Morayshire’s Alternative Reality

Spiritualism and Green living in the Northeast of Scotland

For the conscious individual, living in today’s materialistic Western society can be tough and, at times, rather depressing. It is bad enough that Donald Trump is the elected leader of the free world, and even worse is that a small proportion of the human-race has decided to wage war against mother Earth. Nature is destroyed, animals are killed and humans are poisoned on a regular basis – all in the name of profit.

For some “Ignorance is bliss,” and at times I am almost envious towards those who are able to shrug their shoulders, distracting themselves with television-shows and social-media. But, some of us dare to dream – hoping that maybe, just maybe, there more to life than Instagram-likes and Tesco meal-deals.

In bleak times such as these, many dreamers decide to jump the depressive UK-austerity-ship: waving goodbye to capitalism and careers, as they run away to live with Nepali goat farmers and ‘find themselves’ – or something along those lines. Is our country, and the Western World, so inevitably screwed that to find happiness, we must run away?

What if I told you, that an alternative reality does exist? What if I told you, that it lays in the Northeast of Scotland…

Nestled in a corner of the Moray Firth resides the Findhorn Foundation, a 40-year-old spiritual community and eco-village. To walk through the community one would dander through charming gardens, past a stonewalled mediation chamber, a purpose-built art-gallery and the architecturally stunning Universal Hall (which houses many theatrical and musical performances). Perhaps you would notice the community’s own solar panels and wind-turbine, or walk through the cluster of ‘eco houses’ – beautiful creations assembled from local and sustainable materials, such as old whisky barrels. After spending a few hours in Findhorn, it would be hard to deny that the place is somewhat magical.

But for sceptics, magic simply does not exist.

Now before you roll your eyes and presume that Findhorn-dwellers are a bunch of disillusioned old hippies, here are the facts: Findhorn houses over 40 community businesses and studies have found that Findhorn’s initiatives contributed 400 jobs and £5 million to the North of Scotland’s economy. Meanwhile, the community manages to have an average carbon-footprint of less than half the UK average.

“Findhorn provides a model of an alternative lifestyle. People may say communities such as these are secluded, but Findhorn itself has had an effect on the whole bio-region of the area. Amazing initiatives have started in Findhorn, such as ‘Trees For Life’ a charity restoring the Caledonian Forest, and ‘Biomatrix’ cleaning up water in cities all over the world” explained Tara Gibsone, a Findhorn native, and daughter of one of the community-elders.

However, Findhorn’s objectives and core-principles are far more complex than to simply live greener. To gain a better understanding of the community’s spiritual element, people travel from all over the world to engage in Experience Weeks, as well as many other courses in a range of subjects from permaculture to meditation. Tara explained that these weeks can deliver individuals a “profound experience,” Tara has also helped run the Youth Experience Week, and tells me “I have witnessed it myself, the change that people go through, to learn there is a different way to live.”

Perhaps, you are sitting there assuming that this place would not be your cup of herbal tea, or that you would never fit in, but Tara tells us the best bit about Findhorn is “the diversity – how open it is, it is not secluded to one belief system or practical dogma. It houses a number of different types of people. It is open to anybody.”

I am not saying Findhorn is a paradise or utopia – but Findhorn does show that there is working alternative to the status quo of modern-day life. Surely, this is enough for it to be used as a reference point to guide us towards a better-functioning society in the future.  It is not a dream – it is reality. Perhaps, there is hope.

barrel houses

Houses created from recycled whisky barrels in Findhorn. (Photo credit: Tara Gibsone)


Craig Gibsone, a Findhorn Elder, with his pottery.  (Photo credit: Tara Gibsone)

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