A Magical Book About a Magical Place

The Magic of Findhorn is a magical book. I first read it when it came out in paperback more years ago than I care to remember. For more than a decade, I reread it now and then to savour Hawken’s sweet distillation of the spirit of the time. Those were the heady days of pot-smoking hippies, smiling flower children, and idealistic communes. Findhorn added fairies, giant cabbages, and bushes that got out of the way when you wanted to make a path through them. It was wonderful to imagine that I might run off and join the small band of romantics building a new kind of community on what was once a garbage dump. I never did, of course. Sometimes I think I missed a great chance. Findhorn still exists, although it is now a foundation and calls itself a “New Age” community. Naturally, there is a website.

First paperback edition cover

An enchanting look at an early New Age community in Scotland.

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Inspired by The Wind in the Willows

Who among us has not read, and /or seen some film production of, The Wind in the Willows by British author Kenneth Grahame? The memorable children’s classic was inspired by two enchanted years of Graham’s own childhood. During those magical years, he lived a remarkably free and unfettered life at the rambling home of his Granny Ingles in Cookham, a tiny village nestled in the lovely Berkshire countryside. His uncle introduced him to boating on the nearby river. He roamed the surrounding woods and farmland at will letting his young imagination run wild.

Kenneth Grahame Sketch Portrait

The Wind in the Willows author Kenneth Grahame was obsessed with recapturing the rustic magic of his childhood in Berkshire, not only in his works but in his life. (Image: public domain)

Grahame treasured those special years and the experience became lodged in his mind as the high point of his life. He longed to recapture the nuanced feeling tone or subtle mood associated with them. At twenty, he began to write stories and books drawn from his youthful adventures, a classic case of an artist driven by the hunger to relive a lost yet cherished feeling tone. Many artists produce their works for precisely this reason.

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Fantasy Writers and the Sense of Enchantment

Scene from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Writers are often trying to recapture a favourite mood. Work after work is produced as they hone in on the cherished feeling tone, which can be quite specific and durable. (Image: public domain.)

There are many reasons why people write. Each writer has a reason of their own, and no two are exactly alike. Much of my writing is fantasy. Here is why.

Like so many people, when I was small I possessed a powerful ability to enter a state of enchantment. The feeling prospered until, at twelve, a broken heart drove enchantment from my life completely. How deeply we feel things at that age! Luckily, not all was lost. There were books in the world. My love of reading soon rekindled the magical feeling. It disappeared again during the trials and tribulations of late adolescence. This time I was more aware and made strenuous efforts to retain it. Those efforts were of no avail. The loss of enchantment made life seem grim and not terribly worthwhile. Thinking that enchantment was a thing for children, I entered adulthood in a sadly disillusioned state.

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