An Embodiment Ritual for Planting the First Seeds of the Season

Created by Lena Sclove, Ariel Hendelman and Julie Weinstein
May 2023/Iyar 5783
This is a three-part embodied ritual to perform during a gardener’s/farmer’s process of planting the first seeds of the season. This ritual could be done solo or in community with fellow planters.
Content notice: there are brief mentions of death. This planting ritual connects us with the sacred cycles of life, death and rebirth.
Read Aloud: 
וִיהִ֤י ׀ נֹ֤עַם אֲדֹנָ֥י אֱלֹהֵ֗ינוּ עָ֫לֵ֥ינוּ וּמַעֲשֵׂ֣ה יָ֭דֵינוּ כּוֹנְנָ֥ה עָלֵ֑ינוּ וּֽמַעֲשֵׂ֥ה יָ֝דֵ֗ינוּ כּוֹנְנֵֽהוּ
Viyehi no’am Adonai Eloheinu aleinu u’ma’aseih yadeinu koneneihu
May the pleasantness of my Master, our God, be upon us, and the work of our hands be established for us and the work of our hands.

1. Tilling of Soil


Standing in your garden or farm: You are about to begin tilling the soil. You are about to plow the earth, turn the dirt, loosen what is hardened. Let your senses take in the scene around you. And begin…
Breathing out, honor the previous season, what might have worked well, and what might have been challenging. Breathing in, absorb the smells, the sensations of breeze and ground beneath me, and arrive at this moment.
Breathing out, release your feelings about how the past season went. Breathing in, call in the energy of newness. Breathing out, relinquish expectations, gripping, striving, clinging to the outcomes of this new season. Breathing in, absorb the potent possibility that is alive right now; anything can happen. Breathing out, and breathing in, prepare for a deep churn of the earth and of yourself. May all the death that still has life to give, be renewed. May all the death that has fully completed its cycle be released.
Read Aloud:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהֹוָה מְחַיֵּה הַמֵּתִים
Barukh Atah Adonai me’chayeh ha’meitim.
Blessed are you, Havayah, who regenerates life to the dead.
2. Setting the Seeds
You are standing in your garden or on your farm, looking out at the tilled earth, smelling the freshly turned soil, feeling the sun on your back. You reach down and take some seeds in your hand and rise up to face the direction of the North, which represents the highest world of Atzilut, intuition, the sefirah of Gevurah, and the element of fire. Honor in your heart that all of these are necessary in this process of the journey of the seed, which surrenders itself completely to the dark depths of the soil.
Then, you turn and look East, representing Beriah, the intellect/knowing, and Tiferet, synchronicity and harmony, and the element of air. The East is the ruakh of new beginnings, which is the journey the seeds are now undertaking as they surrender to this process of life renewed.
Now, turn and look to the South, which is Yetzirah, the realm of the heart/feeling, the sefirah of Hesed, and the element of water. Like water, the seeds will flow with the currents of changing weather throughout the season – temperature, wind, sun/moon, humidity, all of it necessary for growth and for life.
Now, turn to the West, to the world of Asiyah, of the body/doing, the sefirah of Yesod, and the element of earth. It is here where the seeds commit fully to their transformation, and us as well.
Lastly, shake your handful of seeds up above and down below, remembering that there is always a symbiotic dance happening between realms; that setting seeds down here has cosmic significance and is also setting seeds up above.
Read Aloud:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ רוּחַ הָעוֹלָם הַמּוֹצִיא חַיִּים מִמַּעֲמַקִּים שֶׁל הָאָרֶץ
Barukh Atah Havayah Eloheinu ruakh ha’olam, hamotzi hayim mi’m’amukim shel ha’aretz.
Blessed are you Eternal One, Our Creator, Spirit of the World, who brings forth life from the depths of the earth.
3. Watering Into Life
Standing in your garden or farm, you look out at your freshly tilled soil, with seeds resting in the warm earth.
With your hose or buckets of water, wash your hands first, offering yourself as a vessel or a channel for wetting your seeds. Do this with spaciousness, giving great focus to the holiness of the work of your hands.
As you prepare to water, call to mind the holy cycles of life and death, meditating on Genesis 3:19“For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”
As you water your seeds, invoke the energy and intention of the mivkah experience (a ritual, cleansing soaking) and the taharah (ritually pouring purifying water over a deceased body before burial).
With this water, this mayim hayim (living waters), acknowledge the Divine in the elements intersecting here on the farm/in the garden: water, air, earth, fire (sun).
During taharah process, the human form is purified with water as the Chevra Kadisha (Jewish Burial Society) chants “te’horah hi,” (she is pure) imagining the soul sprouting forth from the body. Here, in the garden/field, you maintain a flow of water and maintain the flow of your voice, chanting into being that these precious seeds are pure.
Chant aloud continuously during watering:
…טְהוֹרָה הִיא, טְהוֹרָה הִיא, טְהוֹרָה הִיא
Te’horah hi, te’horah hi, te’horah hi, te’horah hi, te’horah hi, te’horah hi…
4. Closing
Standing in the field or garden, the sun is setting soon. Look out at your handiwork: tilled earth, seeds set in the ground, soaking in life-giving water. Your work is done, let it be complete for now. Imagine the world as you want it to be and live as if it is that way already.
Read Aloud: 
הַמֵּאִיר לָאָֽרֶץ וְלַדָּרִים עָלֶֽיהָ בְּרַחֲמִים וּבְטוּבוֹ מְחַדֵּשׁ בְּכָל־יוֹם תָּמִיד מַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית
Ha’meir la’aretz ve’ladarim aleiha be’rachamim u’vetuvo me’khadeish be’khol-yom tamid ma’aseh ve’reishit.
Who mercifully shines light to the earth and those who dwell upon it, in whose goodness renews the work of creation every day, continuously.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ רוּחַ הָעוֹלָם, הַטּוֹב וְהַמֵּטִיב
Barukh Atah Havayah Eloheinu ruakh ha’olam, ha’tov u’hameitiv.
Blessed are you Eternal One, our God, spirit of the world, the good and benevolent.
After this process, take a moment to reflect on the holy work you have performed. After the day of planting and ritual, it’s recommended that you use your next shower or bath as a cleansing transition: to mark the separation (Havdalah) from ritual space, out of the sacred practice of tending the land and into whatever comes next in your day or evening.
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