PIMA BULLETIN NO 49
Part three: A pluriverse of activities
Seeds as a connection, via self, to the universe:
A meditative inquiry
Preface: Remembering our seeds
Seeds are perhaps nature’s most incredible technology. Within these tiny little packets lie dormant, not only the potential for another life, but generations upon generations of life to emerge. All these incredible beings must do is lay in wait until the perfect set of conditions arise to coax, or spring, them into action.
Yet, all too often in the frenetic pace of today’s world, it can be rare that we pause to take notice of, and honour the complex histories and wisdom embedded in these tiny packets of inconceivable simplicity and complexity, as well as our shared destiny.
But as Rowen White, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Diane Wilson, Martin Prechtel and many others remind us, our relationships with seeds transcend the practical (where do I source them?) and the logical (how do I grow them?).
Rather our relationships are grown and fostered in the liminal space between our own inter-steeping sources of knowing: our senses, our family histories, our societal structures, and our cultural and disciplinary perspectives.
What is offered below is a simple meditative self-inquiry - a moment to take pause and remember and honour the seeds that have sprouted and nourished our lives.
We know that attention and presence are fertile grounds for healing; and bringing these two gifts to seeds [our more-than-human co-creators filled with agency to provide life] is no exception.
For the inquiry, go to your cabinet, select one edible seed or nut, find a quiet space with just yourself, or with several others who want to share in the journey with you.
Take several deep, centring breaths, and begin.
Holding the seed in your hand –
Look at the seed with a beginner’s mind.
That is, without any preconceived ideas, but rather with a present and open mind.
Become a curious and gentle observer of this seed in your hand.
Also become a curious and gentle observer of your internal self in this experience.
Now, exploring with your senses –
Close your eyes for a moment.
How does this seed feel?
What does the pressure feel like on your hand? Heavy, light?
Running your fingers over it, what are the textures? Smooth, rough?
Keeping your eyes closed, hold the seed up to your nose.
What does it smell like?
What does it smell differently if you inhale deeply?
Hold up to ear and roll it around.
Does it make any sound?
What if you flick it?
Or drop it from one hand to another?
Opening your eyes, at this new seed, what colours do you see?
How do those colours change and blend?
Does it have shadows? (Who doesn’t?)
While looking intently at your seed, take the time to contemplate –
How much has nature given to provide this nut and seed?
How many times was its parent watered? What was the health of the water source?
How many days did the plant soak up the power of the sun?
How much carbon did the plant funnel down deep into the soil? (Plants grown in diverse paddocks have much greater root depth and carbon storage.)
What did the soil offer for essential nutrients and minerals? (Most of what we need comes from the soil.)
Were these diverse elements produced naturally by a healthy and fundamentally alive soil?
Or were only a few select nutrients available, made by heavy industry or mined overseas and shipped to the farm?
And as we move at the pace of breathing, for a moment, consider:
we breathe in from the plants, and the plants breathe in from us.
Taking an even longer view of history –
When did this plant first evolve?
Which indigenous communities co-evolved with these seeds?
Where on our earth were these seeds originally cultivated?
Which peoples did the seeds feed, and which peoples fed the seeds in mutual reciprocity?
How did this seed travel across the world over time, and into which cultures?
What cultural stories and histories are attached to this seed?
Are they histories of reciprocal exchange? Violent conquering?
How many human generations have shepherded this lineage of seed to bring you the one you hold now?
And what about your families’ history?
Where do your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, great great great great grandparents come from?
Was this lineage of seed or nut part of your families’ stories and cultures?
What seeds played an important role in your family’s deep time?
Which seeds were sewn into hemlines to travel with your distant relatives during times of migration, in the hope that these seeds would continue to offer life and connection to culture, ancestors, history - even in new places?
And now, perhaps imagine -
If you were able to visit the actual mother plant from which this seed came, what would it tell you?
Would it be found in a field in which pesticides killed the plants at the same time for efficient harvesting?
Is the plant tended with love and able to communicate scents and electrical impulses of gratitude?
Is it in regenerative fields where the false separation between agriculture and nature is utterly erased?
As you look at the seed, imagine how many hands it has passed through when
To now sitting in your hand
Everything has a complex story.
Laying on the other side of complexity, what other simple pathways might be possible?
Pulling out our imaginative microscopes and time machines –
What is this seed made of?
If you zoom in – you might see carbohydrates, sugars, proteins, minerals, micronutrients, phytochemicals.
If you zoom in more, you’d see space; lots and lots of space.
Consider for a moment, this nut or seed is more space than anything else.
And if you zoom in more, you might see atoms, electrons, neutrons, protons.
Where have these atoms been for the last 4 billion years?
What other living beings and ecosystems have they been a part of?
From a relational perspective, this seed is an electron/wave field of probabilities.
And it is just a probability that is manifesting coherently in this moment in your hand.
And yet –
And yet after a reductionist inquiry, there is still the mystery of life.
What if you put this seed in water?
Would it sprout and spring into life, as it should?
Does it still have the ability to give life?
Or has that ability been removed by man, compromised through industrial agriculture?
If this was your last seed, would you eat it, or grow it to bring more for yourself, your community and nature?
Now, again, with a present and beginner’s mind, try taking a small bite of the seed -
Chew slowly and with open awareness.
What does it feel like?
What does it taste like?
Did you know, our bodies are able to taste the complex nutrient density of food, and tens of thousands of necessary phyto-chemicals, that science hasn’t even quantified yet.
As you finish slowly eating this seed, contemplate -
What kinds of agency does this seed have over you?
How does it move you?
What does this seed offer you?
What energy will it bring when you eat it?
How are you reliant on this seed for nourishment?
What micronutrients is your body currently rushing to absorb?
To which parts of your body will these nutrients be ferried and how?
And how does your body know what to do? What type of intelligence is that in your body?
As this seed literally becomes part of you, what isotope markers will this food leave in you?
We are literal creations from the land from which we eat. As the land goes, so do we.
And finally, perhaps take a moment –
Take a moment of gratitude for the abundance offered to us by nature.
And perhaps give a nod of deep appreciation to the evolutionary co-dependency between seed, plant and animal health.
Recognising, we are completely dependent on the earth’s continual gifting, and the question becomes, what are we gifting in return?
Note: Seth P Morrison gets the credit for the water colour drawings - a visionary architect in the USA (and my brother-in-law!).
About the Author
Katie Ross is curious about ways to facilitate change towards more beautiful, equitable futures. As a writer, researcher, and mentor, and Fellow at the University of Technology Sydney, she conscientiously tries to integrate transformative learning processes into her collaborations and life. Through linking farmers and consumers, she is currently supporting the regenerating agriculture movement, which she believes has great potential to decolonise the landscape, stabilise the climate (by re-building the water-carbon-soil sponge), and vitalise communities (with successful entrepreneurs and regionally nutritious food). firstname.lastname@example.org