide to the Spiritual Work of the Findhorn Community (Findhorn: Findhorn Press, 1994).

 

Copyright © 2013 Citizen Initiative. All Rights Reserved. Page uploaded August 2007, last modified February 2013.