BECOMING THE VOICE OF THE FUTURE
Most of our most eminent thinkers today agree that the future of life as we know it on planet Earth is in a precarious state. The shrinking ice-caps and the ease with which the old ‘North West Passage’ can now be navigated, must be pretty obvious clues that things are already beginning to change. That, by now iconic photograph of a polar bear floating off into the blue on a piece of broken-off ice, is chilling. And the one with the horribly thin polar bear floating alone is so heartbreaking I cannot paste it here.
WHAT HAVE WE GOT THAT WILL HELP US TO HAVE FAITH IN ANY FUTURE AT ALL? WHAT VOICE CALLS OUT ENCOURAGINGLY TO US, GIVING US HOPE, SOME FAITH THAT ALL IS NOT LOST?
It has been heard tell that the North American First People said:
“Through the seeds speak the voices of our ancestors”
And decades later Kenny Ausubel (from Seeds of Change) added to this quote by saying:
“And in the planting of them, we become the voice of the future”
Expressed together, it tells us that it is seed which in a very practical but also in a beautifully symbolic way becomes a conduit running through time; from our most ancient past through the present and into the future. We always, obviously, plant a seed today with a thought to the future.
A CRITICAL TIME
Let us go back in time, around ten/twelve thousand years ago and listen to the voices of our early ancestors...
Paleolithic Age cave drawings - Lascaux caves - France
This is the late Palaeolithic era ... it is drawing to a close. It is a critical time, a transformation of sorts is about to take place in society---it is a sociological cusp – some palaeontologists go so far as to call it a revolution that was about to take place.
Two things occurred that would launch humans into this revolution and into a new age, the Neolithic era, and SEED was central to this revolution.
HOW DID THE HUMBLE SEED LAUNCH A REVOLUTION?
During the Palaeolithic era Homo sapiens made no major impact on the world.We had fire, we made tools and pottery; we did some cave paintings. We were hunter/gathers, we moved around, although we sometimes made semi-permanent rudimentary shelters------ but mostly on foot, we moved through our environment which had more of an impact on us then we had on it.
In this Palaeolithic setting, consider two types of seed:
The human seed, expelled monthly into the soft womb of the female of our species, and secondly, the plant seed from which our food grows.
SEED AND THE SWELLING BELLY
Graphic of a human egg
Let’s start off with the human seed: I’d like to paint a picture told to us by feminist palaeontologists and anthropologists. They tell us that until this time, the late Palaeolithic era, there was no apparent causal connection between the sexual act and the birth of a baby. None. So how did they think we got pregnant? Basically, it was a mystery.
Hence women, who mysteriously became pregnant, were revered as miraculous creatures that brought forth life. Women, and especially a pregnant woman, were Earth goddesses; deeply entrenched in the unseen ways of nature. From her sacred body she bleeds, she harbours the unborn, she births it, and from this miraculous, erotic body she feeds this new life.
She is revered; effigies are made of her with large breasts and wide hips. She is often the tribal shaman; she’s the medicine woman who collects the herbs. Her delicate fingers make pottery containers for her medicines. She also forms the language of her tribe and on cave walls she records their history. And here too she marks off the cycles of the moon along with her own blood cycle; and on small logs she also slashes grooves of 27, 28, 29 notches recording her monthly cycles.
And men? What part were they playing? Well they are the protectors of the women, defenders of the tribe, the ones who work out how to fashion weapons to fight off invaders. They are the ones who go out into the world, they gather information and they also bring back the hunt. So we have a nice balance: the women, the givers of life, nurturers, and developers the language, healers and medicine makers and the men as the protectors of the tribe, the ones who make sure all is well for their women to do their sacred work.
WOMEN MAKE A STARTERLING DISCOVERY
Lunar and blood cycle calendars were made on pieces of stone, bone or antlers
The “charts” they have inscribed on the walls of caves and notches on small logs, are providing evidence of a connection between the sexual act, the withdrawal of the monthly blood flow and the belly swelling with child. Eventually, probably after decades and decades of recording, and speaking together, checking and rechecking, they come to a conclusion.
Rock painting of medicine woman
The old medicine woman, the tribal leader, shares this discovery with the whole clan: It is the men who make the women pregnant, not the power of the moon or the secret creative powers of Gaia herself. No, it’s the men here, those who sit around the fire with us on a cold night; it is they who impregnate us.
Our world view changes in an instant.
The female is merely a receptor; she is no longer the supreme, mysterious creator of Life. It is now HE, the warrior, the hunter, who is the one who makes the belly swell. Surely it must seem absurd, unbelievable really. But the tables are turned. Women lose their elevated position. Power is now in the hands of the men. And power is a dangerous thing, and when snatched, becomes treacherous. Women lost their place in the tribe and now, twelve thousand years later, we’re still trying to get a foothold back, and for many women still today they are at least trying to regain respect and some influence within their own tribes.
THE FIRST SEED IS CONSCIOUSLY PLANTED BY A HUMAN HAND
We spoke of two events concerning SEED that fed the “revolution”. This second event took place around the same time, when the first seed was purposely, consciously planted by a human hand. AND THE HAND THAT PLANTED THIS SEED WAS IN ALL LIKELIHOOD A WOMAN’S.
She was probably a medicine woman who made herbal preparations and who worked closely with plants. After years of long observation of the grasslands and forests she would have seen seeds being dispersed in diverse ways and she would have tracked them and watched and recorded their growth. I can do that, she might have thought; maybe I can plant a seed here were I’d like it to grow. She did and she was probably soon rewarded. See her showing the other women how to gather seeds out there on the grassland; collecting them in little clay pots, bringing them home and putting them into the soil exactly where they wanted them to grow. And grow they did.
They showed their men how they could plant exactly WHERE and HOW much they wanted. Now the women didn’t have to walk so far each day because the food was growing right there near their shelter.
When women, as the gathers put down their little flint axes and their lovingly crafted trowels, the world changed forever.
We were no longer gatherers, we became FARMERS. And who managed the farms? Well, of course, it’s men’s work.Now the men had control over the seed and the food supply. In fact, isn’t the other word for farming, HUSBANDRY?
Women lost their inherent custody of seed; the precious safekeeping of both their own and the food seed, is now in the hands of the patriarchy.
We are propelled into the Neolithic age and the consequences of an AGRARIAN SOCIETY would soon manifest.
FROM NOW on, for better or worse, HUMANS WILL CONTROLL their FOOD SUPPLY
We trade and barter any surplus. Soon our food, and later the seeds themselves become a commodity, something to grow to be sold for CASH.
Today we have reached the APEX of this system, with the patriarchy still fully in charge. They just look a bit different, today, these men ----- these men in suits, nameless, hiding behind their psychopathic corporations; oligarchs with tunnel vision focused only on amassing private wealth.
What fuels this tyranny? Is it the age-old fear of loss of power? Or their supreme arrogance, thinking they can use every scrap of the precious and limited resources we have on our planet, for their own gain. In the agricultural and pharmaceutical sectors, these corporations make poisons to both pour into the soil and also to spray on growing crops. In the last thirty year they have instructed their minions, their scientists, to split open our scared seeds. Voyeurs, they peer inside at a mystery they haven’t a clue about, and then they change the gene codes; the most profound, the most inscrutable mystery of all of life, they fiddle around with it.
And finally, they sell these poor, sorry looking, manipulated “seeds” at premium prices, to factory farmers who are just as unimaginative and fearful as they are.
These restrictions and the modification of our seeds, that which is most precious and crucial to life, is a blatant betrayal of life.
“ ...through the seeds speak the voices of our ancestors”
And so today we could say that another type of voice has been added to that of the seeds ---- it’s a traitor’s voice, one with no thought to the future whatsoever. It is the voice of those, who Vandana Shiva calls “the agents of death”, these corporate monopolies: How far this is from the true voices of our ancestors. The ordinary farmer today will tell you that our seeds are being taken away from us. We now have little control of the world’s food supply. Without hyperbole we can say that the existence of humanity as we know it is at stake.
WE NEED TO TAKE OUR SEEDS BACK.... BUT HOW?
Over the last twenty or so years a new revolution has been brewing and it’s getting bigger and stronger. It’s a revolution led by the ordinary extraordinary people across the globe who know the truth, who have the vision, as well as the insane courage to face these corporate giants.
It is the aim of those of us who do understand the severity of this problem, to once and for all wipe the slate clean of those seeds that have been manipulated and abused, so that we can plant seeds that are congruent with their own biological imperative and not that of a handful of insatiably avaricious autocrats.
I think Kenny Ausubel’s quote could be added to:
“Plant an heirloom seed today and become the authentic voice of the future.”