You will need:
For services during the season of Conflatorium you will need the following:
- a bowl of ice cubes with a fossil frozen into each (one for each participant and several additional ones)
- A bowl of hot water
- A hand snack for each participant in the shape of an aquatic creature (gold fish crackers, shrimp, strips of Nori glued together with honey to look like jelly fish)
- a candle
- a bell or signing bowl
- a candle snuff
Leader: Who would like to share?
The participants briefly update each other on how they're doing and what's going on in their lives.
The season of Conflatorium (melting) is the second Liturgical Season in the SolSeed Movement's Liturgical Calendar. It symbolizes and celebrates the emergence of complex life in the Ediacaran and Cambrian periods, after the melting of Snowball Earth 590 million years ago. During this season the Weekly Service Calls use the following Opening ceremony:
We gather to mark the passing of a week
To align our hearts as one.
(Light the Sol candle) (take an ice cube from bowl and hold it in your hand)
Ice ... just ... ice ...
and then ... [gasp] ... Melting
(Drop the ice cube into warm/hot water)
Warm Sun! Open Water! Dry Land! Scented Breeze!
The sea teems with new lifeforms ...
As the ice melts, they emerge to tell their story!
(pour the ice cubes (or big block of ice) that have things (e.g., trilobites) frozen in them, into the bowl of warm water)
Cells transcend themselves
Uniting with multitudes of sisters to become something more;
Complex life explodes into a dazzling diversity of forms!
(Participants clasp hands, or join two hands clasped if you are alone)
Next opens the mouth, the first structure,
Both the feeder of animals,
and the singularity that
gave animals direction.
("Chase" and then eat some food, e.g. seaweed, suishi, shrimp, or goldfish crackers ... participant's choice)
Then come the senses!
Taste, smell, sight, touch, hearing
((Put fingers on mouth, nose, eye, temple, and ear, thus touching all five senses))
The sensing which gave the first animals reason to swim.
The sensing which still directs us today!
Finally, Animals secrete calcium,
Armour, Shells, Teeth, Bones,
Massive, piling, surfaces fold through open water,
A billion allies emerge,
Life learns to make new reefs, new worlds,
(building motions of one hand on top of another going up up up?)
Cells Join to Cells.
Mouths. Senses. Shells.
From silent ice ... teeming reefs!
(schooling fish motion where each finger is a fish)
Thoughts for the Day
Our symbolic year begins on the first day after the winter Solstice. This day symbolizes the beginning of time as do the first words of our service. So let us begin the year by considering one of the Big Questions of metaphysics. What came before the Big Bang? What caused the Big Bang? How did time start?
The first words of our service are somewhat misleading. It is believed by some leading physicists that the Big Bang was the beginning of time. Before that moment, there was no time. Just as the phrase, 1 Kelvin less than absolute zero, has no meaning because you cannot have less heat than no heat, and just as the phrase, one lumen less than absolute darkness, has no meaning because you cannot have less light than no light, the phrase, one second before the big bang, has no meaning because you cannot have time before the beginning of time. A mathematically more accurate metaphor is that just as you cannot go one meter South of the South Pole because the direction South ends at the South Pole, it is meaningless to talk about the time one second into the past from the Big Bang because the 'direction' past ends at the Big Bang.
So the big question of the temporal origin of the universe is answered in the most unexpected way. What came before the Big Bang? The answer is that the question is meaningless. Our words seem to indicate that there was nothing before the big bang but in actual fact there was no 'before the Big Bang'. Time itself is part of the geometry of the universe. There was no moment of creation or coming into being of the universe. Time is a direction within the universe and the universe is finite in that direction. Nothing exists beyond the first moment of time.
Contemplation for the Day
If you can, perform this contemplation outdoors. Otherwise, choose a room where you can stand and walk a couple of paces in different directions.
Every point on the surface of a sphere is the same and to the degree that the Earth is a sphere this is true for the Earth also. Only when you take the daily rotation of the Earth into account does the South Pole in any way become special. Unless you carefully watch the sky for several hours you won't notice the rotation of the Earth. If you want to do a very long version of this meditation by all means you may want to actually travel to the South Pole to do it. Otherwise simply pretend you are at the South Pole.
Pick an exact spot on the ground which is to be the South Pole. Stand facing it about one pace away from it. Imagine the snow swirling about you. The southern Aurora is dancing in a dark sky filled with stars above your head. The South Pole is directly in front of you so obviously you are facing south. Now take a step forward and stand on the spot you chose to be the South Pole. Now you are standing on the South Pole. You are at the furthest point South on the whole Earth. You are facing north. Staying on the South Pole spin slowly around. As you turn you continue to face north. Every direction is north from here. Is that true? Look down at your feet. That direction is still down. It is not south or north. Just as with any place on Earth, if you look down toward the centre of the Earth you are looking down not east or West or North or South. Look up. Imagine the bright stars and swirling aurora above you. That is still up. It is not south or north or east or west.
Now imagine that this place is not the South Pole but instead the Big Bang and that the surface of the Earth is actually time. Instead of cold, snow, stars and aurora, you are surrounded by some kind of plasma which is almost infinitely dense and hot. This is the beginning of time. Slowly turn around keeping your eyes on the horizon. You are looking into the future no matter what direction you face. Take a step away from the Big Bang and then turn back to face it. Imagine that the step you took represented a thousand years. You are now standing in a very young universe, only one millennium old. Although it is much less dense and hot here it is still much hotter and denser than you could survive if this were real rather than contemplation. You are facing the past. You can time travel. Take a step back in time to return to the moment of the Big Bang. You have just traveled back in time to the beginning of time. Take another step. You have gone past the beginning of time and are travelling forward into the future again. Turn and walk right through the Big Bang. You began by travelling back in time but as you crossed the Big Bang, without turning you changed direction and began going forward in time again.
No matter how many 'times' you walk back and forth through the Big Bang you always end up in its future. The direction past ends at the Big Bang.
Quietly contemplate this idea for a while. Open your mind to unintuitive geometries.
Leader: Please join me for seven minutes of silence while we contemplate ...
(Service Leader rings the bell)
(Service Leader rings the bell again at the end of the seven minutes)
Leader: Who would like to share?
The participants take turns talking about what they were thinking about during the meditation.
Reading of the SolSeed Creed
Please respond to the portions of the Creed highlighted in bold in unison:
- Life is precious.
- It has always been precious,
- it will always be precious.
- Life exuberant
- bursting through boundaries
- to flower and spread
- creates the conditions for more Life,
- in an Upward Spiral
- of ever-growing possibilities.
- As you are alive, and I am alive,
- and in kinship with all other beings
- who call Terra home,
- we are Gaia --
- the body of all Life.
- The Destiny of Gaia
- is to take root and flower amongst the stars --
- to give birth to a family of living worlds.
- As intelligent sparks of Gaia,
- we are called to express her excellent nature,
- we are called to attend the Great Birthing.
- We who answer this call
- dedicate ourselves to Gaia,
- We join together
- in a community of practice
- to align our words and actions
- with our highest aspirations.
- Through awesome experiences
- of cosmic, biological, and cultural creativity,
- we awaken within ourselves and others
- the Cosmic Religious Feeling
- that ignites wonder,
- fosters compassion, and
- inspires invention.
- Our three sacred duties are to
- embrace Passion,
- cultivate Empathy, and
- pursue Wisdom,
- So that our being honors Gaia
- and our striving hastens the Great Birthing.
- Passion drives us.
- Without Passion
- Empathy and Wisdom are lethargic.
- I pledge to stoke the fire in my belly,
- to compassionately care for my inner elephant ---
- to really be me, Happy in the Sun!
- Empathy is transcendent.
- Without Empathy,
- Passion and Wisdom are evil.
- I pledge to love others as I love myself,
- to consider their needs as if they were my own --
- to Grow Ours, not just Get Mine!
- Wisdom is effective.
- Without Wisdom,
- Passion and Empathy are reckless.
- I pledge to train my elephant through regular practice,
- to stand ready to transform my worldview in the face of new evidence --
- to cultivate sound instincts.
- Through Passion, Empathy, and Wisdom
- we have come to know that:
- We are Gaia's People --
- children of the Earth and Sun,
- awakened by starlight,
- discovering --
- We Bring Life!
Leader: We extinguish this flame, but not the light of truth, the warmth of community or the fires of commitment ... these we carry in our hearts until we are together again.
Leader extinguishes the candle with the Candle Snuff
Leader: May your week be blessed with life and love. Blessed be.