Elements of a Sustainable Spiritual Practice: Part V — Summer
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. The wheel of the year has continued to move and we’ve now experienced the Part IV Adar I (leap year) and the Part V – Spring.
Now the wheel of the year has turned to our final chapter, Part VI – Summer, the season of Water within Fire. Summer is the season of Water (מַיִם) within Fire (אֵשׁ), 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, Fire in this case, is the element we have in abundance. The inner element, Water 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 Creative Expression (Water) through Divine Connection (Fire). This is the flip-side of Winter where we explore the idea of Divine Connection (fire) through Creative Expression (water). In the winter we use our creativity to reconnect us to the Divine, G!d(dess). In the summer, we use our Divine Connection to be expressed in creative ways. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s an important one.
Let’s start, like we did in Winter and all other seasons, by diving a little deeper into the elements themselves and a few of the correspondences that create our vision of “Fire” and “Water” in Judaism.
Here are few correspondences for our outer element of Fire in Judaism:
FIRE (אֵשׁ): Summer, Noon, Burning Bush/Pillar of Fire, Strength, Issac, Rebekah, Candles (Sabbath, Havdalah,Yahrtzeit, Chanukiah, Menorah), Ner Tamid, Bonfire of Lag B’Omer, Burning Chametz, Sun, Gabriel, Gold, Priesthood, Divine Connection, Cooking, Aaron, Staves, Burnt Offerings, Letters on Parchment, Salamander, Myrtle, Phoenix (חוֹל Job 29:18), Snakes, Spiritual authority, Light, Atzilut, Existing, Chayah (level of the soul), Divine connection
Now let’s look at a few correspondences for our inner element of Water in Jewish tradition:
WATER (מַיִם): Winter, Midnight, Well of Miriam, Love, Sarah, Abraham, Silver, Michael, Mikvah, Washing, Dipping Greens in Salt Water at Passover, Tashlich, Bat Yah, Moses, The “Whale”, Water libation , Willow Branches, Reeds, Sea of Reeds, Wine, Miriam, Joseph, Noah, Anointing oil, Divination, Intuition, Dreams, Willow Branches, Lotus flowers, Water lilies, Emotions, Leviathin, Darkness, Yetzirah, Feeling, Ruach (level of soul), Creativity
In a sustainable spiritual practice we are looking to do more than have abstract ideas. We need to be able to work with them in a concrete fashion. To begin bringing these to life in a way that we can use them to guide and enhance our spiritual practice, we should start looking at the holidays and practices that are present in the Summer, and how these elements appear in them. Our key holidays of the summer are Counting the Omer, Shavuot, Tisha B’Av, and the Selichot period during Elul. Lag B’Omer, I see as the transition holiday from Spring to Summer — especially since it is a holiday where we light bonfires.
Questions to Explore:
- How do you experience G!d(dess)?
- What type of personal connection do you have to G!d(dess)? Do you have one?
- What forms of spiritual expression deepen your connection to G!d(dess)?
- What forms of creative expression might be outlets for your personal connection to G!d(dess)? Why?
- Visual art: painting, mixed media, collage, fiber art, sand painting, mandalas, calligraphy, bonsai, touch drawing, etc
- Written arts: poetry, prayers, prose, calligraphy, etc.
- Audible arts: chanting, singing, intoning, etc.
- Physical arts: dancing, movement, etc.
- Interdisciplinary arts: menu planning, cooking, decorating, gift wrapping, gardening, dressing, ritual design, altar design/building, etc.
- What creative expressions of your connection to G!d(dess) have you been resisting? Why?
At Shavuot listen carefully and see how you can deepen your relationship to G!d(dess) over the summer. This is the preparation we all strive for before we enter the Autumn and high holy day season. Use this season to find how G!d(dess) moves through you and what your personal covenant is and how that connects to the communal Jewish covenant? How do you “choose to be chosen?” This is the season to gain deeper understanding of that and learn to express what you are called or chosen to be and to do.
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)