Elements of Judaism
There are four bodies (gufim), and they are fire (eish), air (ruach), water (mayim), and earth (afar). They are the foundation of all that is created beneath the firmament. (Maimomedes as found on Telshemesh.org)
EARTH (עָפָר): West, Autumn, Sunset, Ten Commandments, Raphael, Shekhinah, Rachel, David, Iron, Challah, Salt, Lulav, Etrog, Fruit, Flowers on Shavuot, Trees and tree planting, burying foreskin, 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 soul), Resources we Consume
AIR (רוּחַ): East, Spring, Dawn, 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 garmets, Keturah, Tzovah, Ziz (aka Renanim, Sekewi), Cloud of Glory, Judith, Solomon, Joshua,Wisdom, Briah, Thinking, Neshamah (level of soul), Community
AETHER/AKASHAH (חַשְׁמַל): Center, Void, Sabbath, Mt. Sinai, Wilderness, Liminal Space, Transformation, Gestation, Calendars, Mishkan, Temple, Passover Table, Seder Plate, Garden of Eden, Mystery, Sheol, Shamayim, HaSatan, Lilith, Sound of the Shofar, Baalot Ov, Circles, Shamir Worm , Foundation Stone , Moon, Torah, Talit and Tzittzit, Magen David, Tamei/Tahor, Menorah (6 branched), Containers, Vessels, Tohu v Vohu, Yechidah (level of soul)
I would love feedback, so comment away! I don’t believe there is any one system that will work for everyone or that is “right.” Play with this one and see what works for you and what doesn’t.
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)
Thanks to Katrina Messenger for inspiring and making space for this work.
[update: 1/20/11: Decided to experiment with the word חַשְׁמַל for void/ether. The word appears in Ezekial 1 and is often translated as “electrum.” But in the Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism it is described as “The mysterious substance or entity illuminating the heart of Ezekiel’s chariot vision.” It’s also the word for electricity in modern Hebrew. What do you think?]
[Update: 1/4/11]: Thanks to a blogpost by Brooke over at “The World Will Be Bright,” I’ve added the directional correspondences back in. Her explanations totally worked for me for which element is dominant in each direction. I think each direction probably has an have/need relationship with the elements like the seasons do, so the directions and seasons associated with each element above are the “have” elements.
[update: 12/29/10: – I changed “Center (Above/Below) to Void/Ether because I realized it was the only one that was not actually an “element.” Center works with this if there are directions, but I had removed the directions. I’m still debating the right Hebrew word to fit this non-element]
[update: 9/6/2010 – I’ve changed the title of this from the Elements of Jewish Magick to the Elements of Judaism. I did this because it’s not just about “magick” as most people understand it. It’s really about providing a rich mental tapestry to draw on for any kind of Jewish practice. I’ve also changed the introduction, to allow this to function better as a stand-alone piece over time.]
[update: 7/20/2010 – removed the directions. I’ve never really gelled with elements being in one direction or another so this has always felt like a false thing to include.]