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Lorraine Forbes




I was born 4 years after the end of the Second World War.  Times were tough as my father, who had worked as a stockbroker before the war returned to rebuild his life and start his own business.  I seemed to have incarnated with an innate religious feeling for I remember going at a very young age of my own volition to Sunday school at the church nearby.  My head would ache as I wrestled with the questions - if God made everything who made God.  How could God come out of nothing?  Infinity was equally challenging - how could something go on forever?  Words about loving God and hating the devil played games in my mind and I tried my hardest to be a “good girl”.  This was not only to keep out of trouble but also to avoid ending up in hell, which in my imagination was a dark place underground where those banished there, shovelled coal into a fiery cauldron forever.

Growing up was difficult.  I started school at five, skipped a standard and whilst I excelled academically and on the sports field I was stunted in my social and emotional development and suffered from separation and performance anxiety.  I was withdrawn, lacking a sense of self and with little emotional resilience.  I escaped into the creativity, sewing and designing most of my own clothes and loving doing handicrafts.  My happiest family memories are from our yearly holidays to the Drakensberg where I climbed some of the very high peaks or the Kruger National Park, which nurtured my life-long love of nature and the animal kingdom.

I enrolled at the University of Cape Town and entered residence a year after leaving school with no clear idea of what I wanted to do with my life.  I registered for a Bachelor of Science to study the Mathematical Sciences, as I was good at Mathematics.  Whilst these were happier years, I never knew when my inner demons would overwhelm me and take away my voice or my ability to think clearly and respond without anxiety.  I had caught up with my age group and was exposed to a “bigger” life on campus where I had my first experience of dating, read Ayn Rand, and whilst I don’t recall being very politically aware participated in “sit ins” against apartheid.   At a yoga class off campus, I was introduced to and fascinated by the content of talks by Swami Venkatesananda, regarded as a sage of practical wisdom.  I was awarded the class medal in Mathematical Statistics as the top student in my final year.

The transition from being a student to the world at work was painful as I continued to battle with low self-esteem and a fear of authority figures.  In spite of a surprising and happy leap into freedom working and travelling overseas for a year, I struggled to navigate adulthood and independence and to find my place in the world.


Destiny intervened and a turning point came in the form of a crisis.  Words my doctor said awakened something in me and for the first time I became aware of the possibility that things could be different that I could transform the strange and debilitating feelings that lived inside of me.  This light bulb moment triggered the start of my growth journey and my journey into greater consciousness.  It coincided with the blossoming of the New Age Movement and was a time of spiritual exploration with emphases on personal transformation and healing.

The New Age movement was started by Madame Blavatsky, co-founder of the Theosophical Society and announced the coming of a New Age of brotherhood and enlightenment.  Krishnamurti, Findhorn, Ram Dass, alternative healing practises, channelling, astrology, meditation were some of its many offshoots.

I entered therapy and reread the psychology books I had studied at university but this time with a different insight.  I discovered Carl Jung the founder of analytical psychology and entered a Jungian analysis, exploring the content of my dreams for many years.  The devastation of Tibet’s people by the Chinese served in the view of the Dalai Lama a necessary but painful function, for many highly realised lamas fled to the west where they spread their teachings to a new and receptive audience.  I joined a Buddhist group and started meditating seriously, doing a 10-day silent retreat with Joseph Goldstein – one of the first and leading American Vipassana teachers and a series of retreats with Akong Rimpoche – a significant figure in establishing Tibetan Buddhism outside Tibet.

Whilst this time was not without long periods of depression and discomfort, I gradually gained more inner autonomy with greater mastery over my inner world of feelings and emotions and overcame some of the complexes that had plagued me for most of my earlier years.  I was also helped by practising a technique recommended by Victor Frankel, a holocaust survivor and psychologist who founded logotherapy.  In treating clients who stuttered, he advised a technique of consciously exaggerating the stutter when overcome.  When afraid of expressing myself or of making a fool of myself I would exaggerate my response and this helped to break the complex.  I made commitment to myself that if I had something to say I would comment at a Carl Rogers (one of the founders of humanistic psychology) workshop no matter my fear.   All eyes were on me as I stood, tears rolling down my cheeks and only after sometime found my voice.  I was acutely embarrassed but the stranglehold my fears had on expressing and exposing myself began to loosen.  I was beginning to come out
of hiding.

I travelled extensively including to Bolivia, Peru, China, Tibet, India and Sikkim – visiting sacred sites and the ashrams of some of the great Indian sages, spending time with Guruji Krishnananda a master meditation teacher based in Taponagara outside Bangalore – returning a few years later for more instruction.  I was fascinated by the ancient and esoteric spiritual paths of knowledge and found a magic in exploring the megalithic structures in England, Ireland and Wales and the legendary sites of King Arthur.  I participated in numerous growth workshops including in Morocco with Carolyn Myss an internationally renowned speaker and author in the fields of human consciousness, spirituality and medical intuition and at Einsiedeln, Switzerland, famous for its Black Madonna, with Marion Woodman a leading Jungian analyst and explorer of the feminine.

Whilst I had read widely in the fields of psychology, philosophy and esoteric and exoteric religious paths, I still did not understand the links between the different religious streams nor the life, death and resurrection of the Christ and the meaning of these events for life today.  Again, destiny intervened.  A friend suggested I spoke to her husband Chris Wegerif, who had started the Anthroposophical Society in Cape Town.  He had been fortunate to attend a lecture by Rudolf Steiner and Zeylmans van Emmichoven who was closely linked to Rudolf Steiner and had considerable influence on the Anthroposophical Movement, stayed the Wegerifs on his visits to Cape Town.  He significantly died in their home and his ashes were scattered on Table Mountain.  Chris introduced me to the works of Rudolf Steiner who had himself been a member of the Theosophical Society but later founded Anthroposophy.  Rudolf Steiner recognised the event at Golgotha as the pivotal event of human history, one that transcends all differences of religion, race or nation and has consequences for all of humanity.  His writings and teachings on how an understanding of the spiritual impulses manifesting in the material can be actively worked with to transform ourselves and participate in the evolution of humankind continue to have a great influence on my life and thinking.


Before I would find my passion, I needed to know more about myself.  I initially moved into professions aligned with my degree working as a computer programmer and statistician but soon realised I was not a “9-to-5” office bound kind of person.  I taught Mathematics at a cram college and after one of the students lit a fire under my desk, decided teaching was not for me.  My first break came when a friend asked if I would become a research assistant at CRIC, the Careers Research and Information Centre (CRIC) where she was the director.  The Cape was a “Coloured” preference area where people classifies as “Black” were excluded from most work and study opportunities.  CRIC was established to find out what options did exist for them.  By the late 1970s, things were beginning to change politically in South Africa as pressure against apartheid gained momentum.  The University of Cape Town traditionally designated a “White” university, was allocated a quota of “Black” students.  On receiving notification of the receipt of their application, many “Black” students assumed they had university acceptance and arrived in large numbers on the campus expecting admission.  I was approached by the Careers Office of the University of Cape Town to counsel these students.  Most if not all had E aggregates and wanted to attend UCT, which they saw as the “best University”.  What alternatives existed for them?  In seeking answers to this question I was offered a research assistants position.  I found I loved doing research and after completing the term of my grant at UCT, continued doing free-lance research projects mostly in the area of “Black” education. 

A clearer idea was beginning to form in my mind of what was important to me and where I wanted to focus my attention.  At the same time, I was fortunate to inherit a legacy from my parents.  I wanted to use these funds for the “good” and began volunteering as well as sponsoring projects from a personal trust.

I spend eight very rewarding years working closely with The Group of Hope.  This remarkable prisoner rehabilitation project at Brandvlei Maximum in Worcester was where I became acutely aware of the potential for positive change in every human being.  Unfortunately, the project terminated but I continue to have contact with some of the ex-inmates who have made successes of their lives.  The Carehaven was a shelter for abused women and children.  The scourge was not openly discussed at the time I was approached by the Salvation Army to be part of initiating a campaign which we called “Call to Action” to raise awareness on the abuse of women and children.  I also co-ordinated the development of a non-profit small retirement complex in Hermanus – the vision of my father who had a number of professional friends whose incomes had not kept up with inflation.  I am still involved in the selection and welfare of the tenants.

Attending the Sunday evening concerts at the City Hall by Cape Town Symphony Orchestra was part of my university life.  The orchestra had been fully subsidised by grants from the City Council and government but the post-apartheid government had different priorities – basic services for all before the arts.  Orchestras needed to become self-sustaining entities and private funding was needed to support the arts and culture.   I believe the arts are essential for a healthy and balanced society and was moved to become a major donor and thus board member of the newly formed Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, later playing a significant role in the initiation of our current Orchestra.

My love of nature and the animal kingdom had deepened with time and I sponsored two research projects based in the Department of Agriculture at Natal University.  The small lion population at the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve (HUP) was under threat with a huge deterioration in the condition of one of the prides.  This project “Genetic Variation and Depletion in a population of lions in HUP” was the first to discover the presence of feline aids in the lion population.  The other project was a general study on the “Migration, Nesting and Pathology of the Nile Crocodiles in the Kruger National Park”. 

I internalised my inheritance as a gift and responsibility with me as the caretaker.  By this time I had come to believe that the most important thing I could contribute to was greater consciousness, that it was only with consciousness that human beings took responsibility for the consequences of their actions and acted in the interest of the good of the whole.  I had sponsored and worked with projects from a personal trust but wanted to ensure that any funds I had would continue to be used for the good after my death.  The vision of a foundation had lived in me for a long time but I still had more painful growing to do before this dream would be realised.  I was still co-dependant in various aspects of my life and not sure of my ability to take on a leadership role.  It took another seven years to break this co-dependency.  



I was born into a patriarchal society and had grown up in an environment where the males had the primary power.  This affected many aspects of my life including my sense of value and personal confidence.  We all have a feminine and a masculine side but I came to believe that the dominance of the masculine, its tendency towards competition,  its thirst for power and its hierarchal systems had brought amazing innovations and discoveries but often at the expense of relationships and the natural environment.  I wanted to support a different value system – one that focused on enabling and facilitation, on sensitivity to the impact of one’s actions and on kindness and generosity of spirit.  I had acquired an interest in a nature reserve bordering the Kruger National Park and used the time between game drives to catch up on my reading - this time the book “Christ and the Mayan Calendar” co-authored by Robert Powell and Kevin Dann.  I was very moved as I read about the significance of the Divine Sophia, the Goddess of Wisdom and the Divine Feminine in our time.  I was searching for a meaningful name for the foundation and returned home wondering if The Sophia Foundation would be appropriate.  Confirmation came soon after.  I attended a concert held by The Friends of Orchestral Music and won a raffle – the prize being 2 tickets for dinner at the Sofia restaurant.  I later bought another book by Robert Powell only to find that he was co-founder of the Sophia Foundation North America.   He was about to bring a group on a spiritual pilgrimage to South Africa.  I flew to Johannesburg to meet him and his group and took them to the Sterkfontein caves – the cradle or birthplace of Humankind.  The foundation had found its name!


The Sophia Foundation was officially inaugurated in Kommetjie on 8 September 2012.   I was 63 years old and my focus had been on getting the foundation formed and registered to ensure its legacy.  I wrote a constitution based on my life’s learnings and representing the values l wanted to be embodied in the Foundation but had no experience of running a foundation.   What I had done though is made the commitment and in the words of Goethe “At the moment of commitment the entire universe conspires to assist you”.

How could I honour the impulse of Sophia and meet in practise what was calling from the future?  Again, destiny intervened – this time in the form of Hayley Bagnall, a relative of the person my father married after my mother died.  She lived in the United Kingdon and was visiting family in South Africa.  There was an immediate connection and she fell in love with the vision of the foundation.  She decided not to return home and within a few weeks had moved into my home as a volunteer for The Sophia Foundation.  She later became a member of staff and we worked together for 3 years with great complementary skills.  Our first task was to find out what was out there.  Three themes had played an important role in my life – personal growth and transformation, the arts and culture and conservation and the natural environment – these would form the three pillars of the foundation.  We would choose an aspect of one of the pillars for example waste recycling and Hayley would research, set up appointments and record minutes.  We had many meetings and this time was incredibly valuable as we made contacts and developed a sound knowledge of what was out there, what other organisations were doing, their values, and where we could best make a difference.  Whilst we produced a few papers on what we felt were critical issues – rhino poaching and plastic pollution, and facilitated an environmental workshop, we did not have the work force to initiate projects.  As we wanted to add value as well as give funds, we focused on seeking out and developing trust relationships with organisations with similar values and where there was a niche where we could make a difference both financially and with input.  Hayley moved to the Netherlands after 3 years but she remains a friend and advisor to the foundation.  She left at a time when we had done the groundwork and established a very good base from which to consolidate and move forward.


The foundation has been in operation for 10 years – I feel it has come of age and am comfortable that it is firmly rooted in its values and principles.  We currently have wonderful partners and trustees, you will be able to read in our website about our past and current projects, and my focus now is on succession.

As I reflect on my life, I am filled with gratitude and faith.  My journey has not always been easy but each challenge offered the opportunity to work towards higher development and many of the struggles that I did not understand at the time revealed their meaning with the formation of the foundation.  Whilst I have come to believe that it was my destiny task to incarnate The Sophia Foundation, it will be up to those who come after me to ensure it honours the Sophia impulse and fulfils its destiny into the future.

The right interpretation of “Anthroposophy” is not “the wisdom of man” but rather “the consciousness of one’s humanity.”  In other words, the reversing of the will, the experiencing of knowledge, and one’s participation in the time’s destiny, should all aim at giving the soul a certain direction of consciousness, a “Sophia”.

Rudolf Steiner

GA 257

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