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 Textual Additions to Paperback Editions




Soil and Soul


Erratum: to be included in any future editions - p. 257 states "... Catherine MacDonald, a former councillor who had recently failed to be re-elected on her pro-quarry platform." Catherine informed me, October 2021, that in fact she had not re-stood for election in May 1994. I have apologised for this error of fact, told her that it will be corrected in any future edition, and she has graciously accepted my apology.



Textual Alterations/Additions made to the Aurum Press Paperback Edition of 2002

This page gives the main alterations and additions to the First and Second Editions of Soil and Soul. References are to page and paragraph number, so 43:1 is p. 43, top paragraph. Where longer additions have been made, these are shown in bold type to differentiate them from the original body text.   

  1. vii:2, add Lise Bech before Mags Beechey; spell “Flemming” with only one “m”; add “Babs MacGregor” in after Patrick Laviolette; and in vii:4 “Beavetts” should be spelt “Beavitts”.

  2. 16:3, delete "Scottish" from "Scottish Parliament".

  3. 19:2, remove reference to Professor Meek as a Baptist minister; insert that he is the “son of a Baptist minister”.

  4. 30:3, for “you don’t want eggs” substitute, “you don’t want them”.

  5. 33:1 – Cordova should be referred to not as “he”, but as “she”. (Incidentally, I'm told she passed away recently).

  6. 43:1, start “Documenting Scottish Highland beliefs” sentence with “And” (to avoid confusion with McNeill’s work).

  7. 57:2, replace “little place in traditional education” with “little place in traditional ‘ceilidh-house’ education”.

  8. 70:4, replace “We were still in search of the herd” with, “The herd grazed restlessly” (I’d already intimated that we’d found it).

  9. 207:1, replace "thresholds" with "eaves".

  10. 225, bottom of page, "Gairloch" should be spelt, "Gare Loch".

  11. 228:8 - include additional material as follows in bold: ...We reached Fionnophort on the Isle of Mull that night only to find the ferry stormbound. I was deeply disappointed. The Abbey had promised to arrange a Celtic creation liturgy on the theme of stone. Sulian and Ishbel, however, were relieved at the prospect of an early night in a bed and breakfast. And anyway, as Ishbel tactfully explained, when missionaries have made your childhood a misery, the idea of sleeping in an abbey is not exactly the stuff of sweet dreams. In Canada there are an estimated 105,000 survivors of child sexual and physical abuse from native reservation schools, many of them having operated under supposedly ‘Christian’ auspices. Sulian was one such ‘survivor’, and the healing of a wounded child in a grown man’s frame can be a long and faltering process. Some become drug addicts or alcoholics, as Sulian himself hinted he had once been. Others find death more meaningful than life and, convinced that they can never be accepted and healed into the fullness of their potential humanity, they take suicide as a way out. Too many become, in turn, child abusers themselves. It is as if they get stuck in a pattern of relating sexually to others at the same age as when they themselves first got drawn into the cycle of abuse. The evidence suggests that a disturbing proportion of these are people holding positions of power and leadership in society.  They operate under an outward veneer of respectability that leaves behind an icy comet’s tail of trust betrayed. Whole communities get emotionally cut up when the truth comes out, not least because, as many churches have found out to their crippling cost, such individuals were often known for living admirable lives in other ways. There are, however, a few remarkable souls who do rise above it all – but usually, as with many members of Alcoholics Anonymous, only after being faced with the full awfulness of what they have become and discovering, by some amazing grace, what it can mean for a human being to heal.


    So, the storm that prevented us from reaching Iona Abbey that night was real, yes, but it was also metaphoric. It was also an inner storm, and given the buttons being pressed in Sulian, it was a blessing in disguise. There were many occasions like this that Ishbel mediated culturally between me and the Chief. I started off thinking she had just come along for the trip, and that us guys could work out the business. But within a few days it was clear that the trip would never have happened without her. With Scots-Canadian family roots and Sulian as a partner, she understood both cultures from the inside out. Coming to Scotland had meant leaving her little daughter behind; that had been a sacrifice for them both. I hoped that the little girl would understand that this is what it can mean to have a mother who is, in a very real sense, an elder.  

  12. 232:4, after "By now," insert, "unless their research had dug up something that they were not telling me about, I had reason to believe..."

  13. 239:4, include additional material as shown in bold [this is included to set in context an aspect of Sulian's character that came into sharp focus only after first publication of the book, as shown below]: ...Such is the warriorship necessary where steel is too blunt to cut the darkness, and where steel is much too unforgiving.


    Back in Harris I had challenged Sulian on this – on the different levels of engaging with conflict: physical, psychological and spiritual; a spectrum running from violent to non-violent. Michelle Metivier’s team had been bugging me. They wanted to know how, as a Quaker pacifist, I could justify sharing a platform with a Warrior Chief, with a ‘man of violence’. ‘Well,’ I’d answered them, ‘If I only did business with other pacifists, I probably wouldn’t be talking to you!’ But later I took the point up privately with Sulian. ‘Look at you, for example,’ I’d said to him. ‘I can see two types of warrior in you. That of a military operator, yes, but also an emerging spiritual warriorship.’


    ‘Don’t you even joke about that!’ he exploded. It was an uncalled for, unexpected burst of real anger. It etched his words on my mind. I knew that I had touched some rift. He was not ready or willing to enter into it. At least, not with me. So I’d backed off.


    Calanais. Gaunt stones. And here we are, again. We stand there for a long time. I think of when I was little and we used to come to the Stones with visitors. I think of the bleak times. The days I’d feel small and vulnerable in the cold, very small. And I think of how the red-hot passion of spiritual work always alternates with icy dark nights of the soul. I think, too, of this world, and how the taproot of good so often gets besmirched with the grime through which it pushes. Edwin Muir said it all so well in One Foot in Eden:


    Yet strange these fields that we have planted

    So long with crops of love and hate….

    Evil and good stand thick around

    In fields of charity and sin

    Where we shall lead our harvest in.


    Yet still from Eden springs the root

    As clean as on the starting day.


    Some of Sulian’s words the day we left Eigg come echoing back to me. ‘Don’t you be too apologetic about old Angus,’ he’d said, in admonishment. ‘If you were carrying what he carries; if you bore his weight of tradition, his burden of leadership, and everything he’s been through, you’d probably be drinking too!’


    And that’s the difficulty with spiritual activism. It means running with the handicap of whatever your own limp might be plus, typically, that of whoever’s running with you. What’s more, it usually means running on empty. Sometimes, as Siddhartha told his beloved, all that you can do is wait, and fast, and pray. That’s what makes for spiritual work. It’s why the deepest activism is always spiritual activism. It’s the faith to hold the faith even when you can’t see the object of your faith on the road ahead.

  14. 243:3, Ian should be spelt “Iain”.

  15. 246:4, substitute “barren desert” for “wilderness” in “turned to wilderness” (the word’s use is changing, so I’ve misused it).

  16. 247:2, insert addition material in bold: ... His mind trips out and he dreams of bomber planes turning into butterflies above his Vietnam war-engrossed nation. He sees the great truth of interconnection – that each soul is stardust and golden – but that we’ve missed our vocations; we’ve been trapped in the ‘devil’s bargain”. Our struggle, the challenge of becoming fully human and the full meaning of our troubled times, is to make it ‘back to the garden’ – to return to Eden.


    Just after the first publication of this book, I received news that left me cut through to the core. Sulian Herney had pleaded guilty in court to having, over three years, sexually abused a girl from his reservation.


    I felt hit by a missile from Hell. It tarnishes the story I have told, and yet, ironically, it underscores its importance. Humankind, especially after the September 11 attack on America, can no longer ignore the roots of violence.


    Distraught, and wrestling to rebuild a separate life, my dear friend Ishbel wrote to me. She quoted a native healer who worked with residential school survivors: “The dark power does not want the nations to heal, so it is attacking the children. We are in a spiritual battle. Adults must choose to heal.”


    The good that Sulian did in Scotland speaks for itself. I pray with him, with my troubled friend, Stone Eagle, to find the courage that he seeks to turn from death.


    ‘Get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!’ said God through Ezekiel. ‘I have no pleasure in the death of anyone…. Turn, then, and live.’  


                {Nb. for reflection on child abuse and cultural trauma in the Irish situation, see our column in The Big Issue in Scotland - click here. For an article I was asked to write for "The Hebridean" newspaper about how these things affect whole communities, click here.]

  17. 261:2, delete from “accepted Redland’s gazumping” to “in 2011”, and substitute:  “… accepted gazumping estimates from government and the industry that British primary aggregate production would increase from 304 million tons in 1989 to 426 by 2011. However, as Ian Callaghan….”

  18. 266:4, after “Frodo Baggins” insert, in parentheses “(by Gollum’s agency)” – it was actually Gollum that did it, but Frodo’s intent, which is too complex to explain in this aside.

  19. 266:4, substitute “Crack of Doom” for “Cracks of Doom”.

  20. 276:5 "We had won …" [delete the 3 paragraphs that follow up to “Paulo Freire”, and substitute a major new ending as follows]:

    We had won.

    Except for Lafarge’s appeal.

    We had to wait the full six weeks that they were permitted before, at the very last moment, the company announced that they intended to appeal.

    What’s more, they were determined to fight it on two legal fronts. One would try to overturn the rejection of their planning application. The second would attempt to re-invoke an earlier planning permission granted back in 1965. Most people thought this ‘grandfather’ concession was no longer valid, but the company’s lawyers believed they could prove otherwise.

    On the first matter we suffered an immediate defeat. The Scottish government were forced to agree that their political decision rejecting the superquarry had not been sufficiently robust in law. Accordingly, they withdrew their letter of rejection and announced they would have to consider the matter afresh. The long waiting process would begin all over again.

    The other prong in Lafarge’s strategy could, equally, take years to work its way through the courts. For the island of Harris, it was the worst possible outcome. When the economy of an area depends heavily on tourism, people need to know where they stand. There would be no point planning for the future and investing in it if that future was perhaps going to be compromised by forced transition to an industrial economy.

    So it was that we were all thrown back again onto watching all points of the come-to-pass. It was then, in the summer of 2002, that I received an intriguing e-mail. It came from a Monsieur Thierry Groussin, Chargé de la Formation des Dirigeants in the Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel – the big French bank that, unlike capitalist banks, is owned and controlled by regionally based committees of its clients.

    Thierry, as I came to know him, explained that he had bought a copy of Soil and Soul while on holiday in Scotland. He was particularly struck by the early section discussing the village economy in which I grew up: he realised I was describing the same ideals that had originally been the motivating force that drove the ethos of Crédit Mutuel. Staff needed to be reminded of these values to understand what was special about the organisation for which they worked. Would I, he therefore wondered, consider coming to Paris to address a conference of senior management? He didn’t want anything fancy. None of my high-falutin’ theories from MBA days about discounted cash-flow investment appraisal techniques discounting the children’s future, or anything like that. Simply stories about mutuality in practice – the building of each others’ houses, the sharing of fish, and so on. As an Irish priest had once advised me, ‘Tell them it in stories, and they’ll never forget.’

    Well, Thierry’s event ended up as not one conference, but four in total, also involving Camille Dressler from Eigg and my French wife, Vérène Nicolas, who specialises in community-empowerment work – which, actually, is what locally based mutual banking is a part of.

    During these visits I was introduced to the ‘Co-evolution Project’ – a small Paris-based ecological think tank that Thierry ran jointly with Mme Dominique Viel, an economist with the French Ministry of Finance, and a few other thinkers. They were interested in the role of corporate ethical responsibility in addressing the present problems of the world. It troubled them considerably to learn that it was a French company, Lafarge, that was now behind our superquarry threat.

    In the summer of 2003 Thierry and his son, Adrian, visited the Isle of Harris. He was delighted by the way local cars on the single-track roads would go out of their way to stop and let you past, sometimes causing mini-hold-ups as both parties flashed their lights, inviting the other to come on. ‘Look,’ I was able to say to him, laughing: ‘this is the island where people compete to co-operate!’

    We drove along a mixture of modern roads, where large volumes of stone had been blasted and bulldozed into place, and the old Golden Road, where much more modest quantities had been laid with care to provide beautiful terraced support. The contrast between profligate and respectful use of resources leapt out to the educated eye. Mind you, it has to be admitted that the Golden Road was named not after the island’s haunting sunsets, as tourists like to think, but the construction cost! But maybe that is, in part, the way to go. Maybe, if we want to use resources more sustainably, we have to learn anew how to restore the human by mixing our creativity more fully with what nature provides. And maybe that’s the beauty of it all.

    The highlight of Thierry’s visit was, of course, the ascent of Mount Roineabhal. As we sat on the summit, admiring the incredible view that remained so much under threat, he pulled out his mobile phone and started calling up various business colleagues! They, he told me, knew senior people in Lafarge.

    ‘You know,’ he said, ‘Bertrand Collomb, who’s now the chair of Lafarge, has developed an admired reputation in France for raising standards of ecological responsibility. It would shock French people if they knew what his company were threatening to do in Scotland. Indeed, I wonder how aware they are in Paris of what their newly acquired English subsidiary is doing?’

    The outcome was that in October 2003, Thierry, Dominique and I were invited to visit Lafarge’s headquarters in Paris. There we met with Michel Picard, Vice President for Environmental Issues, and Gaëlle Monteiller, Senior Vice President Public Affairs and Environment.

    I must admit that I was not very optimistic about this meeting. Lafarge had, indeed, always appeared to us like the ‘pan-European monster’ about which the Financial Times had warned. However, my prejudices were rather challenged when I got there. The company’s vice presidents seemed like thoughtful and concerned human beings, determined to use their positions to act as ethically as they could. They told me frankly that Harris ‘has become a problem for us’ and asked if I could set up a fact-finding visit so that they could come and listen to the positions of both sides of the community.

    I returned to Scotland, my costs having been generously covered by a charitable foundation, the Network for Social Change. Working closely with Morag Munro, the elected councillor for South Harris, and John MacAulay, the community-appointed chair of the Quarry Benefit Group, I set up a series of meetings for 15 January 2004. The same two executives I’d met with in Paris, together with Philippe Hardouin, the company’s Senior Vice President Group Communications, duly flew in to the island. They came, they saw and they listened carefully – particularly to concerns from those on both sides of the debate about ongoing planning blight afflicting the island’s future.

    They went away again, but on 2 April they came back on a chartered private jet. This time they brought with them two of their most senior English executives. In a simple meeting in the Harris Hotel, an event that felt almost ceremonial, they announced that they would be withdrawing from the project. They had seen that further years of legal argument would not be good either for the company or for the local community. In making this announcement, Philippe Hardouin told the press: 

        "We have to create value for shareholders, but we want to do it by respecting some values. The combination of both dictates our decisions. We recognise that if we are acting in the best possible way from an environmental standpoint, we will get a competitive advantage."


     Responding to Michel Picard, Morag Munro wrote on behalf of the island’s council:

         "I wish to express my gratitude and the gratitude of this community to you for bringing the uncertainty of the past thirteen years to an end. We are very appreciative of the fact that you came to Harris to see for yourselves and then came back to give your decision directly to the community before anyone else. Your courtesy was greatly appreciated by both supporters and opponents of the project."


      The Lafarge decision had come about partly because of ‘push’ from pressure groups like Friends of the Earth Scotland and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland, and partly through ‘pull’ from other groups working with them to raise corporate standards. It later transpired that the Swiss-based WWF International (the World Wildlife Fund) had been particularly instrumental working jointly with its Scottish branch in this respect, threatening to pull out from its corporate partnership for sustainability with Lafarge if the superquarry went ahead.

    But pressure like this can be effective only if it finds a point of attachment among those at whom it is aimed. After announcing their dignified exit strategy from Harris, I was subsequently invited by Michel Picard to spend three days with eighty-seven Lafarge managers, including the new chief executive, Bernard Kasriel, at a conference on quarrying and environmental responsibility in Bergamo, Italy, co-sponsored by WWF International. It was impressive to witness the workings of a large company, some of whose staff were being dragged kicking and screaming into a greener future and others who were very much doing the dragging, arising out of a genuine personal concern for the world.

    I came away all the more convinced that it is the people that matter and can make a difference: as Jung said, individuals are the ‘make-weight’ that can tilt the balance. A large company is, indeed, a mindless monster, unless people all the way through the system devote themselves to making it otherwise. Then, and only then, can it start to become more like a community with values, and maybe even something of a soul. But this means, as with Groupe Crédit Mutuel, having an ethic that serves profit but transcends mere money-making. It is only human goodness that can bring this about and so humanise the otherwise inhumane world created by emergent properties of greed.

    I am not saying here that Lafarge is always exemplary, or that somebody like myself may never find themselves standing against them in the future. I just wish to place on the record that, at the end of the day, the company did right by us. We have made friends and have, at their request, opened a public debate about future aggregate supply. The first airing of this appears in the summer 2004 issue of ECOS, the journal of the British Association of Nature Conservationists. It includes contributions from Nigel Jackson, Executive Director of Lafarge Aggregates UK, Dan Barlow of Friends of the Earth Scotland, and myself writing jointly with Jean-Paul Jeanrenaud and Luc Giraud-Guigues – the WWF International staff members who lobbied Lafarge so effectively as ‘critical friends’ from Switzerland.

    It has to be said of this happy outcome that things probably would have turned out much the same even if Lafarge had exhausted their legal avenues. But by acting the way they did, they probably did themselves as well as us a favour. The involvement of the Paris executives most certainly accelerated the process. As one of them put it, ‘The visit to Harris was the key in the lock that unblocked the process and moved it along.’ For that, we genuinely thank them, and as Morag Munro’s letter indicates, we do so most warmly.

    On the eve of Lafarge making their historic announcement, a small group of people assembled in the Elder’s house on Harris. We re-read Stone Eagle’s public-inquiry testimony together and gave thanks for the wonderfulness of what he, with the crucial support of his former partner, Ishbel, had helped to achieve.

    We recalled his request to us, before he went to jail, simply to be prayed ‘with and not for’. ‘During the darkest moments in your life,’ he wrote in an e-mail, ‘you’ll find that even your shadow is gone.’

    In July 2004, after being released from prison, Sulian wrote to us again. ‘While I was in Waseskun healing lodge,’ he said, ‘the Elder there worked with me and showed me so many things that I must deal with and so many good things I must dust off and bring to the front. He saved my life! The long house society has made me a mask keeper but it is not time yet to think in what way I have to use this healing mask. They did not break me in jail; they healed me at the Mohawk treatment lodge.’

    Only time will reveal the progress and completeness of that healing. It will inevitably be a slow and even faltering process. Cognitive skills not acquired in childhood are easily caught up with later on in life. But putting right emotional apparatus that never fell properly into place at the right time is very much harder. Healing this requires far more than cognitive therapies. It takes nothing less than spiritual power. No ‘medicine’ can go deeper. None is more needed in today’s wounded world.

    ‘And the next thing,’ said the Elder on Harris softly, as we sat beside a roaring fire in his stone-built home by the sea beneath the sacred mountain, ‘the next thing ... will be to bring the mountaintop home.’

    Of course, unlike the Irish, modern Scotland doesn’t really ‘do’ sacred mountains. Theologically they’re dodgy, and in secular terms they’re bonkers! Yet that is what I have heard some folks calling Roineabhal. As one native islander said, ‘If it wasn’t before, it is now.’

    And the Elder leaned back in his chair. He lifted his eyes in the direction of the mountain out of which so many good things had come for so many of us.

    ‘It may be some years before the summit rock is brought back,’ he concluded, ‘but the mountain can wait. And that too ... yes, that homecoming too ... will be for the healing of us all.’

    Paulo Freire says, ‘I am more and more convinced that true revolutionaries must perceive the revolution, because of its creative and liberating nature, as an act of love.’ He goes on to quote...


  21. 290, note 13, “Beavett” should be spelt “Beavitt”.

  22. 303:1, “reader’s” should be apostrophied as, “readers’”.

  23. 311, reference to Mainzer 1844 should read, “Gaelic Psalm Tunes”, not “Gaelic Psalm Scences”.

  24. 311, reference to Meek (ed) 1995, “(1800 – 1990)” should read “(1800 – 1890).



Version 11 Sept 2004


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