She obtained a 3-year Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Western Ontario. From 1941 onwards she worked for the British Security Coordination in New York. After being posted to Panama, she met and married John Wood, though the couple would divorce in 1951.
On her way to New York City in 1941, Maclean had met Sheena Govan, and it was through Sheena Govan that she would later meet Peter Caddy. Living in England in the 1950s, Dorothy Maclean became involved in the spiritual practices of Sheena Govan and Peter and eventually Eileen Caddy. When the Caddys were appointed to manage a hotel in Scotland, Maclean joined them as the hotel's secretary.
After the Caddys became unemployed in 1962 they moved into a travel trailer near the village of Findhorn. In 1963 an annex was built so that Dorothy Maclean could continue to work with them. A community eventually grew up around the Caddys and Dorothy Maclean, and this community has since 1972 been known as the Findhorn Foundation.
Maclean is known for her work with devas, the intelligences overseeing the natural world. Her book To Hear the Angels Sing gives an overview of this work and also provides autobiographical materials. A full-length biography, Memoirs of an Ordinary Mystic was published in 2010.
Her childhood home, Woodside, at 40 Spring Street, Guelph has since been designated a heritage property under the Ontario Heritage Act.
- Wisdoms (1971)
- The Living Silence (1977)
- The Soul of Canada (1977)
- To Hear the Angels Sing (1980)
- To Honour the Earth (1991) (with Kathleen Thormod Carr)
- Choice of Love (1998)
- Seeds of Inspiration (2004)
- Call of the Trees (2006)
- Come Closer (2007)
- Memoirs of an Ordinary Mystic (2010)