Welcome, dear readers, to another month of taking metta off the meditation cushion and out into the world.
Last month’s article, Metta Stirs It Up, shared the ups and downs, back and forth, and even the clockwise and counterclockwise of growing vegetables as a volunteer at an organic market garden. This month found growth reach its peak thanks to sunshine, rain, and some unseen help.
Little did I know just how much unseen help would arrive when, on a day off on the summer solstice, I followed a sandwich-board that was advertising a goddess temple tucked behind a row of shops. As I stepped away from the hubbub of the high street into the hushed silence inside, that day’s Melissa—goddess temple steward—greeted me warmly and proceeded to give me a tour to introduce me to all the different goddesses depicted everywhere I looked.
A voracious reader and spiritual explorer, most were already familiar to me. That is, all but one named Cuda, the face of the little-known Earth mother for the Cotswolds—the area I’m currently in—since the Iron Age.
The Melissa and I fell into conversation about which goddesses spoke to us at different life stages, and I shared that I currently felt closest to Guanyin for her dedication to compassion and Kali for her dedication to fresh starts.
Before leaving, I was invited to an outdoor solstice ceremony later that evening.
On arrival, I joined a circle of some 30 women of all ages and one brave man. Several of the celebrants were in costume and, as we turned in different cardinal directions to invoke various goddesses, it was fun to discover who they were embodying. Venus, the Greek and Roman goddess of love, in her flaming red dress and a crown of flowers, was perhaps the easiest to recognize. And Sabrina, the Celtic goddess of the River Severn, in more floaty blues, the most subtle.
Gathered on the bank of the Thames and Severn Canal as the sun set on the longest day of the year, we welcomed Sabrina to help nourish growth over the upcoming summer and took turns to embody the bodies of water we felt closest to personally. As ice breakers go, it was an unusual way to learn every participant’s name and to help bless the waters they felt running through them.
Back at the farm later, I sat with what goddess metta could embody as the only member of the team who lived on site. Cuda immediately reappeared asking me to help regenerate her land, and nourish my co-workers in the process.
And so, with the respect of the guest I am here, I began to offer my daily gardening efforts, our weekly harvests, and the farm itself to Cuda. Interestingly, that private invocation opened up all sorts of unexpected conversations with my co-workers about women in farming, the challenges of motherhood, and how to best nourish the land we were regenerating. And it also inspired me to start baking surprise cakes and cookies for the team with produce from the market garden.
At our weekly stall at the local farmers’ market, passersby began to comment on the femininity of our vegetables. It was fun for me to recognize the celebrants from the solstice ceremony now shopping for produce. When I addressed them as the goddess they had embodied, they would do a double-take and laugh at their more down-to-earth human weekend clothing. And when a sitar player in town for a sacred music festival busked within earshot, the calming effect of his ragas on the hustle and bustle of the market was like a collective lullaby.
At the close of each farmers’ market, stallholders will often gift what goods won’t keep to other stall holders. When we gave the busking sitar player a bag of salad leaves, he kindly offered to play for the farm.
A few days later, he indeed arrived with his sitar, sat cross-legged on the ground in the orchard where the team usually eat lunch, and began to serenade a table full of exhausted women. The same lullaby effect from the market soothed my co-workers and it warmed my heart to observe their breathing slow and shoulders drop as they ate.
Just as the raga ended, the husband of a heavily pregnant coworker burst into the orchard carrying none other than . . . a chocolate cake! We all turned in surprise, including his wife. He looked somewhat bashful, and blurted out, “When we spoke earlier, you sounded like you needed cake.” I bit back a chuckle at how every woman at the table silently fell a little in love with him for that sweet offering, and how clearly I wasn’t the only one answering Cuda’s call to nourish our team.
The sitar player went on to explain that sitars are carved out of dried gourds. That got a loud chuckle from me this time after a morning spent weeding the market garden’s squash plot. He then demonstrated how to build a raga starting with certain notes, and letting his surroundings and audience flavor what happened next. He let us all try plucking his sitar’s 18 strings, one of which is the stronger signature string that entrains the neighboring sympathetic strings.
Well, that metaphor wasn’t lost on this metta meditator, and I silently resolved to continue my efforts to generate metta for the team and welcome Cuda back onto her land without knowing who that might entrain.
I then offered to give the sitar player a tour of the market garden that had produced the salad he enjoyed so much. His childlike delight in the sights and smells was palpable, and his questions made me realize just how much I had already learned in my two months volunteering there.
When I showed him the propagation polytunnel full of seed trays I had sown a few days earlier germinating, it was his turn to chuckle out loud. Apparently, there was a saying among fellow sitar players not to keep checking the seeds once they’ve been sown, and he had never seen such a literal display of what they meant.
He explained that when building a raga, sitar players could not predict its direction and simply had to trust the seed they planted would eventually germinate and grow without constant checking—that is trying to control the improvisation underway as it unfolded.
Well, that metaphor wasn’t lost on this metta meditator either, and I silently resolved to trust my efforts to generate metta for the team and welcome Cuda back onto her land would eventually bear fruit.
And so, dear readers, whichever goddess you currently feel called to welcome—or even embody—keep sowing: you never know who your efforts may entrain or what your efforts may eventually germinate. There may even be surprise cake!
Or, to metta-morphose the Tears for Fears song “Sowing the Seeds of Love”:
Open hearts, feel about it
Open minds, think about it
Open your eyes, every minute of every hour
Open your eyes, I love a sunflower
Open your eyes, I believe in love power
Sowing the seeds of metta
The seeds of metta
Sowing the seeds
An end to need
And the politics of greed
The Goddess of the River Severn (Claudia Merrill)
The Love of Cuda (Kate Dineen)
Connecting with Your Local Earth Mother Goddess and Spirits of Place (YouTube)
Related features from BDG
Keep Planting Seeds
Sowing the Seeds of Light and Life, Harvesting the Fruit of Rebirth
Jhamtse Gatsal: Fostering Seeds of Compassion
Sowing the Seeds of Metta to Dissolve Fears of the Unknown
Enjoying the Present