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The Lindisfarne Association

A Prescient Influence in the World

Jennifer Alia Wittman

Several years ago we made a new friend. Pir Zia Inayat-Khan had been reading the writings of William Irwin Thompson, the oracular cultural historian, and invited him to visit. This was in 2007, at the very beginning of Seven Pillars’ life, and it quickly became evident that our work descends from a long lineage of individuals and groups dedicated to the realization of a new planetary culture.

The Lindisfarne Association, founded by William Irwin Thompson in 1972 as a collection of visionaries who were at the leading edge of the cultural shifts taking place at the time, is clearly one such group.

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Lindisfarne’s Four Original Purposes:

1. Planetization of the esoteric.

2. Realization of the inner harmony of all the great universal religions and the spiritual traditions of the tribal people of the world.

3. Fostering a new and healthier balance between nature and culture through development of appropriate technologies, architectural settlements and compassionate economies.

4. Illumination of the spiritual foundations of political governance through scholarship and artistic communications that foster a global ecology of consciousness beyond the present ideological systems of warring industrial nation-states, outraged traditional societies, and ravaged lands and seas.

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Lindisfarne is designed as a fellowship of scholars, artists, scientists, philosophers, and contemplatives drawn together to collaborate and catalyze the emerging culture.

Fellows include distinguished individuals such as the poets Wendell Berry and Jane Hirshfield, anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson, Roshi Joan Halifax, economist Hazel Henderson, Brother David Steindl-Rast, neuroscientist Neil Theise, professor Robert Thurman, musician Paul Winter, international mediator Merle Lefkoff, artist Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, physicist David Finklestein, and many others.  Pir Zia Inayat-Khan was made a Fellow in 2008. (see full list)

Seven Pillars’ Guiding Voices Christopher Bamford and David Spangler are also long-time Fellows, and an article by David on his experience with Lindisfarne can be found here.

Over the years Lindisfarne has owned property on Long Island, in Manhattan, and in Crestone, Colorado, and at times served as a think tank, intentional community, and informal public academy.

These days Lindisfarne members live throughout North America and Europe, gathering annually to deepen in community and cross-pollinate one another’s work.  For the last two years Seven Pillars has been very fortunate to host Lindisfarne’s annual event at our headquarters in New Lebanon, New York.

This year, Lindisfarne met July 12-15, 2012, with a selection of Lindisfarne Fellows and friends making presentations.

David Orr talked about climate change and efforts to create a 100% sustainable community in Oberlin, OhioWendell Berry offered his eloquent response. Hanne Strong shared about founding a spiritual mecca in Crestone, Colorado. Roshi Joan Halifax educated us about burnout in the caring and health fields and possibilities for reform. Tim O’Shea talked about creating the sustainable seafood distribution company, CleanFish. Pir Zia introduced his new book, Saracen Chivalry, and elicited great enthusiasm. Maurice StrongBrian ArthurMichaela WalshPaul Mankiewicz, Wes JacksonMary Catherine Bateson and William Irwin Thompson were also featured. 

There were many tributes to Dr. Lynn Margulis, a core member of the Lindisfarne community who passed away suddenly last November. Her son, Dorion Sagan, shares his “Evolutionary Eulogy” in her memory.

Usually we would post excerpts, transcripts and/or audio from events we host, but many who give presentations at Lindisfarne use slides and speak conversationally which does not translate well for the web. We wish we could share more than just a glimpse into this year’s gathering.

Those affiliated with Lindisfarne have had, and continue to have, significant influence in the world. Seven Pillars has been duly influenced and is grateful to be directly linked to this prescient group.

For more context and/or information, please click on the links of the various folks listed above, many of whom have numerous writings, audio and video other places online. Prominent links include:

Also, for many years Lindisfarne was based in Crestone, Colorado where Hanne Strong has nurtured a valley housing spiritual traditions from every major faith. Lindisfarne was one of the initial groups to move to Crestone in1979, eventually transferring its land and buildings to the Crestone Mountain Zen Center. Here are two articles on Crestone:

Image Credit: Nina Hagen Photography

Slideshow from the 2012 Lindisfarne Conference on New Works:


Jennifer Alia Wittman, Seven Pillars’ original founding Director, who served from 2007 until October 2012, has a background in public service and volunteerism, previously founding, directing, and supporting a variety of organizations. Jennifer was an original shaper of the AmeriCorps national service program, led the nonprofit Hands on Baltimore, and served as the General Manager of the independent publishing house and bookseller, Omega Publications. Jennifer lives in New Lebanon, New York.

Read more about Jennifer Alia Wittman

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5 August 2012

Tagged Under
mysticism, religion, spirituality, contemplation, philosophy, consciousness, science, planet, art, Lindisfarne, William Irwin Thompson,
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