Elements of a Sustainable Spiritual Practice: Part V – Spring
I started this series in January 2010, with an Introduction to Sustainable Spirituality and ”Four Elements of a Sustainable Spiritual Practice: Part I.” In fall 2010, I picked it back up in earnest with the first of four planned seasonal guides, Part II – Autumn and Part III – Winter. I started writing these in a fortuitous year, because it is a leap year. We don’t move straight from Winter to Spring in leap years — we have a pause, a moment of liminal space, a moment to explore the element of Aether/Void, so I realized we also needed to add “Adar I, ” for leap years.
But now it is Tekufat Nissan, which is the marker of Spring in Judaism. Spring is the season of Earth (עָפָר) within Air (רוּחַ), according to the elemental system of RK’Jill Hammer which my concept is built on. RK’Jill assigns each season with an inner and outer element. The outer element, Air in this case, is the element we have in abundance. The inner element, Earth in this case, is the element we need. In the Peeling a Pomegranate approach to a sustainable spiritual practice, this translates to the idea of Earth (Resources) through Community (Air). This is the flip-side of Autumn where we have Community through Resources. Thinking this through, in Autumn we all are able to gather together in physical structures like Synagogues for our huge communal ritual holidays of the year — Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The ability to enjoy community is brought to us through the resources we have built over time. In Spring, we gather in private homes and share a small communal feast at Passover. It is the communal holiday that gives us the opportunity to share our resources with friends and family. Community, is really a short way of saying “communal ritual/spiritual experiences” and “resources” is short for “the resources you consume.”
Let’s start with our abundant element of Earth a bit more. Let’s start with a few of the correspondence that create our concept of Earth (עָפָר) in Judaism:
Autumn, Sunset, West, Ten Commandments, Raphael, Shekhinah, Rachel, David, Iron, Challah, Salt, Lulav, Etrog, Fruit, Flowers on Shavuot, Trees and tree planting, earth in coffin, burying sacred texts, shoveling earth on grave, building of stone altars (cairns), bones, gardens, fields, Ruth, Boaz, the Shofar (not blown), Stones, Behomot, Life, Assiyah, Doing, Nefesh (level of the soul)
Now let’s look at some of the correspondences for Air (רוּחַ) in Jewish tradition:
Spring, Dawn, East, Cloud of Glory, Balance, Leah, Jacob, Bronze/Copper, Uriel, Scent, Incense, Blowing of Shofar, Besamin, Sukkah, Greggors, Singing, Chanting, Speech, Spoken Prayer, Dancing, Breath, Blades/Knives (air feeds fire), Tzipporah, Inspiration, Imagination, Bells on Priestly Garments, Keturah, Tzovah, Ziz (aka Renanim, Sekewi), Judith, Solomon, Joshua,Wisdom, Briah, Thinking, Neshamah (level of soul)
Hopefully, these help to create a rich and diverse mental tapestry of what earth and air are, in an abstract form, but these abstracts correspondences are just seeds. We need to know which ones to plant and how to cultivate them for the for the Spring. The spring, also called Aviv, is the season of Passover, Counting of the Omer, Lag B’Omer, and Shavuot. It is a time of beginnings, and once again we have four holidays, or ritual times, and four elements. One way to explore this season may be to look at which holidays align to which elements, in their own mini-cycle much the way we have in the fall with the High Holidays. There is the clear cycle of spiritual growth and revelation that does occur in this holiday season.
These holidays are the time of year where we begin by gathering in small communities to remember our creation as a people, and share a festival meal. Passover seems to be the holiday everyone can agree on celebrating, from Orthodox to Secular Humanist. With the Counting of the Omer, we journey through the desert before we arrive at Sinai at Shavuot. I see the spring as a time of sharing our resources and preparing as a community. Two symbols in particular that have occurred to me that represent the concept of Earth within Air well are terrariums and communal feasts hosted at homes.
Questions to Explore:
- What are the resources that sustain you?
- What do you need for yourself?
- What do you want to share with your immediate and extended community?
- What resources are made richer by sharing them in community?
- What resources do you have an unhealthy relationship with?
- How can your community help you come into balance with those resources?
I hope you’ll take advantage of the next few months to engage with your relationship with the resources you consume and how that relates to your role your community. This is a time to share what we have with those who may be lacking, and to ask for help for what we may be lacking ourselves.
As always, I hope you’ll share what you experience by applying this, or just reading about it. If you want to share your answers to the questions — that’s most welcome! If you want to share ideas you have or actions you take that is also most welcome.
Elements of Embodied Judaism Series:
- Sustainable Spirituality: Introduction
- Elements of Judaism – Overview
- Part I: Four Elements of Sustainable Spiritual Practice
- Part II: Autumn (Air within Earth)
- Part III: Winter (Fire within Water)
- Part IV: Adar I (Aether / Chaos and Void)
- Part V: Spring (Earth withing Air)
- Part VI: Summer (Water within Fire)