A Manifesto for Seeds
By Woody Wodraska, Aurora Farm
We are seed users, seed eaters, seed growers… all of us. We have been wrapped in a world of seeds for eons, since long before agriculture was thought of. In hunger we ate the bird that ate the seeds; in happy accident we brewed the beer from spoiled and worthless seeds; in unwitting service to the plant we transported its seeds from place to place on our trouser cuffs. We slobber over ear corn and eat our Wheaties. It’s in our language: We are of our parents’ seed, our ancestors’ seed, Adam’s seed ultimately. We are born into, thrive in, die in, a seed sowing, seed garnering heritage. To deny sacred status to these capsules of memory and consciousness, these enfoldments of life we call seeds, is to court foolish disaster. We have always known this.
But… now they’re messing with our seeds. The power grabbing corporations and their government flunkies propose in their arrogance to irradiate… manipulate… defructify… genetically and spiritually violate, monopolize and further disrespect our ancient birthright, our real wealth, SEEDS. We are strong when we have seeds. They who would enslave us use as leverage the seeds we cherish, the seeds that nourish us. What we would pass on to the seventh generation as bridegift they seize as strategy. They would put a price on the priceless and sell it back to us. Do not let them delude you about their sophisticated seed bank in the high arctic. Seeds are not preserved by freezing them and locking them away from growers; they are not saved inside mountains and behind bank-vault doors. Hide your weapons of mass destruction there, or your bullion, if you will, but our seeds hold life which does not thrive in such places. If you would keep a seed forever and increase it — grow it out. Surrender it to soil and warmth and moisture; wait for the miracle of a plant; hold the hope of fruition and one seed becomes many — even millions. Then give them away.
Leave our seeds alone. Leave our seeds in the hands of the people who feed us…the family, the clan, the village group. The profession of “seedsman” was created only 130 years or so ago. Perhaps it was an aberration to try to centralize a process that had before been disbursed in clan and village gardens, homestead gardens, middens and small fields. Grandmothers and Great-uncles collected, watched over, cherished the seeds that came down to them. Grew them out with love and patience and infinite care. Grandmother’s seeds… grandmother’s blessing… passed from generation to generation. Reckon three generations to a century and 150 centuries in the history of agriculture and you have several hundred generations of seed gathering folk, seed saving grandcestors, passing on precious seeds to descendants. There is memory encapsulated in this line of life stretching so far back. Feelings are there too… feelings of gratitude to Gaia, of holding dear, of well wishing to the future generations, feelings of faithfulness… feminine feelings.
The memory is right there in the seed, and in our cells, in the mitochondrial DNA passed down the feminine line. When I touch my seeds I tap the memory that is there, ancestral wisdom almost lost, beaming itself into our consciousness just when it is most needed.
John Trudell said: “It’s about our D N A. Descendants Now Ancestors. We are the descendants and we are the ancestors. D N A, our DNA, our blood, our flesh and our bone, is made up of the metals and the minerals and the liquids of the earth. We are the earth. We truly, literally and figuratively are the earth. Any relationship we will ever have in this world to real power–the real power, not energy systems and other artificial means of authority–but any relationship we will ever have to real power is our relationship to the earth.” (1)
Seeds are concentrated wealth. Seeds are worth far more than we pay for them now, in the nursery or hardware store. You can pack in a suitcase ten thousand dollars worth of garden seeds in any variety you choose. The slavemasters and their propagandists would have us believe that money is power and, since they have plenty of money, that they are in control. They don’t want us to have that suitcase, to be free to leave and plant elsewhere; or free to stay and plant many gardens, feed many people with real food.
If we are staunchly of the Earth, her power is ours to neutralize and transmute the evil work of the authority-mongers, those without conscience. We can do this with life enhancing actions. Repeat. Life-affirming actions can override and overwhelm the lifeless. Always the great stone temples of the arrogant become topsoil for living systems. It’s something the corporations and governments fail to appreciate. Their authority rests on entropic processes—explosions, coercions, cultural lies. They cannot take into account the power of life, the connectedness of life. They would have us forget where we come from…so we can be entertained and exploited and addicted to their cheap dream, their gadgets and their ersatz food. If we are staunchly of the Earth we have access to the strength of the generations, the ancestory, to help us put life-affirming ideas and actions in the places where death-dealing had been. We can REMEMBER from where our power comes. Let us plant gardens. Let us plant trees. Let us tend cows.
Our weapons are our tools… our ammunition is our seeds… our fuel is our sacred intent to do right by the future of life on the Planet… our marching song is the thrumming of memory in our cells.
We march in concert, but we do not march en masse. Our aim is not to dominate or overpower. Rather, our aim is service. Each of us has a plot of earth to serve, our own nature spirits and devas to consult… intuition that speaks in us…we know how to surrender to the requirements of the task, of plants and soil, in order to earn our harvest. We bow to the task in joy and service, each individual one of us mustering pure intent, a gutsy laugh, with the power of life upholding us.
Join Wendell Berry’s Mad Farmers Liberation Front. No dues. No meetings. You just have to be pissed off enough to be clever. Don’t be depressed, be clever. Let us be clear. There is no money in this, only sustenance. This passing forward of DNA on family or clan level is a matter of right livelihood, not of commerce. And right livelihood brings joy. If I can feed myself, my family, a few others perhaps when surplus appears, then I have done something REAL. I am in touch with my power, and my delight. I am creating my part of the story.
JOY… What if the picture that’s been drawn of peasant life as, “Nasty… Brutish… Short” is a cultural con job put out by the rationalists and the materialists, the ones who shortly would have something to sell us? What if life on a subsistence level has joys and satisfactions as well as challenges? What if people had time to laugh and sing? What if there were still people in the world who could catch the memory of this and show it to us?
A friend tells me about life in the Philippines, far back on the rural islands… tells how, when two rice threshers or donkey drivers meet and begin to talk, they’re laughing most of the way through the conversation. There is something boisterously entertaining about what is going on in their poverty-stricken lives.
John G. Bennett wrote of an encounter in Africa: “Following a lightly trodden path, I came upon a Basuto village. All the inhabitants were out hoeing mealies. Their ages must have ranged from seven to seventy, and they were singing and hoeing to the rhythm of their own music. As they saw me they all stopped and stood straight up in surprise. Then with one accord they began to laugh. I have never heard such laughter. It was pure joy and friendship, without malice and without thought. I joined in, and we all laughed together for several minutes. I waved my hand and walked on, and they resumed their gravity and their hoeing.
“This was one of the unforgettable moments of my life. A lifetime’s experience had convinced me that happiness is greatest where material prosperity is least. I had seldom seen a happy rich man, but I had seen many happy people among the poorest villagers of Asia Minor or Greece. I had seen happiness in Omdurman, but this happiness that I saw before my eyes was beyond all the others. Here was a village totally lacking even the smallest of the benefits of civilization. They had not even a plough or a cart. And yet they were the happiest people I had ever seen. They were without fear and without pride.” (2)
They were without fear and without pride. The meek shall inherit the earth, for the meek remember who they are and where their power comes from.
“Until now,” said Terence Mckenna, “nobody has dropped the ball. Four times the ice has ground down from the North and four times our ancestors retreated before it. They were cold and wet and miserable. They suffered more than we have ever had to.” In words to this effect McKenna honors the ancestory; our people carried on the story of humans on this Earth for all those millennia. Are we going to be the ones to drop the ball? Are we going to wimp our way to our own and the Planet’s destruction?
We say “NO… enough!” That dream of the would-be controllers, that our spirit could be mined to fuel their extravaganza of wastefulness and meanwhile make ourselves complicit — by acquiring all the stuff they have to sell — that dream is bankrupt and soulless. We reject it for the fraud it is.
(1) John Trudell, on the occasion of a memorial service for Earth First! Activist Judy Bari.
(2) J G Bennett, Witness Claymont Communications