Earthseed

Once there was and once there wasn’t a woman who lived in a bustling city beside the ocean. Many moons ago, her mother had given her a wineskin that held earth in it. This had been given to her mother by her mother and to her by her mother before her. When she had been given the wineskin, she had been told,

“Daughter, this holds something precious, so guard it carefully.”

When she had looked inside, she had been surprised to find that it carried earth.

Over the years, she had emptied the earth into a pot and planted a seed in it. She had done this so many times that she had lost count, but she remembered planting the seeds and she also remembered that green thumb as she had none of the seeds had ever grown. She had planted mango, orange, lemon, flame of the forest, yucca, pansy, primrose, honeysuckle, jasmine, mint, and more, many many more. Every time she had kept the earth wet and carefully looked after the precious earth in its pot, but not one seed had ever taken. The earth would go back into the wineskin until the next time she tried to plant a seed.

One day, the time came when the woman’s daughter was setting out on a journey. The woman was poor in goods and had nothing to give her daughter. In a dream it came to her what she must give away.

The next day, as mother and daughter said their farewell’s, the mother put the wineskin in her daughter’s hand and said,
“Beloved, take this. It is all that I have to give you. Keep it well, for it holds treasure.”

The daughter thanked her mother and after many tears and smiles and hugs and kisses they parted ways. She was just as sur-prised as her mother to find that the wineskin carried earth.

The girl travelled for many days, carefully carrying the wineskin in her pack. Days turned to weeks and weeks to months, taking her far away from the bustling ocean city through the desert and over mountains, down into river crossed valleys, and in and out of many different cities and towns along the way. She met many people and some travelled with her for a time. She saw many new places, and learned much on her journey. A year passed and she travelled on, hungry for more.

One day she stood by a water-fall. It gushed down rocks from the edge of a meadow that glowed in the sunlight, flowers nodding their heads brightly along the top. She was alone and was out of water. The path she was taking would be away from the river, into dry land. Realizing that it would be a while before she might have access to any water, she drank greedily from the river, at a spot right before it flew down and fell. On her hands and knees she lapped up the water, and it came to her that she could take some with herself. She dug around in her pack and found the wineskin of earth. She found a spot at the edge of the bluff, away from the waterfall. She sat here with the wineskin for a time, saying a prayer, and then she stood and emptied out the contents, the earth, over the edge. Down, down, down it fell. To her astonishment it kept on falling!

“How can this be?” she wondered.

She marveled all the more when she saw how much water the wine-skin could hold, it just filled and filled and kept on filling.

She looked with amazement at the wineskin, thinking,
“Now truly, *this* is a treasure!”

Laughing with pleasure, she began her trek away from the river, the meadow, the waterfall; the wineskin now filled with water tucked away safely.

The earth fell and fell and fell for a time. It landed in clumps in a little community down below. This community had a legend. The way it was told was this: when earth rained from the sky, it was time to plant the sacred seed. So the people watched in amazement at the falling earth and rushed to fetch the wise man. The wise man in this community had been given the sacred seed by his father, who had been given it by his father, and he by his father before him. None had seen earth fall from the sky until now.

Everyone gathered together and carried the fallen earth to one spot where they mounded it. Then they held hands in a circle around the mound and began to chant. The wise man sat in the center beside the mound of earth, carrying the seed. The people chanted late into the night, with the light of the moon shining down upon all of them. Then they left the wise man to plant the seed, and returned to their homes. That seed sprouted and grew into an enormous tree over the years. The people called it El-daria and whenever they left their community to go far away, they would take a bit of sacred earth from around the tree’s bottom to remind them that there had been a day when earth had rained from the sky.

 

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