Ode to Seeds by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

“In this is all that is.” 

Julian of Norwich (while purportedly holding a seed in her hand) – 14th century

“Even if I knew that the world would end tomorrow,

I would plant an apple tree today.”

Martin Luther

Have you ever had bedbugs or lice? If not, you’re lucky. If so, you understand just how hard they are to get rid of. Why is that? Because they are essentially seeds with legs.

Seeds need to be able to travel in order to be successful spreaders of life. For example, when an acorn falls from an oak tree, it probably can’t germinate right where it falls. The mama tree has already taken up all the earth/soil space as well as the water sources for its own roots. And the mama tree’s own leafy branches will block out access to the sun. So the innate goal of the seed is to move to find a more friendly space. Evolution has created all sorts of ways for seeds to use motion in the service of finding their own place to germinate. In the case of the acorn, there are squirrels. Because they are a food source, many of the acorns get taken to dens under the earth. Many of those are not eaten. Either they are forgotten or the squirrel in question meets another demise. An acorn that is nestled in a den under the earth, can have a potentially perfect environment to sprout far from its origins.

I’ve written about seeds before because I love seeds and am awed by their majesty and their many varieties. I am fascinated by how they are a primary system by which Earth has populated Herself. Seeds are just pure genius. Each one carries the full genetic history of their kind, all wrapped up in a neat little packet designed to protect its wealth for future generations. They are the beginning of a plant and its end. After a seed sprouts, it will grow into its full “plantness.” Then the dying plant creates seeds which will spread out to continue its inheritance for another generation. Each seed also carries the nutrients it needs to begin to grow as it finds the right conditions. Seeds are relentless.

And now as we approach the depths of winter in the northeastern US, it is the time for seeds to be resting, germinating, hanging out in the womb of mama earth to prepare for spring. The life cycle of seeds reminds us (as FAR’s own Sara Wright so often does), how important it is to embrace the darkness; the darkness of winter, the soil, the womb. It’s also a good lesson in trust in that these seeds, or at least enough of them, will sprout in their time. The magic of seeds where one of the inspirations of the ancient mystery schools. The belief was that by meditating on the life cycle of seeds, the initiates would be drawn to a deeper understanding of the role that death and fecund darkness plays in the creation and continuance of life.

In my image above I’ve put together some photos to show several ways that seeds have devised to travel. There are burs to hitch a ride on a passing furry animal or a person’s clothes, devices to help them fly in the wind or float on water. Some, like the berry eaten by the bird moves through its digestion system to eventually be deposited a distance away with its own nourishing pile of fertilizer.

There are two photos that show the magic of seeds in hostile environments. One is pavement where a seed found purchase. The other is a rent from a lava flow in Hawaii. The flow was only a few months old and yet seeds had already found their way to deposit their treasure of life. Think of how remarkable that is. And how relentless the seeds need to be. The fires of Pele’s furnace are probably one of the hottest elements on earth. From there to implanted seed and new life in a few short months illustrates the power of life to find purchase.

And then of course there are the small insects. They are seed-like system that has developed legs and, in some cases, wings as a way to improve its ability to spread its wealth. That’s their super-power. It lies in their ability to spread their wealth and the myriad ways they have learned to do so. And that is why bedbugs and lice are so resistant to cleaning them out. As seeds with legs, they set about on their mission and with their superpower, they are hard to beat.

My favorite book for all things pertaining to seeds is The Triumph of Seeds by Thor Hanson.  

He has pointed out, and I have quoted in other blogposts, there this is a seed interpretation growing out of the Garden of Eden. For life to blossom on Earth, the seeds from the garden, needed to find a way out to find fertile ground. What better conveyance system than inside the bodies of Adam and Eve who had eaten the fruit? 

I will close with a poem I wrote about seeds in my suburban neighborhood. It was published in Words for the Earth, an anthology at the beginning of this year.

Suburban Thresholds

The cement on my sidewalk is splintered by spidery fissures

where fragile sprouts peak through the cracks

looking for sun, air, water as only tiny seedlings can.

Some grow tender grass shoots; others more hearty foliage.

My neighbors hire contractors to repair their pavements.

Mine is not broken, it is a lovely green and cement colored tapestry.

I happily leave these portals open for another season to see what richness

will find fertile earth in such an ungenerous space.  

BIO: Janet Maika’i Rudolph. “IT’S ALL ABOUT THE QUEST.” I have walked the spirit path for over 25 years traveling to sacred sites around the world including Israel to do an Ulpan (Hebrew language studies while working on a Kibbutz), Eleusis and Delphi in Greece, Avebury and Glastonbury in England, Brodgar in Scotland, Machu Picchu in Peru, Teotihuacan in Mexico, and Giza in Egypt. Within these travels, I have participated in numerous shamanic rites and rituals, attended a mystery school based on the ancient Greek model, and studied with shamans around the world. I am twice initiated. The first as a shaman practitioner of a pathway known as Divine Humanity. The second ordination in 2016 was as an Alaka’i (a Hawaiian spiritual guide with Aloha International). I have written three books: When Moses Was a ShamanWhen Eve Was a Goddess, (now available in Spanish, Cuando Eva era una Diosa), and One Gods

Categories: Bible, Ecofeminism, environment, Feminism, Interdependence of Life

Tags: , , , ,

11 replies

  1. A beautiful, meaningful post! And it is very timely with so many of us thinking of winter as a time when we retreat to nurture the seeds that will grow into either personal growth or creative projects in the spring. Your post reminds me of a practice that has grown up among some of my gardener friends of exchanging seeds (or seedlings or divided bulbs) to expand our gardens so that we don’t have to purchase plants from commercial garden stores. It is not only an economical practice, but a spiritual one as well, our way of saying that seeds and plants are sacred and not commercial commodities, of sharing life itself with one another, and joining our gardens together into one loved and honored landscape that belongs to the Earth Herself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Carolyn, I love that practice. What a way to preserve seeds and spread them all the more. I work with a local church sometimes what has a beautiful garden. I think I will talk to them about starting that practice. Yes, taking the commercial aspect out of it certainly does have a deep meaning. Thank you for that.


  2. Oh Janet, I’ll start at the end with your beautiful poem.. I LOVED it – and. like you I LOVE seeds and am fascinated by all the ways nature ‘moves’ them. Did you know that seeds that are deposited under a mother hemlock tree will be fed by their mother? The mycelial network supports all this care giving – This same tree will NOT send nutrients to kin if conditions for growth are hostile to life….If you go into a forest and see young trees close to ‘mother’ you know what’s going on…. others have to travel ….nature’s miracles are endless – as usual I love your posts!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved this post! Misc. thoughts as I read:
    – I love your interpretation of how the seeds got out of the Garden of Eden.
    – I’ll never look at the seedlings in my driveway the same way again.
    – A local doctor with a weekly radio blog makes the point, similar to yours about bedbugs (been there!), that the COVID virus cannot move on its own and needs our help to spread in order to replicate itself; that’s why continued masking is still important.
    – Vandana shiva started a heritage seed bank in India; Monsanto, in a lawsuit, argued that seeds are dead unless Monsanto puts life into them (by genetically modifying them) and therefore has the right to own them (see her talks for the Maternal Gift Economy Movement Conference and Salons, incl. https://www.maternalgifteconomymovement.org/salon-27-the-transformation-of-the-gifts-of-life-into-money/.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comments. Glad to hear you will be looking at the seedlings in your driveway differently. Makes me smile! I love Dr. Vandana Shiva’s work. Thank you for the link. Her work is so important.

      Oh and it certainly gives another take on the raison d’etre for the Garden of Eden doesn’t it?


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