Parable of the Sower Reading Group

In this 8-week reading group, participants will explore the rich themes woven into Octavia Butler’s visionary novel Parable of the Sower. The group’s orientation meeting is scheduled for Sunday, May 16, using Zoom conferencing software. Future meetings will take place on the weekends of May 29-30, June 12-13, and June 26-27. This event is offered by donation. Read more details below.



People deal with fears and anxieties in many ways. I prefer to interrogate my fears, lean into them, and ultimately create space in my life to experience them deeply. With climate change, and other factors that promise to destabilize societies, looming, one fear that is very real for me right now is how I will adapt to an unstable, uncertain future.

I find that works of fiction can offer superb opportunities to explore and interrogate my visions of the future. With that in mind, I developed this reading group around Octavia Butler‘s novel Parable of the Sower to create a virtual space where people can come together to engage with these issues and learn to work through their fears. Parable of the Sower is set in California in 2024, in a world ravaged by a destabilizing climate and a country struggling against nationalism. Readers learn about this world through journal entries written by the novel’s protagonist, a teenaged black girl named Lauren who is forced to reckon with a future that many in her community cannot accept. The book has long earned praise for its prescience. Participants in this reading group will need to acquire their own copy of the book. One will not be provided as part of registration.

A strong ethic of care in this reading group will help participants navigate the often challenging issues brought up by the novel. Part of this ethic involves learning to track our nervous system activation patterns. This topic will be covered during our orientation meeting (see schedule below). The other part of this ethic takes the form of three commitments: 1) Approach discussions in Zoom meetings and online forums from a place of curiosity rather than a place of knowing or self-righteousness, 2) Cultivate a willingness to slow our inquiry down and take our time, and 3) Let collective interest guide our conversations rather than forcing them in directions others find triggering. This Parable of the Sower reading group is as much an opportunity to learn how to talk productively and supportively about themes of social disruption and decline as it is a chance to learn about the subjects themselves.

This reading group begins with an orientation on Sunday, May 16, 2021, at 2:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time. Check your local time here. This meeting will be facilitated using Zoom conferencing software. You will need to download the Zoom app and create an account to participate. The meeting will be recorded and made available to course participants within a few days. In addition to meeting on Sundays at 2:00 pm EDT, one or more additional meetings will be scheduled using a Doodle poll for the weekends of May 29-30, June 12-13, and June 26-27 to accommodate participants’ schedules. You will receive a link to the Doodle poll when you register.

Below you will find more information about this course’s schedule, format, pricing, refund policy, and other terms and conditions associated with signing up. If you have further questions, email

Course Schedule

Orientation (Sunday, May 16, 2021 @ 2 pm EDT): We will use this meeting to outline the structure and logistics of the course, review the polyvagal ladder so we can better track our nervous system activation, and use breakout groups to get to know one another.

Meeting One, Discussing Chapters 1-9 (May 29-30, 2021)

Meeting Two, Discussing Chapters 10-17 (June 12-13, 2021)

Meeting Three, Discussing Chapters 18-25 (June 26-27, 2021)

Course Format

Each meeting of this reading group will begin with a short guided practice to ground participants. It will then transition into a discussion about the meeting’s readings. Some of this discussion will happen in a large group, but much of it will happen in small breakout groups of 3-4 participants. We will use Zoom conference calling software for all meetings. Meeting login information will be sent to participants two days prior to the call, then again a few hours before the weekend’s first call to make it easy to find in your email inbox. All Zoom meetings will be recorded and made available to all participants.

We will also use private discussion forums on this website to facilitate interaction. Eric will post prompts to inspire critical thinking as we progress through the book. Participants can start their own threads too. You will gain access to the discussion forums once you register for the class.

Participants will have the option of joining kinship groups of 3-6 people that can meet in between our scheduled Zoom meetings. A survey will be sent to you after registration that will be used to form kinship groups among the registrants.

Pricing and Refund Policy

This reading group is offered by donation, with a minimum price of zero dollars. To register you will need to type in the amount you want to pay before you can add the event to your cart and check out. As you consider how much to pay, consider your personal and family income, how much wealth you have access to, and how much value participating in this class might add to your life. You can use the following payment scale to guide you, if you would like:

Low income/wealth: $20 ($5 per meeting)

Middle income/wealth: $40 ($10 per meeting)

Upper-middle income/wealth: $100 ($25 per meeting)

High income/wealth: $300+ ($75+ per meeting)

Because cost of living varies geographically, I do not define income or wealth ranges associated with the above categories. The above scale is only offered as a suggestion. You can pay whatever you want.

Within 24 hours of registering you will receive an email with more information about the course. If you do not see this email, please check your spam or junk folders in case your email client diverted it there. If you still do not see it, email Quillwood Academy at

Participants can receive a full refund of their tuition if they cancel their registration via email on or before Wednesday, May 5, 2021. After this date, no refunds will be given except for extraordinary circumstances.

Read through Quillwood Academy’s terms and conditions to get a sense for our expectations.

We hope to see you when the reading group begins on May 16, 2021!