Chapter Six – The Sacred, Mystical Journey of a Seed
“In thy thinking, cosmic thoughts are living;
lose thyself in cosmic thoughts,
In thy feeling, cosmic forces are weaving;
feel thyself through cosmic forces,
In thy willing, cosmic beings are working;
Create thyself through beings of will.”
~ Rudolf Steiner
“In the seed we have an image of the whole universe”. ~ Rudolf Steiner
From Spiritual Foundations for a Renewal in Agriculture — Steiner on seeds;
“Now especially in connection with agriculture, there is one thing I have often mentioned among anthroposophists that is extremely important to understand. It entails knowing under which conditions the universe and its forces can work upon earthly things. In order to understand this, let us take the seed-forming process as our starting point. We usually think of the seed, from which the embryo develops, as having an extremely complicated molecular structure, and we set great store in being able to understand it in all its complexity….We stand there in wonder and astonishment in front of what we imagine to be the complex structure of the seed’s protein. We’re sure it has to be terribly complicated, because, after all, a new organism has to grow out of it. We assume that a whole new complicated organism is already inherent in the plant embryo in the seed and that therefore this microscopic or submicroscopic substance must also be incredibly complicated in its structure. To a certain extent this is true at first. When earthly protein is being built up, the molecular structure is indeed raised to the highest degree of complexity. But a new organism could never, never develop out of this complicated structure. That is not how a new organism comes about . The organism does not emerge from the seed in such a way that what was formed as seed out of the mother plant or mother animal simply continues on into what develops as the offspring. That’s not true at all.
The truth of this matter is that when this structural complexity of earthly matter has been taken to the ultimate degree, it then disintegrates, leaving in its place a miniature chaos. You could say it disintegrates into cosmic dust”. ( Nathan, my younger son, would say it dematerializes, a word he began to use at a very early age which I wondered where he possibly came up with.) “And when the seed that was brought to the ultimate degree of complexity has disintegrated into dust and forms a miniature chaos, then the whole surrounding universe begins to work on the seed, to leave its imprint and to build up whatever can be built up by means of the influences coming from all sides of the universe. In the seed we have an image of the whole universe. Each single time a seed is formed, the earthly organizing process is led to its end, to the point of chaos. And each time, within the seed-chaos, a new organism is built up out of the whole universe. The parent organism simply has the tendency, through its affinity for a particular cosmic setting, to bring the seed into relationship with the forces from the proper directions, so that what emerges from a dandelion is a dandelion and not a barberry. But the image reflected in the individual plant is always the image of some cosmic constellation and is built up out of the cosmos”.
Wow! To me as a steward and guardian of seeds Steiner’s words are awe inspiring and have more meaning each time I read them. As he is describing the seed-formation process I can feel and imagine the same process in terms of the development of our consciousness souls and human incarnations. When my soul came calling in Oregon there was definitely chaos. I experienced an internal soul-seed formation process as if I was being turned inside out. I felt also that when we left the farm on August 2, 2005, Woody and I were as young seeds heading into a not so miniature chaos to disappear into the cosmic cultural dust. If we think of our bodies as Earth’s body then the seed is like a miniature version of ourselves in plant form. Microcosm to macrocosm, this relationship is echoed throughout the universe. We humans are very much part of this as catalysts and star-seeds of the Earth’s evolution. And once again when the relationship is right it flows in both directions.
I was first inspired to work with seeds by Winter Bloomsdale spinach during the summer of l991 when I went out into the garden to harvest produce for the chef at Ainsworth hot springs, to whom we sold vegetables and other products early on in the farm’s individualization. I walked down the garden path, having been there a few days previously, and immediately noticed that the spinach had bolted and was quickly running up to seed. When this happens there is very little leaf matter left on the plant so the question of delivering any spinach this day to Ainsworth had already been answered. But there was more, much more conversation with the spirit of the spinach plant. As I stood in the intense July heat I listened to the plant tell me what I was really supposed to be doing— heirloom seeds. I felt immense gratitude to the spinach for relieving me from the market place and that squirrelly road up Kootenay Lake twice a week to get perishable produce delivered fresh to the hot springs. Now with seeds I did not have to go anywhere. I could simply stay put and steward the land which is what I had always wanted to do. The necessity to make a living can press farmers into the market place when what they really need to be doing is staying home to work with the economy of the land. Now I could think right livelihood and economy of the land rather than economy of the marketplace. I was truly delighted for that ‘change of horses in midstream’ that was prompted and gifted to me by the spinach.
Cosmic thoughts and feelings about seeds penetrated me through and through and I began in earnest to learn all I could about seeds. As the fall came on I harvested everything I could by way of heirlooms that had gone to seed in the gardens and fields. Both my biology background and organizational skills prepared me to work with seeds. Lettuce, tomato, squash, leeks, sweet cicely and all kinds of seeds began to come into the barn where they were dried. There were little lettuce and kale forests in the fields all in glory with their drooping seed heads. Quinoa was ripening in the south field and I could feel the chaos everywhere. When the plant bolts and runs up to seed the form of the plant changes drastically often to the point where it is hard to recognize the original plant. Of course the tomatoes and some of the other fruit seeds such as squash and tomatoes do not change that much as you scoop the seeds out of the flesh and then have available seeds AND food. How generous of those plants, don’t you think? Carrots, beets and cabbage also look very different from the original plant when they bolt. The seed garden resembles nothing of the spring garden—full of greenery and flowers—but rather it looks as if it is dying. In actual fact it is dying— dying and becoming— dying into the cosmos where its blueprint and signature will be forged again out of chaos. The sacred, mystical journey of a seed on the microcosmic level is mirrored in our soul and life journeys at the macrocosmic level. We are all star seeds and on a journey. Some of us are way showers and Archangel Michael helpers and we are all on a journey.
Now picture and feel deeply into yourself as you stand in the middle of your garden, say in the middle of September. A lot of the plants are brown and look as if they are dying. They are beginning to go into that brown phase where it looks as if nothing is going on— an optical illusion if I have ever seen one! Now go over to one of the so-called dying plants and investigate up close and see for yourself what is going on there. The blossoms have long since faded and probably you will see beginnings of the seed formation process. Observe the miracle going on in front of you and if possible hand thresh a few little seeds into the palm of your hand and feel how they evoke ancestral memories of having done this in another place, at another time. Talk to the seeds tell them you want to work with them for the good, to help them through the hard times they are currently experiencing with all the genetic manipulation and commerce-driven violations going on nowadays. Or you might go out into the garden one morning after a frost and the entire squash crop is now visible to your eyes with all the leaves having dropped in the first heavy frost. The autumn earth is now covered with beautiful colorful squash of every shape and size. These are wonders of nature to behold! Each day a new development where you are led into the sacred, mystical journey of a seed as it is with your own soul journey too. As you cannot separate the dancer from the dance nor can you separate the seedmeister from the seed. The relationship works both ways, we are part of it and imbued by it.
When one works with seeds it helps to have your organizational skills in place as there is much to learn regarding which variety will cross with others, which are biennials(meaning they go to seed every second year like carrots and beets), who likes to grow and live through the seasons with whom and much, much more. Order is something I learned from my mother and scientific background so working with the seeds came naturally. My maternal ancestors grew grain in the old way in Washington State and I could feel this in my bones as I delved further and further into the seeds. Although I have not been able to discover all the stories about my paternal ancestors I intuit that they too worked closely with seeds and gardens in England way back when it was not uncommon to have seed houses dotted throughout the countryside. Not only was I ona soul medicine journey with the seeds I also began to remember the peasant wisdom of my ancestors and how it truly feels to be a human being within the family, the farm and the community. This remembrance took me way back in time. I felt and perceived that I had always been a gardener and was transported daily into these realms that come when cultural blinders disappear, amnesia fades into common sense and a remembrance wafts in on an afternoon breeze on the smell of some fragrant flower or seed.
We took the seed plants to the barn to hang and dry. Once dry we cleaned, threshed and winnowed by hand, never by machine. Again, the hand is important to maintain the connection between the heart, the sense of touch and remembrance. Small screens were used for this work and when the seeds were clean enough to winnow they were taken outside with the appropriate breeze. We learned to discriminate between say a lavender and a cosmos wind so as not to lose too many seeds to the air currents. Seeds were poured from buckets, held about four feet in the air, into a bucket or bowl on the earth and the process then repeated until they were clean enough to put into their glass jars. At this juncture the seeds, all tucked into their blue and green glass jars, were taken from the barn into the mud room at the house where we had set up a seed storage and distribution area. Around this area we placed a protective energetic grid which was daily renewed. We felt wealthy beyond measure.
And thus was born the first biodynamic, heirloom seed company in North America at Aurora farm. The land was perfect for cultivating seeds on the dry hilltop with enough wind and solar forces to thoroughly dry the seeds. If we had been several miles away it would not have been appropriate to cultivate seeds as this work is site specific requiring a long enough season for the plants to set seed and the necessary dry heat to cure them.
I began to think about marketing the seeds to the small friendly co-ops that were around in the early ‘90s before they got pushed out of the way by Whole Foods, Wild Oats and the other corporate so-called organic stores which are so much a part of the rigging of the dark forces at present. Once the little co-ops were gone I was hard pressed to reach the person who was the seed buyer for these insidious stores. In fact I would have to go through at least nine doors to reach someone I could talk to. I figured no one was that important and moved from marketing seeds into education on growing them, conscious composting classes and land stewardship consultations. I will never forget the trip to Seattle that convinced me to get away from all those corporate stores. Not only were these trips exhausting but I could see where the trend in organics was going and it was not good. Here was when food began to be viewed at as a commodity rather than a resource and gift from the spiritual worlds. I had more interesting conversations with the street people and discovered truly that there was no way to relate to the folks who worked in the corporate food stores. Most of them were so far gone with the glitz and hype of it that I literally could find no basis for sharing human conversation nor to talk about seeds or other perennial wisdom and not some fu fu marketing ploy. Sometimes I would walk into these stores where I was a vendor and could not afford to shop there! That began to really ruffle my feathers and I could see that whereas I had gone to the small co-ops and was welcomed with a warm smile and recognition as I came through the door, now, with the corporate food stores I was not even acknowledged and looked upon only as another purchaser or at least somewhere beneath their advanced schemes. None of them seemed to understand about conscious farming and gardening. Shame. To think that I was brought up where the word organic did not even exist and now there were these huge corporate food stores with the sole focus on money. More rigging again.
When my step father Toni Mei was passing I was his caregiver and we spoke a lot about the dying process. One day I commented that he had seen a lot in his 92 years of life on the planet. He was very quiet for a time and then turned, fixed his gaze directly into my eyes and said “Yes, but nothing to what YOU are going to see Bimsky”. Round about the time these corporate monsters showed up in the organic food business I truly began to absorb Toni’s astute comment. Indeed there have been and are big changes on the planet nowadays.
At Bolad’s Kitchen in New Mexico Martin Prechtel spoke about seeds telling the class every time we thought about seeds to think of them as seeds as themselves, seeds as knowledge and seeds as language. Much of what we do in our lives is defined by the word seeds. I consider my sons William and Nathan as seeds as I do my own incarnation. They are intimately intertwined in our language and the journey of a seed displays very similar aspects to all life everywhere, dying into chaos, disappearing into the cosmic dust and birthing anew again.
For the indigenous peoples, when there was still some common sense about food and seeds, cross-pollination and the original hybrids were treated with reverence. During a wedding ceremony both bride and groom would gift to each other a different variety of squash and this hybrid symbolized the cross-pollination of the couple as well as the seed. When I was with Joanna in Hopi Land discussing seeds we did not talk of specific varieties but rather the blue-green or yellow squash in a language not couched in scientific terms. Food and seeds were never considered a commodity as they are today. They were considered sacred and a gift from the spiritual world which they are. Unfortunately with the dark forces, the new hybrids, genetic engineering and other forms of evil manipulation the group ‘I’s of the plants and seeds have retreated and with their retreat has gone seed vitality and the capacity for regeneration. It is up to us to remedy that while we are in the Age of Michael, whose coat tails we ride on. Nature is degenerating, running down and we cannot rely on her to revitalize herself anymore, those days are over. We humankind are catalysts in co-creation with the nature spirits and the other angelic heirarchies to serve the transmissions of the new earth energies. May she be revitalized, genetically and spiritually sound and may there be no interruption in the cosmic forces, Christ consciousness and cosmic streams through which this work of the good, true and beautiful takes place. So be it.
Grandmothers passed on their tried and true favorite seeds to their grand-daughters to pass the knowledge on. Once your memory is evoked the seeds will gift you with knowledge and wisdom. They will tell you what they need in terms of revitalization or what type of earth they wish to be in or whatever you need to know the spirit of the seed will share with you, if you assure them that you will do no harm to them. And while you are thinking about these issues you might consider putting by a collection of heirloom seeds for your family to be sure that what you are eating from your garden is highly nutritional food to allow you to think moral thoughts. Some good resources on seeds will be listed in the reading and resources in the back of this book.
The seeds were beautiful and I took great delight in gathering and threshing them with special screens that came from the University of California at Davis. The smells too were heavenly and I viewed them under the microscope fascinated with their little power-packed bodies shaped every which way. They reminded me of the beautiful dino-flagelletes that I had seen under the microscope in biology 101 class. These were magnificent sentient beings shaped by the forces and rhythms of the earth and cosmos. I did not know it at the time until I had done more research and directly perceived that the seeds were probably the most important aspect of agriculture that I could be working on. William and Nathan too were fascinated with them and grew to think of them as the precious sentient beings that they are “images of the whole universe”. From eating highly nutritional food grown from seeds that were in and out of fertile soil each year the boys too began to think cosmic thoughts. Even more important to me was that they had morals and manners— good ones. They could think for themselves and did so often coming up with ideas that seemed to emanate from another time and place when life still made sense. Their lives did make sense and it wasn’t until they went to public school that they began to see that not everyone lived as they did. They were shocked and knew that when they came home it was indeed a refuge and haven on mother Earth. I felt when they went off to school that my ‘seeds’ were going off to be controlled and manipulated as the seeds have been. It seems to me it is all part of the indoctrination of the culture. I knew for sure that they deserved more than what the local education system was offering. It had not been like that when I went to school. At that time there was still a certain amount of true learning going on and sometimes your teachers were your friends. There was none of that for my sons, I felt for them, giving them at home all that I could by way of an education in Nature.
The Journey of a Seed
Taking it from the beginning and holding in your hand a seed “an image of the whole universe” you place it into the ground according to that particular seed’s requirements. Maybe you breathe on it or moisten it in your saliva before you place it in the soil as a form of blessing and love for that sentient being. Soil temperatures have warmed sufficiently to receive the seeds with warmth and you cover them marking where this particular variety is planted. Then you keep them moist according to the needs of that variety. If you are lucky the spring weather will take care of that for you. Some seeds are drought tolerant and others want to thoroughly dry out before being watered, there are many requirements and needs of individual varieties. It was fun to learn all this about the seeds. What is going on when the seed meets the soil and the little seed coat begins to dissolve? This is the time when fertilization takes place, the seeds are not already fertile, viable yes but they have yet to be fertilized. This happens with mama Earth. This is something which is not understood properly nor is germination and pollination. These are mysteries of the seeds and actually they are better left that way so rigging minded folks can’t manipulate them any further.
Fertilization takes place between mama Earth and the seed and then, if your soil is fertile and rich with humus the seed germinates sending down a little root and up above a small shoot that will grow into the first cotyledons. This is what is going on when you hear about germination rates for various seed companies. They have planted seeds out and then take the percentage that germinate as an indicator of the vitality and vigor of the seeds and what you can expect under ideal conditions in terms of germination rates.
Inside the seed there is much going on and at this point the earth forces are most important whereas later as the plant goes off to seed it will disintegrate into dust under the auspices of the cosmos. For a while you do not see anything emerging from the soil and then one day when you go along to check, there they are— the miracle that every new birthing thing is— the seedlings have poked through the soil. Now the root will work itself farther into the ground and subsoil strata while the plant will— in spiral waves— take on its form, grow more leaves, blossom and go to seed.
Steiner was an interpreter of Goethe’s works and at the age of 21 was asked to be editor of Goethe’s scientific writings. Here was born Steiner’s training in epistemology and spiritual science.
Goethe, speaking of the seed in relationship to phases of plant development.
Phases of Plant Development by Goethe
At first the whole plant, in all its potential, rests, drawn together in one point, the seed.
It then comes forth and unfolds itself, spreads itself out in leaf formation.
The formative forces thrust themselves apart more and more; therefore the lower leaves appear raw, still compact;
The further up the stem they are the more ribbed and indented they become.
What formerly was still pressing together now separates.
What earlier stood at successive intervals from each other appears again in one point of the stem in the calyx. This is the second contraction.
In the corolla, an unfolding, a spreading out, occurs again.
Compared with the sepals the petal are finer and more delicate.
Which can only be due to a lesser intensity at one point.
The next contraction occurs in the reproductive organs, after which a new expansion takes place in the fruiting.
In the seed that emerges from the fruit the whole being again appears contracted to a point.
The whole plant represents only an unfolding, a realization, of what rests in the bud or the seed as potentiality.
Bud and seed need only the appropriate external influences in order to become fully developed plant forms.
The only difference between the bud and seed is that the latter has the earth directly as the basis of its unfolding whereas the former generally represents a plant formation upon the plant itself.
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Once the seeds have germinated there begins activity in the roots, rootlets and nodules with various forms of bacteria as they take in minerals from the soil for the roots and fix nitrogen in the soil. Above the ground we have the spiral growth as the plant takes on its form and the plant climbs higher under direction of the solar forces.
Once the plant has bolted or begun to bloom the time comes when the honeybees, butterflies and other insects come into play for purposes of pollination which takes place in the following ways:
-water with aquatic plants
-biotic pollination where insects, mostly honey bees move the pollen grains from the anther to the receptive part of the carpel or pistil.
There may be self-pollination or cross-pollination where pollen is delivered to a flower from another plant whereas the former is where the pollen grains are taken to the same flower they came from or other flowers on the same plant.
There is another term, open-pollination, in my opinion, that has caused confusion in the language of seeds. It means pollination by insects, wind, water, birds or other natural ways as contrasted with closed or self-pollination. It can lead to increased biodiversity but one thing that remains in question here is cross-pollination as there are those who refer to cross-pollination as hybridization. This is not the case. The original hybrids as I have already written about with their indigenous wedding ceremonies were the original plant breeders and breeds and were good through and through. No manipulation here but all actions filled with ceremony and blessings. The indigenous peoples understood something about genetics, recombinant varieties, and the spiritual life of seeds and it was not about manipulation, it came in purely by living a sacred daily life, one that was connected and imbued with the spiritual worlds.
Pollination is dependent upon the honey bees primarily, although butterflies, birds and other insects contribute. It is unfortunate that at this time the honey bees— like the seeds and plants— are also under attack and having the most difficult time in their incarnation. Considering that the hive is built up out of love and this is what the bees are trying to teach us I reckon that we have something slightly askew here. Chapter seven is about honey bees from Rudolf Steiner’s perspective and top-bar hives where I write about alternative ways of beekeeping through which you can work to their greater health and well being and the bees can thrive with vitality.
The flowers are pollinated when the insects, primarily the honey bees collect pollen on their under parts and land on another flower of the same plant or another plant. The little pollen grains send down pollen tubes acting similar to the sperm and egg in human conception. The pollen grains undergo certain changes as they travel down to the soon-to-be seed. Once again this is a miracle that happens all around us but is very highly dependent on the honey bees. If it were not for the bees we would eat nothing but mush. That is worth thinking about for sure. We need to make this hive— love connection with the honey bees and take on their stewardship as they will teach us all we need to know about love and unity consciousness where ego serves no one and no thing.
After pollination takes place we come to the time when the seed formative process occurs the seed disintegrates into cosmic dust and undergoes chaos to receive its spiritual and genetic blueprint from on high. The seeds fall to the earth and the growing cycle begins anew.
May your gardens be blessed with vitality, fertility, happy honey bees and the miracle of heirloom seeds just the way your ancestors gathered them when things still made sense and we lived in a good world.