Our approach was skeptical; our working hypothesis being that it operated via the unconscious bringing to the surface any sufficiently powerful fantasy of those taking part.
We were astonished therefore to find ourselves told in no uncertain terms that we were required to give our lives to God (In whose existence most of the group did not believe), to meditate daily, studying Zen Buddhism as a guide, and to prepare for the arrival of a New Age.
In 1969 there was no recognisable movement by that name so none of us had ever before heard New Age used to designate a specific global event. We were also told to be prepared to live in community and to see Scotland as the place to do this. Our task was to set up Art and Craft Studios bringing into being a vigorous new burst of creativity.
There followed a year of guidance around this central theme that served to fascinate and bond us together as a group. So when we found an article in The News of The World poking fun at a New Age group in the North of Scotland we paid close attention! An exchange of letters actually confirmed that we were expected! Peter told us that during the year we were being prepared they had guidance through Eileen to raise money for studios for Arts and Crafts. The artists themselves could be expected to appear in perfect timing. In his opinion that must be us! And so it proved to be.
By the Summer of 1970, having overcome our various difficulties about housing and jobs, we were colonising Pine Ridge, digging a septic tank and trenches for water and sewage and helping to create the first roads into the area. We were also looking at designs and building materials for the three studios that were planned.
This was all immensely exciting but for me there was an element that I felt strangely ambivalent about. What in the world was all this stuff about Pan, Fairies and Devas?
My background is very ecclesiastical. I had spent five years trying my vocation to be a Benedictine Monk. I was self consciously sophisticated in matters of theology and mysticism. What in the world was I letting myself in for by associating with people who alleged that Pan was alive and well and wandering around in Edinburgh, and that furthermore elves, pixies and all manner of fairy folk are real?
So for the first few months I poked around asking lots of questions and generally played the part of the expert sceptic trying to find out what could be wrong with people who said such things. The result was that I was completely won over by the quality of these same people! Dorothy quickly became someone I very much wanted as a friend and with whom I felt great affinity. I found too that her explanation of the Devic realm made perfect sense in the context of the theology of angels.
On meeting and hearing ROC I realised that it was virtually impossible to withhold belief of what he had to tell about his experiences and that he himself sceptically appraised what was happening to him until he could no longer doubt it. He also had a gift for story telling and was a delight to listen to.
In itself a delightful personality is no guarantee of truth but certainly it generated in me a respectful listening and a wish to understand. Gradually I became a aware of perceptions of my own that were increasingly unusual. A sense of being greeted and caressed by invisible hands as I walked in the garden, an astonishing feeling of great presences that carried with them the perfume of flowers and beautiful colours which unlike their physical reality seemed to enter deep within me at a spiritual level.
It is to a request from Dorothy that I owe my real awakening to the devic and elemental worlds. She was preparing some of her intuitive messages from the Devas for publication in the Spring of 1971, and wanted some line drawings of plants to add interest to the text. She asked if I could do this. I was flattered to be asked and said,"Yes, of course".
It was not so easy. We were in the middle of freezing weather and no plants were showing any sign of life let alone flowers! I cast around for ways to get the work done in time. It swiftly became clear that working from photographs would be pointless and boring. I resorted in desperation to seeking guidance in meditation. I was told very clearly to use the same technique as Dorothy but to expect not words but images. The result was a series of drawings carried out in stipple, lines and groups of dots in black ink, showing symbolic humanlike angelic beings with whorls and vortices of energy directed to the plant or realm they governed. In several were lesser nature spirits, elves or pixies, shown working in concert with the Deva. In one picture they are literally playing instruments,an analogue of the symphonic harmonies of energy directing the growth of plants.
The experience was one of deepening awareness of the Deva as a presence who evoked the transient and purely symbolic image of itself from somewhere deep in my imagination. However the objectivity of the Deva’s choice of the image came out in the drawing of Angel Of the North. I assumed from the "message", that I was working with the "North" of Scotland. I certainly expected to find some Celtic symbolism emerging in the image, but what actually happened was that the face was defined in a very Mongoloid way. The Deva was clearly Inuit/ Eskimo! I took this to Dorothy with a good deal of uncertainty, explaining that I could not understand why the face looked like that and why there was no Celtic symbolism. Dorothy looked momentarily puzzled, then said, "But why would there be? I was in Northern Canada!"
ROC Ogilvie Crombie on left
Not long after this I was in Edinburgh to do some business with a ceramics supply company. ROC invited me to stay at his flat for the weekend. It proved to be one of the most memorable weekends in my whole life.
Ogilvie told me that he was sure there was a special reason for my being there at that time and that he had a prompting to take me to two places in Edinburgh that have strong Nature associations: The Botanical gardens and The Hermitage of Braid by Blackford Hill.
On passing through the gate of the Botanical garden he told me simply to report to him any impressions I received. He did not define this in any way. What happened immediately was that I found myself with a vivid feeling, as physical and undeniable as any sense impression ever is, of wading through a medium as resistant as flowing water but carrying a tingling electrical charge, that flowed around my ankles and through my whole body. I felt as though I should be glowing! I was able accurately to identify the direction of flow of successive rivers of ley energy, while Ogilvie pointed out the various visible markers in the Edinburgh sky line visible from the Gardens, with which they lined up. Among them was The Salisbury Crag (Arthur’s Seat) and St Margaret’s Chapel on the Castle Mount.
Then as we walked by the modern art gallery in the Gardens I became aware of an overwhelming presence I had never sensed before and realised that in my mind I could vividly see a stunning image of Pan, standing on the grassy mound in front of the house which is the gallery. I could have rendered a picture of him in detail and colour even though my eyes saw nothing. I was diffident of telling ROC about this but I had stopped involuntarily and he turned to face me with an amused smile on his face. So I said, "Is it... could it be Pan?" "Yes", he answered, "And he wonders why it took you so long to pluck up the courage to speak. He welcomes you into his world!" And indeed, from this moment, but only when initiated from his side of the veil, I have been able to "see" Pan and the other elementals that are his subjects.
From the Botanic Gardens we went on to the Hermitage of Braid. Approaching by the path that skirts the hill where the observatory sits I became aware of what seemed like an electrified breeze. It was strongly directional and as I pointed the direction for Ogilvie he confirmed that it was energy radiating from the Hermitage direction. This sign of strong activity filled us both with anticipation.
The small ravine that forms the Hermitage walk is somewhat less than a mile in length and has flowing through it a shallow burn that twists and turns more than the ravine itself. There are many beautiful mature trees, some of them exotic but mostly native hardwoods. It is an extraordinarily beautiful place to find so close to the bustle of Edinburgh and is much used by dog strollers and joggers. On this day there were hardly any people around. As we entered the walk a most extraordinary sensation began in the crown of my head. It was as though the top of my head opened and a beam of light descended into it producing a truly ecstatic feeling of wellbeing and bliss. There was something like the sound of a very clear high tone produced by a flute but carrying in its harmonics every imaginable musical sound. My feet suddenly seemed awkard to manage as though I were a little drunk, and as we walked I became aware that accompanying us were many small beautiful figures. There was no doubt in my mind that they were elves, but of some high order or rank. They seemed androgynous and very beautiful, wearing clothes very like those depicted in fairy stories, in colours of russet, gold and green. They wore hats with high peaks and pointy shoes with curly toes. In height they were about a metre.
Again I felt a diffidence born of the strangeness to me of such experiences and waited quite a few minutes before telling Ogilvie. Meanwhile I had images of the elves pointing and giggling at my obvious discomfiture. ROC said nothing but by now had a knowing smile and was looking at me questioningly. So I told him and he confirmed that these were "High Elves", associated with trees and woodlands but having other more esoteric functions in nature as guardian spirits and protectors of sacred places. We all walked along in a kind of companionable silence, though the elves did not so much walk as dance along. In subsequent experience of these beings it has always been clear that they can scarcely contain the energy and joy that is their nature, and it is by no means unusual for them to be very playful and even child like.
A little aside regarding the term "High Elf". This appears in the fantasies of Prof. Tolkien, so it raises the question of which came first the fantasy or the elf? My theory is that these beings use our categories to present themselves to us, since their essential being is probably incomprehensible and outside our experience, except that in our creation of imaginery worlds we may very well reflect hidden realities and make them more comprehensible. I am convinced that Nature spirits are not in fact like little human beings, but would manifest as constantly moving, shimmering rainbows of light, and have no fixed form.
So, we walked along and finally came to the end of the walk. As we stood by the house that now functions as a museum and information centre, the elves took their leave but one of their number stayed with us. Ogilvie explained that he was to return with me to Findhorn where he would be making connections with energy from centres around Britain and the world, and would be helpful to the gardeners. As we waited for the bus to take us back to Ogilvies flat the elf disappeared.
The next morning I was waiting for the long distance bus for Inverness. As it pulled into the kerb I suddenly realised that the elf was standing with me! He got on the bus and sat in the seat beside me. The feeling of incipient madness, consternation and sheer amusement that this gave me can be imagined. I was concerned that someone might want to sit on the seat he was in and I really could not figure out whether I would have the courage to say, "Excuse me but that seat is occupied." In the end no one chose to sit there. Perhaps he had some way to influence them unconsciously?
\I was met at Inverness by friends who brought me ..and the elf, back to Findhorn. He seemed to enjoy the car. Obviously all this was for him unnecessary. He can be anywhere he wishes just by thinking about it. I believe that there is a humorous wish to show fellowship with our limitations, as well as a real interest in experiencing them. Perhaps a good analogy would be the way in which we might, on a beautiful day, enjoy walking to a destination instead of going by car.
The elf accompanied me to my caravan which I was sharing with a friend, Christian Torjussen. I had not talked with Christian while I was in Edinburgh, so he knew nothing of my recent experiences. He was sitting reading as we arrived. As I opened the door the elf leaped into the caravan, did a sort of cartwheel and landed on the seat beside Christian, who reacted with astonishment to an invisible but felt presence. His book dropped from his hands and he looked at the space beside him and said, "What is it? Is it an elf?"
This event sharpened his sensitivity, though it was already well developed, and during the ensuing summer we both had incredible joy in a new and vivid awareness of this elf and many others of his kind. They took to riding on our shoulders and we quite often sighted each other and would point and laugh, "You too!"
The garden team were delighted to hear this story and wanted to know the elf’s name. It turned out that human language cannot cope with elvish names so they were invited to find him one! They came up with Merlando which definitely sounded magical enough and which he accepted. The sheer magic of that Summer would be hard to describe. It is the sort of memory that remains forever transfigured by the high points, so it is filled with sunshine and the fragrance of flowers and much laughter; truly a taste of the next realm!
More than twenty years later, after I had been away from the community, even questioning my whole involvement so deeply that I again entered a monastery, a sequel to this story emerged. I had returned in 1990 and was again running the pottery. Much of the blissful acceptance of the human/ nature spirit interaction that had so characterised the early seventies was now very much downplayed. The sour catch phrase was, "We were children. Now we’ve grown up" and there was quite a lot of supercilious denial in the ranks! However it should be noted that there were people, especially in the gardening team for whom it was still very much a live issue. The problem was that there was not a general acceptance. For me this was nothing short of tragedy. How could such a source of joy and enrichment be turned aside with a pompous pretense of maturity. I had of course forgotten my own initial scepticism!
I felt responsible but realised that some kind of evangelical crusade would be both silly and inneffective. It had to grow out of a revived reality not somebody’s dogmatic preaching. So I entered into a sort of contract with the nature beings: You set things in motion. I will provide the follow up!
n 1993 Peter Caddy was making one of his Summer visits from Germany. He had some concerns about the poor level of involvement with Nature Beings generally in the community and wanted to confer with me and Magda Thompson (also a ROC protege and highly sensitive) about it. A meeting was set up but both Peter and Magda for quite different reasons were unnavoidably delayed. As I was driving down the runway to go home for lunch I saw them talking near the Phoenix Shop. As I pulled up to them they both apologised and Peter said, "Nothing happens by accident. Since you are in your car already and we’re here, why don’t we go to Randolph’s leap instead of the Pottery?"
When we arrived at the Leap Magda and I realised simultaneously that waiting for us on the powerpoint was the towering figure of Pan and many thousands of assorted Nature Beings. We told this to Peter who was thrilled at having his intuition confirmed yet again. We were led along the river upstream to where a huge pine tree stood right on the bank. It was explained to us that this is the protective energy anchoring tree for this section of forest.(The Native American tradition would call it the Grandmother tree!) Pan then proceeded to tell Peter through Magda of the gratitude of the Nature Kingdoms for his work in creating the means for the message of working harmoniously with Nature to go out to the world. Peter was naturally gratified at this but he wanted to know what his next task was to be. Both Magda and I found ourselves really puzzled by what seemed like evasiveness on the part of Pan. Pan re-iterated what he had already said but could not be drawn on the subject of what’s next! At the time Magda and I thought maybe we were for some reason unable to focus clearly enough. The following Spring we understood when the news of Peter’s death in a road crash in Germany came through.
Towards the end of the session I had begun to notice that an elf sitting up on a branch just in front of me was trying to attract my attention by swinging his legs and grinning down at me. I looked down at the ground, partly questioning whether I was letting imagination run away with me. He immediately jumped down and sat crosslegged in front of me. Looking up over his shoulder he said, "When Magda stops talking, ask her." Magda finished what she was saying and as it was the conclusion of this "conference" Pan and all the beings began to disperse through the forest. I pointed to the space in front of me and asked, "What do you see here?" She replied, "I’m not exactly sure, but when it stands up it’s about so high (indicating a metre). I think it must be an elf." The triumphant elf stayed with us and began walking with us to the car park. I then realised who it must be and began to feel excited. He behaved in the most amusing fashion in the car wanting to get the view out of each window and moving around the car like an excited child. At the Park he hopped out of the car saying to me, "Now you must tell them!" I replied that he still had to get "them" ready to hear the story. He just grinned and skipped off into the garden.
A few days later, Marijke, who was then Park Garden focaliser came to me and said she would like very much to have a chat with me. It turned out that she had several times had the most beautiful sense of light and joy while working in the wild garden and felt something was tugging at her clothes and climbing up on her shoulders. "What could it mean?" It gave me great delight to be able to tell her!
These events made it possible for successive garden groups to hear about the presence of Merlando and to understand something of the importance of giving love and recognition to the hidden realms of Nature. As Dorothy has frequently stressed, sensitivity in these realms is a natural outcome of being centred on the inner Divinity, and must be approached in this way, rather than with curiosity and a desire for novelty alone.
ROC’s answer to questions about this was very similar,"It seems to be necessary to have reached some level of cosmic consciousness, before you can experience nature spirits directly."
While "cosmic consciousness" sounds a bit daunting, what it means for most of us is that we have a living union with God, or whatever we conceive the Absolute to be. And that can be at a very modest level initially!
Ogilvie was an extraordinary man. To me he was both mentor and friend. To this day I regret the shortening of my acqaintance with him that resulted from my decision to attempt to return to the monastic life at Pluscarden.
He was spontaneously identified as Merlin during the time that he was involved with Findhorn. While at the time it was a playful sort of thing, and he was as readily referred to as Gandalph, in fact he admitted to the reality of this identification at the end of his life. To me this is wholly credible, just as the other probable incarnation in this lineage as John Dee in the reign of Elizabeth 1st, is credible.
He had long experience within the western occult tradition, and for him it was always expressed within a basically Christian framework. He was however a mage and adept in the strictest sense, and used his skills in the early days of the community to provide levels of psychic protection that would otherwise not have been possible.
He was able to leave his body at will and check for problems at Findhorn. Many’s the phone call that was received questioning some transgression, like cutting gorse while in flower, that was happening at that instant! Because it was under his care, he would even register the disturbance of something like this while busy with other matters, and attend to it immediately. He engaged Christian and me in acting as his "agents" at Findhorn. We were to keep aware of the integrity of the protective etheric shell and report any breaches to him. We learned how to work to restore such breaches, but often did not have the necessary skill to completely restore it, and would have to call him in Edinburgh. He would then travel in his astral body to the problem, set things right, and call back to give us a report on what exactly he had found.
When I left in 1972, he sought similar help from Craig Gibsone who worked with him till his last illness and death in 1974.
It is the Divine connection that provides the key to the importance of the experiences described above, not as experiences, but as indicators of an important part of reality, long neglected. The community of consciousness might be a good overall name for it. Humankind have long considered themselves alone on this planet in being self aware and capable of rational thought. Removing all thought of a creator/ God from reality, also created a situation in which there was no need to consider anything except what might be expedient for some immediate purpose. Out of this came the systematic abuse of the planet and all life on it, which now begins to bear its frightening fruit in global warming and already disrupted weather patterns.
In its simplicity and obviousness, it has been easy to forget the profound symbolism of the restoration of the garden and the communion with angels that has taken place within it. Eden was the symbolic paradise garden, lost by an act of arrogance. Findhorn was a restoration of lost innocence and lost connections, made possible by a woman absorbed in God, an obedient man, and two major seers within the kingdoms of Nature. Let us honour them and emulate what they have shown us of the wonder and beauty of Reality and our place within the All.