The Cosmic Walk – Text of John Seed’s version

This is the version used by John Seed 2012 with thanks to Miriam McGillis and Ruth Rosenhek

Narrator: In the beginning was the Mystery, the churning quantum foam of potentiality. Through the mystery all things came to be. Not one thing had its being but through the mystery.

Cosmic Walker lights the candle in the centre of the spiral, then lights a taper from this source and walks slowly around the spiral as narration proceeds:

(1) * Some 13.7 billion years ago, our Universe flashes into existence, lit by the power of the eternal matrix of being. From the quantum foam is born the universe. Time, space, and energy become the gifts of existence. The universe expands and cools rapidly. Energy organizes itself into fundamental particles, new beings with new powers, and they in turn transform into atoms of hydrogen and helium, new beings with new powers. And so on it goes.
Cosmic Walker lights the next candle as next piece is narrated and likewise l subsequent candles:

(2) *A billion years later, Galaxies, Stars, and Supernovas emerge. For billions of years the universe continues to expand and cool. Hydrogen and helium coalesce into billions of enormous structures: galaxies. Within their galactic homes stars are born, live, and die. As they live, stars transform their hydrogen and helium into heavier elements: carbon, oxygen, aluminium. Many of these stars die and cool slowly to become dark tombs. But the larger stars in their death throes explode, become supernovas, blasting out to the cosmos their precious gifts of iron, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and oxygen. These treasures will be gathered together and supplemented in the life of second-generation stars. Birth, death, and resurrection is an ancient theme of the universe. Supernovas are the mothers of the universe, creating in their wombs the elements of life.

(3) *8 billion years later, 4.6 billion years ago, our Grandmother Star becomes a supernova.She gives up her life in an explosion of possibilities . She becomes a supernova giving rise to our Star, what we call the Sun. The Grandmother Star was huge in comparison to her child and when she exploded she formed a ball nearly 5 million times the diameter of the Sun. Our sun in mainly composed of hydrogen (which composes about 90% of all the atoms in the universe).

(4) *4.5 billion years ago, our Solar System forms from the remains of the supernova explosion.The sun and a great disk of matter emerge—all the planets and other members of our solar system family. Here begins the story of what will become one blue-and-white pearl of a planet.

Great Bombardment! Comets and meteorites pelt the Earth. Finally a Mars-sized body impacts the proto-Earth with such force that the whole mass becomes molten once more. The intruder plunges towards the centre of the Earth and the moon is born, popping out from the side opposite the impact. This also causes the Earth to tilt 23 degrees to the side thenceforth giving rise to the seasons of the year.

(5) *4.4 – 4.1 billion years ago – Exuberant volcanoes expel hotly agitated deep earth to the surface. Over hundreds of millions of years, Earth has grown from dust particles to a large, hot, molten rock.

As the surface of Earth quiets and cools, an atmosphere begins to form. Then a miracle of transformation: when the temperature falls below 100 degrees centigrade, the first rain begins to fall! Torrential rains fall on, and on, and on for tens of millions of years leaving the Earth awash with shallow, island-studded seas. Most of that original water will be lost to space but ice-laden comets will more than make up for the losses.

(6) *4 billion years ago, the rich chemical brew brings forth the wonder of life, as the First Cell emerges. A tiny being which draws sustenance from the primordial soup, grows and divides, grows and divides. After some 100 million years of this first life, the supply of free chemical nutrients starts to run out as it has become tied up in the growing microbial population.

(7) *3.9 billion years ago, cells invent Photosynthesis. Small creatures learn to capture the sun and store the energy in chemical bonds. They are able to capture 18 times as much energy from their environment than their ancestors could. This is based on a new molecule, chlorophyll, based on a ring of carbon atoms with a magnesium atom at its core.
Thus , they invent a new source of food for the growing bacterial population of Earth as they use the captured solar energy to extract carbon to build their bodies from CO2. In the process, however, they give off oxygen a toxic poison to the anaerobic life of that time. For hundreds of millions of years the oxygen cannot accumulate as it oxidises iron, hydrogen and other elements. Brought to the surface of the Earth in lava, the iron had originally entered the sea in its soluble ferrous form. The moment it came into contact with cyanobacterial oxygen however, the seas began to rust! The iron oxidised and fell to the ocean floor as insoluble rust. Some of the banded iron formations created at this time are over 2.5km thick. Eventually however all available elements have been oxidised. The fallout from the rusting seas swept the water free of iron allowing all subsequent oxygen waste released by the world’s marine bacteria to leak into the atmosphere. Oxygen piles up in the atmosphere, threatening all life. This will eventually turn the skies blue and provide the energy resource upon which most future evolution will depend.

(8) *2.7 billion years ago, oxygen loving cells emerge! The first global environmental crisis is averted by the creativity of these tiny cellular creatures who invent a use for oxygen as they breathe it in. By doubling their outer walls cellular defences against oxygen were strengthened. By replacing the magnesium atom at the core of chlorophyll with an atom of iron, the haem molecule emerges which will one day become the haemoglobin protein that transports oxygen through the bloodstream in all animal bodies.

Oxygen levels continue to rise until they reach near present-day levels.

(9) *2 billion years ago, Despite the enormous drag of its tidal seas the planet is still spinning fast. Each day – one revolution – lasts only about 18 hours. It is at this time that the first nucleated cell emerges. Tiny individual cells learn to cooperate and specialize within giant cell cooperatives. Perhaps this begins as one cell forces its way into another refusing to leave but eventually, some coalesce into symbiotic relationships with some parts making food and others moving the organism here and there. The individual parts become less independent but more secure as inseparable parts of the new
wholes. Cooperatives!

(10) *1.5 billion years ago, crisis conditions arise such as food shortages, lack of moisture and extreme temperatures. Hungry ancestral organisms learn to eat each other. Sometimes, these tiny cellular beings cannot digest what they have devoured and a type of sexual union arises. Previously reproduction had taken place by cells growing and dividing. With the evolution of sex, the genetic possibilities for life increase enormously with the power of preserving the achievements of a particular lineage. Previously, cell-division implied virtual immortality as each generation was a carbon-copy, a multiple of the one before. In the new sexual order, each generation now differs from either parent, and death is invented. Sex! Death!

(11) *1 billion years ago, increasingly, predator organisms learn to use the complex biomolecules of their prey organisms, thereby saving themselves the effort of making their own. This quickens the predator-prey dance that promotes the vast diversity of life which will eventually lead to the shell of the oyster and the beak of the seagull, the power of the lion and the speed of the gazelle.

(12) *700 million years ago, the first Multicellular Organisms emerge. Some organisms begin living together in colonies, finding ways to communicate with each other using chemical messages. First their had been community within a single cell, now individuals composed of communities of many cells begin to emerge. Community!

(13) *600 million years ago, light sensitive eyespots evolve into eyesight. The Earth sees herself for the first time.Previously only soft-bodied animals evolve in the oceans. Over the next 70 million years, previously naked prey animals protect themselves with shells of calcium. Jaws, beaks, and skeletons follow suit.

(14) *460 million years ago – Leaving the water, animals such as worms and mollusks and crustaceans seek the adventure of weather and gravity. Algae and fungi venture ashore as well. The first plants evolve as mosses. Insects evolve with nearly weightless bodies which permit them to take to the air as the first flying animals. Algae, fungi, insects!

(15) 395 million years ago – The first amphibian animals hop and lumber onto land, trading in their gill slits for air-breathing lungs, transforming fins into stubby legs and continuing to return to the water to lay their eggs. Frogs and toads!

(16) * 335 Million years ago, the first subtropical forests evolve. Over generations, these forests load themselves with carbon extracted from the atmosphere which later becomes fossilized as coal and oil. As the forests spread, amphibians transform into pre-reptilian creatures with the grand innovation of self contained eggs that allows them to move inland. The Great Age of Reptiles begins.

(17) *235 million years ago sees the end of the Permian period when the 4th and greatest mass extinction of life on Earth takes place. Trilobites and many other families of species disappear entirely and some 95% of the species of that time become extinct. The descendents of the surviving 5% radiate forth in dazzling creativity and the ancestors of dinosaurs emerge. For 170 million years these creatures flourish. Dinosaurs, sometimes as large as 40 meters, are social animals that often travel and hunt in groups. Dinosaurs develop a behavioural novelty unknown previously in the reptilian world – parental care. They carefully bury their eggs and stay with the young after they hatch, nurturing them toward independence.

(18) *225 million years ago, the first mammals, small and nocturnal, jump, climb, swing, and swim through a world of giants. Some rodent-sized insect-eaters evolve lactation, enabling mothers to spend more time in the nest keeping their young both fed and warm.

(19) *150 million years ago. Birds emerge, a direct descendant of the dinosaur as leg bones evolve into wing bones, jawbones into beaks and scales into feathers. Far larger than today’s birds, wing spans are as large as 12 metres. Birds!

(20) *114 million years ago, Flowers evolve gorgeous and overt sexual organs, making themselves irresistible to insects by way of colours, perfumes, and delightful nectars. Insects, drawn to the nectar, unknowingly transport pollen from one flower to the next, fertilizing the plants on which they feed. The Earth adorns herself magnificently and invites the sky creatures into a new dance. Flowers!

(21) *65 million years ago – Shortly after primates appear on the scene, the Cretaceous period ends with the 6th mass extinction after an asteroid 6 miles in diameter hits the Yucatan peninsula. The atmosphere fills with dust and smoke leading to a severe drop in temperature. This marks the end of the age of dinosaurs and the beginning of the age of mammals, the Cenezoic era. With the dinosaurs gone, the once dark and sheltered small mammals stride into daylight moving quickly to occupy available ecological niches.

Over the course of the next 60 million years Earth greets rodents, whales, monkeys, horses, cats and dogs, antelopes, gibbons, grazing animals, orang-utans, gorillas, elephants, chimpanzees, camels, bears, pigs, baboons and the first humans. The Age of Mammals!

(22) *4 million years ago, Hominids leave the forest, stand up, and walk on two legs. The savannah offers the challenges and opportunities for these early creatures to evolve into humans.

*100 thousand years ago, Modern Humans emerge. Language, shamanic and goddess religions, and art become integral with human life.
*11,000 years ago, Agriculture is invented. Humans begin to shape the environment.
(23) *3,000 years ago, Classical Religions emerge. Hinduism, Confucianism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam.
*250 years ago, scientists begin to calculate the Age of the Earth. Humans try to understand how old the Earth is through empirical observations.
*85 years ago, empirical evidence of an Expanding Universe is discovered. For the first time humans are aware they live in a developing universe.
*60 years ago, humans discover DNA, life’s common language.
*52 years ago Earth is seen as Whole from space. The Earth becomes complex enough to witness her own integral beauty.
*Today The Story of the Universe is being told as our sacred Story. The Flaring Forth continues as this moment, as us, as one.

Cosmic Walker says “And this is MY story”

Everyone present is encouraged to walk around the spiral themselves to complete the ritual.

Cosmic Walk ritual adapted from Sister Miriam Therese McGillis, (Genesis Farm, New Jersey)