Thursday 23 January
The Salisbury Centre was born out of the combined effort and support of many people and creative influences:
A Sufi meditation group which met in the University of Edinburgh Catholic Chaplaincy Centre, led by Keith Farvis (Ruhani) and Sue Turner (Daena) and included James Bennett, Jill Evans and Pat Cawley (Djemila). It followed the spiritually inclusive teachings of Pir Vilayat Khan and his father Hazrat Inayat Khan and was under the guidance of Reshad Feild who ran the main centre at Swyre Farm in Gloucestershire.
The Jungian psychotherapeutic dream groups of Dr Winifred Rushforth, a major innovator of that approach.
The support of spiritual elders at the time: Ludi How, Robert Ogilvie Crombie (ROC), Anne Macaulay, Peter Dewey and others.
James Bennett, one of the co-founders recalls, “It was in the context of open enquiry, urgency and exploration, that we found ourselves talking about the need for places that would provide Centres of Light and calm, oases of meditation and healing to help guide us through the turbulent and disintegrative times ahead.”
James had a particular interest in Jungian psychology and Daena, Jill and James were invited by Winifred Rushforth to one of the Sempervivum Easter Schools in the Borders. As the three were travelling from there to Swyre Farm they had a flash of inspiration about a centre that would combine Winifred’s work, artistic creativity and the meditation and spiritual enquiry of the Sufi group. At Swyre Farm they met with the Reverend Peter Dewey who had been instrumental in the founding of Swyre Farm and was the current chairman of its Trustee Committee. Their suggestion for having a centre in Edinburgh aligned with his vision for Open Centres throughout the UK. Open Centres would welcome all who were seeking their own spiritual path and wishing to be of service to others. He encouraged the three to pursue the idea and suggested they find a suitable property.
When they suggested to Winifred that they open a centre incorporating psychological, creative and spiritual approaches, this met with great enthusiasm and there was a general feeling that something was waiting to manifest and that people were being drawn together to allow it to happen.
Daena, Jill and James felt that the joining of a spiritual and psychological perspective would be advantageous to many people and that there was a need to recognise the interconnectedness of body, mind and spirit. The Centre was to be a place where people with belief or with no specific faith could come and be provided with the space they needed to find themselves.
Winifred, through her work with the earlier Davidson Clinic, had already established the importance of the creative arts in psychological therapy and also understood the importance the body played in the unification of the whole person. She believed that illness is more often than we realise, psycho-somatic, which means that the body bears something of the distress and suffering of the being. To be whole meant to develop and use our mental, physical and our spiritual faculties. Winifred’s deep commitment to the work of dream analysis led to her work with dream groups as an invaluable aid to unlocking and understanding the unconscious mind.
A group of dedicated and generous individuals including the first Trustees; Ludi and Bill How, Peter Dewey, Anne Macaulay and Winifred began a campaign in order to raise funds to purchase a building. At the same time a Trust Deed was drawn up to allow the purchase of a building and to specify the Trust’s aims.
When 2 Salisbury Road initially came onto the market they were still far short of the asking price. Winifred had already generously given £6000 from the sale of the Davidson Clinic and each of the trustees had given £1000. Winifred’s commitment to the work, and her belief that the money would come gave everyone the courage and conviction to continue to ask for donations and interest-free loans. In this way, the funds needed to buy the property were raised. However their dream faltered and appeared to be on the verge of crumbling when 2 Salisbury Road, the property they had all set their hearts on, was sold to a businessman who wanted to gift the property to the Synagogue at 4 Salisbury Road.
Luckily the synagogue was not interested in the building itself and only wanted to retain part of the land, placing the rest of the property back on the market. This time The Salisbury Trust was more fortunate and their offer was accepted.
In the midwinter of 1972, with a yellow rose blooming in the garden, the first resident community; James Bennett, Pat Cawley (Djemila), Sue Turner (Daena) and Jill Evans moved into the house and the members of the Sufi group busied themselves renovating and decorating the building. Over the New Year candles were lit and the house was dedicated with prayers said in all the rooms and on 1st January 1973 the Centre opened its doors to the public.
Since then, the Centre has continued to grow and evolve as a space where people can explore and discover their physical, psychological and spiritual faculties, unifying mind, body and spirit, as symbolised by the centre’s logo, the Celtic trine.
By Daena, James Bennett, Jill Evans, Ludi How, Peter Dewey and Keith Farvis (August 2016)