“You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed” Leviticus 19:19
For context this is in the bit of the Bible that is often cited as justifying homophobia, but which also tells people not to mix cotton and wool in their clothes, not to eat shellfish and that crossbreeding cows is wrong.
In the normal scheme of things, people only bother to tell people off for things they are actually doing. Many things about historical Pagans have been inferred from stuff Christians were complaining about and official pronouncements to stop that kind of thing. So perhaps we can reasonably assume that pre-Leviticus, people were mixing their seed.
I recently saw a film called In Our Hands – https://inourhands.film/ which is all about food and resilience. The idea of mixing seeds came up there – if you have different types of seed, you have more resilience to climate uncertainty. There’s a better chance something will survive to provide you with a food crop as different plants favour different conditions.
It struck me, that not mixing your seeds therefore reduces resilience. It makes you more vulnerable to climate, to famine, to disaster. A people who are more vulnerable in these ways are likely to be more persuaded that they need God on their side. People who can take practical measures to keep their communities viable don’t need belief in the same way. You might want to honour deities, but you won’t feel so dependent on their whims. You won’t read punishment and judgement into every bad harvest if you’ve got a cunning system that largely avoids bad harvests in the first place.
We’re big on monocultures.
We’ve replaced God the judgemental father with the almighty power of the corporations who sell seed, fertiliser, herbicide and insecticide. These are corporations that have a pretty literal power now to damn us all to hell. Our future as a planet depends on saving our insects, revitalising our soil and having enough diversity to survive. Which makes it a good idea to start asking why we ever thought monocultures were such a good idea in the first place…
Does our monoculture habit trace back to Levicitus? Were we doing something more diverse prior to that? I don’t know, but I do know there are aspects of farming – like big fields full of a single crop – that we’ve come to take for granted. We need to start asking questions about other ways of doing things and the potential benefits.