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Findhorn Signposts

One person’s spiritual journey

By Viktor Postnikov

Ecovillage windmills near Findhorn Bay in Scotland

Windmill generators at Findhorn Bay in Scotland

My first spiritual breakthrough came at the Schumacher College (UK) in 2004. Initially, my secret hope was to meet Fritjof Capra, whom I had known since the late 1970s by his Tao of Physics and his later books, especially The Turning Point and The Uncommon Wisdom. The course I was admitted to (special thanks to Jan Slakov and Patrick Curry) was called Earth, Spirit and Action. It was absolutely fantastic. Course leaders John Seed, Ruth Rosenhek, Starhawk, Alastair McIntosh and Verene Nicolas, each provided a “signpost” that unambiguously spoke to my deepest aspirations.

Undoubtedly, I had received many signposts before in my life, but I was blind to them, never paying attention to their significance. Verene Nicolas first stirred a conscious interest in my inner life patterns when she asked each of us to draw a design that could reflect our life journey. I drew the spiral with the “signposts” that I thought were important for me. I was amazed by the consistency of these signposts. Since then my life has become far more meaningful, and my direction soon was set once and forever.

I found poetry in John and Alastair, courage and magic in Starhawk, grace and profoundness in Verene. Although I did not meet Fritjof Capra, Stephan Harding gave a brilliant introduction to holistic science and Gaia theory. Satish Kumar, a spiritual teacher at the College, told about his personal pilgrimage and Hindu spirituality, which was especially appealing to me as I translated several books by Swami Sivananda and was generally hooked on yoga.

The magic of coming to Schumacher College could be illustrated by a mysterious incident. I had brought my favourite books of poetry by Rabindranath Tagore with me, and to my astonishment, the very first day as I ascended the staircase I saw a painting by Tagore himself hanging on the wall! It was a gift of the poet, who had visited the Centre! For me, it was a magically significant sign.

Another “signpost”

I left Schumacher College inspired and enriched by the course. But I needed to go further, to create something beautiful both for myself and out of respect for the teachers. Coming home, though, I found myself once again drawn in the same exhaustive political, social and personal turmoil. Obviously, most people around me were moving in different direction. I badly needed another “signpost.”

Thanks to David Orton, it came through my acquaintance with Douglas Tompkins. I had suggested several books for translation, and without even knowing me, he agreed to finance the project. That was magic. I spent two years in translating in Russian, editing and publishing the two radical authors William R. Catton and Jerry Mander. To my delight and to the delight of many others, the books have attracted the attention of many people and their impact is growing. In 2006 I felt that I need to go on. At that time, I became seriously interested in the Ecovillage movement and eco-localism as an alternative to capitalism. Then I remembered that somebody I met at Schumacher College was from the Findhorn Foundation. The name of that village kept resonating in my head.

In 2007 I was accepted for the Experience Week in the Findhorn Foundation — definitely another signpost. The Experience Week was my coming back to humanity. We danced, played games, touched one another, and laughed and fooled around like children. I badly needed that because I was experiencing enmity towards people around home at that time. People differ widely; sometimes it seems we belong to different species. Experience Week brought me together with a group of like-minded people, and soon we felt like one great family.

The psychological games and the direct tactile contact exercises of the course created a unity among us more than dry lectures ever could. In the ordinary life we avoid tactile contact, narrowing the circle with whom such contacts are deemed desirable or acceptable. We do not allow ourselves to behave in a child-like way. On the contrary, we pretend to be learned adults. This is a major difference between Schumacher College and the Findhorn Foundation. While the former is a serious adult education establishment, the latter is definitely more of a child-like playground. Possibly, the child in me had long been waiting to awaken.

During Findhorn’s’ Experience Week I met beautiful people from around the globe, both in our group and among the teachers. We met 80-year old Dorothy Maclean, one of the three founders of the Findhorn Foundation, and Craig Gibsone, the elder of the community, who is a shaman and a visionary. The stately architecture of the Cluny Hill College where I stayed vaguely reminded me of Schumacher College. But the excursions to the eco-village The Park near Findhorn Bay, the forest and the sea, planted the seeds of hope in me that some day I would live in nature.

Return to Findhorn

The very next year I enrolled in the Exploring Community Life course with a desire to develop an in-depth knowledge of the community. I landed in a group of six wonderful women and a fantastic facilitator (also a woman), and was absolutely pleased with my life. We were having a lot of fun together, and I definitely felt that I was at the right place. The Transformation Game was the crux of the program, a psychic journey through one’s own life. I played the game with two women from our group, and the experience was awesome. It was as if our lives were correlated and intercepted.

Meeting Craig Gibsone during the Experience Week was definitely another signpost. Craig told about his life in the ’60’s, his acquaintance with aboriginal culture, his study of permaculture, and his pioneering work with the founders of the ecovillage. I began seriously thinking about his course on Ecovillage Training, and how my own affiliation with alternative energy could fit into his course and the life in the ecovillage in general. I wrote him, and my wife and I were invited to join the course. I was not sure we could afford it until the very last moment, but after receiving a bursary, I knew we had to go.

The course had to begin on February, 14th, 2008. We flew to London on Friday the 13th. (Perhaps that was the reason for the cheap tickets?) The aeroplane took off into the snowy night sky with a shudder. However, the sky over London was clear. We took the midnight London-Inverness bus, and after endless attempts to sleep in a sitting position, reached Inverness thirteen hours later. The ancient Highlands capital greeted us with spring in its surrounding mountains, beautiful and fresh. Another bus to Forres, a little snack, and we were nearly in the village.

When we finally arrived at the Ecovillage we ran immediately to the community center, where the program had already started two hours previously. Gosh! It had been a stressful journey: Would the plane arrive on time? Would we catch up the bus? How we can exchange the money? But as soon as we saw Craig’s smiling face as he rose to hug us, all our fears evaporated and we began to relax.

The room was full of people, 32 participants from 15 countries, sitting in a circle. Each was given a few minutes to speak. The number of participants, the diversity of faces was at first overwhelming. To remember all their the names seemed a hopeless endeavour. Craig had two sympathetic facilitators, Gabriella and Elizabeth. Their friendly smiles immediately won our hearts. They had both been raised at Findhorn, and despite their youth, they are experienced facilitators. Following the Findhorn practice, we draw an angel for the group, it is Abundance. Then everyone draws his or her own angel. Mine is Clarity — exactly what I needed. The whole month confirmed the relevance of these “messages from above.”

Soon we become a family or tribe, or as someone put it, “a perfect ashram,” talented passionate youth, eager to change the world for the better. For the first time, my scepticism had been shaken. We thoroughly studied the principles of permaculture, which included People Care (building effective eco-villages), Fair Share (new social economy and sustainable food), and Earth Share (eco-design, wilderness restoration) presented by Craig and other teachers. Craig built his own house and garden on permaculture principles to act as a model and laboratory for all. My respect for Craig had grown enormously, as he masterly steered the program with ease, shamanic wisdom, and a child-like openness.

The fourth week was dedicated to the projects we developed around the course material. Each of us was to bring our expertise home and to implement a project. While rambling in the dunes of the nearby seashore during this time, I found a beautiful white Turbinella pirum shell. According to Wikipedia, “the shell has considerable significance in Buddhism, representing the beautiful, deep, melodious and interpenetrating sound of the Buddhadharma, which being appropriate to different natures, predispositions and aspirations of disciples, awakens them from the deep slumber of ignorance and urges them to accomplish their own welfare and the welfare of others.”

Could I have ever found a better sign?

About the author

Viktor Ivanovitch PostnikovViktor Ivanovitch Postnikov is a Russian-born independent scientist (DSc.) who lives in Kiev, Ukraine. A prolific poetry translator, he has also translated books on both eastern philosophies and deep ecology, and written many essays on Russian anarchism and eco-poetry for journals and other publications.


My deepest thanks to Stuart Hertzog for tidying up the text and placing it on Dandelion Times.

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1 comment

1 geoff dalglish { 04.04.09 at 3:55 am }

Hi Victor … I loved the poem and reading about your signposts. Funnily enough I am currently completely engrossed in the autobiography ‘No Destinations’ by Satish Kumar which I suspect will be one of my signposts. All manner of joy and discovery to you on your journey.