The Findhorn Foundation is a Scottish charitable trust registered in 1972, formed by the spiritual community at the Findhorn Ecovillage, one of the largest intentional communities in Britain. It has been home to thousands of residents from more than 40 countries. The Foundation runs various educational programmes for the Findhorn community; it also houses about 40 community businesses such as the Findhorn Press and an alternative medicine centre.
Prior to the Findhorn Foundation in 1972 there was a Findhorn Trust as more people joined Eileen Caddy, Peter Caddy and Dorothy Maclean, who had arrived at the Caravan Park at Findhorn Bay on 17 November 1962. The Findhorn Foundation and surrounding Findhorn Ecovillage community at The Park, Findhorn, a village in Moray, Scotland, and at Cluny Hill in Forres, is now home to more than 400 people. The Findhorn Foundation and the surrounding community have no formal doctrine or creed. The Foundation offers a range of workshops, programmes and events in the environment of a working ecovillage. The programmes are intended to give participants practical experience of how to apply spiritual values in daily life. Approximately 3000 residential participants from around the world take part in programmes each year.
Findhorn Ecovillage has been awarded UN Habitat Best Practice designation from the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (HABITAT), and regularly holds seminars of CIFAL Findhorn, a United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), affiliated training centre for Northern Europe.
In the late 1940s Sheena Govan emerged as an informal spiritual teacher to a small circle that included her then-husband, Peter Caddy, and Dorothy Maclean. Eileen Caddy, as she became, who had a background in the Moral Rearmament movement, joined them in the early 1950s. The group's principal focus was dedication to the 'Christ Within' and following God's guidance. In 1957 Peter and Eileen Caddy were appointed to manage the Cluny Hill Hotel near Forres, Maclean joining them as the hotel's secretary. Though now separated from Sheena Govan, whose relationship with Eileen Caddy had deteriorated, they continued with the practices she taught. In the early 1960s, Caddy, and other people who called themselves channelers, believed that they were in contact with extraterrestrials through telepathy, and prepared a landing strip for flying saucers at nearby Cluny Hill.
In late 1962, following concerns by the hotel's owners over adverse publicity, Caddy's employment was terminated. He and Eileen settled in a caravan near the village of Findhorn; in early 1963 an annexe was built so that Dorothy Maclean could live close to the Caddy family. Eileen Caddy's direct relationship with God began with an experience in Glastonbury where she recorded that she heard a voice say "Be Still and Know that I am God". Peter Caddy followed "an intuitive spontaneous inner knowing" and had many other influences from theosophy to the moral re-armament movement from which he developed methods of positive thinking and other methods he had learned in the Rosicrucian Order Crotona Fellowship. Dorothy Maclean initially followed practices from the Sufi group centred on the teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan, and from this developed her contact with the divine to focus upon communication with 'nature spirits' which she named as devas. Peter told her that these contacts should be made useful for the growing of food which was supplementing their income (the family at this point being entirely supported by Family Allowance). The Caddy's credited the garden's success of producing "exceptionally large vegetables" – on these practices. More conventional explanations have been suggested by locals from outside the community who feel that the garden's successes can be explained by the unique microclimate of Moray or the substantial amounts of horse manure donated by a local farmer.
There were many other people who were involved with varying importance and different influences in the early years, from Lena Lamont, part of Sheena Govan's circle, who lived in her caravan with her family and who shunned publicity to those whom Peter Caddy met as he traveled in British New Age circles: among them Robert Ogilvie Crombie (ROC); Sir George Trevelyan who formed the Wrekin Trust; Anthony Walter Dayrell Brooke, Liebie Pugh, and Joan Hartnell-Beavis. Through connections such as these and the distribution of Eileen Caddy's writings to a New Age mailing list in the form of a booklet titled God Spoke to Me, people came to live at the Caravan Park, eventually forming the 'Findhorn Trust' and giving rise to the nascent shape of the 'Findhorn Community'.
From 1969, following Eileen's guidance, Peter Caddy slowly devolved his day to day command. David Spangler became co-director of Education almost immediately after he arrived in 1970 which resulted in the gradual transformation into a centre of residential spiritual education with a permanent staff of over 100 and the setting up of the Findhorn Foundation in 1972. In 1973 David Spangler and Dorothy MacLean, with several other Findhorn Foundation members, left to found the Lorian Association near Seattle, United States. By 1979 Peter and Eileen's marriage had disintegrated, and he left the Foundation. Eileen Caddy remained, and in 2004 was awarded an OBE. Peter Caddy died in a car crash in Germany on 18 February 1994. Eileen Caddy died at home on 13 December 2006. Dorothy Maclean continued to give talks and workshops worldwide, visiting Findhorn regularly, and in August 2009 returned to Findhorn to live.
The Findhorn Foundation offers a wide variety of courses and conferences; education is the Foundation’s core activity. The Findhorn Foundation College was established in 2001. An ethnography of Findhorn in the 1990s noted that over 5,000 people attended its courses annually. The study examined Findhorn and its teaching of alternative spiritual practices and found it was an example of contemporary religious individualism.
A theatre and concert hall known as the Universal Hall was built at the former caravan park site, known as The Park, between the years 1974 and 1984. The musical group The Waterboys, who have performed a number of concerts in the hall, named their album Universal Hall after the structure.
Findhorn Ecovillage is based at The Park, where the Foundation's belief in sustainability is expressed in the built environment with 'ecological' houses, innovative use of building materials such as local stone and straw bales, and applied technology in the Living Machine sewage treatment facility and electricity-generating wind turbines. The Ecovillage is intended to be a tangible demonstration of the links between the spiritual, social, ecological and economic aspects of life, for use as a teaching resource. It is a founder member of the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) a non-profit organisation that links together a diverse worldwide movement of autonomous ecovillages and related projects. The Ecovillage project has received Best Practice designation from the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat).
Since the 1980s numerous organisations have started up in the vicinity of Findhorn which have an affiliation of some kind with the Findhorn Foundation. These include Ekopia, Moray Steiner School, the Phoenix Community Store, Trees for Life (Scotland) and The Isle of Erraid. Collectively they now form an ecovillage which aims to demonstrate a positive model of a viable, sustainable human and planetary future. As of 2005, Findhorn Ecovillage has around 450 resident members, and its residents have the lowest recorded ecological footprint of any community in the industrialised or the developed world, and also half of the UK average.
The community includes an arts centre, shop, pottery, bakery, publishing company, printing company and other charitable organisations. All aim to practice the founding principles of the community and together make up the New Findhorn Association (NFA). The NFA was formed in 1999 to provide a structure for all the people and organisations in the community. It includes people from within a 50-mile radius of The Park, at Findhorn. Each year a council and two listener-conveners are elected by the membership of the NFA, who organise monthly community meetings to decide upon community-wide issues. By 2011, the NFA consisted of "320 members and 30 organisations". These included for example the Findhorn Press, the Phoenix Community Stores, the Trees for Life organisation, and the various educational centres including the Findhorn Foundation itself. The phrase "the Findhorn community" thus has at least 3 meanings: the Findhorn Foundation; the NFA; and the people of the village of Findhorn.
Each department is responsible for its own decisions. There is an 11-person "Management Team" which makes "decisions which affect the organisation as a whole". The Management team consults with the Council, which consists of approximately 40 "committed members" who "meet regularly to discuss issues and participate in team-building activities". The management team is "responsible to the Trustees of the Foundation". The Trustees meet 4 times per year.
Decisions are made meditatively by "attunement", where "each person does their best to find an inner state of mind in which goodwill is foremost and any outcome will be one which serves as the best for all." "Most decisions are made unanimously or with a loyal minority." Failing this, decisions can be passed with a 90% majority vote; decisions that do not reach this threshold are given time "for more information to be gathered", and the proposals are presented again later.
The Findhorn Foundation is a member of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations (CONGO), attends the Sustainable Development Committee meetings and is a founding member of the following NGO groups active at the UN Headquarters in New York: The Earth Values Caucus, The Spiritual Caucus, and The NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns.
In September 2006 a new sustainable development training facility, CIFAL Findhorn was launched. This is a joint initiative between The Moray Council, the Global Ecovillage Network, the Findhorn Foundation and UNITAR.