On Winter Solstice, within the moment that Earth turned her North Self as far from Her Lover as she could, the shadows stretched their longest, the dark night preened her rustle of black feathers, and I stood by the River and swallowed a hemlock seed*. It was my own hand-crafted ritual, done to mark this day with a prayer. I swallowed a seed because it was a way for me to bring the energies of my prayer into physical form. And why the hemlock seed?
I have, over the course of the past dozen years, woven a precious relationship with the hemlock trees. For me, it began with a dream that was given whilst sleeping under a hemlock (see link below). And as that relationship has grown, so have the environmental perils that threaten this tree, namely an exotic insect that’s devouring her. So part of my relationship with the lovely hemlock has become focused on her healing, which I’ve found is my healing too. The hemlock seed, swallowed, was a gift that she gave me, for I can’t claim the idea of swallowing the seed was thought as mine. She gave it to me as I prayed at her lovely feet. Her gift, and my prayer, became an expression of Oneness, and of relationship, for when I swallowed the seed with the intention that it represent that which I wanted to grow within myself, I became her daughter as well. My intention and her energies became intrinsically linked.
Some may scoff at this, which is fine with me. My only answer to doubt is that I refuse to frame my life by that which has been proven and accepted by modern science. I hold the realm of science in great esteem, but my adventure is beyond its sterile gaze. There is so much that science has yet to discover! Why wait? Chances are, someday some scientist will discover that intention and relationship profoundly affect “reality.” Maybe someone already has. As for me, I will love the hemlock. I will nurture the seed.
*Please note that I am speaking of the hemlock TREE, not the poison hemlock PLANT. I don’t want to die like Socrates! Poison hemlock resembles Queen Anne’s Lace, and all parts of it will kill you quick.
Link to my essay “Nothing is Ever Lost” published in Sacred Fire Magazine, Autumn 2005: http://www.woodbyrd.com/essay1.htm