Without thinking I threw the old seed into a bag of moist liverworts that I would be looking at under a powerful microscope with my scientist friend Al in a couple of days. I have no idea why I added the seed. The scarlet runner was one I kept in a winter bouquet that I had recently dismantled. The purple and rose bean had to be four or five years old. It would not germinate now …
Imagine my astonishment when I opened the bag in the lab. The bean had sprouted! The fat twisted root was hunting for earth. Carefully I re – wrapped the bean and put it in a little container until I could get home and plant it, but not before we looked at it under the microscope. More about that later.
Buried under another 20 inches of snow after a week of almost continuous snowfall I can hardly imagine anything but this glaring white world I live in, a place where turkeys have to swim to reach the seed at my window – swim or fly like cannonballs. Turkey gobbling seems oddly out of place as does the predawn cardinal’s call. And an old bean sprouting months before it could be placed outside?
I am photophobic, meaning that I am extremely light sensitive and every year I dread the ugly White Glare of March Snow, which along with the sun literally blinds me during the day, even while wearing prescription sunglasses. We have had snow on the ground since mid November – snow and ice. We are going to have serious flooding problems I suspect. The sun is relentless melting the toughest drifts and sheds tons of frozen ice and snow from the roof yesterday during its climb to the sky. Not surprising this occurs on the full moon – the ‘seed moon’ according to Indigenous peoples’ reckoning in the Americas…I remind myself that the 16 foot wall at my front door met by more dripping water from the roof will help keep the ground moist feeding thirsty fruit trees later in the spring, after it finishes flooding my cellar…
Then I turn back to my magic bean for inspiration…
Experts insist scarlet runner bean seeds aren’t viable after one or two seasons and this one has been sitting around here for at least five years.
The older I get the more wary I become of the experts or the masters who take a course or two and call themselves professional somethings.
What I have learned from personal experience is that Nature is always teaching us if we let her into our lives and that one human lifetime does not a ‘master’ make. We know almost nothing about how nature really works as a living organism. All of us are beginners but almost none of us will acknowledge this truth.
This knower attitude makes me crazy but I know two men that are exceptions – both are scientists who refuse to be cowed by the materialistic scientific community. One, Dr Rupert Sheldrake was kicked out of the academy 40 years ago for hypothesizing that all nature was alive and possessed memory. He suggested that this collective memory could be tapped into by every species and is responsible for the form of every living thing…DNA codes for proteins but cannot provide an organism with the physical characteristics that make up the body of a porcupine or a person. Furthermore, he posits that each plant or creature is attached to its morphogenic ( physical) family field by invisible means and that an acorn, for example, is actually pulled by its oak field to create the actual form of the tree. Like attracts like – for example, humans have a greater resonance with self than with those of other humans including those in one’s family. This theory remains controversial and many scientists regard it as nonsense.
As a former Jungian analyst I see the patterns that continue to repeat in my own life and that of my clients on a personal and/or intergenerational level as examples of how Rupert’s ideas work in humans; it’s the patterns that make it is so hard to change individual behaviors.
Last night I listened to one of Rupert’s recent podcasts on homing pigeons for the third time. Birds have already begun spring migration; and yet migration is a mystery that still cannot be explained. We hear phrases like birds know how to get from one place to another by ‘genetic programming’. What does this machine – like phrase really mean? Other theories include navigation occurring with the help of the sun, moon, stars, smell, landmarks, magnetic fields etc. Scientists accrue masses of data but still can’t answer the question…if you are interested in migration this podcast is well worth listening to because Rupert debunks theory after theory with a respectful elegance, while acknowledging that parts of all may be true, but THAT WE DON’T KNOW. How utterly refreshing! Rupert’s own hypothesis is that birds may use cues like the sun or magnetic fields ( the current popular theory) or landmarks to help them navigate but that they are also pulled home to lofts, breeding and wintering grounds because they are attached to these places by feeling and this force pulls them to these destinations because the feeling attachment is already there. Home.
I want to interject a personal antidote here regarding migration. This winter I rented an apartment in town because I am getting old and it is hard to take care of myself here with so much shoveling and ice. I moved in only to discover neighbor hostility was running high. Not helpful. Worse, I couldn’t sleep or concentrate. I could feel the pull of my home – it was and is a visceral experience – something about spending 40 years on beloved land seems to be calling me back against my conscious will. How I am going to solve this conundrum remains to be seen, but my gut sense is that my house and land want or need (?) me to be here? I feel crazy saying this but recognize that this feeling might be related to a morphogenetic field – I may be experiencing the effects of an invisible field that is pulling me home.
Now, back to Rupert. Another interesting facet of this extraordinary and brilliant man is that he refuses to separate science from spirituality. Rupert is a practicing Anglican who leads pilgrimages to holy places in The UK. BYOB he quips… bring your own beliefs! Again, how refreshing. This is the best kind of Christianity – no one has an agenda! Kudos Rupert.
Al is a well known chemist who studies the properties of stone and like Rupert is also an experimental scientist and a Free Thinker. With equally impressive scientific credentials he is also a practicing Oglala Medicine man who believes that we are just one species of many. For Al, mysticism and good science go hand in hand. I meet with Al once a week for Earth School – I’m the only student and I never know what I am going to learn. Last week we spent our time in the underground cavern looking at his most recent mining discoveries and each week I come home having learned something new about a mineral. Looking through an extraordinary microscope that has a screen that allows you to see things that are unimaginable, I saw bright green sacs of water in the liverworts I brought in – sacs that these organisms use to withstand drought. Finally we put the bean under the microscope. Amazing little microscopic rootlets like the finest hairs were sprouting out of the side of the root. Wow, what a day.
Al believes organized religions are responsible for the cultural depravity we are experiencing now, and in his words “ the utter stupidity” associated with mainstream science. Al is the best teacher I ever had and being a beginner with him is my greatest joy. Whenever I am awed by one of Al’s papers he says “I know just a little”.
Both of these men are too busy being lifetime learners to bother with people / scientists who think they have the answers. Today’s facts are tomorrow’s mistakes! As Rupert states science is evolving – there are no laws (even the word law is an anthropocentric word only humans have laws), nature probably has habits built up over time in an evolving universe. Who knows.
As a lifetime naturalist and learner these brilliant men are powerful models for me. They demonstrate the kind of humility that helps me to stay in touch with my own need to follow in their footsteps….always a learner not a knower.
Need I add that both of these men are Eco -feminists of the highest order?
And this brings me around to the bean sprout that has already taught me the experts were wrong about this bean at least!
It wasn’t until I finished a draft of this writing that I also realized that for about two weeks the pull of the Seed Moon has been exerting her force over me – This is probably why I threw that bean in with my liverworts. No wonder that seed sprouted!
4 thoughts on “Magic Seed Moon Meanderings by Sara Wright”
What a fascinating piece! I resonated with so much in it, especially the part about being a learner, not a knower. This is a point that deserves a wider audience…A good dose of humility in science and tech nology would surely be a helpful thing.
I find it really comforting that we don’t know so much about nature or the forces around us. I dislike hearing that it can all be mapped out and explained etc etc because that limits us to human ideas and future projections.
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Have no fear – we know so little and have forgotten what little we once knew – in this culture first we have to unlearn our academic credentials and start all over again beginning with learning to observe and listen! Thanks!
I love the hungering for life spirit of your bean! I wonder if your bean’s fortitude and persistence relates to your relationship to your land — it just wants to be part of that relationship. I really do believe that we have a relationship with land that we love and live on for a long time. Just as trees so often seem to take care of us humans – I’ve heard so many stories of trees or tree branches falling in some unlikely way that spares humans or our houses – I think the land does, too, when we have been good to the land. I also don’t believe that seeds stop sprouting when some scientists say they do. I’m always having new wildflowers or herbs coming up in my garden that I don’t recognize – in other words, I don’t think the seeds came from wild plants currently growing in the area – and I wonder if they haven’t lain there for a long time and get churned up by the rain and sprout.
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I couldn’t agree more about seed sprouting – I think it has more to do with sellers! And i think theres something else involved that has to do with the right time …However, with that much said this bean had been in a winter bouquet on the porch – frozen – for a couple of years… then indoors for the last two or three years that’s why i didn’t think it would sprout – i just couldn’t throw it away !!!!
I ended up writing another piece on this seed which will find its way to FAR – of course – and then i promise everyone no more seed stories! And Nature does know and helps when she can…