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You will need:

  • A Representation of a plant which can be used like a mask
  • A Single Cut Flower for each Person attending
  • 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 fifth Liturgical Season runs from the summer solstice to mid summer (approximately August 4th) and covers the rise of intelligence. What are the major advances during this period. Warm blooded-ness, social interaction, tool use, language?

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

(Light the Sol candle)

Instinct ... still ... instinct ...
And then ... <gasp> ... a spark!
Amidst the growing diversity of SolSeed,
a new attribute emerges,

(hold a picture of a plant on cardboard (or other representation of a plant(s)) in front of your face and then rise up from behind it and look around expressing surprise, awe and/or curiosity)

In the lush green forests, minds are born.
And for every mind ... there is a story!

(open a book motion)

So many stories...
Our stories begin with warm blood, endothermy,
The constancy that lets delicate brain cells flower!

(use prayer hands to hold a flower to your forehead)

Next comes society, groups living together.
Both a shaper of behaviour
and the environment in which behaviour can be taught.

(Everyone hold hands. If there is a connection via Skype then each person or group can reach toward the screen (one person from each end of the chain for groups) and imagine taking the hands of the other people on Skype.)

Then comes tool use!
The sharp teeth and claws we needn't grow.
The hands with which we reach for the stars!

(Make the sign-language sign for rocket ship , then raise your arm high, keeping your fingers pointed up. As your hand reaches zenith open it and change it to a grasping motion)

(Everyone say these words together)

Finally, humans begin to speak!
Turning knowledge into a shareable resource,
freely available to all learning children.
Warm blood. Society. Tools. Speech.
From instinct ... a spark!

The Reading

Let us imagine

You are sitting at a desk. On your right are trays of little lead blocks with one letter molded onto the surface of each. There are trays of large A's and small backwards capital G's and so on. In front of you is a big tray in which you have carefully arranged letters into lines and headlines. To your left is a handwritten article that you have been building in typeface.

You read CAT and know to arrange GTA in the tray. You read TAG and arrange ATC. You read TAC and instead arrange ATG. And so on. It is automatic. You can transcribe all day.

You look up. Above your desk a monkey hangs from a fixture on the ceiling by its tail. Each of it's four hands are marked with a letter, A, C, G, T. It grabs lead blocks that are flying through the air like bullets preventing any from hitting you and places them in the trays to your right. Because of this monkey, your trays never get empty no matter how long you transcribe.

You glance around the room. It is vast and throughout it stretch long tables on which raccoons are tearing completed trays apart and throwing the blocks across the room. All across the room other monkeys are hanging from the ceiling and catching the thrown letters and passing them down to humans who are, like you, sitting at desks filling trays. A young girl at the desk next to you is transcribing an entire page filled with A's. The room seems to stretch almost to the horizon.

A goat passes by pulling a cart full of empty trays. A squirrel riding the cart places a few empty trays in a rack under your desk.

Through a window at the front of the room you can see a huge printing press churning out hard copies of the trays you have completed.

From an office off to the left a woman strides towards you. She is covered from head to toe in fur and has eight breasts arranged in pairs down to her abdomen. Her abdominal fur is braided to look like the continents but their positions and shapes are all off; they appear to be close to Pangea. Her fur is decorated with little Gold animals throughout: shrews and rats and badgers. Her eyes have the green glow of a demigoddess.

She is Mammalia, the Personification of all Mammals and she is going from desk to desk crumpling up the articles people have been working on and throwing them on the floor. She replaces each one with a new article.

When she does this to you, you are more than a little shocked, especially when you notice that the article she has given you is mostly crossed out.

'Don't look at me that way, your kind haven't even evolved yet, ' Mammalia scoffs at you, 'You are lucky to even be included in this metaphor. Get to work. This is the biggest scoop yet for the Mammal. News of the eon. Break out the Jesus script, coons! '

The raccoons start pulling trays full of really large letters off of shelves behind their desks and throwing the letters across the room. The monkeys do their best to catch them but one large G gets by your monkey and clocks you on the head.

It smarts but doesn't knock you out. Still it changes something; now, when you look at the written article, you can see that it is still written with just the four characters, ACGT, but you can understand it.

The headline says, "Mammals Discover Homeothermy." The subtitle reads, "Variant Genes Optimized for Different Temperatures Deleted. " You begin typesetting the title with the giant letters that your monkey is now organizing for you.

But as you typeset you read ahead. The first subsection was titled "Genes used to metabolize hydrogen peroxide." but the "s" in "genes" has been crossed out. Below it every copy of the gene has also been crossed out except the one optimized for 37 degrees Celsius.

You are finished in a few minutes as are the other people typesetting other articles.

Mammalia looks at you all in disbelief, "What you're all done? That's unbelievable. This is one of the most sophisticated papers on the planet and it can be typeset in a few minutes by a bunch of apes like you. Well go home then. There is nothing left to do. "

You leave the building and walk out onto the street. The street looks pretty normal but the names of the businesses are strange, "the Mammalian Gazette", "the Mollusk Free Press", "the Formic Amino Acid Engraver".

A mobile newsagent is hawking papers at the corner. You notice the Mammalian Gazette with your typesetting on the front page. But instead of being written in the letters ACGT it is written in the names of amino acids. Still you recognize it as your own work.

You decide to buy a copy just for sentimental reasons. The customer ahead of you orders a copy of "the Salamander Daily Chronicle ". It takes a while for him to put it in his suitcase because it comes as 300 hard bound volumes.

When you take your copy of the Mammalian Gazette, you are embarassed to see is one of the smallest papers available. You look up at the news agent and see that she is Gaia. You wave the Gazette vaguely and say, "So short."

She laughs and says, "Yes isn't it wonderful. So succinct and to the point. Mammals and Birds save so much energy transcribing their genome from cell to cell compared to some of my other parts."

Your embarrassment lessens; why did you think that the value of an organism would be proportional to its genome size? "So genome size is a trait on which natural selection can exert pressure."

Gaia smiles and sorts some virus pamphlets, "Yes, some creatures must keep their genome very short indeed in order to survive. Others have the luxury to create genes for every eventuality."

You look at the tiny virus pamphlets, "Viruses I can understand but why was the pressure so intense on Mammals and Birds?"

Gaia pulls a dusty T-rex Tribune out from under a pile; it is about the same size as the Mammalian Gazette, "I still have one of these!" She laughs, "Pressure is most intense when effect is also cause. When Natural Selection arranges itself in a spiral it can be pretty draconian. Losing genes for various internal temperatures other than 37 C, meant that you needed to keep your bodies at that temperature to function well. Which meant you needed to have smaller cells in order to maximize gas exchange. Which meant you had less room for nuclei in your cells. But smaller nuclei meant less room for DNA transcription. Less room for DNA transcription meant you needed to reduce your genome size."

You are shocked, "So Mammalia lied when she wrote that developing endothermy allowed us to get rid of useless genes. Instead it was losing some genes that forced us to develop endothermy?"

Gaia laughs, "I wouldn't go accusing Goddesses of being liars if I were you! Besides the truth is lost in time. You can start anywhere on the spiral and it will still go around. Maybe some mutation caused you to have smaller nuclei and that started the whole thing off. It doesn't matter." She wipes some dust off the T rex Tribune, "From two instances of this spiral, three classes of wondrous animals resulted. For that we can be thankful."

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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