The Last weeks go by like a whirlwind, with final papers on the horizon and going home so present in the students minds, it didn’t surprise me that at the first mention of the Educational Sharing for the Findhorn Community the response was a bit reticent, though in the end it was a truly special event that had many in tears, and I felt the way in which the Human Challenge of Sustainability (HCS) had connected with each student in its own deep and meaningful way, and honoured to hear Ashley N fantastic story of 10 young women traveling far and going deep.
As the culmination of projects unfolded into the Findhorn Community I was enthralled to witness Mowie and Elyse singing at various Community Sharings. Guilia with her rare, powerful poets that hit the heart. And Ashley. B video that was enjoyed by all.
The final week was spent in preparation for going home, a Transition session helped to prepare students for the return to life in the US and having spent three very full months in Scotland we talked about the possibility of reverse culture shock, something one doesn’t normally think about when going home. I felt this time spent together talking about how the students will support themselves emotionally helped to ground the fact that the end had come and a new path was opening up from here, one that didn’t involve a rainy Scotland and 10 woman in each others pockets 24/7, we felt the separation begin, it was sad and joyful all at the same time.
The duty of house cleaning and packing began, and starting to say goodbye to all the new friends and the mystery of Findhorn.
The final day arrived and with much joy and sadness, the tears flowed as finally goodbyes happened taxi after taxi. As quick as they arrived 14 weeks before. Some were sad to leave the love bubble of the Findhorn Community. Though all had been changed, some feeling it quite profoundly. What a journey it has been, the up’s and the down’s, the intensive and the fun, and for myself time to rest and lie down.
I wish us all many blessings on our collective and individual journeys on winding paths of future learnings and sharing’s.
Moon Quest: A Journey Within
Narrated by Ashley Nunez
Dedicated to Melinda, Karl, Majk, Ruby, Melissa, Graham, Gill, Ashley B, Jen, Anna, Anjelica, Mandy, Stephanie, Giulia, Mowie, and Elyse. Without you all, this story would never have been written. This is for all of you beautiful souls. All my love, Ashley Nunez.
Once upon a time, in many different lands, a call was sent out. The call was a seductive whisper, a coaxing plea towards adventure. This call was not new to the land; it was as ancient as the mountains of its home, as the trees roots. It was sent out as a battle cry, a call to arms! To bring reluctant warriors into their shining metallic armor and sharpen their blades. To prepare for whatever may come at them. It has served in the past to bring many people to its source, to find what they were seeking. A bit different for everyone.
From the west they came. They came to a land of deep scars and wounding. A land turned barren by its misunderstood ancient caretakers. A land that its people were trying to heal. A land that would take ages to heal… This land, whose name rung with a history and richness, brought forth images and tales of battles won and lost, hunger felt and fed, love conquered and shared, and magic felt in every step. A land where rain nurtured life, and sun fed its growth. This land, this land, would be a place of nourishment for a sustenance lacking in the homeland of our young warriors.
These warriors were women who were all on different paths in life in different parts of this wide world. Ten women who had strength, courage, bravery, mettle, cunning, wit, charm, intelligence, and beauty. But, ten women who were in need of healing. A healing that would bring those aspects out in ways they did not foresee. Ah, what a journey awaited these women that they were not expecting. How the call pulls us so towards our destiny when we do not even realize it.
They flew, they rode, they ran, they journeyed forth. Journeyed forth into an unknown. For some, the way was dark and fraught with perils attempting to trip up our maiden. For others, it was a mild ride though a long one. But, they all arrived relatively unscathed if not travel weary.
These maiden saw each other for the first time: a healer, a songstress, a maker, an artist, a shaman, a monk, a peacekeeper, a lover of beauty and life, a fighter, and a writer. Oh, but this healer was a warrior too, the songstress an empath, the maker a minstrel, the artist a nature priestess, the shaman a lover, the monk a creator, the peacekeeper a fighter, the lover a source of vitality, the fighter a free spirit, and the writer a seeker. Such beautiful souls.
They were joined by a quest given forth to them by a council of elders. A quest for purification, for the earth they so lovingly tread upon, for humanity, for themselves. Each warrior-woman was given a talisman: a power which to call upon in their hour of darkest need. The talisman was whispered to each woman as a mantra, an inspiration. No matter the word, or lack of one, the meaning was set and the quest was given. These women shouldered their packs, burdens heavy and light, and banded together to face the long road ahead.
When they began, the air was still and inviting, the sky clear and dazzling. The women walked their path together to bond and connect; for, ten together can face the challenges of life better than ten apart. Yet, it was not a togetherness of constant companionship. As the maiden got to know the land, the mosses under their feet, the patterns of the weather, and the starry chart of the night sky, strong relationships sprung forth.
The songstress and the maker came together to play and sing and talk and create. They knew that a close bond together would make them a force to be reckoned with on the road ahead. Their music was a delight for the battle-maiden to hear on their long endless nights of travel and exploration. The eight would gather round the night fire to listen to them and open their hearts to the two even if it was in silent praise.
The healer, shaman, and lover created a trinity of companionship. They would laugh, and talk, and bring good cheer to their fellow women. They bonded fiercely and knew that together they could support each other through whatever may come in time because they had a deep love and respect for one another and their wellbeing.
The artist and peacekeeper had known each other from a life before, and their bond only strengthened through time. They came to be like an extension of the other and knew what was needed. The peacekeeper and artist created beautiful works together and a unity that was exemplified for all the rest.
The monk kept times of prayer and peace to practice her ways but opened to a vibrancy that was felt throughout the band of travelers and showed them an energy that kept them apace.
The writer and fighter moved within the smaller troupes of women as a mutual aspect within the smaller bands, but eventually created a stronghold all their own. A stronghold bound together by truth and light and laughter. They wove together with the others and ultimately all were unified.
These women had only begun their journey when battles already were set to be waged on the horizon. Demons from the pasts of the women followed them across the sea only to entrap them once again. It was a bloody battle that each woman fought not alone.
These women fought with their sisters of bond and heart. Their sisters who would throw them a new blade if their steel broke, would aid in reforging their armor if it bent, use their own magic to aid in the efforts of battle. All these women earned their right as a warrior; a warrior for themselves, a warrior for their sisters, a warrior of heart and hearth, and a warrior for the earth they cleaned the blood from to begin anew.
Through their journey, they would embark upon travels to distant realms of this new land to learn its secrets. They would experience beauty and reprieve together and awaken old pains. But, they were together. Together united by a cause. A noble quest for purification of the haunts that followed them, from the blood they spilled in the past, from the hurts they caused, from the lovers they left behind, from the personal turmoil that disheartened them, skirmishes and quarrels these women faced within their fellowship, from all that needed to be cleansed anew.
But, even as ten women united by a cause, they were never alone. The council of elders watched over them and would aid them by giving them gifts to strengthen their journey. Tokens of knowledge, of expression, of wisdom, of language, of empowerment, of support, of encouragement, of understanding.
Yet, even as the elders gave them these powers, they also set forth tasks and challenges along the way. These would coax out what the women were reluctant to encounter. But, challenges that these women would face together with valor and courage and fight through until their path was clear.
Slowly, these maiden warriors would lose their packs of burden unneeded and walk on the road together with their heads held high. They walked a long and rough road together, but that road made them see themselves for what they were. Goddesses. Goddesses fully empowered, beautiful, independent, strong, outspoken, self-aware, brave, courageous, multi-faceted, creative, understanding, and whole.
These goddesses may have had hurts, may feel wounded, but they are all truly whole beings of pure light and truth that will set the world free from its bondage, be it in a big or small way. And so it was, that ten timid maiden changed to warrior women, wise women, and ultimately fully empowered goddesses. But, in truth they never really came to be anything for these ten women were and still are all of those stages. Perhaps, one day, they shall become more than this, but they shall always have these aspects in them.
Ah, but that is another story yet unwritten and untold. For these ten women have new journeys ahead of them and new chapters for write to their own stories. There is much more to each of them than may meet the eye, and each one is worth knowing beyond any small level.
My story has been told, so now go forth, my sisters, and add your next layers to this tale.
Eight weeks down which means… only six left! WHHAT?? I’m not sure how the time has slipped past so quickly. During this short time here I feel like we’ve transformed into a family. We definitely have all the nonsense, dysfunction, and love that come with that title. I hold every person in our 12-member clan in my heart with deep compassion.
This past week we got a little vacation getaway from our busy schedule. We all packed up and headed off to the Isle of Erraid. It is about a six-hour drive west across Scotland where we found our home away from home. Erraid is small island community with about 12 members. We got to spend the week working, eating, and learning from them. Monday and Tuesday some of us worked in the gardens preparing beds for next season and shoveling seaweed on top to replace needed minerals in the soil and keep them healthy over the winter months. Others worked cooking meals and preparing windowsills to be painted. The work was rewarding and it was powerful to see all the progress we were apart of.
On Wednesday we took the ferry to the neighboring Isle of Iona. The island is thought to be the oldest pieces of land on earth so we were surrounded by deep history all day. We got to wander around and enjoy the beauty of the island and the beautiful weather for the first half of the day. Before we took the ferry back we got a tour of the Abbey that is thought to be the original home to the famous Book of Kells.
Overall our week was relaxing, filled with new experiences and people, and completely rejuvenating time. I left a part of myself on the island it was exactly where I needed to be for a week. Cheers to everyone back home!
The halfway mark has arrived with surprising speed, it only seemed a few days ago since it all started.
Now is the time to reflect on where we have been and the lessons we have learned, for both I as a focaliser and the students. At this time we also get to review the journey so far, how has it been to be living and studying in the beautiful complex world of the Findhorn Community. Living, eating and studying together, which can seem a little claustrophobic at times and comforting at others.
It is also a time to see how far the students have come and the skills they have acquired through Forum and Way of Council to connect with a few, for as was so eloquently expressed in the mid-semester sharing, the Findhorn Colleges program on the Human Challenge of Sustainability is very much about personal sustainability, not in so much the physical aspects of recycling and composting, but dealing with people, and all the challenges a journey of social sustainability manifest.
Now too is a time of celebration, so much has been gained in these few weeks already and the bond that honest open process in the safe supporting circle of this learning community has developed, is for me both heart warming and hopeful for the future of our planet.
Wow, where to start? My journey here at Findhorn has been filled to the brim with laughter and overflowing with all kinds of tears, but those good kind of tears you know. I am surrounded by people who are committed to doing all of the inner work that it takes to be a better person. All around me there is this unspoken permission to fully inhabit myself and I know that no one is judging me. I’m not sure if I have ever experienced this kind of unconditional acceptance to just be myself anywhere else.
We just returned from a week from the breathtakingly beautiful isle of Erraid. Erraid is the kind of place that keeps a piece of you when you leave it. It offers it’s gentle solace away from modern technology and gives you a place to reflect on all things life. You don’t have a choice but to go inside of yourself and look at the things that get put on the back-burner. You know what I am talking about: those uncomfortable little things that you tell yourself you will look at one day when you have the energy and time.
Erraid coaxes them out of you in a “come hither” sort of way and not “the bat out of hell” sort of way. For this, I am grateful to have been able to get some clarity that I have been looking for. My heart speaks loudly when it is quiet enough to be able to listen to it.
With that said, the question of how to integrate this quiet wisdom back into the hustle and bustle of daily life is tricky. How will we hold on to all that we’ve learned and experienced here at Findhorn and from Erraid? Well, we have decided to stay in touch with each other as often as possible and to reflect on one thing each time we talk that we remember and try to integrate that into our lives at home. Otherwise I plan to refer back to my notes and journals that I’ve kept while being here for reminders of the knowledge and wisdom that I’ve gained throughout this journey. I know that Findhorn and Erraid are apart of my being now and I am forever changed for that. I will share that with people wherever I go in my own silent way.
I predict that settling back home after living in this kind of intentional community will be a challenge, but I’ve gained the tools to ease the transition and will be forever grateful for the opportunity to have lived and experience community life here.
A wee bit late, but a week or so ago marked our halfway point in our program. Phew, has this time gone by fast! Faster than I ever could have imagined. When the program began, I remember a lot of us saying, “God, it’s only been a week?” Now we’re all saying, “oh, God, we only have seven weeks left? How did that happen?” I’ve not got the slightest clue where the time went. These two months have been such a swirling rollercoaster of wonderful, awakening, laughter-ful experiences. Within a week I felt closer to our group of girls than I feel with many people I’ve known my entire life…we learned so much about each other in such a short time that we quickly began feeling like a family that’s been together forever.
We’ve overcome pains and fears and edges together, shared the most free kind of laughter together. We’ve learned Reiki healing together and sat in circles crying for and with each other, learned to trust our group with anything and everything that comes up in our hearts and know that we’ll be safe with these girls.
I’ve been trying to come to Scotland for, oh, just about forever now (okay, only three semesters) but something has always gotten in the way until this semester. When I finally got on a plane in August bound for Aberdeen, it felt so surreal – that moment was one I’d dreamed of for more than a year and the fact that it was finally happening was almost unbelievable. Now, halfway through the HCS program, I know that this was the only time I was meant to be here…
All ten of us on the program are definitely meant to be here together, right now. This experience wouldn’t have been the same without these amazing people who were drawn together by some twist of fate, or coincidence, or whatever it might be, and planted at Findhorn all at the same time. I can’t imagine a Findhorn experience without a single person in this group.
Our experiences and ups and downs and struggles and happiness seem to roll in waves together, totally in synch a lot of the time, and it’s such a beautiful thing to be surrounded by people who just…get it.
I didn’t know what to expect, really, when I came to Findhorn. I had no expectations. I was just going to roll with it. What I’ve found here is a family, a community of people who can fearlessly share their thoughts and realizations and blissfulness and fears with each other. I’ve found a place where we’re really creating something together all the time – we create dance together, we create art together, we create laughter together, we create gardens together. I feel like we’re always working on something so incredibly tangible and the togetherness of it all can be overwhelming, but in a really wonderful way
We’ve learned so much together already – we’ve learned compassion and patience. We’ve learned what we need to take care of our wellbeing and how to communicate with each other beyond the initial anger/frustration/hurt of a problem with another person. We’ve learned to acclimate to a place full of a million different worldviews and how to appreciate and accept people for their ways of doing and being regardless of how different their way might be from our own.
I think a lot of us are feeling a little nervous to go home and find a way to re-intigrate the uniquely Findhorn way of being and loving and accepting and communicating – but I’m also really excited to share a bit of Findhorn with everyone back home
Can’t wait to see what the rest of this journey will look like!
The weather, an important aspect for me a Southern Hemisphere
child, couldn’t have been more exquisite, (That is for the Western Hebrides of Scotland). We left Findhorn on our journey up to the ferry port of Ullapool, with Peter Vallance our local guide and bard. A two hour journey crossing the sea to The Isle of Lewis where most of us slept on the couches or carpeted floor of the ferry, since we leaved early that morning. Arriving in Stromoway the main town in Lewis, the sun appeared, we drove across the island to our Gearranian blackhouse village our home for the next three nights. The blackhouse are the original houses from about two hundred years ago, dry rock walls, hatched roofs, and the Gearranian blackhouses restored into quaint tourist accommodation.
The first night off to a typical Scottish Ceilidh, which is original Scottish dancing. The Ceilidh was on the Southern part of the island that is called Harris. Harris region as a mountainous dramatic landscape, while Lewis (the northern part) is fairly flat boggy landscape. The whole island as few trees, cut for wood long ago, leaving the ground bare and fairly baron.
The high light for me was the tour of the Stone circle of Callanish, with our guide Margaret a local from Lewis with a worth of knowledge and personal research on stone circle of Lewis. Her insights and conclusions on there use and connection to the landscape fascinated me. Lewis is full of stone circles and other ancient archeological sites dating back to the time of Stonehedge and beyond.
A lot of students really enjoyed the rest from the busy schedule of the program at Findhorn. Time to unwind, relax and deepen the bonds between together.
It is incredible just how long we have been here and the amount we have all gone through together. It’s only week 3 and I feel closer with these girls than I do with many people I have known throughout my life.
This week was full of classes, emotions, struggles, friends, and the Isle of Lewis! After the intensive week of group dynamics and doing a lot of interior work, it was a nice break to have an intermittent class schedule again with our other teachers and the garden/kitchen time. It has been an intense experience being here so far. Every day is full to the brim with classes to go to, meal times in the community center, and various scheduled activities which never fails to keep us busy, but tends to run us down. We were feeling it as the time was getting closer and closer to go to Lewis and it broke during out Community Life class on the Way of the Council.
You cannot understand what it means to be so connected with a group of people until you are all sitting together, completely opening up your emotions (anger, sadness, happiness) unafraid of what the rest of the group thinks. It is knowing that you are in a circle of complete honesty seeing the souls of the people before you. It is a rare occurrence in the States, but just about the norm here.
Time seems to move faster at Findhorn. Relationships are sped up so what would have taken at least an entire semester of opening up and feeling comfortable enough to talk freely with your roommates/friends has taken just three weeks. I love the time I have spent with these girls and the beautiful hearts they all have.
It was such a great experience to set off to the Isle of Lewis for a week with the storyteller, Peter, learning about the stone circles and seeing Scotland proper. It is easy to get caught up in the bubble of Findhorn and forget you are actually in another country. Seeing the hillsides, ocean, small villages, experiencing a Gaelic church service, and sheep aplenty has been refreshing (even if the travel time to get there was 6 hours).
I anxiously await further bonding, experiencing, and learning here at Findhorn and know that it will not fail to continue to amaze me.
Today marks the two-week point in our journey at Findhorn. Our time here has been full of laughter, introspection, connection and community life. The days are constellated by an array of activities, from optional morning Taizé singing and meditation, to our LES (Living Education System) departments, where we help out in either the gardens or the kitchen twice a week, to our regular academic classes, to evening events around the community such as Waves Dancing, Sacred Sexuality, and bonfires followed by a nice hot tub in the cold evening Scottish air. There is no room for boredom.
Group Dynamics, one of the four academic classes, started this week in full swing, with five 3-hour workshops that had us learning about process psychology and applying it to our own lives. We worked with our inner critic and our own duality, learning to embrace different parts of ourselves that we tend to push aside. Through sharing and exploring together, our group has already become incredibly close. It is an amazing feeling to already know that these girls have my back and that they are here to support me when I need it. This was an emotionally challenging week for most of us, but we got through it together, coming out stronger and more connected.
While most of our time has been spent together, in class, at meals and other activities, there is also a great deal of respect for the value of introspection and time alone. Personally I have been enjoying taking a quick run to the Findhorn beach and being greeted by a breathtaking view. The sunsets here are especially beautiful, with the sun peeking through the clouds and illuminating the earth. Sometimes I like to bring my journal there and let my stream of consciousness come through without judgment.
Yesterday we headed out to the Glen Affric forest for a day of hiking in the highlands. We welcomed the opportunity to explore more of Scotland and were excited as we passed Loch Ness on our way. Other than being famous for Nessie, Loch Ness is impressive as it contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined. It rained almost all day but the air was so fresh and the views so beautiful that it didn’t really matter. The only real annoyances of the trip were the midges, a very small fly found mostly in the north west of Scotland.
Today is sunny and warm, a huge gift after a week of drizzle. A few of my bungalow mates and I will be biking into the Findhorn village for a nice cup of coffee at a local café’. Cheers!
The sun shined on us as we loaded into the bus and headed for the river. Randalf’s Leap is a favorite place of anyone who discovers it and this semesters Human Challenge of Sustainability student group is no exception. Finding their own spots on warm grey lichen speckled rocks they sunbathed and chatted while I rested in the dappled shade of Scotts pine and larch, it was the culmination of a very busy week.
Arrival was followed by a whirlwind of dancing, a tour of the Park given by a long standing member of the Findhorn Foundation, Roger, who regaled us with stories of the community in its different stages of development.
After a tour of the Cluny side of the Community, each student attuned to their Living Education System (LES) department in which the students will have the opportunity to put into practice their newly acquired skills in Group Dynamics and Applied Sustainable Eco-village living, while examining their World Views and having the opportunity to flex their artistic muscles through projects, and develop the skill of mindful spiritual practice while in the garden or kitchen.
The following days where taken up with an introduction to the academic curriculum and faculty circle, where the students all had a chance to speak of their expectations for being here before diving into the rest of the weeks academic schedule.
So by the time our trip to the river arrived the students had began to feel at home in Findhorn.
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