20220305PreparedService

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Preparation

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
  • matches
  • a bell or signing bowl
  • a candle snuff

Check-in

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 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.

Conflatorium Service Altar

(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)

The Reading

Let us imagine

You are sitting on your elephant in a dark water-filled room. Near you in the darkness something huge and sleek stirs restlessly. One eye of this huge restless being faces you and it glows blue-green in the dark water and you know that you are trapped in a dark aquarium with a God.

Pisces And You Illustration by Genevieve Townsend

"Who are you?" you blurt out but your voice emerges as a blur in the water.

The god's voice comes back, also blurred. "Imh Pihchesh ghohd ohff fhish."

"Pisces, that is a good name for a fish god." you think.

"What are we doing here?" you ask.

"Whe ahrh ohbhshehrhvhingh theh evohluhthiohn ohf myh clahde, Unusual Ohne" the God replies. Your ears seem to be adapting. You feel you are hearing Pisces more clearly.

"I don't see anything." you observe.

"Iht is theh early Cahmbriahn. It ihs abouht to behgin." Pisces replies and a one-way mirror into another aquarium appears. Worm-like or hagfish-like creatures are taking their seats around a table. On the table is a map of the world as it was in the early Cambrian, but the continents are labelled strangely. Laurentia is marked, 'Heroic Benthic Scavengers', Baltica is marked 'Harmless Sessile Filter Feeders', the small island of Siberia is marked 'Evil Stinging Radiata' and Gondwana is marked, 'Oppressive Predatory Arthropods'. You realize that the labels are actually marking the continental shelves around those land masses not the land masses themselves. The hagfish are wearing medals and the military hats of admirals. Junior hagfish appear and begin placing models of various Cambrian lifeforms on the map and moving them about with long rakes. The admiral hagfish discuss strategy and direct the movements of the hagfish models, which keep giving up territory as the trilobites advance.

One of the hagfish admirals rings a bell and a hagfish in a lab coat appears, "Maybe we can out-reproduce those arthropod devils. Increase our r-value!" the admiral yells and the hagfish scientist swims away to her lab to comply.

The hagfish scientist returns some time later, a few minutes or 10 million years. "We haven't found a way to increase our r-value but we have found a way to increase our survival rate by schooling." She places a new kind of model on the map table, a group of hagfish swimming together. Now the hagfish start increasing their territory their models mixing with the others. More quickly than their models are removed from the table, new ones are added.

"Yehsh, it ish thime for myh clade to ehpand." Pisces says watching happily.

Then ice spreads across the ceiling of the war room, the hagfish all began to shiver and turn blue, and the junior hagfish begin removing models of all kinds from the table. They remove a great number of trilobites and the admirals cheer.

"The Ohrdifishian is beginning. Hour time hash come!" Pisces says smiling.

The ice melts and the admirals cheer again but then the junior hag fish begin to increase the number of nautiloid models on the table; straight, curved and coiled shells with squid like occupants. These increase in number as the hagfish again begin to retreat.

Again, one of the hagfish admirals rings a bell and a hagfish in a lab coat appears, "We need armour! Our troupes are being eaten alive." the admiral yells and the hagfish scientist swims away to her lab to comply.

The hagfish scientist returns some time later, a few minutes or 10 million years. Now she is covered in armour with heavy lobes of it protecting her head. She places a new kind of model on the map, ostracoderms: armoured jawless fish.

"Nohw we whill dominate!" Pisces says enthusiastically.

Still the nautiloids advance but more slowly. The junior hagfish begin placing brachiopod models on the map and only a very few armoured fish models.

Again, one of the hagfish admirals rings a bell and the armoured hagfish in a lab coat appears, "We need weapons! The best defense is a good offense!" the admiral yells and the armoured hagfish scientist swims away to her lab to comply.

The armoured science fish returns some time later, a few minutes or 10 million years. Now she is no longer a hagfish though; she has jaw bones and copious amounts of teeth. She places a placoderm model on the table.

"The thime hash come to crush hour enehmish." Pisces laughs.

The placoderm models multiply as the junior fish deploy them. All of the fish around the table, admirals and junior model movers are all armoured and toothed now.

Again, ice spreads across the ceiling of the war room and the military fish begin to shiver. The junior fish remove 85% of the models from the map including many of the fish.

"The Siluhriahn begins!" Pisces says smugly.

The placoderm admiral rings his bell and the science fish once again appears, "We need diversity. Conditions keep changing and we never have the right adaptations to thrive. Find us many ways to adapt!"

The science fish goes away and returns some time later, a few minutes or 10 million years. But she is no longer armoured. She has rayed fins and looks not unlike a perch. She begins to place models on the table, fish with spines, sharks and ray finned fish like herself.

"Our clahde ish radioactifh." Pisces spins around in the water beside you blowing bubbles happily.

The junior fish, now of all different sorts, swap out models on the map but more and more fish appear mixed with other creatures.

Then all of the fish in the war room begin to choke, grabbing at their throats. The junior fish begin removing models, mostly the old hagfish models of various sorts. But the water quality in the war room appears to return to normal quite quickly and the choking subsides. The junior fish place many of the models back onto the map but the hagfish never return to the numbers they had before.

"Now weh har henthuringh the Devohnian; the hage of fishes." Pisces says with awe.

The science fish reappears multiple times without being called and unloads more and more models onto the table. Variations on the sharks and ray finned fish mostly but others too. The table becomes more and more crowded. The admirals are confused and unable to come to a consensus on a coordinated strategy. Some of the admirals begin to accuse each other of siding with invertebrates.

Pisces seems quite happy despite or perhaps because of the chaos, "Myh clade noh longer ish in dangehr of failihng." But just as he says this concern returns to his face. There is a shudder that shakes the aquarium. Cracks appear in the glass. The admirals grab hold of the table to steady themselves. One of the junior fish places a model of a mushroom cloud and crater in Baltica. The rest of the junior fish remove large numbers of models. Most of the remaining trilobites are removed along with large numbers of brachiopods and ammonites.

"The cahrbohnihfehrush; what gohd will ahll those lahnd plants doh ush?" Pisces asks in a mysterious tone.

A junior fish removes the mushroom cloud, leaving the crater behind and the science fish keeps reappearing with more and more varied models, rapidly dumping them on the table and then swimming out again. The junior fish scramble to move models around and remove and add them to the table. The admirals have morphed into many different forms. One of the admirals, a shark, eats a helpless perch-like admiral.

A senior fish dressed in a marine general's uniform pulls an amphibian from one of the piles of models left on the table by the science fish and places it on Baltica. Soon the junior fish are placing amphibian models on all of the continents.

"My clahde ish invading the lahnd!" Pisces laughs happily.

"But wait a minute!" you cry, "Amphibians aren't fish!"

"Ahll land vehrtehbahtes form ah single suhbgruhp of clahde Pisces!" Pisces replies. "Ohthehwish Pisces wuhld not beh ah clade."

"The clade is Vertebrata!" you cry, "Pisces is paraphyletic because it excludes the tetrapods."

Pisces laughs, "I ham proud ohf my tehtrahpohd members, buht do noht plahce soh much importance ohn thehm. To ah first ahprohishmathiohn, ahll vetebrates are fish. So behttehr to cahll the clahde, Pisces ahnd include the fehw tehtrahpohds as uhnuhsuhahl fish."

As the junior fish begin placing dinosaurs on the table, you return to your normal life thinking about the fact that you are really just an unusual fish.

Silent contemplation

Leader: Please join me for seven minutes of silence while we contemplate ...

(Service Leader rings the bell)

(silence)

(Service Leader rings the bell again at the end of the seven minutes)

Discussion

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,
growing,
nurturing,
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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