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You will need:

  • A Leafless Tree Model to which "leaves" can be attached
  • "Leaves" made of paper, paperboard, cloth or real ones
  • A siphon or wick system which can transfer coloured water between two containers
  • Two containers
  • Water
  • Green food colouring
  • Models of roots which can be attached to your Tree Model
  • Musical Sticks
  • a candle
  • matches
  • 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.

Opening Ritual

The third Liturgical Season runs from the spring equinox to mid-spring (approximately May 5th) and covers the period from the Cambrian explosion to the invention of trees in the Devonian. The major advances of this period are leaves, veins, roots, and wood.

We gather to mark the passing of a week
To align our hearts as one.

(Light the Sol candle)

Bare rock ... still ... bare rock.
And then ... <gasp> ... Green!
Cells clump. Organs specialize. Life senses Sol. Structures harden.
Forests grow.
In the lush green forests, species are born.
And for every species ... there was a story!

(Stand up a tree cut-out, leafless but dendridic)

(As one person stands it up, the others raise their hand and wiggle their fingers like a growing tree)

This is the story of how they came to be,
these trees with whom we breathe!

(Breath deeply three times contemplating that the oxygen you are breathing in came from green plants)

First came the leaves, ?floating? leaves,
the surfaces on which Sol's fire was captured!

(Pin or clip leaves to the tree cut out)

Next came the veins, organizers of resources,
Both Xylem and Phloem,
raising water and minerals,
and storing sugar.

(suck some water through a syphon tube from an elevated bowl, then let it flow up and down into a lower bowl)

Then came the roots!
Digging deep, searching for minerals.
Digging deep, anchoring stems fast.

(Add roots around the base of the tree cut-out)

Finally, plants invented wood!
Turning soft cells into tall trunks,
Reaching high into the air, thickening the biosphere,
Making 100 meters of air freely available to crawling and jumping animals.

(participants play musical sticks, and dance around the tree.)

Leaves. Veins. Roots. Wood.

(Squat with arms crossed and then, as you stand, spread your arms and fingers like a tree growing)

From bare rock ... Forests!

The Reading

Let us imagine

You are sitting behind your elephant as she drives one of the new Boring Company Horta 6000 tunneling machines. She expertly slaloms the machine around the ground source heat pump shafts of a small town that you pass under. She is a little angry and she seems to be taking out on the machine’s controls. "I can't believe we have been hired to dig this bitumen pipeline. How do evil people end up controlling everything? It tastes of blasphemy to be using a machine built to remove transportation infrastructure from the living surface of the world, to be using it to help the evil oil corporations move their filth around."

As the machine rocks back and forth through the tight turns you feel someone in the seat next to you gently lean against you. You glance to your left and see Terra sitting beside you, wearing Gaia.

"Oh!" you exclaim in surprise, "Gaia, how did you get here?"

"Ha!" Terra scoffs, her incandescent breath singing the back of your elephant's chair, "What a question! I was here before you started tunneling through me, Superficial One!"

Gaia closes her mask over Terra's mouth and says, "Don't mind her; she's just itchy from all the tunneling that you are doing."

"I am sorry, Terra," You ask, worried, “We shouldn't be digging this pipeline, should we?"

"Exactly," Terra cries, flames erupting from her mouth and eyes, "You think that you are the gods!"

"There is always someone who wants to keep things the same," Gaia says, tugging her mask back over Terra's face. "I remember the Silurian..."

The Horta suddenly smashes out of a cliff face a dozen feet above a rocky plain. "Weird!" you say as the machine arches smoothly through the air, "The stonar said there was solid rock for miles ahead."

The machine crashes into the rocks but the crush zones and airbags protect you. Your elephant, excited and energized by adrenalin, uses her enormous strength and heavy tusks to rip through the mangled cockpit door and a minute later you are riding your elephant out of the wreckage. Terra follows you still wearing Gaia, but now Terra is a child not a pregnant woman.

"The stonar was scanning Holocene geology, Little One." Gaia replies catching her breath after all the excitement of the crash. The cloth that makes up Gaia leaves large patches of Terra exposed. It is covered in animated embroidery of arthropods, cephalopods, sessile filter feeders, a few fish, bacteria, funguses and tiny plants, "I transitioned it to Silurian geology without much warning." She smiles mischievously.

To the North, you see a giant glacial wall of ice but even as you watch you see huge pieces calving off and crashing to the rocks below. To the East you see a massive river pouring over the edge of the glacier into a bright turquoise lake. To the North-West, along the cliff from which your machine emerged, another river emerges from an ice cave set into the glacial wall and then flows East into the lake which extends to the Eastern horizon. To the South a vast green plain extends.

You see movement along the edge of the lake and, curious as to what it is, your elephant begins to walk along the northern edge of the green plain towards it. Terra and Gaia follow.

As you approach it, you see that the plain is not covered in grasses but instead cooksonioid sporophytes, tiny branching stems with inverted-cone-shaped spore pods at the tip of each stem. On the ground beneath them soft leaf like structures radiate out from each plant. Each plant is only about 5 cm across and 2 cm tall.

The ground of the plain is spongy and, you see looking behind you, soaking wet so that round puddles fill your elephant's footprints and then slowly disappear as the elastic ground expands back upward into them.

As you approach the lake you see that a group of nautiloids is marching two by two along the beach carrying placards which say "Stop the Pipeline, Save the Earth from Glaciation"

Your elephant steps onto the beach and enjoys the feel of warm sand on her feet. You ask Gaia, "Who would be building a pipeline in the Silurian?"

"The mycorrhizal networks, Little One." Gaia laughs indicating the cooksonioids.

"The roots of these prehistoric plants are connected by mycorrhiza?" you ask, incredulously.

"Of course, Little One." Gaia says, "these little plants were so dependent on a continuous supply of water. There was immense pressure to find ways to stay hydrated. The mycorrhizal networks developed early."

You look around, "Where's the pipeline?" you ask.

Gaia laughs, "Underground, Little One. It isn't really a line either. It is the whole layer of mycorrhizal network."

"Wait a minute!" you cry, "How are soil fungi accessing petroleum and transporting it without it poisoning them?"

Gaia laughs, "Petroleum? Little One, you are correct; these networks would be unable to metabolize petroleum. No, they are transporting water from this glacial lake to keep their soil moist for many miles.

"Why are the protestors upset?" you ask, " Those two rivers will more than make up for the loss from the lake to a little wicking!"

Gaia smiles and explains, "They are worried about carbon sequestration."

"Wow!" you exclaim, "To think that protestors have been demanding carbon sequestration programs for four hundred million years!"

Gaia laughs again, "Demanding it? No, they are protesting it. As long as these plants are kept hydrated, they will suck carbon dioxide from the air. If they keep it up, the fear is that they could cause a relapse into the ice age which formed that massive glacier. It may be melting back now but shift the balance and it could be advancing again."

Terra speaks again in her flaming voice, "They have no business messing with my glaciers and my oceans!"

"But, if they hadn't, then land-plant forests and all their biodiversity would never have evolved." You cry in dismay.

Terra snarls, "If only those cephalopods knew how to make fire, they could burn your stupid land-plants and their evil unthinking stupid experiment with my atmosphere."

You turn toward Terra, ignoring Gaia whom she is wearing, "You’re the evil one if you want to stop land-plants. They are the basis of complex land life. They are the basis of all that is green and good in the world." You raise your hand to strike her but then you feel a gently restraining hand on your shoulder. You turn and Gaia is also standing behind you. The scene has shifted. Behind you your massive walled city stands on the edge of a battlefield. You glance back toward Terra but Refugia is there instead with her army in the distance behind her, "Is not Life precious?" Gaia asks.

"It has always been precious; it will always be precious." you respond by rote.

Gaia waves her hand and the scene shifts again. You are in a modern city. Tear gas canisters are rolling amongst masked protestors. A line of riot police is advancing. Protestors are dropping their placards as they cough. Others are lighting Molotov cocktails. You read the placards, "Climate Action Now", "The Earth is Our Mother", "Stop Big Oil Now".

Your elephant turns toward the riot police. Images of tusks piercing riot shields and elephant feet stepping on police helmets fill your mind, "Evil Corporate Shills!" you cry and are about to charge but then you feel a gently restraining hand on your shoulder. You turn and Gaia is also standing behind you. The scene has shifted yet again. Behind you your massive walled city stands on the edge of a battlefield. You glance back toward The Riot Police but Refugia is there instead with her army in the distance behind her, "Is not Life precious?" Gaia asks.

"It has always been precious; it will always be precious." you respond by rote.

Gaia waves her hand again. You are standing beside your elephant in a child's playroom. Sitting on the floor is a baby version of Civis. Infront of Civis on the floor, little towers of blocks are growing out of the floor. She reaches out and slaps one and the blocks tumble and scatter across the floor. Civis laughs almost fiendishly, the happy laugh of a toddler learning her power to destroy, "Evil, isn't she?" Gaia says her voice dripping with irony.

But you see the actions of Civis from a different point of view. "The fiendish knocking down of blocks is a necessary first step in learning how to build them up." you quote

Gaia and Terra smile, "It doesn't just apply to species, Little One." They say together, "It applies to biospheres and civilizations and even individuals."

Silent contemplation

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 contemplation.

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.
Gaia's bursting through boundaries is a painful and joyful process.
It is the pain of Earth giving rebirth to herself.
It is the joy of a myriad new possibilities emerging.
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 Rebirthing and 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!

Closing Words

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.

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