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
- a bell or signing bowl
- a candle snuff
- 3 seeds per participant
- dish filled with soil
- complex mechanism which can be actuated such as a gear box (perhaps made of Lego)
- two beakers (one half filled with water)
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.
Each season has an end and when it ends, the next season begins. At these times we celebrate the change of season by doing a special double service.
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!
Quote of the Day
- Begin the work even though you cannot see the path by which this work can lead to your goal.
- Do not block your power with your current understanding.
- Evolution is the process by which the impossible becomes possible through small, accumulating changes.
- Concentrate on the direction, not the size of the change.
- Begin the work with actions that seem tinier than necessary but that are small enough to maintain.
- The rate of change is slow at first, but do not prematurely judge your efforts.
- Change happens through spirals; the work grows upon itself.
- As little changes accumulate, they will reinforce one another and make larger changes possible.
- Gradually, balances will shift.
- Enemies that block the way will become allies that lead the way.
- Where and how this happens cannot be predicted.
- You do not work alone.
- Billions of other living things are doing the work.
- You are part of an invisible power.
- As it grows, the erosive power will fade.
- Begin the work.
--Gaia's Whisper from Reversing Spirals in Seeing Nature by Paul Krafel
Contemplation for the Day
You are riding your Elephant and your elephant is swimming in a calm ocean under a grey sky, filled with the promise of rain. Far out of sight of the shore, you feel lost. Your elephant has zig zagged back and forth second guessing the direction to shore and wasting its limited energy criss-crossing the same waves. You can feel it is on the verge of panic. Will it ever be possible for you to reach your goal? Will you ever find that patch of land which is your true calling?
Then the ocean is rent by a powerful geyser only a few tens of meters away. It shoots up disappearing into the clouds. From under the geyser a vague dark shadow appears and spreads and resolves into the rising body of a whale. It breaks the surface and keeps breaking the surface, its dark blue oblong body stretching hundreds of meters ahead and behind you, its barnacled skin rising like an exposed reef only a few meters from you. It is a whale larger than any ever reported. Its eye breaks the surface near you and though, like all large whales, its eye looks like a tiny feature embedded in the side of its massive body, because of its overall size this one has an eye larger than your elephant. The iris is a bright emerald green and even before the pectoral fin gently lifts your elephant out of the water so that it can rest, you know this is Gaia come to give you peace through her wisdom.
She speaks telepathically directly into your mind, "You are troubled, Little One; what conflicting aspirations pull on you so that you feel you are running out of energy and working at cross purposes with yourself?"
In your excitement you speak aloud, "Thank you Gaia for giving me this moment of rest. The world's problems are so great and I feel them on my shoulders pushing me down. I feel they will drown me if I do not find the solution to them." Her wide green eye seems to welcome your words.
Her calming voice re-appears in your mind, in your elephant mind it is like a love song, "Little One, you do not carry the problems of the world alone. Like all gods I demand faith; you must have faith that allies will emerge; after all you are but one part of me and I desire that every part of me work toward solutions to problems."
The clouds break and glimpses of blue sky appear. You speak to Gaia, wondering if your thoughts would be known to her even if you were silent, "But which problem calls me. Every time I start to work on one, another seems bigger, more urgent, more important and so I turn my attention to it. But long before I solve it, I am called to another and another and so I never solve any. What use will my life have been if I have not solved a single problem?" As you speak, her love for you seems to pour forth from the emerald green eye.
Again her voice reaches intimately into your mind and soothes your worries and warms your heart, "Little One, your kind look like ants to me. Have you never watched a forager ant dragging a large crumb back to its colony? It struggles under the weight for although an ant can carry 50 times its weight, it will often try to drag 1000 times its weight. It struggles and makes only a little head way along the scent trail that leads back to its home. Finally it gives up, nearly exhausted and walks away. So much effort wasted. It returns to the colony empty handed along the scent trail. But as it walks, unconsciously it releases more scent and other ants follow that scent back to the crumb it left behind and together these ants eventually manage to drag the crumb back to the colony. Its efforts feed thousands of larvae. Yet by the time the crumb reaches the colony, the first forager ant has moved on to other work and never understands the success it has brought about. Do not expect to understand your part in the work. Do not expect to see the allies that will emerge. They may remain invisible to you. You must have faith that the allies are there and that the work is being done and that you are inspiring more than your fair share of it."
The clouds break further and you feel the heat of father Sun on your skin and the warmth of the Gaia mother coursing through your muscles. Fear of hypothermia leaves you, panic subsides, you whisper to Gaia, "But Gaia I am not a creature of faith; I am a creature of reason." The eye seems to laugh not in mockery but with an infectious mirth.
Again her guiding voice calls to you through the telepathic ether, "Reason is a magic tool that your kind invented. I have no understanding of it. But I know this, it only works when it is supplied with clear knowledge. When knowledge is clouded it can give you no clear direction. When reason fails you, you must still make a choice. You are usually better off to act as if one or another answer is true rather than to just be paralyzed by uncertainty. So you choose an answer and act as if it is true until you can gain the knowledge you need. That is faith, Little One. It is another tool for other situations; it is not an enemy of reason but an ally of it."
Now the Sun is out in its full power and you see that under the gentle waves there are golden sand bars that now glow in the bright sunlight and extend as far as one horizon. They form a maze, the path along them is not clear. But you are certain that if you follow them you will get somewhere long before you run out of energy. Your path may not be clear but the process for walking the path is; just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You think to Gaia, "Thank you Gaia for this guidance; I will use faith as a light in dark places." With that your elephant steps off the fin and onto a sand bar. As you begin your journey again, Gaia disappears behind you into the deep places.
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.
- We gather to mark the passing of a week
- To align our hearts as one.
(Light the Sol Candle)
- Wilderness ... still ... wilderness ...
- And then ... <gasp> ... civilization!
- People. Warm-blooded. Social. Tool-users. Talking.
- Nations coalesce.
- In the fertile lands, cities are born.
- And for every city ... there is a story!
(Open book sign)
- Cities grew out of farming, the first massive division of labour
(plant 3 seeds in a straight row in a dish of soil)
- Making Scientists and Priests possible
- Allowing Artisans to evolve into Industry
- Cities were fertilized by religion,
- Beliefs that bind bands into cities
- Beliefs that infuse cities with community
(ASL sign for belief but modified:  instead of clasping your own hand at the end of the sign, clasp those of the people next to you (or reach toward the screen to 'clasp' those in other locations on Skype)
- Then came science!
(Pour water from one beaker to another)
- The practice of seeking truth through experience.
- The upward spiral of knowledge
(The ASL sign for knowledge: right hand open, fingers together palm down, tab above right brow twice  Then sweep the hand through an upward spiral until arm is extended directly up.)
- Finally, democracy emerged!
(Ballot stuffing motion as in ASL for VOTE: )
- Making striving for their self-chosen destinies,
- Freely available to all living citizens.
(ASL for Freedom like in Spirit of Life)
- Farming. Religion. Science. Freedom.
- From Wilderness ... Civilization!
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!
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 season be blessed with life and love. Blessed be.