There is so much magic in a tiny seed. Dormant, still, silent, the seed speaks of unimaginable potential. The seed is the first—and last—step in the cycle of most plant life; they complete the circle of life. Seeds can lay dormant for years, decades, and in some cases, centuries. When parched earth finally gets rain, when the fires die down and only ash remains—the seeds carry new life forth.
Growing a plant from seed is a magical experience. Through this process, a magical transformation takes place both in the druid gardener and in the seed. You nurture and support the seed, giving it rich soil, light, warmth, and water. The seed nurtures you, providing lessons, healing, and strength. In the briefest of moments, the seed sprouts, sending tendrils up into the heavens and down into the earth, uniting the solar currents of the sun and the telluric currents of the earth. For some fast-growing plants, you can literally see them growing early in their life cycle. This same process is mirrored within the soul of the grower, hope and life are born anew.
As the seed springs forth, its first two leaves (called cotyledons) are not “true leaves” but rather represent the seed’s first tender steps into a larger world. Once true leaves develop, the plant takes on the characteristics of its variety. Like a human infant, springing forth is only the first step of the journey of growth and development.
I know that for many, the period between Alban Arthan and Imbolc can be challenging because of the darkness and cold. But I, sitting near my warm fire with the seeds of hope and life, enjoy such times. As a druid gardener, December and January are times of such joy, for these are the times when I return to my seeds. I spend weeks sorting through saved bags of seeds, remembering seeds given to me from friends, re-establishing relationships with seeds I have been saving for years, or studying new seed packets I purchased. Part of this is just to reconnect to the plants, to look forward to what is to come.
But, this is so I can plan how much seed I need to start and when I need to start it. For the seeds I’ve saved, I think about the relationship I’ve shared with that plant, that strain of seeds. Now in my fourth year of serious organic gardening, I have strains of kale, lettuce, beans, tomatoes, corn, peppers, and herbs that I have had many years of friendship with—the seeds represent a way to carry our connection through the darkest of times before it begins anew. As I sit with my packages of seeds, I reflect upon our past history and look forward to future harvests.
This year, dear readers, I suggest that you sow at least a few seeds. If you have the space for a larger garden, consider sheet mulching an area in the spring and planting some vegetables. Create a sacred garden space for growth—of the druid and of the garden. Growing a bit of your own food puts you in a sacred relationship with the land and its cycles—and all of it begins with the seed that you grow. If you only have room for a few pots on a porch or a windowsill, you can still experience the magic and teachings of the humble seed. I suggest starting some herbs (mint, oregano, or chives are all very easy to grow) or growing some vegetables in containers.
Once you start your seeds, consider your relationship to the plants. I have found that plants really enjoy music, and I play my flutes and panflute for them often. I speak to them, listen to their stories and secret tales, and open myself up to their teachings. This is a very personal process, but you will your way. Meditation with the seedlings can provide great insights. Connect with the spirit of that plant—each species has a spirit, and you can see that spirit out and learn from it.
If you decide to start seeds, ask around. Chances are, someone you know has seeds and is willing to share. If you are purchasing seeds, it is important to know that not all seeds are created equal. The seeds of our ancestors were all what is now known as “heirloom” and “open pollinated” and could be easily saved from year to year and were adapted to the localized climates that they lived in. The seeds of today—including nearly all you would purchase in a big box store—are often genetically modified and hybridized. GMO and hybrid seeds are modified so that you can’t save them, and often have other modifications to the plant and/or are treated with chemicals. Energetically, these seeds represent the worst of humanity’s shattered relationship with nature, and buying them supports industries that are actively causing harm to our planet.
For seeds that are open-pollinated and heirloom, you can visit the Seed Saver’s Exchange, Horizon Herbs, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed, or High Mowing Seeds. For information on how to start and save seeds, the book Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners (Ashworth and Cavagnaro, 2002) is a wonderful reference and one that I have used for many seeds. I also have a post on seed saving spinach and lettuce seed this blog.
There is no greater magical gift in the world than that of a seed, and no greater magical act than that of growth. If you have questions about seeds, seed starting, or magical gardening please feel free to contact me or respond here.
*I’d also like to acknowledge that some of my insights gained in this post came through mediation from the first knowledge lecture in Greer’s Celtic Golden Dawn system (which I have been studying for the last 8 months).