Co-founder of the Findhorn Community
January 7 1920 – March 12 2020
Dorothy Maclean, a writer and educator on spirituality, was one of the three founders of the Findhorn Foundation spiritual community in northeast Scotland. She was best known for her descriptions of contacts with the consciousnesses of nature she called devas. Guidance from these sources was a major element in the growth of the Findhorn community and its seemingly miraculous gardens.
She was born in the small town of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, to a middle class family. Growing from a nature-loving child and avid reader to an awkward and unhappy adolescent, she later likened this feeling of separation to a fall from Eden. At 17 she took a BA degree in Business at the University of Western Ontario, where she also excelled at badminton. Even at this questioning age she believed truth was ‘no respecter of creeds’. At 20 she was employed as a secretary by the British Secret Intelligence Service in New York, later transferring to the Panama office. Here she met John Wood, an officer who introduced her to Sufism and the teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan. She married John in 1941 and they travelled extensively, arriving in London where she worked at the Counter-Espionage Section of British Intelligence during the Blitz.
Dorothy had met the mystic Sheena Govan in 1940 on a train ride to New York and reconnected with her in London. Having divorced John in 1951, she became involved in Govan’s spiritual practices in England. Through this she met fellow seekers Peter and Eileen Caddy. In 1954 Dorothy had her first experience of the God within, which she called a “vast unity”. She began a regular practice of meditation to connect with this voice within, which led her to the sacred essence of things and the belief that love must be practical. She later joined Peter and Eileen Caddy in the management of Cluny Hill Hotel in Scotland, working as secretary and receptionist for six years. The hotel became a success on the strength of inner guidance. Failing to repeat that success at another hotel, she and the Caddys were dismissed by the hotel company on short notice. Dorothy moved with the Caddys, and the three Caddy children, into a cramped caravan near the Scottish village of Findhorn, which was to be the starting point of the Findhorn Foundation and community.
During meditation in 1963 Dorothy’s inner guidance suggested she begin to contact the consciousness of nature. Probably her most well-known contact with non-physical consciousness was with devas. She chose this term to describe a formless energy field that oversees the pattern and growth of all forms and are embodiments of creative intelligence. “To hold each little atom in its pattern,” one deva told her, “is to hold it in joy.” Co-creation with the devas led to the abundance of the Findhorn garden, including giant cabbages and winter-flowering roses. Interest in the duneland garden and the spiritual principles behind its vitality led many to join the new community.
Dorothy collected her messages from devas and angels in several books. “Humans generally don’t seem to know where they are going, or why,” the pea deva told her. “If they did, what powerhouses they would be! If they were on a straight course, how we could cooperate with them!’
Dorothy left Findhorn in 1973 and was involved in the founding of the Lorian Association, a spiritual education community in North America, with mystical philosopher David Spangler. Her life became a process of building the new human consciousness. She began travelling the world teaching and lecturing, helping others to contact their divinity within and connect with the intelligence of nature. She believed that humans have unique potential, calling humans the “growing tip of Earth”. She expanded her non-physical explorations, contacting the overlighting angels of different nations, and she developed a concern for the environment, relating the words of the Cypress tree deva: “We are the skin of this world; take us away and the complete planet, no longer able to function, dries up and dies.” Dorothy wrote that she sought to help shape a future where humans are active agents in co-creating the life of Earth, stating: “It is from our wholeness, our divinity, that we can then relate to anyone else and to our world.” One angel message reads: “Let your dominion be over yourself, and let your expanding consciousness see God’s life in all things.” Spiritual teacher and one-time Findhorn Foundation member David Spangler called Dorothy a forerunner of planetary wholeness: “Down-to-earth, practical, not given to glamour, nevertheless she has learned to expand her spirit and step beyond the purely human points of view without abandoning them either. Knowing her has been a great privilege in my life.”
The Findhorn Foundation community is now the largest ecovillage in the UK and more than 30,000 visitors have attended its workshops and conferences, some of which continue Dorothy’s themes of inner listening and co-creation with nature. Dorothy moved back to the community in 2009, retiring from public life the following year. Her experiences are recounted in several bestselling books, which include Wisdoms (1970), To Hear the Angels Sing (1980), To Honour the Earth (1991), Choices of Love (1998), Seeds of Inspiration (2004), Call of the Trees (2006), Come Closer (2007) and Memoirs of an Ordinary Mystic (2010).
Dorothy celebrated her 100th birthday in January of this year. She received hundreds of cards, and well wishes from all parts of the globe.
She is survived by her beloved community – The Findhorn Ecovillage Community which she co founded in 1962.
Dorothy Maclean, spiritual teacher and author, born January 7, 1920; died March 12, 2020