The first three posts to this blog have featured my inner and domestic life; I haven’t yet ventured beyond my front door. There’s been little reference to the community or culture of Findhorn, which ostensibly is what this blog is about … and assuredly will be. But as a postscript to the first three posts, I’d like to make the point that much of what I have discussed has a context – the culture, dynamics and life of the Findhorn community. There is little (perhaps nothing) I will write about that can be taken in isolation. In community, everything is interconnected. This is true more generally, I believe, but in community the interconnectedness is more patently evident.

So for example, my home (the house I live in and subject of the first post) would not have been built but for a specific set of conditions, including a need for staff housing at the time and an enormous amount of community support, encouragement and resources. And similarly, my dietary journey (subject of the last post) has only been possible with the support of partners, friends, colleagues and coworkers. My organic, sugar-free and vegan preferences are supported both by our community shop which stocks the alternative foodstuffs I need to cook at home, and the kitchen staff who dream up and produce the fabulous meals in our Community Centre (CC). I typically eat there twice a day (lunch and dinner) and always there are ‘alternatives’ available for people on specialist diets or with particular preferences.

This, to my mind, is the inherent power of community – the way in which the collective can support the individual to become who they wish to be. And of course, it’s reciprocal – the members serve the collective, seeking to achieve the highest and the best outcomes for the community as a whole. At least, that’s the ideal. In practice, of course, it’s not so easy; we all have an ego that will make its own demands. When I discuss issues of decision making and governance I will consider this dynamic closely. But for now, it’s back to my practices.

This post is about one of my spiritual practices that was born and bred in Findhorn. On my living room table is a box labelled Intuitive Solutions; it contains three types of cards: Insight, Setback and Angel cards. The tag line on the box reads, A Tool for Inspired Action. Angel cards are well known around the world and closely associated with Findhorn. The other two types are perhaps less well known. The instruction book contains the following paragraph:

[This set of cards offers] a quick way to gain immediate understanding and direction. It enhances your creativity by helping you to dive deeply into a concern, think through difficulties, and make decisions in harmony with your values and integrity. You can use Intuitive Solutions to break through inertia and express your wisdom and clarity.

The cards were originally devised as an integral part of a board game called the Game of Life, later renamed the Transformation Game. The game was invented in the late 1970s by Findhorn members, Joy Drake, Kathy Tyler and their team as a means of simulating the Findhorn experience elsewhere, so that people around the world could learn the lessons and gain the insights that an immersive Findhorn experience provides without having to come here. Nowadays, the cards are available for use separately from the game. They can be used in many different ways but I use them as follows.

Every morning after breakfast, often as I’m running late to get to Taizé singing, I draw four cards in strict sequence: an Insight card, followed by a Setback, then another Insight and finally an Angel card. Before doing so, I take a moment to ‘tune in’ i.e. align with a purpose or intention for the day, or simply, a question I might have about something that’s going on for me. The message written on the first Insight card will prompt reflections that support a purpose or intention or perhaps answer a question. The Setback card will suggest an obstacle, personal limitation or impediment that might set me back in the process. And the second Insight card will suggest ways in which I might deal with the setback. Finally, the Angel card will suggest a quality that I might bring to the situation to assist in implementing the insights.

It is a very intuitive process which I find I’m struggling to explain clearly. What the process is not, is scientific. It’s mysterious. So I can imagine that anyone who has read my second post which describes my (once very) sceptical world view is wondering at this point about my sanity. Drawing cards like this is something I would have run a mile from for most of my life. I think I got burned during my hippie years. I lived in the area around the town of Nimbin, which is famous in Australia and around the world for its alternative culture of towns, villages, communes and collectives. I lived in the largest and most (in)famous of communes for 8 years back in the 70s and 80s. It was a community that attracted some very dippy hippies. Two of my fellow communards, for example, died from snake bites because they believed they could cure themselves by meditating. Another, our neighbour, was bitten one dark night by an unidentified snake. She sought advice from the I Ching as to whether she should go to hospital or not. I was there with the car running, ready to take her to hospital just in case it was one of the deadly species that frequent the area. But no, she insisted on throwing the Ching, not once, not twice but three times before she got a reading that suggested she perhaps should seek help. By this time she was almost unconscious. We bundled her into the car and got her to hospital just in time. She spent three days in a coma but survived.

These kinds of abuses of common sense fed my already well established scepticism. So for a long, long time, I rejected all such modes of ‘reading’ based on intuitive selection, such as the drawing of Tarot Cards or Runes, or the throwing of the I Ching. The drawing of Intuitive Solution cards is in essence no different to these other practices. They are all means of getting in touch with deeper levels of understanding. So, my using them now, indicates quite some turn around of my attitudes. The change has come as I have witnessed, time and time again here at Findhorn, the ways in which the drawing of the cards can deliver such value and meaning for people, and enable them to live more inspired lives. My concern now is not whether there is scientific evidence for or against the validity of such practices. The important question is whether the process: enables the protagonist to become a better person; brings them more joy; or helps them become a more effective change agent in the world.

So now, I draw cards myself. And I find that it works. The cards assist me to get in touch with what is going on for me at a deeper level. They do not, of course, foretell the future; they simply enable me to live a more aware and conscious life. And that in turn enables me to live more congruently with my values, which is for me, essential to inner peace and contentment.

I will complete this post by sharing today’s insights with you. This morning I am going hiking in the Highlands with a few friends. We have had the trip planned for months. Originally, we were going for two days to the West Coast. But there’s been cyclonic weather over the last few days causing widespread flooding and disruption. So we postponed the adventure by one day and shrunk our ambition; now we are going for just a day trip to a location less far. However, the weather forecast for the area remains dire – showers, high winds and cold temperatures (down to -7 C. with wind chill factor). So I’m feeling resistant and a touch apprehensive.

Let’s see what the cards can contribute to my thinking and feeling about the matter. Before drawing them, I simply ask for a reflection on the day and my resistance to going. The first Insight card reads: You readily appreciate and trust others. Well, this seems clear. I am being reminded that, even though I have little experience of hiking in the mountains, there are others on the trip that do. Indeed one is a wilderness instructor and others are well experienced. So I just need in this situation to release concern, appreciate the opportunity and trust. The Setback card says: Afraid, through lack of faith, to let go and lose control. Again, this has a fairly obvious interpretation. I am somewhat of a control freak. Today’s hike, given the weather, is literally and figuratively way out of my comfort zone. I have little experience to fall back on. So the card suggests, much like the first one, that I need to let go and trust. The final Insight card tells me: You live life to the fullest, enjoying each creative moment. This is a nice reminder. I do indeed like to live life to the fullest, as mentioned in my second post, A Spiritual Life?. The day’s adventure is likely to be demanding, but being in the wild, especially if it’s challenging, will be exhilarating. And there will be lots of personal learning available, hopefully of an inner strength and resilience that I haven’t tapped in quite this way before. Creative moments? Perhaps I should take my camera, after all. The Angel I selected was Gratitude. This is always a pertinent reminder, but especially today. I have unexpectedly been invited to accompany close and respected friends on an excursion into the wilds of nature. What’s not to be grateful about?

cards1 cards2

There are a million combinations of cards and a myriad of interpretations I could make. These ones are quite literal and not at all deep. But that’s the way the cards fell. I am heading out with more trust, excitement and gratitude than I was feeling before. And that’s a good thing. I expect the trip may be the subject of my next post. So I’d better get some pics along the way.