Have you ever seen a seed gradually unfurl into a luscious, majestic plant and wondered, “Where did you come from?” Plant cells multiply as leaves extend from stem tissue, birthing juicy blossoms and fruits into materiality as if from thin air. There is the saying, “The seed contains the tree, and the tree contains the whole forest.” Where does it come from?
When we pause for a moment and pay close attention to the development of botanical bodies, we realize that something strange is occurring before our eyes. This peculiar holographic materialization directs our attention to an invisible realm from which all life takes form.
Every plant is uniquely designed. Their variation in structural patterns, including the placement, size and proportion of the leaves, the length and quantity of stems, and the growth pattern, determines their iwa — meaning personality, character or essence in Yoruba. These traits are encoded in the seed. The seed is a microcosm of infinite intelligence as it holds all the necessary code for the plant’s life cycle and consciousness.
I recently heard a descendant of the Dogon in Mali speak on this through the lens of ancestral cosmology:
“The reason why we grow tall from the fetus stage to adulthood, why trees sprout from seed, and why mountains build toward the sky is because there are two forces that manifest to keep existence harmonious. One of them is the force we know as gravity, and the other is unknown to western society. This comes from the celestial bodies, which hold most of the power that dictates life here on Earth.”
While the early morning atmosphere begins to cool, I’m patiently waiting for the lemons, oranges and kumquats hanging from my grandmother’s citrus trees to ripen in time for harvest season. Doing inventory of culturally significant seeds I’ve gathered over the past year with the intention of starting a diasporic foodway garden feels like counting coins.
To celebrate the autumn equinox, I’m listening to A Seed’s A Star by Stevie Wonder and dreaming about creating a traveling Seed Sanctuary where mystics, visionaries, earthworkers, artists and spiritual warriors trade seeds as currency. The Seed Sanctuary would be a living meditation to carry out our ancestors’ intentions for preserving our sacred kinship with our sources of sustenance.
We would not be here without our courageous and nurturing ancestors who braided seeds into their hair before boarding slave ships across the Atlantic Ocean. Because of them, we’re able to eat. Seeds are currency and to preserve them is to be rich. They represent an assemblage of our bloodline and native language between hands and soil. With seeds, we restore our access to food and land which provide the foundation for wealth.
There are many institutionalized crimes currently being committed on our food — scientific experimentation of genetically-modified plants that get packaged and sold as seedless, larger and sweeter. If a fruit doesn’t contain seeds, that means it cannot reproduce, and therefore has a harmful effect on our own reproductive system when we consume it.
Compared to organic produce grown wild on fertile land, these mutated foods look like plastic toys on grocery store shelves and wreak havoc on our health. Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMO’s is an enlightening documentary to watch for understanding how the farm-to-table connection is being manipulated in favor of corporate gain at the expense of our well-being.
Seed keeping is a profound revolutionary act in an age when our basic needs are dependent on an unsustainable and exploitative economy. The pandemic placed these basic needs into question and initiated a permanent shift in how we approach food, livelihood and health. The way I see it is — if everything goes to shit tomorrow, at least I have seeds.
If you’re thinking about starting a garden or already have one, saving seeds whenever you eat organic vegetables and fruits is a lovely practice I recommend getting into the rhythm of doing. This is a convenient and affordable way to build a seed collection. Here’s an educational video on seed keeping from Soul Fire Farm.
For anything you don’t have easy access to and would prefer to buy, here are some reliable resources for purchasing organic, heirloom seeds:
If you’re feeling these vibes and would like to participate in the Seed Sanctuary, feel free to send me an email email@example.com.
Blessed harvesting and forever love,
Scribed by Alexis Williams
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