An Earthseed Solstice: Festival of the Teacher

Festival of the Teacher

Earthseed is a fledgling Pagan tradition inspired by the science fiction of Octavia Butler, especially the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Talents.  Earthseed’s liturgical calendar follows the Pagan Wheel of the Year, but the celebrations have unique associations.

Earthseed Calendar

The summer solstice coincides with the birthday of Octavia Butler, June 22.  So we celebrate Butler’s life and work, as well as the beginning of summer.  Through the ritual, we seek to deepen our understanding of the words of the Book of the Living: “God is Teacher” and “Partnership is learning and teaching”.  The ritual involves song, like Peter Mayer’s “God is a River”, and call-and-response. The center of the ritual is a “meditative teaching” and the construction of an altar or “focus” to honor teachers who have inspired us.

I. Words of Welcoming

We are Earthseed—
One of many
One unique,
One small seed,
One great promise.
Tenacious of life,
Shaper of God,
We are Earthseed!
And our Destiny,
The Destiny of Earthseed,
Is to take root
Among the stars.

II. Transition to sacred time and space

Singing bowl

Intentional breathing: “As we breathe in, the world breathes out … As we breathe out, the world breathes in …”

III. Reading (Book of the Living, verse 2, adapted)

All that we touch
We Change.
All that we Change
Changes us.
The only lasting truth
Is Change.
Is Change.

IV. God is Change song

Lyrics: God is Change (repeat) — Shape God (repeat) — Shape Self (repeat)

Sing along:

V.   Seasonal symbolism

Today, daylight has vanquished darkness—the hours of the sun are longer than the hours of the night. It is a parable written by the Sun showing that when a student heeds the teacher, and the teacher observes the student, knowledge and wisdom grow just as the delicate seedlings of spring become the verdant plants of summer and the sapling becomes the fruitful tree, both transformed by the Sun’s nurturing light.

VI. Meditative Teaching: Pray Working

Reading: Book of the Living, verse 33

Pray working.
Pray learning,
Pray creating,
Pray working.

We will break into pairs. One person will be assigned the role of teacher.  (If we have an odd number of participants, one group will have two students.) The teacher will teach a simple skill.  It should be something very simple. The teacher will teach in a very mindful fashion, at the pace of a meditative walk.  Slow everything down. Let each sentence sit for several breaths before continuing. The point is how the teaching is done, not what is being taught. When done teaching, sit in silence for at least a minute.  The teaching should not take more than 5 minutes in all. Then the student can ask questions, using the same cadence. The student should then demonstrate the skill back to the teacher. We will then switch partners for another 10 minutes. The teachers  will then become the students, and the students will teach what they learned to another one of the teachers, in the same fashion.

VII. Building a Focus: Our Teachers

A simple focus/altar will be prepared consisting of unlit candles. Everyone should come prepared with a name of teacher who they have learned something from and want to honor (something we are willing to share).

Reading: Book of the Living, verse 32, adapted

Our teachers
Are all around us.
All that we perceive,
All that we experience,
All that is given to us
or taken from us,
All that we love or hate,
need or fear
Will teach us—
If we will learn.
God is our first
and our last teacher.
God is our harshest teacher:
Learn or die.

We will take turns sharing the name of our teachers and what we learned from them. We will write their name on a slip of paper and place it under a candle which is then lit. When done remotely, the officiant will write the name on a slip of paper and place it under a candle.  The officiant and the person sharing will both light candles in their respective locations. When everyone has shared, hold space for a minute.

Reading: Book of the Living, verse 64, adapted

May the past
Teach us—
Past customs,
Leaders and thinkers.
Help us.
May they inspire us,
Warn us,
Give us strength.
But may we remember:
God is Change.
Past is past.
What was
Come again.

VIII. Honoring Octavia

Place a picture of Octavia on the altar.


Watch video:

Hold space while people share gratitude for Octavia and/or her writing.

Reading: Book of the Living, verses 5,  4, 50, and 43 (adapted)

God is Teacher
We do not worship God.
We perceive and attend God.
We learn from God.
Through learning and adaption,
we may become a partner of God.
Partnership is giving and taking,
Learning and teaching.
To Shape God,
With wisdom and forethought,
To benefit our world,
We ask questions,
Seek answers,

IX. Song: God is a River by Peter Mayer

Listen to song:

X. Closing

God is Change. Shape God.

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